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AWADmail Issue 757A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
Sponsor’s Message: Old’s Cool Company hopes that 2017 is a jingle-jangle interesting, ludic adventure for Email of the Week winner Thomas Wilson, as well as all word lovers everywhere. Cheers!
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: John M Estill (jmestill gmail.com)
I appreciated Serge Marelli’s biblical play on words:
Jesus said : “In Truth, y = x2!”
The disciples were a little confused, and Mark said, “Listen Jesus, usually we can understand what you mean, but this time you’ve lost us.” To this Jesus answered, “This is expected, it is a parable!”
Serge Marelli, Luxembourg
I suspect M. Marelli first cast his pun in French, where “parable” and “parabola” are indeed the same word -- “parabole”. A similar identity holds in Spanish, where both meanings are conveyed by “parábola”.
John Estill, Millersburg, Ohio
From: Julia Brown (juliabrownpr yahoo.com)
The lyric you highlighted on Monday, Dec. 26 (“I see God in birds and Satan in long words.”) made me giggle. It is the exact opposite for me! I’m terrified of birds and see such great beauty in long words.
Julia Brown, Springfield, Illinois
From: Ron Betchley (emef2012 aol.com)
The Cowardly Lion in the film Wizard of Oz manages to put chintz in its place, with his infinitely memorable line:
“If I were king of the fore-e-e-est / Not queen, not duke, not prince / My regal robes of the fore-e-e-est / Would be satin, not cotton, not chintz...”
Ron Betchley, Yarker, Canada
From: Michael Ross (mikerossqq blueyonder.co.uk)
As far as I know the longest word in English in alphabetical order is “billowy” (7 letters).
Mike Ross, Exeter, UK
From: Judy Purvis (judypurvis921 gmail.com)
My father, humorist and academic psychologist, once wrote a mock paper, complete with footnotes, on the discovery of an Arabian insect called the Sesquipede. The colonies were run by “surrugations (i.e., committees)” and subsurrogations such as the Sub-surrogations-on-Special-Groups-of-Surrogations. You can imagine how many faculty meetings he had sat through. I quote one of the footnotes here, however, because it applies to today’s word:
“Sesquipede is the accepted form of this name, rather than the frequently-heard sesquipedalian, which should remain adjectival. The vulgarism, sesquipedant, seems to have attained illegitimate popularity through what Professor von Drang identifies as ‘Erin gang zelbstverstandlicher aber volksetymologischer Irrtum’.”
Judy Purvis, Durham, North Carolina
From: David Calder (dvdcalder gmail.com)
Loved the shop window photo. Recalls my father’s joke word: bachundpantsenschiffersnatcherwagenmechaniwerkehaus...for the garage where a mechanic repairs the dog catcher’s van.
David Calder, New Plymouth, New Zealand
From: Margaret Altman (MirAlt aol.com)
Yes, German is THE go-to language for sesquipedalian words. Matter of fact, back in the late 1940’s, the literary work our high-school German class was given to read, Albert Schweizer’s Leben und Denken (Life and Thought), was chock full of sesquipedalians. Our favourite indoor sport was scouring the book for its longest word. Finally, one of my classmates found it. It is “Karfreitagnachmittagsgottesdienst” (Good Friday afternoon service), nine syllables. Now, while that syllable count doesn’t exceed that of “Fussbodensschleifmaschinenverleih”, your example, it certainly matches it.
Margaret Altman, Toronto, Canada
From: Helen Colvin (tcolvin sympatico.ca)
Helen Colvin, Mountsberg, Canada
From: Thomas Wilson (thomas.wilson.percussion gmail.com)
While I appreciate the sentiment, a hemidemisemiquaver is neither the shortest note nor the note with the longest name. In fact, Beethoven and Mozart both used notes that are four times shorter: 256th notes, or demisemihemidemisemiquavers!
Thomas Wilson, Charlton, Massachusetts
From: Jim Taggart (iagot alum.mit.edu)
Years ago I was doing the New York Times Sunday crossword. The word ran across the whole puzzle. The clue was “Saver of 64th notes”. It worked out to be hemidemisemiquaversaver.
Jim Taggart, Hudson, New Hampshire
From: Robert Lapworth (robert.lapworth gmail.com)
My father recently passed away. He wasn’t a wealthy man, leaving just enough money for his burial and a few belongings -- but he was a rich man and he left me not only his love for words and language, but his complete Oxford English Dictionary and a voluminous collection of books which meant so much to him.
I just wanted to let you know that even though I am the proud owner of this collection, I shall not for one hemidemisemiquaver of a second consider unsubscribing from your A.Word.A.Day.
Robert Lapworth, London, UK
From: John Lepse (j.lepse att.net)
Another example of prefixes gone wild comes from the medical field: esophogastroduodenoscopy. It’s a procedure most often performed by gastroenterologists.
John Lepse, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
From: Charles Livingston (cliv verizon.net)
And I just saw this for the first time today: Super callous fragile racist extra braggadocious.
Charlie Livingston, Plano, Texas
From: Steven Galkin (sgalkin optonline.net)
Early on, when I got my first iPhone with Siri, I said to Siri “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and she answered with, “Is that you, Mary?”
Steven Galkin, Greenwich, Connecticut
From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
It actually comes from a shopping list that listed cans of Campbell’s, a cruciate vegetable, check prices on a new icebox, some stretchy fabric, ingredients for omelets, some legumes, and some mouthwash. In other words, “Soup, a cauli, fridge, elastic, eggs, peas, halitosis.”
Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois
From: Gordon Cowell (gordoncowell yahoo.com)
When the modest Highland football side, Inverness Caledonian Thistle (Caley), turned giant-killers in the Scottish Cup and beat the mighty Celtic (who have practically converted all football competitions into a one-horse race in recent times), one wag produced the following headline in the Scottish Sun: “Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious”.
Gordon Cowell, Salamanca, Spain
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: dermatoglyphics and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
While working at Disney TV Animation on their studio main lot in the early 2000s, I was privileged to have witnessed the dedication ceremony of the very sound stage where much of Mary Poppins was shot... to Julie Andrews... now officially “The Julie Andrews Sound Stage”.
It was a noonish, outdoor event, and Julie, her “Poppins” costar Dick Van Dyke, and then-budding actress Anne Hathaway were on the improvised stage with quite a sizable gathering of Disney staffers in attendance. Anne had recently costarred with Andrews in the first of their three The Princess Diaries films. Van Dyke, after making a gracious speech extolling Andrews, actually broke into a little lively dance number, reminiscent of one of his “gambits” from Mary Poppins. He was still as spry and funny as ever.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California
From: Kathy Borst (kborst mcn.org)
My favorite long word from high school was antidisestablishmentarianism.
I fear that, if Trump is impeached (or never inaugurated), an eventuality I expect and many predict, Mike Pence, an establishmentarian if ever there was one, will further the cause of creating a State Religion/Church. Then we who oppose it will be the disestablishmentarians. And, if a future president dumps the State Church, those who oppose that will be antidisestablishmentarians. Even though things will be dreadful, at least we’ll get to use some really great words. I find I’m already anticipating looking for the little pleasures through the chaos and hard times.
Kathy Borst, Yorkville, California
From: John Sgammato (john.sgammato actifio.com)
In June, we visited Ireland, a land known for its men of letters. From the window of our room in Cork, we saw a dreary alley, on the wall of which was spray-painted Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcani. Alas! to get 36/45ths of the way...
John Sgammato, Waltham, Massachusetts
From: Sonny Gibson (Swgibson74 gmail.com)
Unsubscription feedback: Sent way too often and in the middle of the night. Email alerts wake me.
Sonny Gibson, Eugene, Oregon
No one should be woken up in the middle of the night (or day) because the latest A.Word.A.Day has landed in their mailbox, no matter how interesting the word or how profound the thought for the day. The server that delivers A.Word.A.Day to your mailbox gets into action at midnight (New York time) and puts together various components (the word, its definition, etymology, usage, pronunciation, quotation, sponsor’s message, and more). It then hands over the finished email to the mailer which picks up its bicycle and starts its delivery route, putting AWAD into readers’ email boxes around the world. Six days a week. Year round. Santa has to travel only once a year.
Our mailer is a hard-working program. It continues delivering for about five hours without even a single coffee break. Most readers receive AWAD without a hitch. A small fraction don’t. Their mailserver might say, for example, “Hmmm... you have the h-word in the email and it’s a slur. We do not want this email.” What could have been that offending word? The first word of the unabbreviated term H. Sapiens.
By the morning readers have the latest A.Word.A.Day in their email, ready to enjoy with their morning coffee. Since our readers are all around the globe, some receive it when it’s their lunch time or dinner time in the case of Australians.
Back to your feedback. Yes, it’s sent every weekday, as the name implies. It used to be every day, but back in 2000 we changed from seven to five days a week. About the delivery time, we could ask each reader their preferred time to receive it and then program our systems accordingly, but that’s making things too complicated.
So the question is why someone would want to be alerted in the middle of the night on receiving an email, any email. I understand that some might expect important alerts, doctors, for example, but then there are better modes of communication than email.
At any rate, thanks for being a subscriber for the last two years. We
appreciated having you over. If you miss us, you know where to find us again.
Our mailer still
remembers the delivery route to your email box.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
There was a young lady from Minsk
“In the Oval I should have worn chintz,”
Sensation at the outer space show!
Politicians are long-winded folks,
Sesquipedalian is a very long word,
Adherents of dermatoglyphics
The sad and yet gory specifics
First hemi-, then demi-, then semi-, then quaver?
A giant word ending in “docious”
I am suffering from a word so atrocious,
From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
This week marks the end of my unbroken streak after just under two years as I prepare to leave on a backpacking trip through India with my younger daughter. The good news is that our (that is, myself, Zelda Dvoretsky, Phil Graham, and Lindsay Crane) book, Limericks in the Time of Trump, a selection of works relating to the 2016 election and featuring an introduction by Anu, will imminently be coming out on Amazon!
I hope AWAD readers will enjoy it and spread the word, and I look forward to resuming my sanity-saving retirement hobby at the end of January.
Steve Benko, New York, New York
From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
“Would I buy those curtains? Not a chintz.”
The Pacific Northwest’s version of a yeti leaves Sasquapedalian footprints.
That 10-pounder is the world’s largest dermato (glyphics not a fake).
Wanting less vibrato from Ms. Moore on the 5th hymn, the director said, “On Hymn E, Demi, semi-quaver.”
Thank goodness, a pun on “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ has been in the public domain for at least 50 years. On the off chance that a reader has yet to hear it, here goes...
As you know, Mahatma Gandhi walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. These features combined to make him a super callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma
From: Jaya Nicholas (jaya.dutch googlemail.com)
My first word arrived today. Am so thrilled I was introduced to you by a friend. My step-father, Robert Dutch, revised Roget’s Thesaurus in 1962. So we were always aware of words and I now realise how much I missed “new” ones. Thank you.
Jaya Nicholas, UK
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:In words as fashions the same rule will hold, / Alike fantastic if too new or old; / Be not the first by whom the new are tried, / Nor yet the last to lay the old aside. -Alexander Pope, poet (1688-1744)