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AWADmail Issue 783

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, George Sexton (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

The Secret Language of Patients and Caregivers
The New York Times

Dialect versus Language -- What’s the Big Deal?
Public Radio International

From: Beth Ellyn Rosenthal (bethellyn meltdown.com)
Subject: Terms & Conditions

You wrote: “By reading any further you agree that you are bound by the rule and/or rules set forth by the legal department of Wordsmith.org. Our rule(s) thus far: Be kind to everyone.”

I am Vegas’s most caring landlord, and I am going to put your admonition at the top of all my leases henceforth and forever. AMEN! I treat all my tenants like royalty because of course, I am a Princess!

By the way, I really did fall off my chair laughing.

Beth Ellyn Rosenthal, Las Vegas, Nevada

From: Jill Sidders (jill.sidders virgin.net)
Subject: Be kind to everyone

My brother Nick was a wise and lovely man and I miss him more than I can say. His motto was this: “Be kind, and f*** the rest” -- because if you are kind, then everything else will naturally follow -- you will be honest, generous, tolerant of your neighbours and of people of other countries and different faiths. An ideal perhaps, and not always easy, but not a bad way to live.

Jill Sidders, Sittingbourne, UK

From: Mac A Macdonald (maclyfe msn.com)
Subject: Golden rule

Wonderful message today, including the link from alternative facts. From my book regarding your golden rule comment... “What is hateful to you do not do to others. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary.” Hillel, Talmud, Sabbath 31a. You’re great! Staying silent is the worst collusion.

Mac A Macdonald, Seattle, Washington

From: Al Whitaker (al.whitaker fluor.com)
Subject: Rule - Make but do not follow?

Interesting that within the same message you provide a rule -- be kind to everyone, you include a slight or unkindness toward the President. Is your rule be kind to those you like or with whom you agree or is it as written to everyone?

Al Whitaker, Texas

From: Dorothy Bennett (via website comments)
Subject: Kindness

You wrote:
“By reading any further you agree that you are bound by the rule and/or rules set forth by the legal department of Wordsmith.org. Our rule(s) thus far: Be kind to everyone.”

Dear Wordsmith: I simply cannot abide these terms, it is neither possible nor wise to be kind to everyone. Frankly, there are some people on whom kindness is lost.

In fact, I can think of one Senate Majority Leader who was cured of polio as a child thanks to the March of Dimes who now refuses to meet with that wonderful organization to hear their objections to the tax break bill he is trying to ram through Congress under the guise of a wee slight modification to the Affordable Care Act.

You cannot respond to rank evil with kindness, to do so is to foster evil.

Dorothy Bennett

Be kid to every kind (T-shirt)
Photo: Gemma
From: Jeannie Comrie (commers mweb.co.za)
Subject: be kind

Loved your words today: be kind to everyone. My vegan friend, Gem, sells these t-shirts (see pic); I own several, and the words express my sentiments exactly, “Be kind to every kind.” Imagine if everyone tried to live this idea?!

Jeannie Comrie, Franschhoe, South Africa

From: Kathleen Kluegel (kmkluegel gmail.com)
Subject: Legalese, etc.

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful messages each day.

To your very fine rule of “Be Kind to Everyone” I might add: Assume the best possible intentions.

This rule helps in places (such as traffic) where someone swerves right in front of you... If one assumes that he just missed an important exit or the like, one says to oneself: Well who has not had to do that?! IF, on the other hand, you assume that he is a jerk and did it just to annoy you, then your adrenaline goes up and you become irritable yourself and it just compounds.

The proposed rule does have its limits, however. It is nearly impossible to apply to #45...

“In this world, you must be a bit too kind to be kind enough.” -Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (1688-1763)

Kathleen Kluegel, Urbana, Illinois

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--arraign

Your introduction to this week’s theme reminded me of a science-fiction short story I read many years ago. Human space travelers landed on a planet where everything ran smoothly and there was no contention, strife, or crime, let alone warfare. Amazed, our narrator asked the natives how they had done it. Turns out that there were only two laws on the whole planet: “Don’t give offense” and “Don’t take offense too easily.” (Of course, I imagine that there was probably quite an extensive hadith or midrash, but it was only a short story.)

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Mary Postellon (mpostellon hotmail.com)
Subject: legalese

My husband and I recently prepared wills which we hope will simplify our children’s lives after we die. One of the legal provisions clearly stated is that, should we die within 20 days of each other, each of us will be presumed to have predeceased the other. We found that hilarious -- something only lawyers could think of! --though we recognize that such a provision may be relevant to people with, say, children from previous marriages (a circumstance which does not apply to us).

Mary Postellon, Grand Rapids, Michigan

From: John Pare (johnnpare gmail.com)
Subject: Injury/death disclaimer by Oxford

In the UK you cannot effectively disclaim liability for bringing either about through negligence. Just a pedantic lawyer, I suspect, but what’s the use of a lawyer who isn’t. Have to acknowledge a personal interest here, though I’m retired!

John Pare, Oswestry, UK

From: James Polichak (jameswpolichak gmail.com)
Subject: Why there are lawyers

Lawyers exist for several reasons. A couple of the primary are: because language is not transparent, and people have reasonable and unreasonable beliefs about what a given sample of language means. People disagree about the meanings of words and things like whether there should be two spaces after a period or if one will do. The more words and assorted linguistic notations, the more interpretations can vary.

But there are many things that are important that are not mentioned, and decisions must be made about these sorts of things. Including the decision to try to mention everything.

But let’s not pretend we can claim that “it means exactly what it says”. And certainly not “it means exactly what I say it means”.

James W. Polichak, PhD, JD, Boston, Massachusetts

From: Hindi Greenberg (hindi theunion.net)
Subject: lawyers

You are correct that inside many a lawyer there is an artist, playwright, business person, bookstore owner, small business owner, etc. just waiting to emerge -- and correspondingly, there are a lot of lawyers actually looking to move out of law. I have run a business for 32 years counseling and guiding them to other endeavors that might provide them more enjoyment and productivity. Lawyers do much good for society when the rule of law and justice need to be supported and defended, but many are stuck in jobs just slogging through minutiae and need to escape from the law.

Hindi Greenberg, Nevada City, California

From: Adam Gordon (adam oyagroup.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--arraign

I also like the warning on my sleeping pills: May cause drowsiness.

Adam Gordon, Los Gatos, California

From: Art Roche (Rocheart3 msn.com)
Subject: unnecessary warnings

As one of the few people (I’m guessing) who actually listens to the litany of side effects and warnings that accompany television ads for prescription medications, I’ve noticed a recent trend toward statements like “Do not take Abcxyz if you are allergic to Abcxyz.” Uh, thanks.

Art Roche, Dubuque, Iowa

From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Responsibility (and disclaimers)

You wrote of the disclaimer that accompanied the Oxford Dictionary. It brought this to memory:

As a representative for a well-known national company, I was often asked to explain the core meaning of our multi-page warranty. I smiled and usually responded that it could be explained in four words: “It ain’t our fault.”

Robert Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Norbert Hirschhorn (bertzpoet yahoo.com)
Subject: Dictionary liability

An OED dropping out of a high-rise building window?

Norbert Hirschhorn, London, UK

From: Jim Tang (mauijt aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pro se

A litigant appearing in pro se (aka in pro per, short for propria persona) invites a more practical translation. I once heard a Nevada district attorney tell a gathering of lawyers that it really meant, “Please go away.” Granted, the laughs she drew were biased, but she had a point. People who represent themselves have a fool for a client, but they also make a lot of work for everybody else involved. Imagine a professional sport where an amateur with absolutely no knowledge of the rules had an absolute right to play, and where the stakes involved include incarceration and even execution. Such barbarism would never be allowed in a civilized society.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

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

From: George Sexton (gsexton111 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pro se

When I was a teenager, I got into a fender bender on the property of a gas station. Basically, another teenager drove into the side of my car while I was parked and getting gas. The damage was not terrible. I was upset and wanted the other driver to pay for damages and went to court. I was representing myself and the other party was represented by an attorney. I learned the disadvantages very quickly of per se representation. The judge threw the whole thing out and told me to take care of my own damages.

George Sexton, Washington, DC

From: Kathleen Cox Jokela (kcjokela camulus.com)
Subject: depose

You wrote:
verb tr.:
1. To remove from a high office or throne suddenly and forcefully.
2. To examine under oath.

One can only hope that the verb transitive second meaning will lead swiftly to the verb transitive first meaning.

Kathleen Cox Jokela, Hibbing, Minnesota

From: Craig K. Lehman (craig.k.lehman gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--surrebuttal

You wrote: “from rebut (to refute)”

Here you conflate two terms, but there’s a difference: “refute” is what you might call a success verb, implying that an argument or viewpoint was shown to be false, whereas “rebut” says only that counterarguments were offered, but not implying that they were definitely successful. It is the difference between climbing Mt. Everest and attempting to climb it. If we say someone attempted to climb Everest, that doesn’t indicate one way or another whether they succeeded; but saying that someone climbed Everest necessarily asserts that they did.

Or at least that is my understanding, having taught logic at the university level. It may well be that dictionary definitions fail to draw a bright line, but that’s not the way I think most philosophers would understand it. When Aristotle titled one of his works Sophistical Refutations, rather than Sophistical Rebuttals, he was plainly claiming to have successfully discredited the fallacies he describes.

For what it’s worth, I have never heard a philosopher claim to have offered a surrebuttal.

Craig K. Lehman, Fresno, California

From: Fred Harris (flhcarpediem aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--surrebuttal

In discussing surrebuttal, you mention English being replete with prefixes (prefices?). My absolute favorite use of multiples is the words for last, next to last, second to last and the one before that, the third from last, which we express as ultimate, penultimate, antepenultimate and preantepenultimate. When I was a young boy, my father (of blessed memory) used to call such words “25 cent words” That was the era of 3-cent postage stamps, so 25 cents really meant something.

Fred Harris, Paramus, New Jersey

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: pro se

Opting for the risky “pro se” route, i.e., representing oneself in a court without the benefit of legal counsel, can sometimes lead to in-trial confusion or awkward moments for all concerned. More often than not, an unfavorable outcome results for the self-defendant.

Postscript: Sadly, our designated illiterate bloke was knocked into an Oxford “coma”.* (groan) Clearly the weighty Oxford English Dictionary (OED), as both a moving projectile and a world-renowned language reference, can pack quite formidable gravitas.
*A groaner-of-a-wordplay on the “Oxford comma”.

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 the other box.
1. arraign
2. pro se
3. depose
4. surrebuttal
5. subrogate
= 1. grab, read rap
2. solo
3. purge
4. re-reason
5. substitute
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

A lad who was keen to get laid
Thought he’d try it with one in the trade,
But his ardour was tested
When he was arrested,
And the law arraigned on his parade.
-Edith Lowe, Bath, UK (lowe.edith gmail.com)

Although he might choose to arraign her
for booze in an open container,
he lets her go free.
(Just between you and me,
this chick is a slick entertainer!)
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

If someday it enters your brain
To ever attempt to arraign
Me for any crime,
Please don’t waste your time.
I’m as clean as a first Spring rain.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (loscamil aol.com)

“In Russia your judges are trained,”
Sighed the Donald, “You can’t be arraigned.”
“Don’t you fear,” answered Putin,
“For you, we are rootin’,
Just keep up your tweets unrestrained.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The dog was enormous and gray
And his bite caused me pain and dismay.
I took him to court,
But my suit came up short
When he barked at the jury pro se.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janice25 gmail.com)

Say, waiter, I’m rather gourmet.
I know and I choose wine pro se.
I must, when I’m able,
debunk a faux label.
This “Beaujolais” is just cheap rosé!
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

John Rogers: Why don't you speak for yourself
Sculpture: John Rogers
José could afford the expense,
But no lawyer would take his defense.
And there’s no way José
Could sway things pro se,
So his jail term’s about to commence.
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (pmorrow alaska.edu)

Miles Standish has something to say,”
Blurted John to Priscilla one day.
Answered she, “This is knotty,
But you’re the real hottie.
You ought to be speaking pro se.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’m Emperor and have darn few clothes,
But I’m tough and I’m damn good with prose.
I’m Donald the Great
And I’ll not abdicate
And I promise, they will not depose.
-Joe Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

The President turns up his nose
And turns erstwhile friends into foes;
So proceeds Mr. Trump --
What else will he dump?
Would it be apropos to depose?
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

At the frequent weekend parties he throws,
There is caviar aplenty as champagne flows.
You seethe with anger and blow your top,
Wishing this wastage would somehow stop.
Alas! A pity! A long way to go before dismiss and depose.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Plainville, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“On the White House they’d like to foreclose,”
Grumbled Trump, “and their monarch depose.
But it’s all mine to own
And I’ll stay on this throne
If my taxes I never disclose.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In the street or the schoolyard retorts
might be cruder than lawyers’ in courts
where their grand surrebuttal
can be far from subtle
according to witness reports.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The teen told his folks they were wrong,
And his surrebuttal was strong.
He argued so well
Anyone could tell
That law school was where he’d belong.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When it’s time for your big surrebuttal,
Any truth that they’ve told you must scuttle.
A campaign debate
Is your chance to sow hate
And the voters mislead and befuddle.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Donald arrived home quite late,
Found Melania looking irate.
Said he, “Don’t be tense,
I was gabbing with Pence.”
Said she, “I might soon subrogate.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Said Donald with much on his plate,
“I don’t wish to seek a cell mate.”
For his son-in-law he sent.
The conversation went,
“Hey, Jared, will you subrogate?”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

A word that’s as boring as “subrogate”
The best sense of humor could suffocate.
We limerick writers,
Dear Anu, are fighters,
But this time you’ve turned me invertebrate.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A French spider, whose name was Araignée,
Bit a woman and caused her to saigner!
Soon arraigned, then deposed,
With surrebuttal he closed.
Thus, Araignnée won cleverly pro se.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Arresting puns that are libel to warrant boos (booze?

If they don’t fix the courthouse roof, arraign will be disastrous.

That boring and pro se hick guy needed a lawyer.

The most famous of depose was Edgar Allen.

In Epsom, Jeeves was hired to surrebuttal.

While we starting rogues were in the game, a subrogate my sack lunch.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

A man who is ‘ill-adjusted’ to the world is always on the verge of finding himself. One who is adjusted to the world never finds himself, but gets to be a cabinet minister. -Hermann Hesse, novelist, poet, Nobel laureate (2 Jul 1877-1962)

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