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AWADmail Issue 720

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

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

Sorry, You Can’t Speed Read
The New York Times

Fresh Look at Trope About Eskimo Words for Snow

At the World Bank, a Shortage of Concrete Language
The New York Times

From: Bill Erskine (bill.erskine mlh.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowclone

Sitting is the new smoking.

Bill Erskine, Memphis, Tennessee

From: Jennifer A. Jilks (jennifer.jilks gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--snowclone

Sorry to bother, but our Inuit in Nunavut and in the Canadian north aren’t called Eskimo any more. It’s a white man’s term, meaning eaters of raw meat, and politically incorrect! They don’t like this term. Thought you should know.

Jennifer Jilks, Perth, Canada

A number of readers from Canada emailed about this. In Canada, the preferred term is Inuit, but in the US, the word Eskimo is unexceptionable. The word Eskimo doesn’t mean eaters of raw meat. For more, see here. A similar issue is US vs Canadian terms for Indian/First Nations. See here.
-Anu Garg

From: Richard Hayslip (richard.hayslip gmail.com)
Subject: ecdysiast

“Middle Eastern ecdysiast team” for Gaza Strippers remains my favorite crossword clue. It was in the March 18, 1979, New York Times puzzle.

Richard Hayslip, Scottsdale, Arizona

From: Mark DeVoto (mdevoto granite.tufts.edu)
Subject: ecdysiast

Biochemists and entomologists will be able to tell you about a class of steroid hormones called ecdysones, which cause molting during the larval stages of insect metamorphosis.

Mark DeVoto, Medford, Massachusetts

From: Scott McCarty (scott.mccarty stanfordalumni.org)
Subject: ecdysiast

I am reminded of one of my favorite bumper stickers: “Ecdysiasts of the world, untie!”

Scott McCarty, Camarillo, California

From: David Alan Dresser (david1936 hotmail.com)
Subject: petrichor

I want to bottle that scent and put it in new cars to replace the awful “new car smell”.

David Alan Dresser, Berkeley, California

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! - A way better buy than Bananagrams.)

From: Bob Harrison (bob quailcroft.com)
Subject: Petrichor

On Monday a group of tasting notes was published on Jancis Robinson’s website (jancisrobinson.com, based in London) written by staff member Tamlyn Currin, in which she used the word petrichor! I emailed her about my delight in seeing someone else use the word. What I really want to share here (with her permission) is what she wrote in response, which speaks so eloquently to the power of language:

“I grew up in Zimbabwe -- that smell takes me back faster than anything else in the world! It’s the smell of exam time, purple jacaranda blossoms popping on the hot tar under car tyres, black clouds billowing up on a burnt dry horizon, and a longing for rain that no one who’s grown up in the UK can ever imagine. It’s the only thing that makes me miss Africa. It was the smell of hope.”

Bob Harrison, Issaquah, Washington

From: Hope Bucher (hopebucher gmail.com)
Subject: exaptation

In the 1980s some scientists were concerned that the restrictive language of evolutionary biology was limiting the rigor of science. That is why Stephen J. Gould created the term “exaptation” - a trait that has developed as a side product on an adaptation and performs a different function.

As a teacher, one of my favorite examples was that of Crystallin, a protein that is used in the body as a metabolic enzyme. It also happens to be integral to the lenses of our eyes because of its refractive properties which direct light onto our retinas.

As a lover of both language and science, it is exhilarating to know that when something new needs to be described our “Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois

From: Kate Daly (hammerwaterkate gmail.com)
Subject: bletted pear

In 2014 at the Philadelphia Craft Show I bought a paperweight from Lauren Baring-Gould of Boston. Ms Baring-Gould blets pears on her kitchen windowsill, to varying degrees, and casts them in bronze, one of a kind. I am delighted to have a word to describe one of the outstanding items in my collection. It took me forever to pick this one from the very juicy selection.

Kate Daly, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon muldoongetz.com)
Subject: coined words

How about “In God We Trust,” to phrase a coin?

Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York

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

The anagram to the right is a rearrangement of the letters in all five words below, plus this heading:
1. snowclone
2. ecdysiast
3. petrichor
4. exaptation
5. blet
1. cliché adapted to a new use
2. one who thrills by exposing all
3. sweet smell after the first big rain
4. change traits to get another
5. overripen, rot, and mash it
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

I overheard my friend Bertie,
Say to his old gal pal, Gertie,
To use a snowclone,
It is so well known,
That sixty is the new thirty.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The ecdysiast Flora so nimble
wears gowns that would fit in a thimble.
From Kansas to France,
ardent fans bid her dance,
and bare all at the clash of a cymbal.
-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)

“Her dance turns my thoughts to the sleaziest,”
I confessed to the parish ecclesiast.
“At peace you may tip her,”
He shrugged, “She’s no stripper,
At these prices, she’s an ecdysiast!”
(Acknowledgments to Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I breathed in the sweet morning dew,
Which invoked a ginormous “ah-choo.”
Said I, “such petrichor
I rather abhor,
Unless I was Pepe’ Le Pew.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

The glands that were made for lactation
Have become a superb exaptation.
The way that they curve
A new purpose they serve
To be objects of male admiration.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Frankly, my dear,” intoned Rhett
“You have let our relationship blet.”
“Tomorrow, he’ll bend,”
She thought, “needn’t end,
“For still I’m a hot little brunette.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns of the weak

“That’s snowclone -- that’s my monozygotic twin.”

The white rooster lost more feathers in the fight ‘cause he p’ecdysiast.

“If you’re done with that apple, petrichor in the trash.”

When your only trips are to attend funerals, that’s an exaptation of larks.

My slot machine blet produced three blars. Blingo!

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Francine Kiefer (fkiefer aol.com)
Subject: Recent AWAD word in CS Monitor article

I’ve been waiting for a chance to use an AWAD word in one of my articles! Timing was perfect for “clairaudience” last week! Here’s the piece.

Francine Kiefer, Washington, DC

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel laureate (1918-2013)

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