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AWADmail Issue 697

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

Sponsor’s Message: We’re a 100% American, proudly-independent (some would say quixotic and recalcitrant) design studio, so gobble, gobble is our favorite holiday, if you know what we mean. “Old’s Cool” sums up our philosophy of life in a neat little turn of phrase -- old school with a shot of wry, served neat. In that spirit, we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Jonathan Greene (see below), as well as all rebels, renegades, disrupters, and dreamers everywhere 20% off everything in store -- through midnight Monday only. BUY into OLD’S COOL NOW -- and be sure to use coupon code “oneupmanship”.

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Travel report: The Netherlands (Part 3)

Third in a series of travel reports (see part 1 and part 2).

Anne Frank: The House of a Young Girl

As a schoolchild growing up in India, when I read a Hindi translation of Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, I had never thought that one day I’d be standing in the very room where Anne spent two years of her short life.

They have converted into a museum the building where Anne Frank, her family, and friends hid during Nazi persecution. The line at the Anne Frank Huis (Anne Frank House) in Amsterdam is the longest of any place in the city. It snakes around the block to the Westerkerk (literally, Western Church).

As I stand in the long line, I realize it may be an hour or longer before I reach the front of the museum. I mark my place in the line with the person behind me and make a quick detour to the Westerkerk. It’s the same church whose bells helped Anne keep track of time and whose sound she found comforting though the frequent clanging and chimes annoyed her parents and sister. The church is also the resting place of Rembrandt, though no one knows where exactly he is buried.

“Pastor Engelvaart, we have a party with a burial here. Where do I direct them?”
“Who is it?”
“I don’t know; some artist I think ...”
“Not another artist! Oh, just put him somewhere, anywhere.”

Back at the Anne Frank House, we are led from the front of the building that used to be an office headed by Anne’s father, to the secret annex where she spent two years in hiding. A steep stairway leads to a moveable bookcase that hides the door to the annex.

Cameras are not permitted in the museum and it works so well. You don’t have tourists falling over each other taking pictures. You just stand there, see pictures, read captions, watch video clips, and think about ordinary lives, that in another universe could have been you or anyone else around you.

Putting oneself into the frame of mind of Anne Frank, you realize you don’t know when someone might betray you. You don’t know when they might come to get you. You don’t know when you might be shipped off to a prison camp. All for no fault of yours. Young, old, tall, short ... it doesn’t matter. Just some random criterion that we have constructed to separate people into us vs them.

On a wall in Anne’s room I see lines marking the heights of Anne and her elder sister Margo. The wallpaper has successively higher lines, until there are none.

Sometimes a line is more than a line.

See the only known video of Anne Frank (20 sec.)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Complex ‘Character Test’ Facing Tardy Chinese Students

The Roots of Language
The Guardian

From: Erik Schneider (erik-schneider hotmail.com)
Subject: Clearing up some Dutch facts (Re: AWADmail 695, AWADmail 696)

I think it’s important to clear up a common misconception about the Dutch. The possession, sale and growing of soft drugs is actually not legal in the Netherlands, but the Dutch Public Prosecution Service has adopted a toleration policy and does not prosecute small violations (reference).

On another note, the Dutch were 20 cm (~7.87 inches) shorter just 150 years ago (reference), so if one of the figures in a Rembrandt painting were to step out of it, then they would more likely ask, “Why are you so tall?”

Erik Schneider, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

From: Doug Hensley (doug.hensley math.tamu.edu)
Subject: sternutate

For those of us who know a little Spanish, it’s easy. So often, words that are obscure in one language are commonplace in another. Estornudar.

Doug Hensley, College Station, Texas

From: Milan Schonberger (milan.schonberger sbcglobal.net)
Subject: sternulate

For some, one sneeze could be the last and blowing one’s nose cause brain damage (see here).

Remember, if you please
Whenever you happen to sneeze
In this crime-ridden nation
We've heard of strangulation
But up to this date
I'd venture to state
Few know of sternulate.

Milan Schonberger, Los Angeles, California

From: Clive Holloway (cliveh yorku.ca)
Subject: flatulate

Olde English Tomb Stone:

Where e’re Ye be let your wind go free; twas holding it back were the death of me.

Clive Holloway, Toronto, Canada

Email of the Week (Grit. Integrity. Courage. Authenticity. Old School + Wit = Old's Cool.

From: Jonathan Greene (j.i.greene625 gmail.com)
Subject: Nictitate

Back in 1975 (when the movie Jaws came out), as a 12-year-old fascinated with sharks, I can remember thinking that a shark’s eyes rolled upwards when attacking. Not so -- I later learned it was a translucent nictitating membrane that covered the shark’s eye to provide protection.

Jonathan Greene, Seattle, Washington

From: Jo Ann Lawlor (jal_573 yahoo.com)
Subject: perspire vs. sweat

Seeing this as one of your examples of a softer way of saying something reminded me of the old saying that women glow, men perspire, and horses sweat.

Jo Ann Lawlor, San Jose, California

From: Akram Najjar (anajjar infoconsult.com.lb)
Subject: Unusual synonyms for everyday acts

I had a slipped disk once and after I took some bed rest, my neurologist calmly told me that I can now perambulate.

Akram Najjar, Beirut, Lebanon

From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 windstream.net)
Subject: Anagrams of this week's words

Anagram containing this week’s words:
1. sternutate
2. eruct
3. flatulate
4. ingurgitate
5. nictitate
= 1. utter "Achoo!"
2. it can generate fumes (antacid?)
3. intestinal gas (titter)
4. ultra-urgent swig
5. wink at ;-)
Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico

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

Cyrano, whose nose tempted fate,
Would worry when he'd sternutate.
It seemed that his sneeze,
Produced such a breeze,
It caused the whole room to vibrate!

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

Disgusted, his wifey cluck-clucks,
"Why must you while dining eruct?
You’re out of control!”
Then she pulls out a roll
of the tape that they say’s made for ducts.

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

If the Donald is whom you would emulate
You needn’t speak words, you just flatulate
“Debating’s an art,”
He says, “Just like a fart
The whole room with my gases I inundate.”

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

Become a great baron of real estate
And the public your words will ingurgitate
The billions you borrow
You’ll think of tomorrow
Now go and a statesman impersonate.

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

There once was a rather shy guy
Liked a girl but was too scared to try.
A friend said just “nictitate”
but oh, when she took the bait
he gulped, “twas just grit in my eye.”

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

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

For light-hearted art in London try The Cartoon Museum, but for sternutate.

He is such a prolific belcher we should eruct a monument to him.

The frustrated choral director said, “You’re not only flatulate coming in!”

Ogling the new boy, she thought, “I wish he’d ask me out. What can I do to ingurgitate?” While shaving Sharon’s father in the mid-1950s, the barber nictitate.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

When I read some of the rules for speaking and writing the English language correctly, -- as that a sentence must never end with a particle, -- and perceive how implicitly even the learned obey it, I think: Any fool can make a rule. And every fool will mind it. -Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

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