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AWADmail Issue 701

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you looking for a wicked smart way to one up your know-it-all in-laws and annoy the entire family this Christmas? Email of the Week winner, Robin Sutherland (see below), as well as wordlovers near and far will love/hate playing our machiavellian game. Cutthroat 2 for $25 special, through midnight tonight. Guaranteed to ruin the holidays for everyone.

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

English is Not Normal

Polly-Glot a Cracker in Many Tongues
The Wall Street Journal

On Grammar and The Stylebook of Leviticus
Irish Times

Even Lost Languages Rewire Brain
Language Magazine

From: Patrick Camilleri (p.e.camilleri gmail.com)
Subject: Drawings

Leah’s drawings are brilliant! Your daily emails are now double the fun!

Patrick Camilleri, Ta Xbiex, Malta

From: Frank Brown (frank.brown travelport.com)
Subject: gramarye

In my current studies, a book of magic is referred to as a “grimoire” which also comes from the French “gramaire”. Although, I can see why someone who uses proper grammar would be considered to have magical powers.

Frank Brown, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Brian Hitchcock (brianhi skechers.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gramarye

A wonderful word, gramarye. Its similarity to “grammar” reminds me of the use of spell in the magical sense, and of the linguistic sense of mumbo-jumbo, a word originally of supernatural import.

Language is indeed magical, able to conjure up colorful, fully-dimensional images via a simple series of patterns on a flat paper or sounds from one’s vocal cords.

Brian Hitchcock, Manhattan Beach, California

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gramarye

For me, the entire gamut of the visual arts has that aspect of gramarye, or magic... creating something of aesthetic import from a blank canvas, or a mere chunk of inert stone thru the mysterious alchemy and amalgam of artistic skill and free-flowing imagination. Essentially creating something out of nothing.

Illustrator Preiss has magically conjured up this delightful, wonder-filled arabesque image of the ancient sorcerer seemingly contemplating his sacred text and curious symbols, as we viewers are willingly drawn into his world of total make-believe and mystery.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Cynthia Becker (via online comments)
Subject: quacksalver

The quacksalver post sent us to the living room to examine the 1885 print we inherited. It is a 1700s village scene with a crowd gathered around a man promoting a small vial of elixir. Now we have a title for him!

Cynthia Becker, Denver, Colorado

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

A noted archetype of the quacksalver, or in this case quick seller, is the notorious mountebank Dr. Dulcamara in Donizetti’s comic opera L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love). While the wealthy Adina actually does love the poor Nemorino, she is too proud to admit it. Had John Adams written this opera, he might have named the quack Doctor Wikipedia. In Donizetti’s original version, Dulcamara introduces himself as Dr. Encyclopaedia, who offers a potion named after the tragic lover “Isolda”. In the end all turns out for the best, the elusive quack pocketing his ill gotten gains, while Nemorino gets the hand (and the land) of Adina.

In keeping with the romantic tradition of the nineteenth century, perhaps the actual potion that did the trick was the furtive teardrop Adina shed and her lover noticed, as he claims in the eponymous aria: Una furtiva lagrima; a true show piece if there ever was one.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by The Wicked/Smart Word Game -- UnMerrying Christmas since 2005.

From: Robin Sutherland (sfsland gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--viridity

In my youth, there always seemed to be more than enough time to recline and view at my leisure the various diplomas of my dentist. (Most of them were in Latin, a practice that I wish were more widespread.) He had been schooled in New York City -- Civitas Novæ Eboraci -- but his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Vermont fascinated me most -- Universitatis Viridis Montis. Only later did I make the connection between Vermont and The Green Mountain State.

Robin Sutherland, San Francisco, California

From: Linda Owens (lindafowens netzero.net)
Subject: quacksalver

Australians use “quack” to mean any old doctor, even a good one. I spent a lot of time reading about Australia and got to sing with my chorus at the Opera House in Sydney in 1995.

Linda Owens, Exeter, Rhode Island

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--yobbery

Yobbery is a popular word in common usage in the UK and some people take pride in their yobbishness, which always reminds me of the great Tony Husband cartoon that runs in Private Eye called simply Yobs!

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Ananya Garg (ananya.garg gmail.com)
Subject: xenophile

My favorite character from the Harry Potter series is probably Luna Lovegood (although Hermione Granger is a close second). Luna’s quirky character and style, but also her compassion and kind-heartedness always made me happy whenever she appeared in the books.

Today’s word reminds me of her father, Xenophilius Lovegood. A xenophile is someone who likes strange people or strange things, and that is Xenophilius in a nutshell. He is the creator of the Quibbler, a magazine in which he writes about his eccentric beliefs and ideas about the magical world, for example, the existence of Nargles, or that the minister of magic was secretly a vampire. He was a strange character to say the least, but also an important one. He valued freedom of speech and supported Harry with his writing when no one else would.

Ananya Garg, Seattle, Washington

From: David Gravitz (davgrav gmail.com)
Subject: xenophile

Unfortunately, I seem to come across this word’s antonym, xenophobia (fear or hatred of the foreign/different/stranger) much more often these days. What does this say about our society?

David Gravitz, Ardsley, New York

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

Anagram containing the Words of the Week:
1. gramarye
2. quacksalver
3. viridity
4. yobbery
5. xenophile
= 1. magic
2. quack, liar, snake oil vendor
3. green
4. rowdy behavior by a teen
5. extra sympathy with foreign
The text in the right box is an anagram of the complete text in the left.
Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico

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

Three witches have great gramarye.
One questions their stew’s recipe.
“Prithee, let it bubble.
Methinks our own trouble
t’would bring us, this sting of a bee!”

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

His Majesty’s favorite quacksalver
Could not help the king with his pallor
Said Arthur to Gwen
“You should see other men
For I’m not getting stiff like Excal’bur.”

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

A youngster replete with viridity
and afflicted, alas, with timidity
could find nothing to say
in a serious way
except, “’tain’t the heat, it’s the humidity.

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

Cried the girls, soaking wet and all sobbery,
“We were just having fun with our bobbery.
Mean boys came. We grappled.
They stole all our apples.
There ought to be laws against yobbery!”

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

In the past it was worthwhile,
If you were a xenophile,
Today, no Utopia,
Now there is xenophobia,
Fearing things foreign, the style.

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

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: A WAD of puns

“On whom have you cast a spell?” “No one, and don’t get all gramarye on me!”

Would ointment made from duck fat be a quacksalver?

Except for the $20 bills, Monopoly money has no viridity.

“Ja, if dat youngster gets elected he’ll practice jobbery.”

“Have you xenophile with our passports?”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument, but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense. -Joseph Conrad, novelist (1857-1924)

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