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AWADmail Issue 737

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

Sponsor’s Message: What’s “old school” mean to you? A straight-razor shave? Cream whipped up with a whisk? You gotta be impressed by a man who stands up and looks you in the eye when he shakes your hand. A sincere “sorry”. White gloves in church. So, we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, James Polichak (see below), as well as all you traditionistas out there a chance to tell us what you value and love about the world we are losing or have already lost, and win some of our authentic ludic loot, to boot. ENTER The Old’s Cool Contest NOW.

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

Love in Translation
The New Yorker

The Race to Save a Dying Language
The Guardian

Brazilians Speak Portuguese, But the Olympics Must Use French
The New York Times

From: Irwin Mortman (imortman me.com)
Subject: Yes and No (Re: dabster)

Your boss’s favorite answer was, “Well, the answer is yes and no.” Reminds me that answers to nearly all Jewish questions are “It depends.” Hence, that’s the reason it’s difficult to obtain a straight answer to Jewish questions.

Irwin Mortman, Cincinnati, Ohio

Email of the Week: Milk a dollar out of every dime, before it’s too late - SHOP OLD’S COOL NOW.

From: James Polichak (jameswpolichak gmail.com)
Subject: When the Middle Is the Place To Be

Your recent comment, “While life often has gray areas, straddling the middle doesn’t lead us anywhere”, immediately provoked an opposing response in my mind.

In spatial modelling of problem solutions, what is the “middle” are the peaks in the solution set. Traveling in any direction creates poorer results. However, the current peak may not be the highest peak. To determine whether it is beneficial to leave one’s current peak for the nearest higher peak depends on the height of the ridge straddling the middle line between the peaks.

This is a mathematical adaptation from geography, specifically the geography of mountain ranges. The line created by the ridges that connect the peaks of the highest mountains is the middle of the mountain range. It is here where the geological continental divide is found, and politically where the borders of nations are found.

Rivers and lines of longitude and latitude may also provide such political boundaries. But rivers can change their courses in important ways within a lifetime, while mountain ranges do not. Rivers and the imaginary lines crossing the globe are often disregarded as obstacles to interaction by the people living near them. Rivers, particularly, may be facilitators of interaction. And facilitators of conflict.

But somewhere inside all of us lies the desire to be at the border between two spaces, to be able to answer “yes and no” to the question of “Am I in Arizona?”

James Polichak, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Werner J. Hälg (werner.haelg tecan.com)
Subject: Well, the answer is yes and no

My former superior also stated “Every question can be answered by Yes or No.”

I asked, “Did you stop abusing alcohol? Yes or No.” He admitted, at the end, life is sometimes more complex than Yes or No.

Werner J. Hälg, Männedorf, Switzerland

From: Judy Steeh (judy.steeh yahoo.com)
Subject: Middle of the road

Re: this snippet from Monday morning’s intro on A.Word.A.Day: “While life often has gray areas, straddling the middle doesn’t lead us anywhere.”

We’re just reading an old Jim Hightower book titled There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.

Judy Steeh, Ann Arbor, Michigan

From: David Housden (davidhousden talktalk.net)
Subject: dabster

Here in the UK these days one is likely to observe that someone is a “dab hand” -- in fact an expert. However, people can be “dabbling” at something, in other words, they are unfamiliar with the task at hand -- in fact an amateur.

David Housden, Cambridge, UK

From: JB Bryant (knntusmy jbryant.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--depthless

When I was in elementary school (centuries ago), my mother was going to be one of the parent drivers for our class field trip. One of the other boys asked me, “Is your mom a reckless driver?” When I answered “Yes,” he surprised me by saying he wasn’t going to ride with her.

I had never heard the word “reckless” before that, but it seemed obvious to me that it meant “without a wreck” just as penniless means without a penny.

JB Bryant, Marshalltown, Iowa

From: Robert Godden (robert.godden gmail.com)
Subject: grog

Grog is an everyday word in Australia. Often used in the form “sly grog” to indicate illicit alcohol. But then again, we are a country that once used rum as currency, so what do you expect?

Robert Godden, Adelaide, Australia

From: Gigi Gottwald (gottwalds axxess.co.za)
Subject: grog

I’m prepared to bet that while all northern Germans know what Grog is, few will know the origin of the word. I certainly didn’t know till today! Enter any pub on a cold winter’s evening in the North Sea coast region of Germany, and you’ll be greeted by the warm aroma of hot rum. This is what we call “Grog” (capitalized for being a noun): a stiff tot of brown rum, sweetened with a cube or two of sugar, topped up with boiling water and served in special bell-shaped grog-glasses.

To prevent the glass from cracking, a little stick of glass is inserted, which can also be used for stirring. A German Grog seems to combine both meanings of the word: while diluted with water, it’s still a strong, alcoholic drink. If a Grog doesn’t warm you, inside out, you are probably dead!

Here’s to Old Grog who inspired this wonderful drink!

Gigi Gottwald, Polokwane, South Africa

From: Glenn Cooke (racoontoo gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--grog

Don’t forget the additional meaning of grog: the coarse-textured, partially-fired ceramic used to add body to clay in wheel-throwing.

Glenn Cooke, Brisbane, Australia

From: Alex Novak (tawdryknickers gmail.com)
Subject: From grog to gimlet

While Old Grog declared that rum rations should be cut with water, the Royal Navy eventually added lemon juice to improve the stagnant flavor. What Vernon’s grumbling sailors did not realize at the time was that the occasional addition of citrus juice for flavor was giving them the extra vitamin C they needed to avoid scurvy. Seven years later, James Lind formally proved the efficacy of citrus to curb the disease. Eventually, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1867 required all ships of the British military and merchant fleet to provide sailors with a regular dollop of lime juice -- leading to the nickname “limey” for English immigrants in the early British colonies.

By the time the act was passed, Lauchlin Rose had patented a method for preserving citrus juice in a sugar syrup without alcohol -- Rose’s Lime Juice. Unfortunately, it tasted like bilgewater. All of which leads us to the beloved Dr. Thomas Gimlette, who is believed to have joined the Royal Navy in 1879. It took him eleven years, but Gimlette finally hit on a solution for encouraging sailors to drink their daily dose of lime juice -- adding gin. The gimlet was born.

Alex Novak, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

From: Sue J. Siegel (sjsiegel5 icloud.com)
Subject: Gros Grain

The word also appears as in ‘grosgrain ribbon’, a decorative ribbed ribbon available in various widths used as a hair ornament or in gift wrapping. Also a horizontal weave in elegant silk or rayon fabric for expensive clothing articles and for upholstered furniture coverings.

Sue J. Siegel, San Francisco, California

From: Ray Schlabach (crdutchman gmail.com)
Subject: sanction

Recently I went to the supermarket and saw a sign “parking sanctioned”. This left me puzzled -- is it approved or punished? I still don’t know!

Raymond Schlabach, Heredia, Costa Rica

From: Cynthia Pollet (cyn.pollet gmail.com)
Subject: Contranyms

One phrase that has puzzled me is “It’s all downhill from here.” Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I’ve heard it both ways.

For example: She lost her job, and it was all downhill from then on till she became homeless.
OR: Once she passed her bar exam, it was all downhill from then on; she never worried about missing a meal again.

Since I’m a bicyclist, I would generally go with the latter as the better usage.

Cynthia Pollet, Adrian, Michigan

From: Sue Goldstein (sue.goldstein leg.wa.gov)
Subject: Contranyms

I was quite pleased to see this week’s theme. I have a list at my desk of antagonyms , which is a synonym for contranyms. My favorites are “sanction”, “splice”, and “cleave”. Also on the list are “hulled”, “seeded”, and “shelled”. I was once asked to write something that sanctioned a particular activity, so I had to ask whether the person wanted to prohibit or permit the activity. This was an important question since I am a nonpartisan legislative bill drafter. Words (and meanings) matter.

Sue Goldstein, Olympia, Washington

From: Frank Muller (frank integrow.co.za)
Subject: Contranyms

Contranyms seem to have distant roots. However, there are some modern ones, too:

Adult (adjective):
A human who is not a slave to beastly passions.
Content which reduces humans to objects of beastly passions. (Ditto for “mature”)

Bail out:
Abandoning a sinking ship or falling plane.
Not abandoning a sinking company, by further indebting it.

Frank Muller, George, South Africa

From: Anthony Vazquez (tonyvazquez me.com)
Subject: Re: This week’s theme: Contranyms

I always enjoyed the riddle: The name of which US state is made of two antonyms separated by the letter ‘i’? People often mistakenly go for the homonym state, Ohio. But Connect-i-cut is the only state that cleaves to the rule and is cleft with an ‘i’.

Anthony Vazquez, Brooklyn, New York

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 these five words below, plus this heading:
1. dabster
2. salad days
3. depthless
4. grog
5. sententious
At odds:
1. master; bungler
2. innocent times; fast prosperity
3. that’s deep; that’s shallow
4. strong ale; diluted beverage
5. held to high ideas; shows selfish ego

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

To his fate as the two kinds of dabster
The Titanic bore John Jacob Astor.
An industry captain,
He somehow got trapped in
The ship that was bound for disaster.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It is clear that The Donald’s a dabster;
When he hears the name Hill’ry he slags her.
She will prove paramount,
He’ll demand a recount,
But his votes will be low -- as his jabs were.
-Maggie Brady, Vancouver, Canada (exceedyourgrasp hotmail.com)

Let us now explicate “salad days”:
Shakespeare quite possibly coined the phrase.
If that’s what he did, did he
Pun from viridity,
Seeking a new etymology craze?
-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (oliver49 shaw.ca)

His shallow words left her breathless.
She thought him completely depthless.
Said the Queen to Sir Raleigh,
“This affair is a folly.”
Then, left him Elizabeth less.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

If he didn’t display such ineptness,
perhaps we would feel more distressless
re: whether he’s fit
as commander to sit,
but the man seems incredibly depthless.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Lettuce picture our Don in his salad days;
“Buy the Waldorf” was then his fave ballad phrase.
Now he pumps up his celery,
Tosses insults at Hillary
(Endive spotted less oil in my mayonnaise).
-Maggie Brady, Vancouver, Canada (exceedyourgrasp hotmail.com)

Beware! When a chap wants a snog
He might ply you with plenty of grog.
The memories of such
Nights of drinking too much
Are a quite disagreeable fog.
-Gigi Gottwald, Polokwane, South Africa (gottwalds axxess.co.za)

A little too much of the grog
And I write nothing more in my blog.
Though my wisdom is great,
The poor world now must wait
For my pallor’s as green as a frog.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In the pulpit the man was contentious
and given to sermons sententious,
but in his private life
he would cheat on his wife.
“Mr. Moral” was really licentious.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

On Sundays with heart conscientious
I pay heed to a vicar sententious.
But most of the week,
And right now as we speak,
I’m carousing with saucy young wenches.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Phil’s puerile puns

Each time she cries, she dabster eyes.

If I give salad days pay, I expect a day’s work from him.

I find vampire novels to be depthless prose.

Famed for micro-breweries, Seattle gave us Anu Grog in 1994.

Although the basketball game lasted two hours, the coach sententious one substitute.

PS: In googling Anu to make certain of his locale in Washington, I learned of his former work in the IT field. I’m a retired computer wonk (began as a USAF programmer in 1965) and made up this joke sometime in the 1990s:

Q: What do you get if you cross Lee Iacocca with Count Dracula?
A: An autoexec bat.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It is with words as with sunbeams, the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. -Robert Southey, poet (1774-1843)

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