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AWADmail Issue 771

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

“The Little Prince” becomes world’s most translated book, excluding religious works
The Inquirer

What Happened to Who?
The New York Times

From: Pauline C Williams-Greasley (pauline.c.williams-greasley aexp.com)
Subject: The pleasure of your words

I’ve been a subscriber for a number of years now, and I thought it’s past time to let you know how much pleasure your emails bring me. I read every one. Sometimes when I’m busy I have to read a week or two’s worth all at once. When I’m stressed, they’re my escape. I particularly enjoy the quotation at the end of every word selection. Sometimes the quotations make me laugh, a few I vehemently disagree with, but your choice of quotations always makes me think, often in a different direction from which I’m accustomed (which is a very good thing, I think).

Thank you so much for all your hard work at bringing light. It is much appreciated and much needed, especially now.

Pauline C Williams-Greasley, Brooklyn, New York

From: Lynn Goodman (lrcgoodman gmail.com)
Subject: Making Plurals

Some time ago I came across a cute story about a youngster who came home from school and announced to her grandmother that the class had learned how to make babies that day. The grandmother looked startled, but cautiously asked the child to tell her what she’d learned. The little girl said, “It’s easy -- you drop the ‘y’ and add ‘ies’.” And promptly ran off to play. It’s the simple things in life that can buoy us up.

Lynn Cozza Goodman, Portland, Oregon

From: Jon von Gunten (jon globescope.us)
Subject: Plurals

In our family, when we can’t recall some odd, clumsy, funny-sounding, or elusive plural, we default to the biblical Hebrew and whimsically add “-im”. It works for “cherubim” and “seraphim”, so we make it work for oxim, sheriffim, and toothbrushim.

Jon von Gunten, Los Angeles, California

From: Philip Snelson (philipjsnelson gmail.com)
Subject: -ough

The poem dealing with quirks of the English language purports to show eight ways of pronouncing “ough”, but in so doing shows only seven such ways. It cites “slough’, which in fact, is usually pronounced as “cow”, as in slough of despond, and/or as “luff”, as in say a snake sloughing off its skin.

The eighth form of pronunciation is, as I recall, pronounced as “hock”, and in bringing this to your attention, I quote the following from a very influential book my late mother relied upon (and had used in her school days), which was Campbell’s Higher English, and which was published at least 100 years ago.

“The rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode coughing and hiccoughing through the streets of Scarborough leading a horse whose leg had been houghed.” (ref)

Philip Snelson, Sydney, Australia

From: Marc Meketon (marc.meketon oliverwyman.com)
Subject: Plural of Euro

Your topic of irregular plurals this week reminds me that Euro is one of them. At first, it was declared not to have a distinct plural (from what I can tell, it was declared to have a single spelling, and that seems to have been interpreted as not allowing a plural), and to be capitalized. 1 Euro, 10 Euro. (ref)

Eventually, different countries and different European committees changed that.

Some countries like Ireland use 1 euro, 10 euro. Others such as France and Spain use 1 euro, 10 euros. (ref)

The European Commission Directorate General for Translation Style Guide for English (see their Section 8.4) advises to use euro for the singular and euros for the plural.

Marc Meketon, Ambler, Pennsylvania

From: Yitzhak Dar (yitzhakdar gmail.com)
Subject: Language and Law

You wrote “... that’s what a thousand years of history will do to a language.”

One of the great US minds, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote in his book The Common Law, published in 1881, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”

The same principle was used by him when he wrote in his opinion in NY Trust Co. v. Eisner, 256 US 345, 1921, “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.”

It seems that language and law have some similarities.

Yitzhak Dar, Haifa, Israel

From: Ray Schlabach (crdutchman gmail.com)
Subject: Irregular plurals

When I was in high school, I often heard the band practicing. My father was on the school board, and one evening my brother and I went along and explored the high school. I found in the music room sheet music and recognized it as the tune I often heard. I memorized the words: “May my kye come home at even.” It obviously referred to cows. But it is not in my dictionary. I knew the plural kine from reading the Bible. Recently I went to the Internet and found that kye is used in Scotland and northern England.

Raymond Schlabach, Heredia, Costa Rica

From: Mary Feeney (MMFeeney aol.com)
Subject: Irregular plurals in French

Regarding truly irregular plurals in French, there’s a famous trio: “amour, délice, and orgue” are grammatically masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural. See more here.

Mary Feeney, Prior Lake, Minnesota

From: Roy McCoy (roymccoy.nl gmail.com)
Subject: Regular plural in Esperanto

I yesterday read with interest your remarks about irregular plurals, and “what a thousand years of history will do to a language”. Are you aware that Esperanto has no irregular plurals? Nor will it ever have them even in a thousand years, because an essential trait of the language is that the plural is invariably formed by the simple addition of j. Tablo = table, tabloj = tables, for example.

Roy McCoy, Managua, Nicaragua

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

Here is a third way of spelling the plural of chrysalis: chrysalids, as in the title of John Wyndham’s 1955 science fiction novel. The book is a powerful allegorical battle-cry against prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry. In the midst of apocalypse, the future of mankind is being shaped by a new, physically and mentally altered, generation that will be the hope for continuity of life on earth, beyond the radioactive cataclysm that present-day inhabitants have created by their accident-fraught mindless quest for grandeur.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Bob Wilson (wilson math.wisc.edu)
Subject: strange plural of ephemeris

I was struck by how my ear and brain matched chrysalis with ephemeris in the plural. I’ve used it for years and have never found the plural ephemerides “comfortable”, but it does sound similar to chrysalides!

Bob Wilson, Fitchburg, Wisconsin

From: Ron Davis (davises magma.ca)
Subject: tour de force

While reading The Greatest Story Ever Told -- So Far by Lawrence Krauss, I encountered the phrase “detour de force”, referring to some brilliant theoretical work that turned out to be applicable to a different topic than originally intended.

Ron Davis, Deep River, Canada

From: Barbara Fix (baafix earthlink.net)
Subject: bourgeois

A great song is The Bourgeois Blues by Lead Belly, written after being refused a hotel room in Washington, DC, because he was black. He was inspired by his companion’s (Alan Lomax’s) angry comment then of what a bourgeois town Washington was.
(lyrics, audio, 3 min.)

Barbara Fix, Santa Fe, New Mexico

From: Donna Wells (donnacoxwells gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bourgeois

This word has been shortened to boojie, and my daughter uses it pejoratively to mean people who only care about possessions.

Donna Cox Wells, Tarzana, California

From: Allen Dodworth (dodworth xmission.com)
Subject: Rodin’s Burghers of Calais (Re: bourgeois)

Yes, the name given to Rodin’s great and moving sculpture calls them Les Bourgeois, but in this case, “today’s word” is usually put in English as Burghers, and the definitions offered today for bourgeois bear no relationship to their legendary sacrifice. Bad choice to illustrate the lower case “b” word.

Allen Dodworth, Salt Lake City, Utah

Email of the Week: Cheek. Heart. Guts. BUY into “Old’s Cool” TODAY.

From: Christopher Shea (crshea1 gmail.com)
Subject: Oxymoron

You provided a clever example of an oxymoron by showing a sign that named the “canyon without a name”. Of note, in anatomy the hip bone is sometimes called the “innominate” or “unnamed” bone for the very good reason that it comprises three separate “named” bones: the pubis, ilium, and ischium. Other examples of innominate anatomic structures are also described.

Christopher R. Shea, MD, Eugene J. Van Scott Professor in Dermatology, University of Chicago Medicine, Chicago, Illinois

From: Cathy Hughes (hughesor hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--oxymoron

I’ve decided that the title “President Trump” is an oxymoron.

Cathy Hughes, Lake Oswego, Oregon

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: “Tour de Farce” and oxymoron

Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes couldn’t be more prescient in “The Age of Trump”.
tour de force

SpongeBob encounters a quizzical double oxymoron... a pretty ugly jumbo shrimp.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. chrysalis
2. imago
3. tour de force
4. bourgeois
5. oxymoron
= 1. cocoon
2. fly stage
3. rigorous, or hero
4. use by Marx
5. idiom
= 1. our big roof
2. mature, sexy
3. Go “Ooh!”
4. mid-class
5. core: irony
= 1. cocoon
2. airy form
3. your gest
4. a burgher
5. solo-sex, idiom
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Josiah Winslow, West Allis, Wisconsin (josiah12301 yahoo.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

When Henry the Eighth was a chrysalis
No lecher was he -- the antithesis.
That innocent fetus
Then came out to greet us
Grew up, became King, and got syphilis.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpower wowway.com)

A young girl named Amaryllis
Complained she was a chrysalis.
She cried out, “When will I
Ever become a butterfly?
Caterpillars will miss a kiss.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

The Fake Prez ne’er drives a Winnebago
to his golf course at Mar-A-Lago;
he aviates thence
at OUR expense --
will this larva e’er become an imago?
-Glenn R. Diamond, Highland Park, New Jersey (slartibartfastx yahoo.com)

A man who believes his imago
tries to sell us all a farrago
of pronouncements sans truth
by evoking our ruth
and becomes, thus, our nation’s Iago.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

“Your bride has turned harlot,” said Iago,
“Like a larva becomes an imago.”
“I think we’ll all die,”
Came Othello’s reply,
“This is Shakespeare, not ‘Doctor Zhivago’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’ve accomplished a true tour de force!”
she exclaimed as she filed for divorce.
But it wasn’t to be.
She’d forgotten, you see,
the accursed prenuptial, of course.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In Oslo a diplomat Norse
Once accomplished a great tour de force
Getting Arabs and Jews
To exchange heated views
And make peace once their voices were hoarse.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Mike Pence sounds so very bourgeois,
To eat with a woman he’ll bar.
Is temptation a fear?
Or a journalist’s smear?
Some would just think it bizarre.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

In France, whether poor or bourgeois,
Young monsieur, do not leave “un deux trois”.
When girls you are kissing
Ze best part you’re missing
Until zey cry out, “Ooh la la!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says he, “The conclusion is foregone:
you’ve served up a batch of bad bonbons.”
Says she, “I concur-
but it hasn’t deterred
you from using your durn oxymorons!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The conclusion is pretty foregone
When discussing a “bad, bad bonbon”.
It’s a disgustingly sweet
Kind of forbidden treat,
Not to mention my oxymoron.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Of the things in the night that go bump,
the horrors that make your heart thump,
count the grimly ironic
and oxymoronic
notion of “President Trump”.
-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)

Oxymora make me laugh:
Old news, found missing, bigger half.
They’re awful nice
And will suffice,
Though I could fill a paragraph.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If compassion we’re now making war on
By refugees closing the door on,
Can falsehoods and hate
Make America great?
Sounds to me like a big oxymoron.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Does a person with odd lungs have irregular pleurals?

Noting the store’s high prices, the bride-to-be said, “If invitees can’t china or silver us, perhaps they’ll chrysalis.”

Don’t rely on your beauty. When you’re older, imago away.

The Amazon woman attacked me so I gave tour de force of my right fist.

“That English prof is an incredəble boor; schwa sounds aren’t lecture-worthy!”

Considering Occidental’s growth under his leadership, Armand Hammer was no Oxymoron.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It’s surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. -Barbara Kingsolver, novelist, essayist, and poet (b. 8 Apr 1955)

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