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Nov 5, 2017
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AWADmail Issue 801

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

Sponsor’s Message: No lie: One Up! is way faster and funner than Scrabble. No board. No complicated rules. 20 or so wicked fun cutthroat minutes. Stealing is a blast! Rinse (off your brain), and repeat. Congrats to Email of the Week winner, Richard S. Plattner (see below), as well as all AWADers -- you’ll get ‘free sardines’ with every order of $25 or more. Word up NOW >

A warm welcome to students from Janesville Consolidated School District. A big thank you to their teacher for introducing them to the joy of words.

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

Resistance to Changes in Grammar Is Futile
The Guardian
Actually, resistance to changes in grammar (and spelling and pronunciation and meaning and ...) is futile.

Language in the Age of Fake News, Fox News, and Trump
The Web of Language

How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets
The New York Times

From: David Hatton (dhatton42 hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--wegotism

Great example of wegotism on tonight’s news: Donald Trump stating “We need to get smarter.”

David Hatton, Canterbury, UK

From: John Binns (binns mweb.co.za)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--wegotism

This brings to mind the word: Oneotism -- when the individual doesn’t want to take responsibility for his/her actions or comments. As in the sentence: “One should look at implementing the strategy ...” Rather than we should, I should, or you should.

John Binns, Cape Town, South Africa

From: Dave Horsfall (dave horsfall.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--wegotism

This reminds me of the schoolboy joke about the queen doing a “royal wee” whenever she sits upon the throne (“throne” is British slang for the toilet).

Dave Horsfall, North Gosford, Australia

From: Glenn Ickler (glennwriter verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--wegotism

I remember an extremely silly mixup of wegotism in an editorial in the “Minneapolis Star” about 40 years ago that said: “We for one believe ...”

Glenn Ickler, Hopedale, Massachusetts

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Stop monkeying around with Bananagrams

From: Richard Plattner (rplattner plattner-verderame.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--wegotism

Another variant is the “irresponsible we”. Like when I tell my wife we need to get something done, and what I really mean is I want her to do it. You won’t be surprised to learn that it was my wife who coined the phrase.

Richard S. Plattner, Phoenix, Arizona

From: T.S. Ananthu (jyotiananthu gmail.com)
Subject: Comment on today’s Thought for the Day

The only thing one can give an artist is leisure in which to work. To give an artist leisure is actually to take part in his creation. -Ezra Pound, poet (30 Oct 1885-1972)

It reminded me of something I read in a fascinating biography of the mathematical prodigy named Ramanujan by the MIT scholar Robert Kanigel The Man Who Knew Infinity.

What he wanted, Ramanujan replied [to Ramachandra Rao], was a pittance on which to live and work. Or, as Ramachandra Rao later put it, “He wanted leisure, in other words, simple food to be provided to him without exertion on his part, and that he should be allowed to dream on.”

The word leisure has undergone a shift since the time Ramachandra Rao used it in this context. Today, in phrases like leisure activity or leisure suit, it implies recreation or play. But the word actually goes back to the Middle English leisour, meaning freedom or opportunity. And as the Oxford English Dictionary makes clear, it’s freedom not from but “to do something specific or implied” (emphasis added). Thus, E.T. Bell writes of a famous seventeenth-century French mathematician, Pierre de Fermat, that he found in the King’s service “plenty of leisure” - leisure, that is, for mathematics.

T.S. Ananthu, Beas, India

From: Peter Gross (plgrossmd gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mediocracy

I am sure I am not the only one writing to bring to mind the statement Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska made in 1970 defending the ultimately unsuccessful nomination of G. Harold Carswell to the United States Supreme Court: “Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t have all Brandeises, Frankfurters, and Cardozos.”

Oh for the days of mediocrity!

Peter Gross, Falls Church, Virginia

From: Audie Finnell (via website comments)
Subject: chillax

I’m still using a similar, much better “blend word” I heard first on the Amos ‘n’ Andy TV show many years ago: unlax--combination of unwind and relax.

Audie Finnell

From: Fanny Nathaniel (fanny.nathaniel gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--chillax

Delighted to see that chillax was used in a poem! We’ve used chillax right from school days -- in the ‘80s -- in Chennai, India! When there’s a fight between classmates, the others would say “chillax machan [buddy]” or “chillax da” “chillax di” :) Never thought of it as a combo of “chill” and “relax” but now I see it!

Fanny Nathaniel, Pondicherry, India

From: Chris Witham (cpw maine.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--slacktivism

The original meaning of “slacktivism” was positive. “Slacktivism” was the title of a seminar series Dwight Ozard and Fred Clark gave at Cornerstone Festival in 1995.

Fred Clark describes the seminar series and the meaning behind the word thus:

We chose the theme of “slacker activism” (which Dwight shortened, despite my objection that it sounded gimmicky) as a way of confronting the use of “slacker” as an epithet by Baby Boomers who had heard of, but not seen, Richard Linklater’s 1991 movie and had taken its existence as confirmation of their suspicion that you kids these days are lazy and nowhere near as concerned and committed as they were back in the ‘60s. We countered that with dozens of stories of then-young people doing difficult, necessary and beautiful work all over the country, work that by its nature had to be done on a small, personal scale. The direction we were suggesting was bottom-up rather than top-down; less marching in the streets and more The Man Who Planted Trees.

Fred Clark has told the story of the word’s coining several times, and “slacktivism” being used to describe the activity of those who don’t necessarily show up to marches (and thus are derided as slackers) but do act to make things better (thus activism) in small but measurable ways (such as planting trees) is always at the core of his description of what he and his colleague had in mind when talking about “slacker activism”, and therefore what Dwight Ozard meant when he coined the term “slacktivism”.

In the instance quoted, a 2009 blog post called “Etymology”, he includes a picture of the flier for the “Slacktivism” seminar series at Cornerstone 1995.

Obviously, very few people (mostly readers of Fred Clark) use the word as originally intended by Dwight Ozard, but I’m always interested in the original meanings of words, even if those meanings have long since become obsolete, and I’m sure others are too.

Chris Witham, South Portland, Maine

From: Robin Sutherland (sfsland gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--slacktivism

Much like sending thoughts and prayers...

Robin Sutherland, San Francisco, California

From: Susan Valle (snickers601 yahoo.com)
Subject: Slacktivism

This is the word I’ve been looking for. When people experience tragedies, it’s noble here in the Bible Belt to pray for them. Prayer is fine! But what people truly need is a ride to treatment, or a meal, or someone to mow the grass, or help fix the furnace, etc. I once saw a cartoon of a drowning man, and the person on the dock was shouting “I’m praying for you!” with the life preserver flotation ring at his feet. I thought, “Yep.”

Susan Valle, Park Hills, Missouri

From: Charles Stanford (cfs stanfordlawyers.com.au)
Subject: Blend words

How about “adzine” for those annoying magazines that are 99% ads.

Charles Stanford, Sydney, Australia

From: Eliza Helweg-Larsen (elizad me.com)
Subject: blend words

In honour of a manager who had grand ideas of what our business should look like, but no practical path for getting there... an “if we spend it they will come” approach, I coined the word n’entrepreneur.

Eliza Helweg-Larsen, Governor’s Harbour, Bahamas

From: Alice Campbell Romano (alicecampbell.romano gmail.com)
Subject: Nepogarchy

I coined the word nepogarchy to describe a ruling class made up of relatives and the rich (often the same people). Might nepoligarchy be better?

Alice Campbell Romano, Bronxville, New York

From: Chris Craig (Ccraig laurellodge.com)
Subject: bratstard

I remember years ago being on a train in Scotland and observing graffiti that referred to someone as a bratstard. I’ve always wondered since about the implications of being both obnoxious and illegitimate!

Chris Craig, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

From: Leslie Stewart Carney (carnestew aol.com)
Subject: aggritated

When my daughter was young, she would say “aggritated”...a blend of aggravated & irritated.

Leslie Stewart Carney, Tucker, Georgia

From: Doris McInnes (javathehutt.java gmail.com)
Subject: deflicted

Early in our relationship my husband and I came up with the portmanteau “deflicted”, a combination of afflicted and defective. We use it often, as there are many things in our world that are deflicted, from the loose lamination on our back door to the political system in the US. Consequently, our children heard and used this word as they were growing up. Our daughter took it to college with her where it was met with disbelief. The poor dear; we had failed to inform her of its etymology.

Doris McInnes, Greenwood, South Carolina

From: Karen Bloggs (karen.bloggs gmx.net)
Subject: Frustration / Flusteration

The board game Frustration has been called Flusteration in our large family over three generations, probably because players become flustered when they are frustrated during the game, which, by the way, in German is called “Man don’t get angry” (Mensch ärgere Dich nicht).

Karen Herron, Hamburg, Germany

From: Christine Sell (csusell gmail.com)
Subject: New word (to me)

Kleptopredation is a new scientific term for super-sizing a meal at sea. It refers to a previously unknown behavior: a predator eating prey that itself just filled up on prey. I read this in the Quartz newsletter on Nov 3, 2017

Christine Sell

From: Mark Engel (mark.engel1 mac.com)
Subject: Attribution of quotation (Re: AWADmail 800)

Hugh Hyatt is mistaken. The quotation (“The doctrine which ...”) and the essay it’s taken from were written by Macaulay. The essay is a review of a posthumous work by Sir James Mackintosh entitled History of the Revolution of 1688. It was common in British literary journals in the 19th century, like the Edinburgh Review in which Macaulay’s essay was originally published, to publish book-review essays under the titles of the books being reviewed. So, for example, an essay by Thomas Carlyle about the French Revolution, preliminary to his 1837 three-volume history of it, was published in the London and Westminster Review in 1837 under the title “Parliamentary History of the French Revolution”, the title of the book of which Carlyle’s essay was contextualized as a review. Book reviews like these were occasions for the reviewers to expand at length on the subject of the book under review, making them sometimes important historical essays in their own right, as with Macaulay’s essay, which is as beautifully phrased as his writing usually is, your quotation being a worthy example.

Mark Engel, Ben Lomond, California

I hate being wrong! In this case it seems I am. I am a retired software engineer with an undergraduate degree in History, attempting to research the actual sources of quotations I find on the Internet. Clearly Mr Engel is a much more knowledgeable and capable scholar -- at least in this area, if not many others -- than I am. My thanks to him for correcting my error with a full explanation.

My apologies to Anu as well!

Hugh D. Hyatt, Upper Holland, Pennsylvania

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: wegotism and mediocracy

mediocracy wegotism
Donald J. Trump takes to the talk-radio airwaves on his AM vanity channel, Radio-DTBS*, with his podcast... “Mediocracy Now!”. At wit’s end over the success of journalist and co-host of PBS’s “Democracy Now!”, Amy Goodman, Trump just had to have his very own broadcast platform (other than his incessant, unfiltered twittering) to demonstrate to his unquestioning flock that... in his own words... “Frankly, politics really isn’t that hard. Believe me!”.
*The “DT” stands for The Donald’s initials. And I think we all know what “BS” represents.

One of the most blatant instances of “wegotism” run amok had to be Margaret Thatcher’s co-opting of the virtually sacrosanct “royal we”, when announcing to the press that... “We have become a grandmother.”

The year was 1989, and the British press almost immediately pounced on The Iron Lady’s gaffe, admonishing her for using the “royal we”; some claiming she had become “a legend in her own imagination” and offering up even more scathing editorial epithets.

Needless to say, a gobsmacked Queen Elizabeth II was none too pleased with Thatcher’s seeming bald-faced attempt at fast-tracking up the British social ladder.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. wegotism
2. freemium
3. mediocracy
4. chillax
5. slacktivism
= 1. “we” vs. “me”
2. fixed gimmick
3. so-so rule
4. calm it
5. calm “chair-ity”
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

The trouble “we” see with wegotism
Is that it suggests in oneself there’s a schism.
But each person is one
Who can’t be undone
And can’t be divided like light through a prism.
-Vara Devaney, Damascus, Maryland (varadevaney att.net)

The “we” royal or editorial
has been in use from time immemorial.
We are not amused
by such usage abused.
Wegotism evokes thoughts censorial.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Psychologist says, “Exorcism
might rid her of this lack of schism
twixt factual ‘me’
and fictional ‘we’,”
to cure her extreme wegotism.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

For a king or a queen, wegotism
Is really disguised hedonism.
Their bedroom adventures
Make tarts mere back benchers,
For “we” plus one more makes a threesome.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A genius invented the freemium.
(They stick the catch down in the tedium.)
So suckers not too smart
Blow right through the “free!” part,
And always end up paying premium.
-Anna C Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

As a freemium we used to get
A turtle with salmonella a pet.
But then it was necessary
To spend on accessories,
A lagoon, a palm tree, and a net!
-Judith S. Fox, Teaneck, New Jersey (Jsfoxrk aol.com)

“His money to me’s like a freemium,”
Said Melania, “packaged with tedium.
He’s nasty and shady
But hey, I’m First Lady,
Not bad for a small-town Slovenian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The world bewails ‘failed democracies’
Coupled with deficient bureaucracies.
If we could inherit
A rule based on merit,
We would end endemic ‘mediocracies’.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

He bragged of a mile-high pile
Of bills that he signed with a smile.
While draining the swamp,
Mediocracy’s pomp
Has exempted the main crocodile.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

With many dummkopfs in high towers
mediocracy, rampant, now lowers.
But as fake news surrounds us,
and roundly confounds us --
MEDIAcracy has the real powers!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

There’s a land where kakistocracy’s known,
Meritocracy’s been overthrown.
Mediocracy at least
Would see talent increased,
And rule via tweet might have flown.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

Were we sleeping, or was it done consciously?
For democracy’s now mediocracy.
These days any mogul,
Or huckster, or rogue’ll
Be cheered for huge lies and hypocrisy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Alternative facts
Past your sell-by date
You are not our fate
The truth will give you the ax.
-Bryan Harmon, Athens, Georgia (harmon.bryan65 gmail.com)

Words of all kinds are abundant:
Golden oldies, new coinages, all extant;
New words, indeed,
Often do fill a need,
But “chillax”, I think, is redundant!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

A most uptight accountant named Max,
Slaves away on the old income tax,
Even when the man slumbers
All his dreams include numbers,
Thus he croaked ‘cause he could not chillax.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Said Lizzy, “It’s time to chillax,
And not fret over alternate facts.
At fake news I’m irate
About Mom and Dad’s fate.
They just fell forty times on my axe.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

I can see that you’re distraught
over bills passed to legalize pot.
But your fear that cannabis aroma
put the chillaxing masses in coma,
is a wee bit too overwrought.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Koreans, you ought to chillax
When it comes to our threatened attacks.
Like General Custer
Our guy’s full of bluster,
But hasn’t got much in his slacks.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

To slacktivism I’ve been stirred
By a president so absurd.
A protest low-key
Is just right for me
As I join in spreading the word.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I’ve come to a realism,
Not meant as a criticism,
That most people would
Attempt to do good
If able to use slacktivism.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Slacktivism is easy for him.
Most of what he does is on a whim.
He doesn’t think it’s worth
Putting much effort forth.
Success in his future appears dim.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The Koch brothers’ capitalism
Can’t be beaten with mere slacktivism.
But a powerful force
May succeed in due course:
It’s Republicans’ cannibalism.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: I need a hyperbaric chamber, Anu. You’ve given me the blends.

A wegotism such a bad thing if you want to be a runway model.

The stuttering prisoner told the cop, “If you can’t freemium, um, um please l-l-loosen my handcuffs.”

In France, midiocracy the sun at its zenith, n’est ce pas?

As her hobby, my wife stains and then chillax old furniture.

My younger brother is every bit the punster that I am and when I told him I was stumped by “slacktivism” he sent this:
“I hate to tell you what it slacktivism my in-laws.”

He then closed his email with the following:
“I’m aware you have a mordred fear of not being the arthur of your puns, but gawaine and try mine.
Good knight,
-Steve Graham”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

I’ve never met a healthy person who worried much about his health, or a good person who worried much about his soul. -J.B.S. Haldane, scientist (5 Nov 1892-1964)

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