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AWADmail Issue 687

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

Narcissism Unrelated to Use of First-Person Singular Pronouns
Language Log

We Deride Them as ‘Migrants’. Why Not Call Them People?
The Guardian

New Words in Oxford Dictionaries

From: Barbara Farber (barbfarb charter.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lorelei

In the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn Monroe’s name was Lorelei Lee. Too funny.

Barbara Farber, California

Email of the Week (Courtesy Indian Summer -- OWN The Original American Motorcycle Movie TODAY)

From: Tony Augarde (diddlums gmail.com)
Subject: Lorelei

My favourite representation of the Lorelei is George & Ira Gershwin’s song with that title. A woman expresses her desire to be as seductive as the Lorelei. The lyrics include:

I’m treacherous, yeah-yeah,
Oh, I just can’t hold myself in check.
I’m lecherous, yeah-yeah,
I want to bite my initials on a sailor’s neck.

Tony Augarde, Oxford, UK

From: David Schatzky (davidschatzky hotmail.com)
Subject: Die Lorelei

In high school German class in Toronto in the 1960s we sang Die Lorelei regularly. Its words and music have haunted me ever since. Here’s Erich Kunz’s version, lovely to listen to.

David Schatzky, Toronto, Canada

From: Mark D. Meadows (marktime ozarkmark.com)
Subject: Die Lorelei

I once translated Heine’s poem “Die Lorelei” into English for a high school poetry reading. Of course, you can’t translate poetry literally, or it won’t rhyme. Notice that my poem has the same meter and abab rhyme scheme as the original.

Die Lorelei
von Heinrich Heine, 1824

Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.

Die Luft is kühl, und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
Im Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet,
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.

Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame,
Gewaltige Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’.

Ich glaube die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die Lorelei getan.
Die Lorelei
Translated by Mark D. Meadows

Why is my heart sorely saddened?
Some sorrow has taken its toll;
An old time legend has maddened
And almost enchanted my soul.

The air is cool in the twilight
And peaceful flows the Rhine;
The sun’s last rays before the night
Make the stone peak twinkle and shine.

The lovely maiden sits there
High up and young and bold;
Her gold jewels glint, she combs her hair-
Long strands of radiant gold.

With golden comb she combs her hair
And sings a clear refrain;
A song of power and despair
Fills the darkening domain.

The boatman in his little skiff
Is seized by the song’s savage grief;
He looks up to the lofty cliff,
Not down at the rocky reef.

I think that the waves did swallow
The boat and the boatman as one;
And this with her terrible solo
The Lorelei has done.

Mark D. Meadows, Cassville, Missouri

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Lorelei

This eponym is also known in Canadian literature as Laurel’s Egg in a somewhat questionable translation of the renowned poem by Heine; the guilty party being one Sarah Bink, Sweet Songstress of Saskatchewan, the brainchild of the late Professor Paul Hiebert, who thereby established his immortality in the annals of literature instead of the journals of chemistry. In her search for accuracy and lyricism, poor Sarah couldn’t have known that Lorelei was not the product found in prairie barnyards (German das Ei), nor that the great waterway (der Rhein) was not exactly known for its pristine purity (German rein adj.) Or that wundersame doesn’t require a repeat of the word “wonderful”.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Ian Horrocks (ihorrocks379 hotmail.co.uk)
Subject: Boycott

The eponym boycott reminded me of the intriguing impact a name can have upon human behaviour. Geoffrey Boycott, stoic Yorkshire lad and England cricketer, spent years at the top of the sport frustrating bowlers by simply refusing to play any shot that might have given them the slightest chance of getting him out. Geoffrey’s tactic of boycotting risk was more than a method of staying at the crease: it seemed to stem from a psychological soup of stubbornness and pride. This wasn’t just the way he played cricket; it was the way he played life.

Coincidental this may be, but perhaps a strange kind of epithetical name bias is also at play.

Does anybody else ever feel the need to ‘live up to’ their names? Or has anybody retrospectively realised themselves doing so unconsciously?

Ian Horrocks, London, UK

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

When Martha found George with a lorelei
The gen’ral confessed: “I can’t tell a lie”
“That noise from my tent
My dear wife, I repent
But she only was learning my battle cry.”

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

When Paul Pry peeped on the Lorelei,
perused rosy cheeks, lips, eyes lazuli,
they bade him come touch
their gold tresses, and such,
as he sank in the stream to their lullaby.

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

Said ladies to jew’ler. “We’ll boycott
you, sir. Though your wares we enjoy lots,
we must declare war.
We won’t enter your store,
for your stuff an excess of alloy’s got!”

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

In Congress the white male chauv’nism
Was useless against Shirley Chisholm
Nor would they dare bug
Mrs. Bella Abzug
Oh those powerful voices, I miss ’em.

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

Don Juan, Casanova, Lovelace,
Were fond of a lady’s embrace.
All were such great lovers,
That under the covers,
Helped populate the human race.

-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

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

Did Lorelei when she said her marriage was on the rocks?

Will Rand Paul Pry any answers out of Hillary?

“There’s still an embargo on Cuban cigars and we will arrest any man or boycott sneaking them in.”

“Yah, zee Entertainment Section vill chauvinism-atinee.”

Naturally, lechers lovelace panties.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Language is like soil. However rich, it is subject to erosion, and its fertility is constantly threatened by uses that exhaust its vitality. It needs constant re-invigoration if it is not to become arid and sterile. Elizabeth Drew, author, critic (1887-1965)

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