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AWADmail Issue 782

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language Sponsor’s Message: What does old school mean to you? “You’re welcome” instead of “No problem”? How about: saddle shoes, white handkerchiefs and white gloves? A hand-written note. Hitchhiking. Commmon sense. A sense of humor. Let us know whuhchew think -- we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Art Clark (see below), as well as all you traditionistas out there the chance to tell us what you miss most about the world we are losing or perhaps have already lost. You may even win some of our authentic, ludic loot to boot. The Old’s Cool Contest runs all week, but why don’t you just ENTER NOW.

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

Samantha Bee Mourns the Death of Language
The New York Times

How Italian Became the Language of Love

From: Dwyn Tomlinson (dragonjools gmail.com)
Subject: meaty urologist

The pale ontologist -- that’s as good as the meaty urologist.

Dwyn Tomlinson, Toronto, Canada

From: John Yost (john yost-associates.com)
Subject: Pale ontologist

Check Wikipedia: The Pale Ontologist.

John Yost, Gaithersburg, Maryland

From: Doug Finner (stonehusky gmail.com)
Subject: concussion

Anu, welcome to the “busted brain” club. You are correct, it is no fun. I’d go so far as to say it’s terrifying. Even a “minor” concussion can take months to heal and may have residual effects for the rest of your life. I hope yours was minor and you have a quick recovery.

Doug Finner, Alexandria, New Hampshire

Thanks for your note. And thanks to all the readers who sent heartfelt words of support.

Before the concussion I had been training for a marathon. When I came home from the hospital I figured I’d be up and running in a week or two and take part in the race. Man proposes, random event disposes.

It’s been more than a month now and I still have the symptoms of a concussion: headaches, dizziness, depression, and so on. I’m learning that healing after a concussion is a long-term process.

But I’m still walking and doing nearly everything I did before. So I’m definitely counting my blessings, which is a fitting idiom in an odd way as that the word bless comes from Old English blōd (blood), from the use of blood in consecration. That said, I haven’t given up on running a marathon. If not this year, perhaps next year, but 26.2 miles is not that far.

Also, just in case anyone is wondering, I have not acquired any new talents as a result of the head trauma. I feel cheated. :-)

Still, I consider anything that finds me new words not wasted. I asked the hospital for a copy of my records. As I read it, I was impressed with the thoroughness of the doctors and I discovered medical jargon, precise words they use to record things related to the medicine. For example, what we call passing out they call syncope.

Many thanks for all your emails -- I feel heartened by your kind words. One was different. See below.
-Anu Garg

From: Donald Weiser (dgw222 gmail.com)
Subject: You fell on your head

At least you now have something to blame for your weird political views! You fell on your head and hurt it but I’m guessing it wasn’t the first time.

Donald Weiser, Pisgah Forest, North Carolina

If having non-weird views means supporting Trump and sending such messages, I’d rather stay weird. I wish you well and hope you have peace.
-Anu Garg

get-well card
Art: Dorothy Salter
From: Dorothy Salter (dotsalt shaw.ca)
Subject: “The inside of my head”

Very sorry to learn about your accident and hope that you will have a speedy recovery. There is a whole new universe to explore I suspect, inside one’s head. This is my get well card for you... a design of what I thought went on inside my head. The sections include locked filing cabinets, or cobwebbed ones for memory, static electric sections for imagination, emotional segments, sensory awareness panels, a push button for on/off controls, DNA portions, the graveyard for old brain cells and the birth room for new ones, conscious to unconscious areas, golden and platinum areas for success and happiness and one area for the hoarding of all of the current and past projects and interests.

Thank you for your very interesting articles on words and for the sharing of people all around the world who add their input. It is a very good way to assist the connections of humans no matter where and who we are.

Dorothy Salter, Comox, Canada

From: Mariana Warner (marianaw6002 gmail.com)
Subject: You, a parallel story about words

When my daughter Natalie was about six years old, she witnessed one of her friends being struck by a school bus after school. Fortunately, the child’s injuries were not serious. Although the bus knocked her down, it barely brushed her before she was whisked to the hospital for tests by an ambulance with an alarm sounding and lights flashing.

But Natalie came home from school excited and worried, announcing, “Laura was hit by the school bus and had a conclusion!” After Natalie had a chance to tell me about it, I learned that Laura was okay and had escaped with a few scrapes and bruises. I took the opportunity to reassure Natalie about her friend’s condition and help her differentiate between the words “conclusion” and “contusion” (not to mention “concussion”) in order to clear her confusion, because at first she had insisted that Laura had a “conclusion”. I’m glad she didn’t, and that you also did not!

Keep on exercising your febrile brain and encouraging your readers to do the same.

Mariana Warner, Asheville, North Carolina

From: Lawrence Wuench (low815 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sinewy

Dear Word Wiz,
For every hers or his,
If ever you should choose,
To argue with gravity or peristalses,
you lose!

Lawrence Wuench, Bronx, New York

From: Reiner Decher (reiner54 gmail.com)
Subject: your concussion

Sorry to hear that you had a gravity event but glad you are OK now. I enjoyed seeing the CT scan of your head and it got me thinking about what a similar scan might show about a certain POTUS.

Reiner Decher, Seattle, Washington

From: Nancy Cliff (ncliff49 gmail.com)
Subject: Your health

Thank goodness you’re on the mend. I’ve had a good number of head MRIs in my recent life. Always wondered why they do not show more than structure, like dreams and memories and joy. Maybe sometime ahead, as it were.

Nancy Cliff, Silver City, New Mexico

From: Anne M Mommers (occasionalh gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--caltrop

Ouch! So very distressed to hear about the sudden stop. Our bodies and minds are all so special yet we take them for granted.


Ritchie, Brownfield, Maine

From: Lawrence Bricker (brickerl1 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--caltrop

Best wishes for a speedy recovery. Get on your FEET again soon. Move aHEAD. Can’t STOMACH the idea of your being injured. We KNEEd you at your best.

Lawrence Bricker, Silver Spring, Maryland

From: Pierre-Alexandre Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: Ontological Preoccupations

You wrote: “So I lay in bed, thinking random thoughts. Why don’t human bodies come with a warranty? Any damage, and we’ll give you a new one, no questions asked. ”

That may not be such a good idea, depending on what makes you you. Should the question tickle you, Tim Urban, a modern philosopher, has written a very interesting piece on this topic.

My grandmother used to tell my mom, when my dad caught something, that his warranty had long expired. As someone who spent the first weeks of his life with a needle in his brain, quietly lying between life and death, I can tell you the mammal warranty probably expires right before the sperm enters the ovum and its tail falls off.

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France

Well, I envision it as getting a new computer. Hardware is new, but you copy your documents and pictures and songs over.
-Anu Garg

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: taking a tumble

I once had an X-ray taken of my skull. When I saw the picture all I could think about was John Webster’s line, quoted by T S Eliot, about the skull beneath the skin. It’s a reference to what lies beneath -- we rarely think about it -- the carapace of the skin. While I sat and looked at a picture of my skull, dark thoughts of mortality sifting through my imagination, the doctor, objective, simply said, “Nice skull.” Well, you and I are not Yorick yet, but we will be.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

From: Charles Cole (seecee913 gmail.com)
Subject: peculiar hyphenation

Your example of a pale-ontologist made me think back to when I was very young and I saw the word, molester, hyphenated in a newspaper article as mole-ster. I wondered for the longest time what that might be -- a person who impersonates moles? Someone who crawls through tunnels?

Charles Cole, Evanston, Illinois

Could a mole-ster be the same as the-
-Anu Garg

From: Jonathan Miller (jon.jonmiller gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--caltrop

Caltrop - a weaponized tetrahedron.

Jonathan Miller, Boulder, Colorado

From: Laochailan Maghouin (latheos gmail.com)
Subject: caltrop

I suspect that any pen & paper gamer knows that the caltrop is also the nickname of the four-sided die, especially when trod upon in the dark.

Laochailan Maghouin, Edmonds, Washington

From: David Ornick (david.ornick ymail.com)
Subject: Caltrop

In the West Virginia coalfields, violent labor conflicts once were common. Striking miners used caltrops to prevent the companies from bringing in outside labor. The caltrops were homemade and were called “jack rocks”, for they somewhat resembled jacks, the children’s game pieces.

David Ornick, Morgantown, West Virginia

homemade caltrop
Photo: David Helmick
From: David Helmick (helmickparts att.net)
Subject: caltrop / jackrock

Pulled many of these from my tires during a labor strike in the 1990s. “Repurposed nails” and a welder/grinder.

David Helmick, Fairmont, West Virginia

From: Suzanne Pontius (sspontius1 gmail.com)
Subject: caltrop

We lived on a quiet street in a small town in Ohio and little kids liked to play and bike and run outside. BUT some of the people who drove down that street drove way too fast. I asked the mayor if we could sprinkle caltrops up and down the street. Alas, she said no.

Suzanne Pontius, Port Angeles, Washington

From: Michael Scheller (michael.scheller gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--caltrop

The United States Army III (Third) Corps shoulder patch is fashioned for a caltrop.

Michael Scheller, Kempner, Texas

From: Michael Klossner (klossner9 aol.com)
Subject: caltrop

The most famous victim of a caltrop was Joan of Arc. She stepped on one during the Siege of Orleans. The next day she was shot with an arrow.

Michael Klossner, Little Rock, Arkansas

Email of the Week: Brought to you by OLD’S COOL -- Backward and Upward!

caltrop plant
Photo: Art Clark
From: Art Clark (clarkaw syix.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--caltrop

Caltrop -- one of my least favorite plants around here. Have had to fix many tire flats because of this one. When one falls to the ground, there is always a spike pointing upward. Pretty well rules out walking barefoot, too. Ugh! I took this photo about a block from my house.

Art Clark, Yuba City, California

From: Ellie Weld (ellieweld gn.apc.org)
Subject: chagrin

There is a village called Chagrin Falls outside Cleveland, Ohio. There are varying explanations of the name of the river and waterfall from which the village takes its name: an Indian word; a corruption of the name (Seguin) of an early French trader; or an expression of Moses Cleaveland’s disappointment when he found that the river he’d discovered was too small to be the Cuyahoga, which he was seeking. When I was young my family had friends in Chagrin Falls whom we visited regularly; but no one ever wondered about its name, we simply took it for granted. It wasn’t till I’d moved away that I realised it was a rather unusual name for a village.

Ellie Weld, London, UK

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: chagrin

Chagrin is also French for “grief”, such that Charlie Brown says “Bon chagrin” in the French version of the Peanuts comic strip.

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: Benjamin Maples (bkmaples ucdavis.edu)
Subject: rubberneck

The first thing I did when I opened this word’s email was stare at the disconcertingly long-necked woman in the image with undue curiosity. Then I saw the definition, and laughed. I rubbernecked at a rubber neck on the “rubberneck” Word of the Day!

Benjamin Maples, Davis, California

Illustration: Alex McCrae
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: rubberneck

Elastic Man pulls the rubberneck gambit on our concentrating “Man of Steel”, convinced that he’ll gain some advantage over his opponent. Frankly, in Scrabble, identifying one’s rival’s tiles in this underhanded mode of gamesmanship... essentially sneaking a quick peek... is of little net gain to the “peeker”, compared to say casting a sneak-peek at poker or cribbage. Just sayin’.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

The text in each box is an anagram of the text in other boxes.
1. caltrop
2. chagrin
3. sinewy
4. repugn
5. rubberneck
= 1. pricker
2. curbing glee
3. brawny
4. punch
5. stare on
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

Each decision plants just one more caltrop
in our national path. No mere hiccough,
each great goof that he makes
only raises the stakes,
and we’re headed for hell at a gallop.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

When I first laid my eyes on a caltrop
I said, “What in hell is that foul slop?”
But ‘twas spoken in haste,
For after a taste
It was better by far than a cow flop.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

A burger without any catsup
Would stick in our throats like a caltrop.
It’s set in concrete
How Americans eat.
All your mustard from France you can pack up.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

There’s sadness, regret, and chagrin
When the player they like doesn’t win.
But in tournament chess
There’s an air of finesse
And the fans don’t make much of a din.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janice25 gmail.com)

Press briefings are hard to survive --
Sean Spicer looks barely alive.
Face full of chagrin,
The man’s getting thin.
On a diet of lies, who can thrive?
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (phyllismorrow1 gmail.com)

“I shouldn’t have wed Anne Boleyn,”
Pondered Henry the 8th with chagrin.
“Thank God for divorce
And beheading, of course,
For a wife’s like a kick in the shin.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said Eve as she stood near that tree,
Eyed Adam who was sinewy.
“From this apple do bite,
And you’ll find sweet delight,
Darling Adam, let’s sin, you, me.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Melania said, “This job’s newy,
And Donald is acting real screwy.
I don’t mean to glower,
But I covet Trump Tower,
Where my guards are so hot and sinewy.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

In Camelot, women were willowy
And men all worked out until sinewy.
Said Guinevere, “Lance,
Arthur’s out, drop your pants,
For I’m really turned on by your chivalry.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The GOP’s ready to kill.
Some traitors repugn Mitch’s bill.
Are they merciful? Kind?
What aim’s on their mind?
They think it’s just too lavish still.
-Anna C Johnston, Walla Walla, Washington (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

My son repugns my sage advice.
Though I repeat it more than twice,
Ignoring what I say,
He often has to pay
A somewhat harsh, exacting price.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (loscamil aol.com)

For me it is easy to shun
(or repugn) such odd words as repugn.
Because verbs now abound
Made from adjectives and nouns.
Well, writing about them is fun!
-Judith S. Fox, Teaneck, New Jersey (Jsfoxrk aol.com)

I like the beach but not the sticky sand dune
I would have loved the opera but for the screechy tune
Pray do I have a choice
If it's Madam's voice
Since her wish I can not repugn.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Plainville, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Though to you it may seem picayune,
Punctuation’s misuse I repugn.
We use “its” and not “it’s”
As possessive, you ditz.
It’s what separates man from baboon.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

There was a crash and cars were wrecked;
Then Nosy Nellies rubbernecked.
We slowed to a crawl,
Hardly moved at all.
I’ve sat here three days last I checked.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Say the fishes, “We’re thoroughly vexed
by those curious old rubbernecks
who gape at our bowl.
It takes a great toll,
and checks piscatorial sex!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If my life were extended with biotech
Through portholes on starships I’d rubberneck.
And Counselor Troi,
Though a half-human goy,
As a Jew, I’d still take to the holodeck.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Body-part puns to derive you crazy

“Caltrop those water chestnuts into groups of 10.”

If you tickle a woman will chagrin?

When you sinewy licit a frown from God.

“Repugn the tiano! The hissonance is dorrible.”

If your wife seems tense, rubberneck.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. -George Orwell, writer (25 Jun 1903-1950)

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