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Oct 21, 2018
This week’s theme
Words borrowed from Native American languages

This week’s words
cornpone
bayou
sagamore
mugwump
totem

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Words related to the eye

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AWADmail Issue 851

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

Sponsor’s message: Middle age white guy gets off a boat in Nantucket and acts like he owns the place. No, not me. Seriously, The Exiles is a John Greenleaf Whittier poem about a man named Thomas Macy, who, along with Tristram Coffin, and seventeen other Massachusetts residents purchased the island of Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew, the Governor of Martha’s Vineyard in 1659. Macy, was my great(5) grandfather, and you can read his literal whale of a tale here. But before I forget, congrats to Email of the Week winner Glenn Ickler (see below), and all the other word and world adventurers out there -- if you go out and embrace life, life will embrace you back.



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

Pay attention to what your English teacher tells you about punctuation. One misplaced comma can turn you into a con man.
Twitter
(OK, a comma can’t turn you into a saint or a con man, but it may make you unwittingly admit what you are.)

”Hello, Death”: Coca-Cola Mixes English and Maori on Vending Machine
The Guardian
Permalink

Countering the Backlash Against Nonbinary Pronouns
The Web of Language
Permalink



From: Chip Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: cornpone

Growing up in Tennessee, cornpone is what we called all corn bread. It wasn’t that sweet, almost cake-like stuff that you see today. It was real, honest-to-goodness coarse-ground cornmeal with no sugar and lots of salt. Hot from the oven, slather some butter over that ‘pone and sit down with a glass of buttermilk, you were eating high off the hog.

Chip Taylor



Email of the Week championed by One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game. Wit always wins >

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

My favorite usage of cornpone was in Al Capp’s wonderful musical Li’l Abner. Dogpatch had a statue of the town’s Civil War hero, Gen. Jubilation T. Cornpone, the man who knew no fear (terror, yes, but fear, never). Gen. Cornpone was famous for leading his troops in such notable battles as Cornpone’s Retreat and Cornpone’s Humiliation. (lyrics; video, 3.5 min.)

Glenn Ickler, Hopedale, Massachusetts



From: Carolyn Fortner-Burton (fortnerburton gmail.com)
Subject: Cornpone

Another phrase using cornpone is “cornpone consumption” which is the cause of death on one of my ancestor’s tombstone. It means tuberculosis and a picture of a lung with tuberculosis can look like cornpone.

Carolyn Fortner-Burton, Wilmington, North Carolina



From: Shane K. Bernard (shane cajunculture.com)
Subject: Bayou

Here in south Louisiana -- arguably “bayou ground zero” -- we use the word bayou almost exclusively to refer to a slow-moving, muddy, usually smallish river ... as opposed to, say, a marsh (grassy wetlands) or a swamp (wooded wetlands).

There is, however, a practice among some locals of referring to “the bayou” in a nebulous, figurative sort of way to mean “the backwoods” -- as in “My family has lived in the bayou for generations.” Clearly this doesn’t literally mean they lived in the river, but, rather, it means they lived in a remote area through which a bayou or bayous flowed.

Shane K. Bernard, Author, Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou (2016), New Iberia, Louisiana



From: Charles Harp (texzenpro yahoo.com)
Subject: Bayou pronunciation

Down in them parts where ah was raised, Louisiana and East Texas, lots of folks pronounce it BY-oh. Ask Houstonians to say Buffalo Bayou, the slow-moving river that runs through the city, and you’ll hear both pronunciations. But there ain’t no mistakin’ Hank Williams singin’ Jambalaya (On the Bayou). Listen up on YouTube to his and many other renditions.

Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
Me gotta go - pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne the sweetest one, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada

Thanks for writing. We have heard from enough people about this and have now added this pronunciation as well.
-Anu Garg



From: Ivy Kirkpatrick (gk_tyler yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bayou

My Daddy, born in Glenmora, La., taught me that when you attach a name to bayou, as in Bayou LaFourche, it is pronounced bi u. Standing alone, it is pronounced bi uh, as in “down by the bi uh.” And dat’s da truth, cha.

Ivy Kirkpatrick, Tyler, Texas



From: Andrew Lack (ajlack brookes.ac.uk)
Subject: sagamore

As a boy in the 1960s, I collected autographs and one was the distinguished Oxford biochemist Sir Hans Krebs. He had recently returned from the USA and had been given the honorific title Chief Sagamor (sic) of the Wabash, of which he was very proud and included it in my autograph book. I have it still.

Andrew Lack, Oxford, UK



From: Ken Freeborn (kenfreeborn gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mugwump

When I saw the word mugwump, my mind immediately went to the Mugwumps band of the ‘60s featuring “Mama” Cass, later of the Mamas & Papas, and also John Sebastian, later of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Good music back then. Some, nowadays, describe it as “old man rock”.

Ken Freeborn, Vancouver, Canada



From: Al Carlson (carlson.ar gmail.com)
Subject: Trudeau quotation

It was kinda nice to read this morning’s quotation of the day -- from Pierre Elliott Trudeau (PET), a fellow Canadian. One of my faves for PET comes from before he became Prime Minister. When he was Justice Minister, he submitted legislation decriminalizing homosexuality. This was in the 1960s. “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”

Al Carlson, Vancouver, Canada



From: David Brooks (brooksdr sympatico.ca)
Subject: mugwump

You wrote:
The word mugwump was used in 1884 to describe a Republican who refused to support their presidential candidate James Blaine due to his reputation for corruption. These Republicans instead supported the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland ensuring his victory.

Imagine that. A Republican refusing to support a presidential candidate because they’re unfit. Wow! Did such a thing really happen? What a great world that must have been.

David Brooks, Toronto, Canada



totem
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: totem and bayou

In this fanciful scenario, Trump, Pence, McConnell, and Ryan, arguably the four most powerful political “operatives” in the entire nation at this point in time, represent the current top-to-bottom pecking order of the Republican Party elite, here configured as a typical carved Native-American totem pole. Commander-in-Chief Trump, wearing a tribal chief’s feathered war bonnet (not exactly PC), might rightfully also don the far-less prestigious mantle of Prevaricator-in-Chief. My concerned Native-American brave, in a decidedly accusatory tone, asserts the notion that the president ... “speak with forked tongue”, i.e., habitually lies through his teeth. The now almost cliché “forked tongue” metaphor likely refers to the split-tipped tongue of the snake... a creature that has had a rather checkered reputation, mostly negative, going back millennia.

bayou
For some reason, when I first contemplated this week’s word bayou, admittedly revealing my generational bias (early baby-boomer), I immediately conjured up an image of the budding songstress, Linda Ronstadt, vocally caressing her still haunting, moody, mega-hit ballad, “Blue Bayou”. Ronstadt, with those huge, riveting dark eyes, jet-black flowing tresses, and full, pouty lips, merely with that folky/funky tune establishing an authentic sense of both place and romantic longing, was able to capture the hearts, minds, and loyalty of legions of fans... young and old alike. One admirer, more than a mere fan, but a serious suitor, was a certain highfalutin ’70s California politician, then-Governor “Moonbeam”, Jerry Brown, who wooed the fetching, very gifted Ronstadt in earnest. Rumors afloat during their courtship that love-smitten Jerry was trying to cajole Linda into crafting an original ballad featuring his beloved Sacramento Delta, a la “Blue Bayou”, ultimately dissolved into the ether. Sadly, not unlike his short-lived romance with the blossoming songbird.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
 
This week’s theme: words borrowed from Native American languages:
1. cornpone
2. bayou
3. sagamore
4. mugwump
5. totem
=
1. rustic; homemade bread
2. swamp in US south
3. top man, governor
4. may sit on fence or argue
5. oak tower, emblem, gewgaw
     Words borrowed from Native American languages
1. cornpone
2. bayou
3. sagamore
4. mugwump
5. totem
=
1. rustic
2. boggy cove
3. top Wampanoag warrior
4. an autonomous man
5. emblem (swan, emu, red deer, frog, ...)
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)



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

In the South you grew up on cornpone,
But moved North to a place it’s unknown.
Try that old recipe
On your kids and you’ll see
“We want pizza” those Yankees will groan.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

In the shower he sang, sounding cornpone,
“The laig bone connects to thuh porn bone.”
But Roy Moore then lamented,
“With me in the Senate,
Judge Brett’d gone through lak a cyclone.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


It is known that the Danube Delta Blue
Is a shining inspiring bayou!
It caused Strauss to write
A waltz for a night
Of romantic dancing for two!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

One may think of Trump’s brain as sluggish.
It’s marshy and reminds me of rubbish.
Indeed it’s a bayou
And Donald’s a guy who
By Mueller should not go unpunished.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

I loved New Orleans through and through;
Give Lake Ponchartrain, Bourbon Street their due,
And here’s the thing,
I’m ready to sing,
“Son-of-a-gun, have big fun, on the bayou!”
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

The brash Donald, a man to eschew,
Gets annoyingly worse, it is true.
“Believe me,” so says he,
“We’ll build walls, you will see,
While it’s time we all ‘drain the bayou’.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

There once was a sailor, who, overdue,
And rushing to ship, took a dark bayou.
He sped like a freighter
On the back of a ‘gator
But ended up, sadly, as caiman chew.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

When I hear Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou,
There’s no one who loves her like I do.
How happy I’d be
If she slipped me her key
With a whisper, “I’ll lay down beside you.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Many of us are weary of
The sagamore ruling above,
Creating a divide
So critically wide.
We’re now embroiled in hate, not love.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The sagamore with pain in his midriff,
sent men to the top doc of his fief.
They said, “Big chief, no motion”,
Doc gave his magic potion.
Said they the next day, “Big motion, no chief.”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

She said, “I just simply adore
A man who’s a real sagamore.
No weak politician,
But man with a mission
To keep our country out of war.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Among Hollywood royalty, Barrymore
Is the name which stands out as the sagamore.
Of Ethel and Drew,
John and Lionel, too,
Generations have longed to be paramour.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A mugwump would stand up to Trump,
Denounce him as a big, old chump.
Alack and alas,
This won’t come to pass --
This leader they’re not gonna dump.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Twenty/twenty’s good vision indeed,
but in year twenty/twenty we’ll need
a good, honest mugwump
who can help us all dump
violence, ignorance, lying, and greed.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“Drain the swamp” may appeal to a mugwump,
But something’s gone wrong with the sump pump.
The horns Donald’s tootin’?
Bin Salman and Putin!
Next time, you must help to this thug dump.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


A totem who lived in a tower
Loves making his underlings cower
With words from the chief:
“Just assume my belief
And applaud my amazing brainpower.”
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Which group to select as his totem?
He’s still on the fence, and we quote ‘im:
“A mugwump I’ll be
until I can see
which to choose. Until then, I’m not votin’!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The crucifix wasn’t their totem,
So from Europe came Christians and smote ‘em.
“We’ll spread our diseases
To natives for Jesus;
We’ve got them,” they said, “by the scrotum”.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: The Repun of the Native (words). Hardy-har-har

Fried mush is a cornponent of many southern diets.

The impoverished suitor said, “When I get a slough of money I’ll bayou a diamond ring.”

As we age, certain body parts sagamore unseemly amount.

“I shouldn’t have let that mugwump me like that,” said the boxer.

The Five Civilized Tribes were forced to gather their meager belongings and totem to Oklahoma.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma



From: Jim Ertner (jde31459 gmail.com)
Subject: Indian Giver words

As Reverend Spooner said at the ice cream shop, while in a rare obscene mood, “I’ll have a cornpone.”

As one Louisiana native said to another, “If it’s okay bayou, it’s okay by me.”

An Italian discovered that putting too much weight on the flimsy roof made it sagamore.

When asked how he would describe his cup of coffee slipping out of his hands and crashing to the floor, he simply exclaimed, “Mugwump!”

He refused to acknowledge what I said, even though I totem numerous times.

Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Advice is like snow; the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet and philosopher (21 Oct 1772-1834)

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