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Jun 23, 2019
This week’s theme
People with multiple eponyms coined after them

This week’s words
Socratic irony

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Words originating in horses

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AWADmail Issue 886

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

Sponsor’s Message: Are you looking for the perfect present for know-it-all dads and grads? The Official Old’s Cool Education is “The Holy Trinity of wit, knowledge, and fun and games”, and is chock-a-block full of gee-whiz, Shakespeare, history, soap-making, sports, anecdotes and quotes, Price’s Law, and diamonds and pearls of wisdom. We’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Judith Judson (see below), as well as all the what-do-I-get-the-man-who-has-everything AWADers a “Buy Two, Get Three” special through midnight Monday. Gift problems solved >

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

The Most Commonly Spoken Language in Every US State (Excluding English and Spanish)
Business Insider

Pirates, Time-Travel, and Language
SMBC Comics

From: Gavin Pringle (g.pringle epcc.ed.ac.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Socratic irony

In Scotland, we call this playing the silly laddie.

Dr Gavin J. Pringle, Edinburgh, Scotland

From: Jim Clark (jimmartyclark austin.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Socratic irony

Did you know that Socrates was against reading? He said that it would stunt the mind and make remembering obsolete if all that you needed to do was refer to stuff that had been written.

Jim Clark, Austin, Texas

From: Catherine Masters (cmasters schiffhardin.com)
Subject: Midas-eared and Marsyas

Michelangelo included the flayed Marsyas/St. Bartholomew (whose face is Michelangelo’s self-portrait) in the Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel. (More here and here.)

Catherine M. Masters, Chicago, Illinois

From: Louise Dawson (ltdawson telus.net)
Subject: King Midas and his ears

Legend has it that Midas was hiding his donkey’s ears under a bonnet, and only his barber knew the secret. However, it became too hard for him not to tell, so one day he went into a deserted marsh and whispered to the reeds: King Midas has donkey’s ears. But, whenever it was windy, the rushes were heard murmuring for all to hear: King Midas has donkey’s ears!

I read this charming story long ago in a childhood encyclopedia. A rural myth? Also gives sense to the business called Midas Muffler, doesn’t it.

Louise T. Dawson, Vancouver, Canada

Email of the Week brought to you by The Official Old’s Cool Education -- Wit. Grit. Grad. Dad. Gift. >

From: Judith Judson (jjudson frontier.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Midas-eared

About “Greece’s Got Talent”, when Arachne challenged Athene at weaving, she presumptuously wove tapestry of all the rather embarrassing situations the Olympians had got themselves into hitherto. Athene did not care for that cocksnookery, and turned her into a spider (thus Arachnids). Niobe boasted of her fourteen beautiful children and serene Apollo and cool Artemis slaughtered all of them because their mother, Leto, had been sneered at. I think those three examples probably shut down the competitions.

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

From: P.A. Sicart (PA_Sicart hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Midas-eared

Being a judge in a goddesses’ beauty pageant is equally hazardous, as Paris can attest.

Pierre-Alexandre Sicart, Midi-Pyrenees, France

From: Sunder Ramachandran (via website comments)
Subject: capital punishment

The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of capital punishment is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you accept the notion that the state has the right to kill someone and the right to define what is a capital crime, aren’t you halfway there? -Roger Ebert, film critic (18 Jun 1942-2013)

The thought for today is very relevant. Reminded me of Arthur Koestler, himself an antagonist of capital punishment, who said the death sentence is “an honourable paradox”. The murderer kills; It is wrong to kill; Let us kill the murderer!”

Sunder Ramachandran, Ooty, India

From: Elizabeth Philipps (ephilipps1 earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--philippize

This is a particularly good word for our political times. On the other hand, I don’t like the light it casts on my family name. Bittersweet, as they say. Usually I explain that Philipps is spelled like Philippians in the Bible. And I loved reading in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s The Broken Road about a village (town, city?) he visited in Bulgaria, called Philippopolis, now know as Plovdiv. What’s in a name?

Elizabeth Philipps, Boston, Massachusetts

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

Love this word! Now I have another word to add to my vocabulary. I’ll try it out now. It amazes me that the entire Republican Party, so staunchly against Trump as a potential candidate, now philippizes and mimics his every word. How did I do?

Chip Taylor

From: Oliver Haffenden (oliver.haffenden bbc.co.uk)
Subject: RE: A.Word.A.Day--hermeneutic

I’ve only ever come across this word in the title of Sokal’s hoax journal article “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” (Social Text #46/47, pp. 217-252, spring/summer 1996). As a result, I can’t take the word itself seriously; worse still, I approach with suspicion any paper whose title begins “Towards ...”.

Ollie Haffenden, London, UK

From: Eric Miller (ericmiller1957 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--achillize

Achilles is actually much better known for his rage: it is the very first word of the Iliad. Homer knows nothing about a vulnerable heel on an otherwise invulnerable body; both the invulnerability and the heel are a much later addition to the story. In the Iliad the death of Achilles is predicted, and in the Odyssey we meet Achilles in the underworld, but the assumption is that he was killed the old-fashioned way by the arrow shot by Paris, guided by Apollo.

Eric Miller, Norwich, Vermont

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Midas-eared and herm

Like Midas, where his alleged poor judgement earned him a pair of donkey ears, i.e., Midas ears, here, Donald Trump, the self-ascribed “stable genius”, has grown a pair... of donkey ears that is, having ear-marked two barely qualified candidates for his Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Education... former Texas Governor Rick Perry and billionaire Betsy DeVos, respectively. Note, DeVos is holding up an apple, a traditional symbol of school kids’ affection for their teachers, yet with an emerging worm, perhaps indicating that all is not well in the Dept. of Education since DeVos has taken the reins... her leadership, in the eyes of many, having been lackluster, at best. Heavens t’ Betsy!

Midas-eared Herm
Herms were ancient Greek carved stone sculptures sited along main roadways, usually topped by a fanciful satyr-like bust, along with a totally smoothly rendered, vertical frontal surface, save for a depiction of the genitalia. They’d traditionally functioned as road markers. Here, we find husband and wife tourists to Greece coming upon one of these ancient herms, having their divergent takes on the merits of this piece of sculpture. High art, or pure titillation... you be the judge?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
1. Socratic irony
2. Midas-eared
3. philippize
4. hermeneutic
5. achillize
= 1. I lie, “I’m puzzled”
2. impaired
3. his royal choice
4. I can interpret
5. chase
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

My boss in an effort to fire me
Resorted to Socratic irony.
But ask what he might
My response remained right,
And he couldn’t forsooth make a liar o’ me.
-Sylvia Reid, Wilmington, Delaware (shevra verizon.net)

The irony used in debate
Of feigning an ignorance great
Was Socrates’s tool
For tricking a fool,
Whose reasoning then he’d deflate.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With irony rather Socratic,
Said Pegasus, “Oh no, a paddock!
How’s a horse to escape?
Ha! I’ll leave you agape
On a wing and a prayer, as I’m Catholic.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

When his team performed poorly, he cheered.
And when they broke records, he jeered.
This coach, newly-hired,
was summarily fired,
having proved himself too Midas-eared!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

New art, we can see, is oft feared;
Impressionist masters were jeered.
Now Monet we adore,
And Renoir even more,
For their critics were all Midas-eared.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Said Donald, “It’s just as I feared:
The Dems say I’m so Midas-eared.
My decisions they think,
In a word, kind of stink,
But by Putin and Kim I’m revered.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

This Midas-eared man I don’t trust;
The choices he makes are unjust.
I hope we can cope
In spite of this dope,
Whose judgment could make us go bust.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

We’ve a problem that has to be faced.
When decisions are ignorance-based
By a chief Midas-eared
There’s a lot to be feared.
Let’s admit that our trust was misplaced.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

In Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream,
Nick Bottom’s a dreamer extreme.
He wakes up by a spell steered,
And finds that he’s Midas-eared,
As part of the faeries’ sly scheme.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

My lover turned out as I feared:
So handsome, and yet Midas-eared.
When I’d read Shakespeare quotes
Or play musical notes,
He’d make fun of the things I revered.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpmarlin456 gmail.com)

Towards women with curves we’re Midas-eared;
“Anorexic” these days the size revered.
For Kate Moss I’ve no zest,
Oh where are you, Mae West?
For ‘twas you with the shape goddess Isis cheered.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says Ridinghood, “Gran, I’m surmising
perhaps you may be philippizing!
Your voice sounds quite odd,
and I notice your bod
appears furry. It’s mighty surprising!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Politicians these days have to be
Philippizers, that’s quite plain to see.
Though they say that they care,
From their mouths truth is rare,
Which is why being one’s not for me.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com

It was clearly a serious crime;
In the news on TV it was prime.
But a philippized verdict
That set free the “convict”
Had talking heads screaming big time.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts ( mukherjis hotmail.com)

He’ll philippize all of the time;
Some think he’s committed a crime.
That’s why they beseech,
“For God’s sake, impeach!
Remove the corruption and slime!”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The importance of truth still applies:
As a spokesperson, don’t philippize.
So farewell, Sarah Huckabee,
You lied without subtlety
Long past the time for goodbyes.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

When Rudy conferred with Saint Peter,
He tried to defend the old tweeter.
But Pete with a grin
Said, “I can’t let him in;
He has philippized, says my lie meter.”
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

A Trump doesn’t need hypnotizing
To get one to start philippizing.
It’s nothing peculiar
When Dad or Don Junior
The truth are hell-bent on revising.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Though he gives us no hints hermeneutic,
His puzzle we find therapeutic.
Our heads we all scratch
Till the colors we match;
But of whom am I speaking? Why, Rubik!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Though it’s rude and unsafe, thus unwise,
Paparazzi will stars achillize.
At times those they chase
And harass every place
Meet a fate that’s like poor Princess Di’s.
-Jeanie Joaner Garrett (joanersings gmail.com)

Said Dubya, “Mission accomplished,
For most of Iraq we’ve demolished.
Saddam we’ll achillize
With all of our skill, guys;
His head to Dick Cheney I’ve promised.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Multiple-y epunymous

Handing my torn shirt to Kratik the Tailor I said, “After you sew, Kratik, irony cuffs and collar.”

When his sirloin arrived burnt the customer said, “I think the chef Midas-eared my steak too long.”

Does it sometimes seem that Prince Philippize Queen Elizabeth with jealousy?

Herman’s heart transplant is giving hermeneutics.

The pest exterminator said, “Before achillize gotta locate ‘em.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It’s like, at the end, there’s this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid? -Richard Bach, writer (b. 23 Jun 1936)

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