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AWADmail Issue 723

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

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

’They’: the Singular Pronoun That Could Solve Sexism in English
The Guardian

Students from 17 Countries to Showcase Linguistic Diversity
The Times of India

Email of the Week -- Created for you by Old’s Cool -- Where authentic fits you to a Tee.

From: George Reynolds (georger1998 yahoo.com)
Subject: windrow

Windrow should not be listed among words that appear misspelled, it should appear in the theme: if you think it’s misspelled then you grew up in the city. I grew up in dairy farming country outside of Ann Arbor, I’ve known this word since I was probably five, and of course this is the way you spell it. One of the most exciting days of my childhood was the day I was allowed to drive the tractor to create the windrows in preparation for baling.

George Reynolds, Whately, Massachusetts

From: Richard Bailey (hms-rose comcast.net)
Subject: windrow

This happens at sea, too; windrows of Sargassum or Sargasso seaweed often form between Bermuda and the Bahamas.

Richard Bailey, Wellfleet, Massachusetts

From: Robert Alcock (ralcock euskalnet.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--windrow

Also, a line of foam created by wind on the sea. A beautiful image in the last line of Antonio Machado’s famous poem “Caminante no hay camino”:

“Caminante, no hay camino, sino estelas en la mar.”
(Walker, there are no paths, only windrows on the waves.)

Robert Alcock, Cantabria, Spain

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--windrow

In my part of North America -- Michigan -- windrow is a word used to describe a row of closely planted trees, usually tall and narrow species, that serves as a windbreak to protect a farmer’s plowed field from the ravages of strong winds. The same type of windrows are planted along country roads to their windward to protect from the drifting snow that comes blowing in off the Great Lakes.

Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: Bobbie Swanson (via online comments)
Subject: angor

In France, the term angor is used interchangeably with angine de poitrine or angina pectoris which reflects the original description of William Heberden in 1768: “The seat of it, and sense of strangling, and anxiety with which it is attended, may make it not improperly be called angina pectoris.”

Bobbie Swanson, Portland, Oregon

From: Beatrice Milner (beatrice.milner galtmuseum.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--angor

I live in Alberta, Canada. At the moment there is a wildfire working its way through the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta. Approximately 1600 homes have been destroyed. Could any word more aptly describe the feelings of those who have lost everything this week: everything material but thankfully no loss of life.

Beatrice Milner, Lethbridge, Canada

From: J.A.P. Meulendijk (rosemoor walwynscastle.com)
Subject: Refect

This word made me think back to my secondary school years.

These were spent at a Catholic grammar school, initially run by a monastery as a “klein seminarie”, Dutch for “priests’ training school”. In my days it was no longer that, but there were lots of clear signs of the past; many of them the names of the various functions, rooms, services, etc.

The Dutch version of “refectory” is “refter”, where the boarders had their meals. In those days I did not know the English equivalent. I only got to know that after moving to where we live now and finding the local St. David’s Cathedral opening part of its complex as “the refectory” -- to help fund the ever-ongoing repairs and maintenance old monastic buildings require. Full circle, encapsulated in a single word.

Jan Meulendijk, Haverfordwest, UK

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--refect

Where I went to seminary, the dining hall was called the refectory, and the student in charge was called the refectorian. We said grace in Latin, including the psalm verse:

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine,
Et tu das escam illorum in tempore opportuno;
Aperis tu manum tuum, et imples omne animal benedictione.

“Omne animal” seemed appropriate, because the dean’s dog followed us down from Evensong and made the rounds of the tables, begging food.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: M.P. Chevrette (i_humanist msn.com)
Subject: Refect the cat!

When I tell my son Benjamin to feed our cat Shelby, I can’t help but worry that the poor animal might die of thirst as Number Two Son will go to great lengths to avoid anything that looks like a chore.

So, I’ve tried to be very specific about what he needs to do. “Feed and water the cat.” Cute. “Feed and hydrate the cat?” Too technical. I needed to coin a new phrase.

Then came A.Word.A.Day with its just in time wordsmithing. Refect covers the water front. “Son, please refect the cat!” Rather alliterative, too. (But I did have to add it to my spellchecker.)

M.P. Chevrette, South Hadley, Massachusetts

From: Evan Hazard (eehazard paulbunyan.net)
Subject: refection

The noun refection is a synonym of reingestion, the act of passing feces a second time through the digestive tract. It had been noted late in the 19th century by Morot and rediscovered in mid-20th century by various authors. Reingestion of soft feces (and sometimes hard) apparently occurs in all leporids studied, as well as in many rodents. It permits recovery of nutrients released by gut bacteria but not absorbed through the gut wall first time through. Rumor has it that it was noted at night by an insomniac German rabbit keeper in the ‘30s-’40s, and that when he reported it, Nazis initially wanted the ‘repulsive’ habit bred out of domestic rabbits. I find no reference to that in the professional literature.

Evan Hazard, Bemidji, Minnesota

From: Ted Drachman (TLDrach gmail.com)
Subject: Words That Appear Misspelled

A lot of years ago, newly arrived in New York City, I was seeking editorial work -- proofreading acceptable. At one publisher’s, I was given a test: a page with 100 words, on which I was to indicate which were misspelled, without the use of any reference book. The words were somewhat odd: many (if not all) of them seemed to be unusual words that resembled more common ones; the one that I remember was “ordnance”, a collective word for guns and ammunition, which might have been mistaken for a misspelling of “ordinance”, a more common word meaning a municipal regulation. I puzzled over the list for a while, finally indicating that only 3 of the 100 words were incorrectly spelled. As it turned out, all 100 of the words were correct; a perfect score would have been obtained by simply handing the list back unmarked! My score of 97 out of 100 was considered excellent, though I no longer recall if I was offered a job.

Ted Drachman, New York, New York

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

The anagram to the right is comprised of the letters in all five words below, plus this heading:
1. gapeseed
2. windrow
3. unwonted
4. angor
5. refect
1. he who’d stare with mouth open (pig, indeed!)
2. leaves, twigs or straw in a row for baling
3. not predicted
4. mental anguish
5. get fed to refresh cells

This week’s theme by Wordsmith Anu Garg: “Words that appear misspelled”:
1. gapeseed
2. windrow
3. unwonted
4. angor
5. refect
Gosh, we speed by them as:
1. grapeseed (oils)
2. window (with panes)
3. unwanted (got dumped)
4. anger (wrath)
5. reflect (mirror task)

Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico

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

From heights that would give us a nosebleed
The thunder god stared like a gapeseed.
Having seen the caboose
Of young Ganymede, Zeus
Paid no mind that abduction’s a misdeed.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The seasons arranged in a windrow
Of leaves, dandelions, and snow,
Each one bears its gifts,
Then silently shifts
Making room for the rest as they go.

-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

To be unwanted was unwonted
For the candidate feeling so vaunted.
But when voting was done
The other guy’d won,
And this one went home fully daunted.
-Steven Hight, Bedford, Indiana (stevenehight gmail.com)

If a girl is upset, full of angor,
I wouldn’t suggest you harangue her.
A softer approach
As her mentor, her coach,
And your airplane will land in her hangar.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When they asked me to come and refect,
I should have known what to expect.
The inedible meal
was quite an ordeal.
Next invite I’ll politely reject.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: For your revilation

The carnival sideshow upset the pastor. After a few gapeseed seen enough.

“Windrow” yields such obvious puns. Instead, here’s a derivation:
Q: Who coined the word “innuendo?”
A: Shakespeare, when he had Romeo yell, “Hey, Juliet! Here I come innuendo.”

Following Chappaquiddick, some voters decided to unwonted.

Angor? Wat were you thinking, Anu?

“If you shear him you’ll angor a rabbit.”

Told the restaurant was closed, Rodney Dangerfield said, “I don’t get no refect.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

For every language that becomes extinct, an image of man disappears. -Octavio Paz, poet, diplomat, Nobel laureate (1914-1998)

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