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AWADmail Issue 689

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

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From: Jack Miles (milesjack shaw.ca)
Subject: Quixote

It may be of interest to note that both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on the same day, April 23, 1616. Two of the most well-known, talented authors from those medieval years to die the same day is a coincidence that most authors would not dream of!

Jack Miles, North Vancouver, Canada

[Update: Cervantes & Shakespeare didn’t die on the same day. See explanation.]

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

The Don may have dreamed the impossible dream and tilted into windmills, but he was nobody’s fool. This is what he has to say on the delicate subject of self-satisfied authors’ bias: “It is natural to fathers and mothers not to think their own children ugly; and this error is nowhere so common as in the offspring of the mind.”

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: SarahRose Werner (swerner nbnet.nb.ca)
Subject: Hah! After many years, I am justified (by your alternate pronunciation of Quixote)

I was about nine or ten when my mother used the expression “tilting at windmills” in conversation. Then she asked me if I knew where the phrase came from. I replied proudly, “Yes, it’s from Don Quixote!”

Alas, I was unaware that Spanish assigns different pronunciations to letters than English does. I pronounced the Don’s name as “QUIX-oat”.

My mother had minored in Spanish in university and worked for the Children’s Aid Society in Spanish Harlem. She started laughing and told me that I made the Don sound like breakfast cereal. I suppose she thought this was funny, but I was embarrassed and angry.

Four decades later, my feelings have been somewhat assuaged by the alternate pronunciation you offered: KWIK-suht. I wasn’t far off after all.

SarahRose Werner, Saint John, Canada

From: Tom Ryan (ryandenver msn.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--quixote

Great theme this week. Earlier this year I read the entire 940 pages of Don Quixote. Just an amazing literary work. But I also think that there is a broad misconception about this wonderful character. The best description of who Don Quixote really was comes from his own words which I copied while reading the book:

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams -- this may be madness; and madness of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be.”

Tom Ryan, Littleton, Colorado

From: Greg Gibby (greg.gibby gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sancho

In Mexican slang Sancho is a person who is sleeping with your wife or girlfriend while you are at work:

Tu esposa anda con Sancho.
Your wife walks with Sancho.

Sublime sings about Sancho in the song Santeria.

Greg Gibby, Columbus, Ohio

Email of the Week (Criticize ONEUPMANSHIP here -- you may already be a winner!)

From: Dr. Alexis Melteff (aapm52 yahoo.com)
Subject: Rosinante

In his book Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck tells us that he named his camper Rocinante, as he felt quixotic trying to get to know America in one voyage. Further, he wrote, no one ever asked him about the name, which was written in a fancy script on the side of the camper shell.

Dr. Alexis Melteff, Santa Rosa, California

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: Rosinante

I expected that Rosinante would be a somewhat favorable name, that it was the name of a horse which would later become a nag or a hack. Current usage of the name may have morphed it into a slur, but I’d guess that Cervantes created that name as an irony, that the horse isn’t yet a nag or a hack.

I asked my brother not to refer to my earlier self or my looks in old photos as Stephenante.

Steve Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington

From: Curtis Reeves (creeves alumni.usc.edu)
Subject: Pronunciations

I truly enjoyed this week’s words of the day. I must comment, however, that the Anglicized pronunciations of Quixote, Dulcinea, Sancho, and Rosinante made my hair hurt.

Spanish is a euphonic language with its trilled initial ‘R’s, its long vowel sounds and its usual accent on the penultimate syllable of the word. It would have been nice if you had provided the correct Spanish pronunciation in addition!

Curtis Reeves, Fresno, California

Thanks for your note. We list the pronunciations of words as they are spoken in the English language. When we adopt a word from another language, it often undergoes changes in sounds and spelling to fit in its new home. For example, Spanish Rocinante becomes Rosinante in English. Same with pronunciations as you have noted.
-Anu Garg

From: John Kimber (jkimber391 aol.com)
Subject: Quixote words

As a middle manager and engineer in a large company I was often assigned what I considered a futile task. I would be chastised for a negative attitude. So I used to sign off my emails “Saddling up Rosinante now to work on xyz proposal.” Some people caught the reference -- but not many.

An interesting factoid. Guanajuato, Mexico, holds an annual Cervantes festival. It claims to be the Don’s burial place. When Mexican Tourism officials said this was a false claim, the mayor had a public ceremony in which a copy of the book was interred in the town square, therefore making the claim true.

John Kimber, Calgary, Canada

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

Oh, ardent Quixote who fain
chose Aldonza Lorenzo to reign
in obsessions romantic,
to spur deeds more antic
than Sancho could ever explain.

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

My husband is the head honcho,
While I tag along as Sancho,
As we take a trip,
Upon a cruise ship,
Both wearing a matching poncho.

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

When Jason was helped by Medea
He begged “Be my dear Dulcinea”
They sold off the fleece
Got a place back in Greece
And then filled it with stuff from IKEA.

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

His eyes all starry,”Ohh,”
sighs bold Lothario.
“Nice try!” she cries.
(She’s much too wise
to be his quarry.) “Go!”

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

In the eighties two great vigilantes
Protected our uncles and aunties
On Bronson and Goetz
We could place all our bets
The police? Bunch of old Rosinantes.

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

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns on Words of the Week Curious to know which gladiators were scheduled, Caligula asked, “Qui hodie?” (Who today?)

Like a donkey, this ancho pepper has a real side kick.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. You’re Dulcinea have to repeat 5th Grade.”

“Thankth to that lothariover your tortho, I can thee your cleavage.”

At the family softball game the nephew yelled, “Use the rosinante!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Words form the thread on which we string our experiences. -Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

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