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AWADmail Issue 690

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

Sponsor’s Message:
Who said you can’t buy the American Dream? And for a song? We’re offering our motorcycle-loving subscribers, and this week’s Email of the Week winner, Ellen Blackstone (see below), a two-wheel deal on Indian Summer, a terrific seat-of-the-pants documentary we filmed 20 years ago that’s been a surprise hit as a digitally-remastered DVD. A steal at $15; get 2 for $20 today only. Vroom, vroom!

From: Bruno Clémentin (bruno.clementin free.fr)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--doryphore

The main use of the word, in French, was a way to nickname the German troops, after the WWI, because they would eat the potatoes. It was still in use during WWII. And is still given in some dictionaries.

Bruno Clémentin, Saint-Etienne, France

From: Michael T. Griffith (symph uwyo.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ratty

Musicians who play brass instruments use “ratty” in a similar way. If the beginning of a note is not cleanly articulated, but not as bad as a crack (colloquial, “clam”), it is said to be a “ratty” sound.

Michael Griffith, DMA, Director of Orchestral Activities, University of Wyoming, Past President, The Conductors Guild, Laramie, Wyoming

From: Peirce Hammond (Peirceiii yahoo.com)
Subject: Ratty

English words ending in “y” are often diminutive and endearing. Even “Ratty”. Consider the character so named in The Wind in the Willows While not exactly a rat, he does bear the name and is called Ratty. He is a good friend to Mole, if a tad shopworn.

Peirce Hammond, Bethesda, Maryland

Email of the Week (Courtesy Indian Summer - Buy the American Dream movie now.)

From: Ellen Blackstone (ellen 123imagine.net)
Subject: Silence (response to AWAD Sep 16 quotation)

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. -Jean Arp, artist and poet (16 Sep 1887-1948)

This quotation reminded me of recordist Gordon Hempton’s search for “one square inch of silence”. You can listen to that silence -- not actual silence of course, but the absence of manmade sounds -- in the Hoh Rain Forest in western Washington State. Here’s Gordon’s recording, as found on BirdNote.

Ellen Blackstone, Seattle, Washington

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: winkle

In the 1950s various youth sub-cultures in the UK adopted different styles of dandified dressing. One such style included footwear known as winklepickers, on account of their long pointed toes.

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India

From: David Fischer (dw-mefischer sbcglobal.net)
Subject: capriole

“Capriole” has several special meanings in the world of early music, all more or less related to leaping. Thoinot Arbeau’s “Orchesographie” is the most significant discussion of dance steps and music before 1600. In this work, Capriol is the student who wishes to improve his social skills by learning dancing. A capriole was also the leap occurring at the end of every six-step pattern in the galliard. The Capriol Suite is a beautiful modern setting of several renaissance dances by Peter Warlock.

David Fischer, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: Jeff Balch (Balchowsky yahoo.com)
Subject: Cervantes/Shakespeare anachronicity (Re: AWADmail 689)

In the previous issue of AWADmail, Jack Miles wrote, “It may be of interest to note that both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on the same day, April 23, 1616.”

Cervantes and Shakespeare did not die on the same day. Shakespeare died a week and half later. While Spain had adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, England remained behind the times, sticking with the Julian calendar until 1752. When Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 in England, it was May 3rd in Spain, and Cervantes was long gone.

Jeff Balch, Evanston, Illinois

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

We’re told of an adamant doryphore
who stationed himself o’er a poet’s door.
He just wouldn’t go,
and for all that we know
he’s planning to stay there forevermore.

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

A testy young woman named Patty
showed behavior that bordered on batty.
Off the handle she’d fly
at the blink of an eye.
Her unfortunate nickname was Ratty.

-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The truth becomes something to mutilate
As the Donald continues to ululate
Like a dog he attacks
Without checking the facts
And yet somehow his poll numbers pullulate.

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

I had a mollusk as a pet.
It’s the oddest pet you could get.
I call him with a twinkle,
“Please come here, Rip Van Winkle.”
So far, he’s not come to me yet.

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

An astronomer’s idea of fun
Is a total eclipse of the sun
The orb’s aureole
Makes the gent capriole
Like Phil Graham when he’s written a pun.

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

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns on Words of the Week

“I specifically asked for a punt! What’d you get a doryphore?”

“Does this Mediterranean stew look ratty to ya?”

“An appointment? I can pull you early or pullulate,” said the chiropractor.

“Mistress Mary, those shells add a nice winkle to your garden.”

On the Isle of Capriole goats may pinch you.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

You have to fall in love with hanging around words. -John Ciardi, poet and translator (1916-1986)

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