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AWADmail Issue 736

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

England’s Reflexive Pronoun Epidemic
The New York Times

Euphemise This

How Do You Say ‘Hashtag’ or ‘Shaming’ in Ancient Hebrew?
The New York Times

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Calumniate

In Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville, the music teacher Basilio advises Don Bartolo, Rosina’s guardian, to start a whispering campaign against Rosina’s suitor Lindoro (in reality Count Almaviva), which would in time gather strength and calumniate him com’ un colpo di canone, like a shot out of a cannon. Hence its sobriquet title, the “calumny” aria.

The calumny is a little wind,
a very gentle little breeze
which numbly, softly,
lightly, kindly,
begins to whisper.
more ...

It is sung quietly at first, then as the aria progresses, the voice becomes louder and louder, ending in a fortissimo. A vocal rendition of the piece by the redoubtable Feodor Chaliapin may be found here.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Jonathan Danilowitz (jonathan.danilowitz gmail.com)
Subject: Calumniate

The noun from the verb calumniate is “politician”.

Jonathan Danilowitz, Tel Aviv, Israel

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exonerate

Sadly, the lion’s share of officially exonerated former US prisoners, mostly persons-of-color (that would be non-white folk), have served decades, often potentially the best, most productive years of their lives, incarcerated for a criminal act or crimes they did not actually commit, and moreover, were ultimately proven innocent of said felonious offenses.

Either fresh DNA analysis of evidential material collected at the original crime scene is revealed... clearing the false perpetrator; a mea culpa confession from the actual guilty perp surfaces; or an alleged eye-witness to said crime(s) recants their earlier false or questionable testimony at trial -- any one of these eventualities might come into play in exonerating the falsely convicted/imprisoned supposed felon. Perhaps too little, too late. A steep price paid for personal freedom.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Rama Kulkarni (drramakulkarni gmail.com)
Subject: Foozle

This brings back fond memories of the Greyfriars books, where “foozling frump” was among many less than complimentary epithets, cheerfully directed at the one and only Billy Bunter. (They were always richly deserved!)

Rama Kulkarni, Santa Clara, California

From: Tom Reel (tom.reel cox.net)
Subject: Quoting Obama on his birthday

America has changed over the years. But these values my grandparents taught me -- they haven’t gone anywhere. They’re as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what’s in here. That’s what matters. And that’s why we can take the food and music and holidays and styles of other countries, and blend it into something uniquely our own. That’s why we can attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the globe to build new factories and create new industries here. That’s why our military can look the way it does -- every shade of humanity, forged into common service. That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.
-Barack Obama, US President (b. 4 Aug 1961) Source

Thank you for the “Thought for Today” from Barack Obama, included in your Thursday communication (his 55th birthday). London author Sam Leith’s book, Words Like Loaded Pistols - Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama investigates and examines the principles of great speeches across time, but I think my favorite quotation from his study is not an example of lofty or meticulously crafted rhetoric. Rather it is a quote from Obama speech-writer Jon Favreau who compared that job to “being Ted Williams’s batting coach”.

Tom Reel, Norfolk, Virginia

From: Chase Levey (chasecoll gmail.com)
Subject: Obama quotation

Beware of using a political quote. From a sitting president Your Obama quote today was enough to make me on subscribe. You should restrict your excellent site to honest quotes. This one is filled with pretentious lies.

Chase Levey, Chicago, Illinois

Ask yourself: If I didn’t know who said those words, would I still disagree with them?
Also, when accusing someone of lying, you’ll find it more persuasive if you back it up with reason. For example, see PolitiFact.
-Anu Garg

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

From: Mathieu Joly (jolymat gmail.com)
Subject: propitiate

On Thursday night, my girlfriend and I were playing Scrabble, in French. Having drawn two Ps and a bunch of Ts, I eventually thought of the verb propitiate (I vaguely knew this word in English, but not its precise meaning).

I then went looking in dictionaries for the French version of this verb, and it seems there is none, at least derived from this same Latin root. (I checked in Le Petit Robert, L’Officiel du Scrabble, and even the Robert Dictionnaire historique..., and yes, I admit to sometimes going on ‘fishing expeditions’ in the dictionary prior to selecting my next Scrabble word. Shhh!!)

Oddly enough, we do have words in French derived from the Latin propitiare: the adjective PROPICE (= propitious, still fairly much in use), and the rarer/older nouns PROPITIATION, PROPITIATOIRE, and even PROPITIATEUR, but it seems no cognate verb was derived from this source, or at least that has survived in modern French.

And then on Friday morning, what do I find in my AWAD? This very verb PROPITIATE!

Strange are the ways of the Word(s)!

Mathieu Joly, Ottawa, Canada

From: Barton Furse-Roberts (barfur43 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--propitiate

For many years, as a schoolboy, Holy Communion (1662 version) was a regular Sunday morning ritual, and a verse nearly always quoted was in part “and he is the propitiation for our sins.” It never occurred to me to find the meaning of this word but thanks to Wordsmith I now know its meaning. Now I shall investigate the word oblation also found in the same service. Many thanks for your enlightenment,

Barton Furse-Roberts, Sydney, Australia

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. calumniate
2. floccipend
3. exonerate
4. foozle
5. propitiate
1. slander, revile, infamize with malice
2. to call something worthless
3. to pardon, free, except
4. to bungle, goof up (hit edit!)
5. to appease, atone (child to his father)

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

There once was a Trump who calumniated,
But when he was himself Twitter-baited
He responded with scorn,
More insults were born:
His dark side seems never quite sated.
-Barry Thomas, Athens, Ohio (thomasb ohio.edu)

What can foot-in-mouth exonerate,
When Trump’s purple heart won’t honor rate?
Reactionary face
Lacking in any grace
Helps his campaign to degenerate.
-Daniel Ford, (forddm verizon.net)

His style is to just floccipend
whatever he can’t comprehend.
“Believe me. You wait,
we’re gonna be great-
but all this dumb stuff’s gotta end!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If Donald is elected, depend,
Constitution will be floccipend.
America’s Utopia,
Will turn into Trumpovia,
And the world, as we know it will end.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

His party attempts to exonerate
their unfortunate choice of a candidate.
When he opens his mouth
things begin to go south
as he fulminates, fumes, and vituperates.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He insists Trump U was just great,
And all the classes were first rate.
Still he does pillory,
“Lock her up,” Hillary,
Which one will we exonerate!
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The man made a pasta foozle
As diners took a perusal.
He ate manicotti
As well as John Gotti,
When a piece got stuck in his goozle.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

Said the psychic to Trump, “You and Cruz’ll
One day try to voters bamboozle.
But let me continue,
It isn’t within you
To win, for the whole thing you’ll foozle.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If she rued a particular dish she ate,
and she feared this her progress would vitiate,
she could just skip a meal.
It would be no big deal,
and the diet god she would propitiate.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Odysseus needed to vitiate
The storms, and Poseidon propitiate,
For he’d blinded the guy
Who had only one eye
To say nothing about all the fish he ate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: VERB-al abuse

When the bear spied a honey hole high up in a tree, he calumniate ‘til he was sick.

“I love how my floccipend enlarged the flower bed.”

Time to exonerate the huge oil company for the 1989 Prince William Sound spill?

Hitting a 2nd golf shot in the water was a re-foozle to play safe.

The jail matron said, “You should hear that propitiate beebees for breakfast!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The strength of a language does not lie in rejecting what is foreign but in assimilating it. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

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