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AWADmail Issue 686

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message:
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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake

Gulliver’s Travels’ ‘Nonsense’ Language is Based on Hebrew, Claims Scholar
The Guardian

Why is Canadian English Unique?

Racing to Record Indigenous Languages Under Attack from ‘Onslaught of English’
The Guardian

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- All of life’s lessons in a shiny metal can.)

From: Henry Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Ad hoc and odd hacks

The Basic Steel Agreement between the United Steelworkers and the major steelmakers (US Steel, Bethlehem, et al.) provided for two types of arbitrators to decide grievances under the contract: permanent umpires, who were just what that term sounds like (without the chest protectors and baseball caps), and ad hoc arbitrators, chosen to hear a particular case. That last group was, of course, known as “ad hocs”, which left only a short jump to the name they inevitably were given: “odd hacks”.

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California

From: Emily Doskow (doskesq gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ad hoc

In my early years as a lawyer, on the first day of a bench trial the judge told me and my opposing counsel that before he read our trial briefs, we should go back to our offices over the lunch hour and take out all of the adverbs. Offended, I replied that there were no extraneous adverbs in my brief to begin with--if there were any at all, they were appropriate. Upon reading it, he was forced to agree. The case settled before the trial was completed, but my victory was complete.

Emily Doskow, Oakland, California

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Ad hoc

In my green years as a whining schoolboy, the Latin grammar in my satchel was full of mnemonic devices designed to teach prepositions and the cases they governed. Ante, apud, ad, adverbus -- they all required the noun to be in the accusative case. On a later albeit superficial excursion into the romance languages, much to my surprise I found that French, the most romance of all, had junked the Latin preposition cum, meaning with, (as for example in the phrase vade mecum) in favour of avec, which bore no resemblance to any of its modern variants. In the Gallic spirit of independence, it developed an ad hoc kind of preposition, consisting of a combination of apud (with) hoc (this), que (and) that’s almost as idiomatic as the reflexive of the Italian or the upside-down question mark of Spanish. To say nothing of Portuguese, Picard, Walloon, Bourguignon, Catalan, Romanche etc. See here.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Aditi-Ratnesh Mathur (via online comments)
Subject: athwart

A beautiful word’s exuberance multiplied a thousand times by the lovely painting by Arthur Hughes deeply submerged in the Lyrica of dear Tennyson’. Thanks for the word, the art, and the poetry.

Aditi-Ratnesh Mathur, Bangalore, India

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

Instead of employing a crock,
he made some baked beans in the wok.
His wife lost her cool
and berated him, “Fool!
Don’t you know that a wok’s not ad hoc?!”

-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When thou bringest thy mule to the smith
Thou shalt need enough money wherewith
For to fit him with shoes
And a lawsuit to lose
Should he kicketh the man’s kin and kith.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Marsupials round about Perth
Frisk in the bush with great mirth.
Ah, Western Australia
Where, inter alia,
Half of them often give birth.

-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)

Mad zombies came wobbling athwart.
Mortician, with dazzling rapport,
(for he’d known them all well),
got these monsters from hell
their ghastly attack to abort.

-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

One night down at Delta Phi Zeta
Dr. Masters was gathering data
He munched an hors-d’oeuvre
Saying “Johnson, observe
And you’ll share all the credit pro rata.”

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I have noted the limericks by Anne Thomas, my more or less namesake, by writing a tribute to her. I do take some liberties with both facts and syntax:
The mistress of all limerickety
Who dwells within fence white and pickety
Churns out rows of rhyme
Mid beds of sweet thyme
In effortless lickety splickety.

-Anne Thomas Lane, Charlotte, North Carolina (makeboxes gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns on the weeks’ words

I went to the pawn shop solely to ad hoc to my income sources.

“Listen, buster! Wherewith the A-Listers and we have the wherewithal to prove it!”

“Don’t forget to inter alia pies in the County Fair bake-off.”

Rubbed thide to thide, Compound-W will remove an athwart.

The Yankees should divvy up A-Rod’s salary. How can any pro-rata $275M contract?

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Bonus: This Week’s Adverbs in Tom Swifties

This was no easy task with the chosen words, Anu, but I hope you find a couple of them chuckle-worthy.

“Throw in a pork knuckle,” said Tom ad hoc.

“That dress is crying for these shoes,” said Tom, “wherewith to make an outfit.”

“The first thing is to bury these space creatures,” said Tom inter alia.

“That lookth like herpeeth,” said Tom athwart her.

“My rodents undergo months of training before appearing in a movie,” said Tom, “and in the form of treats, they share the rewards pro rata.”

Steve Benko, New York, New York

Language furnishes the best proof that a law accepted by a community is a thing that is tolerated and not a rule to which all freely consent. -Ferdinand de Saussure, linguist (1857-1913)

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