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Oct 27, 2019
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AWADmail Issue 904

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

Sponsor’s Message: We’ve finally become our own worst nightmare: a sell-out. Large anonymous corporation gets wind of One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game and wants to license it worldwide. We say sure, why not? Creativity, principles, artistic integrity, success on our own terms? Right out the window at the first sign of cash we’re happy to say. Seriously, we’re offering all AWADers, including Email of the Week winner, Linda Salvay (see below), 50% OFF our Special Dark Edition, while supplies last. Once this limited and lovely version of our best-selling cutthroat IQ contest is gone, it’s gone forever. So, smarten up (on the cheap) RIGHT AWAY >

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

How Hip-Hop Is Saving a Dying Colombian Language

Teachers’ Pronouns
The Web of Language

From: Martin Eiger (martineiger gmail.com)
Subject: Trip to the OED

Way back when, when I’d newly begun,
I was doing it only for fun.
It’s still fun, no doubt,
But now I’ve figured out
What wonderful things can be won.

Sometimes I’m torn between two items on a restaurant menu. I can only have one. Both are tempting, but one will, of necessity, be a missed opportunity.

I had that same feeling, but with greater intensity, when I won a limerick competition in Wordsmith.org’s 25th Anniversary Contests, and the prize included a tour of either of two of the world’s leading publishers of English-language dictionaries. One was a university-affiliated concern located overseas. The other was a domestic, commercial publisher. I would have loved to have visited both, but I could only do one.

And so, onward to England, and Oxford University Press (OUP). Kate Shepherd, from the Publicity department, met my wife Elisa and me in the lobby. We reviewed the schedule, enjoyed some tea, and wasted no time moving on to words, words, words.

Well, first, a little history. Bev McCulloch, an archivist, gave us a guided tour of the Oxford University Press museum. We learned what OUP publishes and what kinds of books are outside its scope. We learned where the publisher has been located and where it has offices today, and we heard stories about some of its principals over the years. We saw several different printing technologies, and learned why it’s important to mind our p’s and q’s. We learned about the OED and the people who have been submitting words for its consideration over the years.

Next was the video. Sometimes at my workplace, two people will think they have booked the same conference room at the same time, and OUP is no different. So while they set up the video in a second conference room, we got an impromptu visit to the files where they store some of the slips of paper on which people have submitted words over the years. One slip sticking up a little higher than others in its box had the word lauhala, which, if I’d had to guess, I might have surmised that it’s Hawaiian. My wife, born and raised in Hawaii, had no such uncertainty. Nor, biology major and avid weaver that she is, did she have any doubt about what the word means (leaf of the pandanus plant, the dried strips of which are used to weave baskets).

Back to the second conference room for the video ... or for the second group of people just starting a meeting. We ended up not seeing the video, but having links (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) emailed to us to watch at home, which is just as good because it gave us more time to meet with people.

Peter Gilliver is an editor, and he has written a book about the history of the OED. He talked about the processes by which words are evaluated and accepted for inclusion. One of the more impressive things he showed us was a page on which he recognized that a comment was in the handwriting of J.R.R. Tolkien. Apparently, he recognizes the handwriting of a good number of notable people who have worked on the OED.

And one of the more unsettling things he showed us was the entry for nucular. Yeah, I get it, they’re trying to reflect the language as it’s used, past and present. They want to be objective, not judgmental. Many people pronounce the word that way and, apparently, some spell it that way as well. All true, but it still hurts just to think about it. On the other hand, when I queried about one pronunciation of a particular verb transposing the final two consonant phonemes, I learned that the history of homophony between “ask” and “ax” goes back many centuries.

Next, we met with Jonathan Dent, a senior editor. He was, at the time, focusing on the word woodhenge, researching references and usages far and wide. He showed us how they use computers to track words and all associated metadata, and to research instances and uses of words and unitary phrases across a large corpus. During the course of our conversation, my wife asked whether “nukupu’u” was in their system, either as an entry or for consideration in future releases. It is now. (The nukupu’u is an endemic Hawaiian bird, last seen about twenty years ago and believed extinct.) I asked about KenKen, a mathematical puzzle with which I have some experience. It hasn’t been around long enough for final approval in the official OED, but it was already in the pipeline.

Next came lunch, with Peter and Kate. It was a standard company cafeteria, similar to what I have seen in other large workplaces. There were a lot of food options. One dish seemed more to my tastes than the others, and it proved to be quite good. No angst-inducing foregone opportunities here.

Overall, we learned a lot at Oxford University Press, the visit was highly satisfying and it was a delight to have had the opportunity. But still, there’s also a dictionary publisher in Springfield, Massachusetts, and I would like to visit them as well. Perhaps there’s another contest, somewhere, and the prize includes a trip to Merriam-Webster? You name it, any topic, any topic at all. I’ll write the limerick.

Martin Eiger, Montville, New Jersey

From: Linda Wexler (linda.wexler nielsen.com)
Subject: Agerasia

When I saw today’s word, at first I thought it was a made-up word describing what is happening: Agerasia = age-erase. “She looks younger due to age-erasia.”

Linda Wexler, Oldsmar, Florida

From: Mike Zim (mikewzim gmail.com)
Subject: agerasia

People have always thought I was younger than I was. Heck, even when I turned one, someone asked me, “What are you, zero?”

Mike Zim, Columbus, Ohio

From: Alan Etherington (alan-e ntlworld.com)
Subject: Agerasia

Our granddaughter is in her 4th year at Medical School, rapidly approaching 22, and is often given half fare on buses even recently when on her way to a Beer Festival. I point out to her that this is the Family Curse, we all look young (we like to think). When I arrived, half a lifetime ago, at the grand old age of 50, our son said that I didn’t look 50. But, he said, he remembered when I did. Had he not been a very fit 6’ 6” rugby player I’d have stopped his pocket money.

Alan Etherington, Billingham, UK

From: Robert Frank (bobfrank11 gmail.com)
Subject: Agerasia story

At a retiree’s club meeting, I met a fellow retiree. We had not seen each other in over fifteen years. She took one look at me and said “Dick Clark”. Since my name is Bob Frank, it was no slip of the tongue. Dick Clark always looked young as he hosted the television show American Bandstand for more than 30 years. He was an excellent example of agerasia.

Bob Frank, Westland, Michigan

From: Jerry Delamater (comjhd hofstra.edu)
Subject: agerasia

The whole concept of “looking one’s age” has changed significantly in my lifetime. The only grandparent I knew (paternal grandmother) died at 78 but had looked “old” much earlier. My oldest sister, now 94, looks younger than our grandmother did when she was in her late 60s, verified from photos. Perhaps there is a general agerasia in our culture, a factor of better diets, healthcare, and changes in attitude about aging.

Jerry Delamater, New Haven, Connecticut

From: Todd Mount (tmount shafferlaw.net)
Subject: Age Calculator

Looks like there is an error in the code. The calculator does not have an internal calendar, so it is basing age off a date 8 years in the past. For instance, it gave me an age of 38, 3 years younger than my chronological age. Yet, I am actually 49. Ran it a couple times to make sure I wasn’t making an ID10T error, and it is definitely the calculator’s mistake

Todd Mount, Madison, West Virginia

From: Mitch Kramer (mbkramer510 yahoo.com)
Subject: aposiopesis

In rhetoric, aposiopesis is a bit more than breaking off a sentence. It is conveying a meaning through the discontinuity, as in “I took her up to my room and we...” Its use allows the speaker to create an image for the listener by implication, and, if cleverly done, it will appear smooth rather than abrupt, using silence to paint an unheard scene.

Mitch Kramer, Middlebury, Vermont

From: Tim Upperton (tim.upperton gmail.com)
Subject: aposiopesis

Perhaps the most withering example of aposiopesis I know is critic F.R. Leavis’s comment in his critique of C.P. Snow’s “Two Cultures” Rede Lecture: “Snow is, of course, a ... no, I can’t say that; he isn’t; Snow thinks of himself as a novelist.”

Tim Upperton, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- Play mind games on the cheap NOW >

From: Linda Salvay (linda.salvay gmail.com)
Subject: aposiopesis

Aposiopesis has long been known in our family. When our daughters were young, we dubbed it “apple pie in pieces” as a sound-alike mnemonic. Each time my husband would fail to finish a sentence (due most likely to his thought process moving much faster than his ability to articulate it), they would shout, “Apple pie in pieces!” The girls are grown now, but “apple pie in pieces” is still a regular phenomenon in our house.

Linda Salvay, Prairie Village, Kansas

From: Jean-Luc Popot (jean-luc.popot ibpc.fr)
Subject: aposiopesis vs. periparentheticomania

Regarding aposiopesis, it is a fine word, although a bit difficult to place in a conversation without sounding pedantic, but there ought to be a word to describe the way some people endlessly digress in their conversation, nesting parenthesis after parenthesis inside one another. Such as:

“I wanted to tell you about an interesting talk I had yesterday with the waitress of the bakery that is behind the church, you know, close to the newspaper shop whose owner looks somewhat like Edward G. Robinson. His wife has this strange red hair with bizarre curls. I suspect it’s a wig. Are wigs made in China, these days? I suppose so. I wonder whether she’s treated for cancer. They’ve two adorable little girls, one blonde, the other a brunette with blue eyes. She has a little dog not unlike that at the coffee shop, the one that always hides under tables, you know. I wonder why he does that. Dogs act strangely, sometimes, not like cats at all. Are cats more predictable? Some people are very predictable, don’t you think so? Now to come back to the waitress I was telling you about, you know, the rather plump one, fortyish or so. She applies too much make-up and when she’s sweating, it smears. Someone ought to tell her about it but it’s hard to tell these things in a nice way, isn’t it? etc.”

I suppose it could be called rambling, but it also has the characteristic that the speaker initially announces that he or she will tell you what interesting thing the waitress had to say, and you wait and wait for it and finally get lost into (and quite impatient with!) these endless parentheses. There ought to be a nice Greek-derived word for that! “Periparentheticomania” (the habit of nesting parentheses within parentheses)? Unless something could be crafted around the idea of “never getting to the point”.

Jean-Luc Popot, Paris, France

From: Hershel Yatovitz (via online comments)
Subject: marcescent

Keith Richards.

Hershel Yatovitz, Portland, Oregon

From: Robert Burns (robertburns oblaw.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rupestral

This is yet another fake word as Latin was not influential on English in 1834 and the word is unnecessary and I am a former stonemason.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: Dave Knight (daveknight327a hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--rupestral

Does this make Kiss, Rush, and Boston rupestral bands?

David Knight, Waco, Texas

From: Dr. Kenneth Gorelick (pulmon comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--proditomania

I remember a science fiction story called “Narapoia” about a man whose psychosis was that he was out to get somebody.

Kenneth Gorelick, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: agerasia and aposiopesis

With All Hallow’s Eve almost upon us, I felt a classic cartoon noir/horror narrative scenario reflecting this week’s word agerasia was in order. So here I’ve illustrated my vision of the tragic climactic scene of Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray. His title character, a forever-young narcissist extraordinaire, has fatally dispatched himself after his Faustian pact with the devil has come to fruition... as fate would have it, Father Time has finally caught up with him, and the young Gray has morphed into a decrepit old geezer; whilst, magically, the ripped-asunder (by an enraged Gray) portrait-on-canvas, cloistered for years in a darkened closet, has ironically transfigured into the image of a youthful Dorian Gray.

The Bloviator-In-Chief, Trump, appears to be on a braggadocio rhetorical roll, when inexplicably, he’s suddenly at a complete loss for words... a case of aposiopesis? My captioned... “A Trumpian covfefe break?” is a play on the notion of a “coffee break”, in the context of our word reflecting a sentence-break. The un-word, “covfefe”, comes from a Trump tweet, where he wrote, “Despite the negative press covfefe...”, leaving politics watchers scratching their heads. Hmm... not exactly the words of a so-called “stable genius”. Just sayin’.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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


1. agerasia
2. aposiopesis
3. marcescent
4. rupestral
5. proditomania
1. aim: age later
2. a rap curse
3. droops
4. stone
5. pessimistic paranoia
     There’s a word for it
1. agerasia
2. aposiopesis
3. marcescent
4. rupestral
5. proditomania
1. carries a timeless air
2. ...
3. warps, droops
4. if petrean
5. hoards [sic] out to get me paranoia
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

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

“I’m sixty!” she grins. “Nowadays ya
can quickly achieve agerasia.
A snip here and there,
and some lifting elsewhere,
will give you a bod to amaze ya!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Lucky me, I enjoy agerasia.
If I told you my age ‘twould amaze ya.
I’ve aged like fine wine
and I’m doing just fine.
Just some aches and a touch of aphasia.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

In his search for the Fountain of Youth,
Ponce de León had learned the sad truth.
Agerasia you see,
Was just not meant to be,
So we all will get long in the tooth.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

If redwoods could talk, “We’ll amaze ya,”
They would say, “with our proud agerasia.”
They’d go on, “We’ve been told
We’re two thousand years old;”
But they’re trees, and they’ve all got aphasia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I lament that I cannot convey
The word aposiopesis -- some day
I won’t choke up or sputter,
Go blank, stop or stutter --
I’ll say what I started to say.
-David Goldberg, Pinckney, Michigan (goldberg wccnet.edu)

When aposiopesis strikes you,
It’s usually out of the blue.
Mid-sentence, you stop
As though the thought cop
Keeps you from saying something you’d rue.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

What a wonderful person Denise is!
So I’ll make that my opening thesis.
But when I say why
I fear I may cry;
Please pardon my aposiopesis.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

You must slice it like pie into pieces:
Ap-uh-sy, starts the word, then uh-PEE-sis.
Don’t be fooled, though: the strife
Doesn’t stop when your wife
Has been yelling, but suddenly ceases.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The Bard’s seven ages of man
Reach an ending much like they began.
Cut the cord -- it’s marcescent;
Then life’s evanescent;
A messy but beautiful plan.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Alas, I’m becoming senescent,”
she sighs. “And my skin is marcescent.
Those lotions I tried
cost a fortune -- and lied
when they said I’d be rejuvenescent!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said Trump, “They are all omnipresent,
Like fall leaves that are growing marcescent.
I’m referring to them:
Each persistent slick Dem,
Pence, I need a new anti-depressant.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

That flower marcescent you see
Is on its way out thanks to me.
I have a brown thumb
And all plants succumb --
My garden’s a bad place to be!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In my mirror those wrinkles I see.
Oh, my goodness, is she really me?
She’s no adolescent.
She’s that “leaf” marcescent
too stubborn to fall from the tree.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The foliage I see in the fall
Has colors that simply enthrall.
But when leaves are marcescent,
It acts as a depressant.
Finally there are no leaves at all.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

If you’re old and your willy’s marcescent,
A blue pill gives you prowess incessant.
More seeds you keep sowing,
And want to keep going!
Your wife, though, is not acquiescent.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The vista was almost celestial!
So rugged -- completely rupestral!
But also serene
Do you know what I mean?
Like an opening movement orchestral!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Of course,” says the smug mountain goat,
“our abode (and I don’t mean to gloat)
is clearly ancestral.
We love its rupestral
terrain and location remote!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When it comes to all matters ancestral,
We think back to a time so integral
To the cavemen of yore,
Who carved rocks by the score,
Giving art the new name of “rupestral”.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

To this cave after life’s daily grind
Did our forebears once come to unwind?
Did they chisel and stave,
on rupestral walls grave
a display that’s a pride of mankind?
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Neanderthal homes were rupestral;
In caves lived those people ancestral.
And we can be sure
The lighting was poor
Since often they lacked holes fenestral.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Art on rocks is considered rupestral:
Petroglyphs carved by artists ancestral,
or what some would call shlock --
patterns formed on a rock
by the poop of a gull or a kestrel.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

I have an old friend, name of Fred,
Who has crazy ideas, it’s said.
I call him my
Rupestral guy,
‘Cause Fred has got rocks in his head.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The storm on this coastline rupestral
Could be conjured with music orchestral,”
Thought Felix, “But now
Get me off of this scow
For this Hebrides cruise is too stressful.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As whistles are blown on The Hill,
The POTUS grows ever more shrill.
There’s proditomania
On Northwest Pennsylvania,
Over Dems circling round for the kill.
-Willo Oswald, Portland, Oregon (willooswald gmail.com)

His proditomania’s bad,
And some think he’s utterly mad.
The Deep State he fears
And yet it appears
He’s put all his trust in dear Vlad.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“To protect us from proditomania,
We wear helmets on top of our crania,”
Say the Trump White House teams,
“For he throws things and screams
As he sinks like the doomed Lusitania.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: There’s a word (made absurd) for it

I put my hand over my heart agerasia flag.

Whenever I ask my smartphone what “Shalom” means, from its aposiopesis heard.

Scientists are now certain marcescent home to canals.

When I applied to be an exterminator, the owner said, “You must rupestral not hire you.”

No secondaries. The heart proditomania stented a major artery. Aorta thank him for saving my life.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. -Emily Post, author and columnist (27 Oct 1872-1960)

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