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AWADmail Issue 708

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

Sponsor’s Message: Hate dumb winter? This week’s Email of the Week winner, David Tilling (see below), as well as all AWADers everywhere can buy 2 x tickets to wicked smart sunny word fun paradise for only $25. Escape now!

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

The Evolution of Fairy Tales and Indo-European Languages
The Atlantic

Teenagers’ Role in Language Change is Overstated

From: Leslie E. Reese (lereese suddenlink.net)
Subject: Brass hat

In the Army, the metal decoration on the visor of officers from major upward is referred to as scrambled eggs.

Leslie E. Reese, Amarillo, Texas

From: Bill Richardson (kymrbill aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--brass hat

In the automobile business, a brass hat is a car for sale that has been driven as a demonstrator by a manager or family member. The supposition is that they have been cared for extremely well and should sell at a premium price.

Bill Richardson, Orange, California

From: Stan Lyness (stanlyness gmail.com)
Subject: today’s quotation

If we are to believe the second bullet at Wikiquote, Spinoza said “if a triangle could speak, it would say, in like manner, that God is eminently triangular” 15 years before Charles de Montesquieu was born, so I think “If triangles had a God, he would have three sides” is more restatement than coinage. Of course de Montesquieu himself was a fine source of aphorisms; we’ve enjoyed his in the newsletter before and look forward to more.

Stan Lyness, Brighton, Massachusetts

From: Reiner Decher (reiner54 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sackcloth

Fantastic picture accompanying this word with not all that well-chosen words! The words should have been “male or female” to bolster the protester’s viewpoint or more appropriately: “male and female, to varying degrees!”?

People of his ilk are not likely to have that good a command of the English language!

Reiner Decher, Bellevue, Washington

From: Amy Lundblad (amylundblad gmail.com)
Subject: Sackcloth

I have a copy of an old photo of my grandmother wearing a dress made of flour sacks and I have always wondered about this, since she looks so miserable. The photo was taken in the late 1800s and the dress looks somewhat fashionable and you have to look closely to see that along the hemline it shows the emblem of the flour mill which produced the flour. Since my great grandfather came from Germany and descended from a family which owned a flour mill in Mosbach, I never considered that there might be a religious angle to her wearing that dress. Granted, the cotton sack containing flour is a finer weave of cloth than jute.

Fun to reconsider this mystery!

Amy Lundblad, Alameda, California

From: Naomi Rosen (swidler gmail.com)
Subject: sansculotte

Only 10 days late for the 15th annual No Pants Subway Ride.

Naomi Rosen, Jerusalem, Israel

Email of the Week (Purchase One Up! - Word-perfect heaven awaits.)

From: David Tilling (david dvpsa.co.za)
Subject: sansculotte

A similar idea was adopted by the late Pres. Mobutu in the 1960s. He is said to have decided to stop wearing western style suits and ties, etc., in favour of a Mao suit collar, after a visit to China. The style worn countrywide was known as an abacost from à bas le costume (down with the suit).

David Tilling, Honiton, UK

From: Sarah S. Sole (via website comments)
Subject: sansculotte

When I saw the word for today, why did I think of Toulouse-Lautrec and can-can dancers and smoky Paris cafes? I think that long ago I heard the can-can dancers were so-called because they were, well, sansculottes.

Sarah S. Sole

From: James Krug (jakrug comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sansculotte

My daughter, a French teacher, tells me that in contemporary French, sansculotte means you aren’t wearing any underpants!

James Krug, Olympia, Washington

From: Richard Alexander (alexander triton.net)
Subject: bootleg

In US and Canadian football, there’s the bootleg play, in which the quarterback, after taking the snap, runs in the direction of one of the sidelines; it’s usually preceded by a fake handoff to a running back who’s headed in the opposite direction. “Bootleg” comes from the quarterback’s hiding the ball from the defensive team by holding it close to his or her hip or thigh. It’s deceptive -- which is fine, of course -- but not illegal.

Richard Alexander, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon muldoongetz.com)
Subject: clothing words used metaphorically

A nice collection this week of clothing words used metaphorically. It collared my attention, though not everyone will cotton to that. Not a chintzy word nor a shoddy definition. You were no bluestocking in your selection.

Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York

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

All five words, plus this title, are equal to the one anagram:
1. brass hat
2. sackcloth
3. straitlaced
4. sansculotte
5. bootleg
1. elevated rank, status
2. coarse cloth that snags
3. prim, stoic
4. French battle outlaw
5. illegal sale, taboo stashed liquor
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.
Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico

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

The Donald is no democrat.
Ya’ do things his way -- and that’s that!
With Palin beside him,
And Ego to guide him --
Will he be the US Brass Hat?

-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

Of their misery he is the source,
and he feels not a drop of remorse.
He “dons sackcloth” instead;
ashes cover his head -
only figuratively, of course!

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

He demanded such morals -- straitlaced --
From his children, lest they be disgraced;
But his extracurricular
Backseat vehicular
Hobbies were much less than chaste.

-Peter Norton, Homer, Alaska (tromboneiii gmail.com)

The boastful campaigner entranced a lot
of folks. Would they give him a chance, or not?
If they did it indeed,
and their man should succeed,
would our country be run by a sansculotte?

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

Till I learned how to smuggle and bootleg
My savings were one great big goose egg
The cigarette tax
Is what lets me relax
By the pool with some girls and a beer keg.

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

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

Enlisted men marched in the parade, but the brass hat to review them.

“Oh, jute! My sackcloth some of its potatoes through this hole.”

“No cream or sugar, thanks. I prefer my coffee straitlaced with whisky.”

“Children, it’s too cold to go out for recess. You’ll have to play sansculotte.”

The Canadian said, “You may be a br-east man but I’m all a’bootleg.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they’ve been in. -Dennis Potter, dramatist (1935-1994)

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