Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



AWADmail Issue 763

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

Sponsor’s Message: The Traditionistas have spoken. But first, congrats to the Email of the Week winner, Norma Meyer (see below), who’ll receive our acclaimed One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game. We’ve asked our brainy readers what “Old’s Cool” really means, and hundreds of you shared your memories (and gripes) with us. We’ve sifted and sorted and finally selected the three entries that best sum the concept up. Take a walk down Nostalgia Street now.

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

Rediculous Chocker Trump Attaks and Dishoners English with Ever-Dummer Spellings
(What did the language ever do to him to deserve this disrespect?)

To Reject Trump the Perverse, Poets Wage a Battle in Verse
(Among the winners in the Trump poetry contest in the NYT is our very own limericist Steve Benko)

This Dictionary Keeps Subtweeting Trump
(When was the last time even a dictionary had to rise up?)

The Easy and Very Surprising Way to Learn a New Language
(Hint: Talk to another human being, not to a piece of software, no matter how clever)

From: Mark Poore (mark.poore sce.com)
Subject: Apology to Anu (Re: AWADmail 761)

Anu, I apologize for my previous outburst to you. It was immature and wrong, I regret it and retract it as well. I promise it will not happen twice. May I rejoin AWAD? Thank you for your consideration.

Mark Poore, Santa Ana, California

I accept your apology.
The door is always open at Wordsmith.org. You chose to unsubscribe, and you can rejoin at anytime.
Welcome back!
-Anu Garg

From: Robert A. Rushton (reloquent gmail.com)
Subject: Mrs. Grundy

I was introduced to the name “Mrs. Grundy” by Robert A. Heinlein in his novel Time Enough For Love. She appears as a quotation by the main character, Lazarus Long: “Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite.”

Robert A. Rushton, Brookline, New Hampshire

From: Mike Barker (mbarker mit.edu)
Subject: Struwwelpeter

But you really need to let people know that at the end of the story, they chopped off his head and his hands, to teach him to keep his hair and fingernails cut. I still remember that picture!

Mike Barker, Ikoma, Japan

Email of the Week: Brought to you by OLD’S COOL (Best by Test) -- Go Backward and Upward Now!

From: Norma Meyer (nsophm gmail.com)
Subject: Struwwelpeter

I think I have one of the original books. Heavy cardboard pages, approx 7x10. In our house it was pronounced “shtroofulpater”. Scared the living daylights out of me as a young child. Many cautionary tales to keep one on the straight and narrow. Especially the one about the thumb sucker!!

We lived across the street from the public library and I hung out there a lot. This was in the early 40s when you could send your pre-Kindergartner downstairs to play until lunch time. I came home announcing that I was going to grow up to be a librarian because they had the nicest fingernails. My mother, sensing a teachable moment, informed me that first I had to have nice nails before a decision could be made if I was worthy to become a librarian. Quit biting that same day. Take that, Struwwelpeter!

Norma Meyer, East China, Michigan

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

Mark Twain, who battled with the German language all his life, was a great lover of the Struwwelpeter stories. While visiting Berlin with his family in 1891, he actually translated them, hilariously and rather freely, into English -- allegedly within a mere three sleepless nights -- and gave the manuscript, lovingly bound with a big red ribbon, to his daughters for Christmas, as the author Heinrich Hoffmann had done to his own children, half a century before. Mark Twain loved reciting the verses, frequently bursting into gales of laughter.

In 20th-century Germany, child psychologists pronounced the Struwwelpeter verses cruel and highly traumatizing to a child’s psyche. I can only say that I was raised with these verses, and even at a young age I recognized the cruel elements as such an absurd exaggeration as to be quite unbelievable and consequently, very funny. Clearly Mark Twain had felt the same way. To me, an additional source of hilarity were the illustrations, e.g. the weird clothes the characters wear, probably high fashion in the mid-19th century, but decidedly ridiculous well over 100 years later!

I can still recite the verses, off by heart.

Yours untraumatized,

Gigi Gottwald, Polokwane, South Africa

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

In ‘85, Elaine and I came across his statue in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany. The figures around the base are from several of the tales in the book.

Evan Hazard, Bemidji, Minnesota

From: Claus Cartellieri (Cartellieri t-online.de)
Subject: Struwwelpeter

Dr Hoffmann’s book was first published in Germany in 1845. An anonymous English translation was published in Leipzig in 1848, praised by many who saw and read it.

Claus Cartellieri, Dobbertin, Germany

From: Anne Finley (anfin8 verizon.net)
Subject: Carl Schurz quotation

My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. -Carl Schurz, revolutionary, statesman, and reformer (1829-1906)

...and if left, to beset right. -Mrs. Schurz

Anne Finley

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Mrs. Grundy & Struwwelpeter

Mrs. Grundy struwwelpeter
Illustrations: Alex McCrae
I conjured up this admittedly odd pairing (or maybe not?) of two genuine “Negative Nellies”; namely comedian Rachel Dratch’s former Saturday Night Live resident bubble-burster character, Debbie Downer, and this week’s AWAD featured classic poster biddy for prudery personified, Mrs. Grundy. Both have a decide glass-half-empty outlook on their respective circumspect worlds. Although Ms. Debbie isn’t necessarily a prude, per se. Yet she did have an uncanny habit of sucking the fun or positivity out of any social gathering with her unexpected sharing of tragic or depressing news.

Einstein gained immediate fame with his Theory of Relativity. Ultimately, as a world-renowned celebrity, far eclipsing the bounds of his arguably narrow domain of scientific theory, his unruly, lion-esque mane of wild hair, paired with his bushy, formidable mustache, only reenforced his growing reputation as a bit of a jokester and unapologetic ham... particularly in front of a camera. Clearly, a bona fida struwwelpeter with a unique brand of shtick.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. gnathonic
2. bovarism
3. Mrs. Grundy
4. Struwwelpeter
5. gargantua
= 1. servant, grunt
2. my ego was wrong?
3. prim
4. bad uncut hair
5. largest
= 1. want gains
2. over-brag
3. smug prude
4. won’t cut my hair
5. strangler
= 1. grovel
2. A runt swaggers
3. Town prudes can tut
4. Mr. Hairy
5. big man
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Josiah Winslow, West Allis, Wisconsin (josiah12301 yahoo.com)   -John Ramos, Duluth, Minnesota (jramos shiningreputation.com)

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

There are people who’ll love you gnathonic,
Huge donations work just like a tonic.
You’ll come by top work,
With many a perk,
You needn’t be skilled! How ironic!
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

This Kellyanne Conway’s gnathonic,
A flak for The Donald’s booms sonic;
I will mutter, “Good grief!”
And then turn for relief
To a Bach fugue that’s architectonic.
-Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon (lcrumb uoregon.edu)

In high school the girls were gnathonic
To big hunky athletes moronic.
My skill was debate,
My team won the whole state,
And my virgin condition was chronic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It happens to be a truism
That those inflicted with bovarism
Prefer strutting their stuff
With a plethora of fluff,
Accounting for their narcissism.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“With tweets late at night in my robe,”
Smiled Trump, “I can panic the globe.”
He loves a good schism,
He’s pure bovarism,
The world’s number one xenophobe.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In his quest for a weekend of fun he
never thought she’d be like Mrs. Grundy.
A nice dinner he bought,
but his hopes came to naught
when she said, “Sorry, never on Sundy.”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Opines the straightlaced Mrs. Grundy,
“Oh, something ought to be done, see,
to give us more voice--
for now we’ve no choice
but an elephant or an old donkey.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In the rest home said old Mrs. Grundy,
“A prude all my life, what a dummy.
But now I’ve a yen
For these little old men.
I have one every day and two Sund’y.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’m a handsome and young struwwelpeter
Singing songs, quaffing ale by the liter
With a wench in my lap
Till I wake from my nap,
And it’s off to the bathroom I teeter.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Now Trump has a rather small brain,
Although, “I’m so smart,” his refrain.
His ego gargantua
Is like all the men who were
Blessed with no intellect and vain.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Epic failures at eponyms

Brown-nosing the test pilot, I got separated when gnathonic boom occurred.

Add an ‘e’ and Boverism macabre artist’s name.

Prudish language leaves me both disgruntled and Ms. Grundy’d.

Speaking of macabre... “Mom, after we chop him up may we struwwelpeter in the yard?”

Upon meeting the wife of Anu’s uncle I remarked, “Oh, a Gargantua.”

Along with fellow-AWADers Steve Benko, Zelda Dvoretzky, and Lindsay Crane, I am a co-author of Limericks in the Time of Trump (foreword by Anu). Whether you lean right or left, click that link and buy copies for yourself and friends. Guaranteed to improve one’s vocabulary thru laughter.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th US President (12 Feb 1809-1865)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2023 Wordsmith