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AWADmail Issue 735

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

This Orangutan is Uprooting What We Previously Knew About Language
The Washington Post

Goodbye, Etc: Why the UK Government Will Stop Using Latin Abbreviations Online
The Guardian

For Children with Autism, Multiple Languages May Be a Boon
Scientific American

First Major Database of Non-Native English
MIT News

From: Charles H. Hegarty (chheg61 yahoo.com)
Subject: Snowflakes

No two snowflakes are alike

Sorry, Snowflake Bently (probably the only time that someone was called a flake in a positive manner), but Nancy Knight found two in a Missouri snowstorm in 1988.

Charles H. Hegarty, St. Johnsbury, Vermont

She found two nearly identical, but not alike. See here:
“Nancy gained a measure of media fame after ‘No Two Alike?’, her 1988 paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. In it, she analyzed two nearly identical snowflakes she’d collected and photographed in a Wisconsin field campaign. ‘The most surprising thing to Nancy and me was the deluge of publicity it produced,’ says Charlie, who notes that it was the BAMS editor who named the paper. ‘Lots and lots of snow crystals are “alike”, meaning similar, but “no two alike” seemed to translate in people’s minds to ‘no two identical’.”
-Anu Garg

From: Nancy Schpatz (nns fuse.net)
Subject: Eric Hoffer

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author

While I was having lunch with a friend many years ago, he reached in his pocket and proudly drew out a lined piece of paper obviously ripped from a student notebook. Handwritten in pencil, it was from Eric Hoffer. My friend had written Hoffer after hearing James Day interview him on TV. While I had never heard of Hoffer, I was positively impressed by Hoffer’s modest response, so important to my friend. After watching Hoffer on TV and reading his books I, too, became a “true believer”.

Nancy Schpatz, Cincinnati, Ohio

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: compunctious husbands, and a German word for the gift

“Fun often comes in the form of a compunctious husband who can’t come up with what to say on the card accompanying his floral offering of atonement to an angry wife.”

This won’t be a politically-correct comment about the wives of compunctious husbands, but here goes:

There is or was a German colloquial term for the gift a husband gives to his wife upon arriving home late: Drachenfutter, or dragon fodder. Years ago, I found that in Howard Rheingold’s 1988 book “They Have a Word for It”. He said that at one time it wasn’t unusual to see men drinking in bars or cafes with their Drachenfutter already wrapped.

Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS, Olympia, Washington

From: Sheldon S. Burnston (brbart1213 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ingenious

One of my college professors, who shall remain nameless due to the effects of some fifty years of living on my memory, used a slightly different definition. He would often remark that a particularly laborious answer from a student was “ingenious, from the Latin: ‘in’, meaning ‘without’, and ‘genious’, meaning ‘intelligence’.”

Sheldon S. Burnston, Haworth, New Jersey

Email of the Week - Brought to you by Old’s Cool - Have a bling-blingy summer on the cheap. SHOP NOW.

From: Steve Swift (steve.j.swift gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ingenious

I have noticed that when chickens quit quarreling over their food they often find that there is enough for all of them I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race. -Don Marquis, humorist and poet (29 Jul 1878-1937)

Every evening we put out in our garden a tinful of dog food for the injured fox and a few cups of peanuts for our family of badgers. The fox enjoys the badgers’ peanuts and the badgers will eat some of fox’s dog food. At times, a badger and a fox can be seen eating peacefully from the same bowl of dog food. “If only humans could do the same,” I sigh.

Steve Swift, Alton, UK

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

The anagram to the right is composed of all the letters in the five words below, plus this heading:
1. equanimous
2. mumpish
3. compunctious
4. vituperative
5. ingenious
1. composed, tranquil, with smooth temper
2. sullen, glum, dour
3. penitent, has mustered apologies
4. abusive, offensive, uncouth
5. imaginative, artistic, with high hopes
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.
Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina

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

Says her mate to the fat hippopotamus,
“My dear, you are much too equanimous
concerning your weight.
Your face still looks great,
but I hate that you’re getting so bottomous.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said old Mrs. Bosch to Hieronymus,
“I wish you would act more equanimous.
Your works are bizarre.”
He replied, “Yes, they are,
But at least I won’t end up anonymous.”
-Adam Perl, Ithaca, New York (adam pastimes.com)

The teenager, in a foul mood,
Was mumpish and often quite rude.
He went to his room,
With an aura of gloom,
And an urge to do nothing but brood.
-Gigi Pagani, San Rafael, California (gigi4cats gmail.com)

Bernie’s delegates are mumpish,
Others are vocal and grumpish.
Though they are still wary,
To vote for Hillary,
They swear that they won’t be Trumpish.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

His approach to the girl was quite bumptious.
He was drunk, crude, and pretty rambunctious,
but, hung over next day,
he was heard sadly say,
“Guess I blew it. I’m feeling compunctious.”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

At conventions the mood is rambunctious
And the girls at the parties -- so scrumptious.
In much the same club
Is a Dem or Repub
Going home with some feelings compunctious.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The secret to being communicative,”
Says Trump, “Is to keep it vituperative.
What more need I know?
My reality show
Proved that trash talk is highly remunerative.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The concierge was vituperative
When the guest became punitive.
“I thought you knew
If you wanted a view
That our rooms are quite prohibitive.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

A feckless young lady from Kent
had trouble just paying her rent.
Though truly ingenious,
she had but a tenuous
grasp of what budgeting meant.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Our political system’s ingenious,
By appearances heterogeneous.
“But for money in sacks,”
Say the corporate PACs,
“Entertain us! Wine, dine, and martini us!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns to describe (deride?) people

That Putin -- equanimous’s with your mind, doesn’t he?

After having my wisdom teeth pulled, I not only acted, I looked mumpish.

“Compunctious,” begged the masochists. The sadist thought and said, “No.”

When Violet joined another inmate to watch, a guard yelled, “Dammit Vituperative-ee isn’t allowed.”

The foreign-born geneticist said, “Counting DNA strand ingenious really difficult to do.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Grant Agnew (ggttwwaa gmail.com)
Subject: Voting (Re: AWADmail 734)

If I might make a late comment on an AWADmail issue -- as an Australian, I am continually shocked at the way Americans casually accept practical restrictions on their much-vaunted right to vote.

In Australia, voting is compulsory, but it is first and foremost an absolute right which must never be restricted. The government must therefore do everything possible to enable the people to vote. To begin with, our elections are held on Saturdays, when almost everyone can easily get to a polling place between 8 am and 6 pm. We go to some trouble to ensure that patients in hospitals and servicemen overseas can vote too. There is postal voting for anyone precluded from voting on a Saturday (orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, anyone at all with a religious problem about it, and also those who plan to be away from home on the day).

If you just happen to be away from home on the day, you can claim an absentee vote at any polling place anywhere in the State for a State election or anywhere in the whole country for a Federal election. That’s right -- if you live in Hobart, you can vote in Darwin or Perth at a federal election. If you don’t like the length of the queue at your local polling place, you can always go somewhere smaller which has no queue at all and vote absentee there.

And if your name is not on the electoral roll but you want to vote, you may claim a “section” vote (named after the relevant section of the Electoral Act) which allows you to vote anyway (but the details of your claim will be scrutinised first, before your vote is counted). All the counting is done by hand with the doors of the polling place firmly shut but with scrutineers from any and every party allowed to watch closely if they wish (they can’t touch anything, but they can make objections, and after that they can make life unbearably hard for any wayward polling official who doesn’t follow the requirements of the law).

Grant Agnew, Brisbane, Australia

Language is like soil. However rich, it is subject to erosion, and its fertility is constantly threatened by uses that exhaust its vitality. It needs constant re-invigoration if it is not to become arid and sterile. Elizabeth Drew, author, critic (1887-1965)

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