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AWADmail Issue 713

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

Sponsor’s Message:
You think you’re pretty smart, right? Probably got a college degree, or two. A goodish job. Fairly well-read. Large vocabulary. We could throw ‘recalcitrance’ out there and you might not even flinch. Same here. But we can honestly and definitively say, you are illiterate. Don’t believe us? Then please join this week’s Email of the Week winner, Russell Lott (see below), as well as all the other smart alecks out there for a wicked pissa lesson in humility. Click here, onegaishimasu.

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

British Accent Quiz

When Did Northwesterners Stop Speaking Chinook Jargon?
KUOW Radio

Donald Trump’s Vocabulary
The New York Times

From: Stephen Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: piacular

How appropriate that “piacular” showed up on the name day for Pia, at least on the Swedish calendar. A third cousin of mine sends me a Swedish calendar (Sverige Almanacken) each year, and I noticed the coincidence. Looking into it further, I found that many different European and Latin American countries have their own lists for name days, though Saints’ days or feast days often carry over.

Stephen Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington

From: Chandran Kalyanam (rckalyanam hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parsimony

In clinical education and applications, this word lacks a negative connotation. “The Rule of Parsimony” is that one diagnosis capturing the range of symptoms is preferred over an unnecessarily greater number of diagnoses. Clinicians may recall a passing reference in class to Occam’s razor that Wordsmith.org cited earlier, but this expression is used less often.

Chandran Kalyanam, Columbus, Ohio

From: Monsignor Quench (pensivequills gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gaucherie

I hated this word as a child. It was almost the singular most spoken word by my father, in French of course, which used to describe everything I did that displeased him.

Monsignor Quench, Elkin, North Carolina

Email of the Week Old’s Cool is Old School + Wit - Life’s hard lessons upside the head.)

From: Russell Lott (russellwlott comcast.net)
Subject: Gauche

Being a lefty myself, I’ve long been aware that, to many, left equals wrong, just as right equals correct -- it’s embedded in language. In fact, our English word left comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, meaning weak or broken. It’s also in the Latin: “sinister” means “on the left side”, the opposite of “dexter”. Now, I learn that it’s in the French, as gauche means left or awkward!

No matter, while I have at times struggled with my left-handedness (school desks with no place to rest my writing arm, ditto ring-binders) I have come to embrace and celebrate my difference from the larger population as a whole (being recruited to the pitcher’s mound in Little League baseball for my natural curveball, quietly and smugly observing that the ratio of lefties to righties increased significantly as my coursework got more advanced in high school, college, graduate, and post-grad classes). Now, I revel in the thought that I share this characteristic with five of the last seven US Presidents going back to Gerald Ford in early 1970s. It thrills me to see President Obama publicly sign a document using the same “lefty’s writing crook” that I use.

Russell Lott, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

From: Barbara Fantechi (via online comments)
Subject: valence

There is also a meaning in graph theory: the number of edges (half-edges, if loops are allowed) meeting a given vertex of a graph. E.g., a trivalent graph is one where every vertex has valence three.

Barbara Fantechi, Trieste, Italy

From: Vivien G. Malloy (vivien editionfarm.com)
Subject: valence

Valence is also a form of design for windows. It is a part of the curtain that forms the top of the curtain design. Am I not correct? Is there a spelling difference?

Vivien G. Malloy, Waccabuc, New York

A number of readers raised this question. The word for drapery differs by a letter: valance. It comes to us from Old French avaler (to descend) that also gave us avalanche.
-Anu Garg

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

All five words below, plus this heading, are equal to the one anagram:
1. piacular
2. demotic
3. parsimony
4. gaucherie
5. valence
1. atonement, having pure aim
2. ordinary people
3. quite frugal (dad with a cash allowance!)
4. is graceless
5. behavior (molecule)
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

At Mass the old prayer words piacular
Were found by our Lord unspectacular
“It’s meaningless chattin’,
I never learned Latin,”
Said He, “I prefer the vernacular.”

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

Ms. Clinton was getting neurotic,
Being fearful of mood-swings demotic.
She said, “Bill, remember,
Till ninth of November --
No scandals; be autoerotic.”

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

Though most found her dancing exotic,
one man thought it much too robotic,
so tipped fifty cents.
The girl, quite incensed,
said, “A dollar would seem more demotic!”

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

There was a rebellious young nun,
Whose strict solemn vows were undone.
By rejecting parsimony,
Instead choosing matrimony,
She scored a romantic home run.

-Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois (hopebucher gmail.com)

Gazing deep in her eyes, I said, “Ma Cherie,
I’ve invested two hours in causerie.
Do you think it is time?
“No!” she said, “I’m
Not that kind of girl. My, what gaucherie!”

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

Like atoms exhibiting valence
Are words that are dear Sarah Palin’s
They float through the air
Then combine with a flair
Into phrases defying surveillance.

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

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

The confessional priest asked, “Is there anything in piacular you’d like to say?”

De worse de seizure, demotic.

On the eighteenth hole, make parsimony flows into your wallet.

Tiring of the French prostitute’s bad manners, I said, “Gaucherie.”

The knight was such a strong spy, he was dubbed ‘Sir Valence.’

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Cia McKoy (ciamckoy gmail.com)
Subject: Thanks

I love the spilling of new words from you into my somewhat vocab-restricted world. And all the diverse quotations, related to the words or not. Your missives are far better than a coffee break!

I see Anu as a wonderful friend who goes out in the early morning searching for shells along an obscure beach ... just to give each one away. To complete strangers. I am touched by your dedication and generosity. Thank you for enriching so many of our lives.

Cia McKoy, Bradenton, Florida

All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind. -Kahlil Gibran, poet and artist (1883-1931)

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