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Dec 15, 2019
This week’s theme
Biblical allusions

This week’s words
corbie messenger
land of nod

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Relative usage over time

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Adverb? Not!

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AWADmail Issue 911

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, Cindy Watter (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

A Guide to How Gender-Neutral Language Is Developing Around the World
The Washington Post

How to Save a Dying Language
The Atlantic

What’s Lost When a Language Disappears
The New Republic

A ‘Mic Drop’ on a Theory of Language Evolution
The Atlantic

Here’s How to Say the Words You Mispronounced in 2019

From: Diane-Marie Campbell (via website comments)
Subject: A language belongs to anyone who speaks it

You said, “A language belongs to anyone who speaks it.” Oliver Sacks described a similar issue at Martha’s Vineyard. Some of the deaf community (at that time deafness was considered a normal variant there) felt that it was inappropriate for a person with normal hearing to be appointed as head of their college, which catered for the deaf.

Diane-Marie Campbell, Adelaide, Australia

From: Russell Marsh (rhmarsh ucdavis.edu)
Subject: language

“A language belongs to anyone who speaks it” Yes, Anu! And where they speak it should be nobody else’s business either. Freedom of Speech includes the language as well as the meaning. I’ve seen far too many viral videos of people yelling at people for not speaking English in private conversations. It seems we glorify ignorance these days, and it’s sickening.

Russell Marsh, Sacramento, California

From: Josephine Hammond (jmahammond btinternet.com)
Subject: Corbie messenger

Here in the UK we have a prime ministerial candidate named Corbyn. Will he arrive or won’t he? And now we know he has lived up to his name.

Josephine Hammond, Llanmill, Wales

From: Chris Bata (cjbata gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--corbie messenger

Is this email sponsored by Dove soap?

Chris Bata, Austin, Texas

No, but it should have been. Thanks for catching the reference. You are one of two readers who wrote. For the record, the three lines in the NOTES section were Dove tag lines in the past.
-Anu Garg

From: Jonathan Gellman (jonathansg yahoo.com)
Subject: Corbie messenger

Perhaps Noah didn’t catch the raven’s message about the flood: “Nevermore.”

Jonathan Gellman, New York, New York

From: Colleen A. Tucker (catnva2002 yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--land of nod

I noticed a blip, for lack of a better word, on today’s daily word example. There were obviously no phones in biblical days, yet it says “while not even looking up from his phone” referring to Cain and Abel in the Bible. Who could’ve made such a mistake?

Colleen A. Tucker, Norfolk, Virginia

Mea culpa! I should have been more careful and mentioned that it was not a cell phone as we know it, rather one of those big bulky brick-like phones of the first generation.
-Anu Garg

From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
Subject: land of nod

A common thing to say to children at bedtime here is that it is time to climb the wooden hill (stairs) to Bedfordshire, which always struck me as odd as a child given it is the neighbouring county to our own in Cambridgeshire!

Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK

From: Roy Stephenson (via website comments)
Subject: Land of Nod

As a schoolboy in Yorkshire in the 1950s I began my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award hike from the Land of Nod.

“Land of Nod is the name of a small hamlet in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It is located at the far end of a two-mile-long road which joins the A614 road at Holme-on-Spalding-Moor (53.8185°N 0.7215°W).” (Wikipedia)

Roy Stephenson, Rothbury, UK

From: Clive Holloway (cliveh yorku.ca)
Subject: Uncle Ned

If you are a Londoner you could be going to Uncle Ned (bed); or if the bed is upstairs you could be going up the apples (apples and pears (stairs)).
[See rhyming slang]

Clive Holloway, Toronto, Canada

From: Michael Rosove (mrosove gmail.com)
Subject: The Land of Nod

One of my favorite poems from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.

The Land of Nod
From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do --
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

Michael Rosove, Santa Monica, California

From: John D. Laskowski (john.laskowski mothman.org)
Subject: Land of Don

And our current President lives in the Land of Don!

John D. Laskowski, Carsonville, Pennsylvania

From: Sean (aslamont yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Apollyon

You wrote: The Bible’s Book of Revelation 9:11 introduces Apollyon as: “And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”

If I get another black cat, I’ll name her Abbie Dawn.


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

From: Cindy Watter (hedgehogccw gmail.com)
Subject: Apollyon in Little Women

“Jo Meets Apollyon” is the title of a chapter in which an angry Jo is partially responsible for Amy’s near drowning in a frozen pond. (Jo is furious because Amy burned Jo’s manuscript.) The description of Jo’s rage was startlingly realistic, as I recall.

Cindy Claymore Watter, Napa, California

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: Magdalene

I’ve been reading poetry a long time and just making a perfunctory inventory, I think, that the most outrageous, if not hilarious, metaphors I have come across are from Richard Crashaw’s poem about Mary Magdalene: “Sainte Mary Magdalene or The Weeper”. In a poem of thirty-one sestets, all nicely metered and rhymed, Crashaw pulls out all the stops, moving from one excess to another, but his excess seem to reach the pinnacle of bathos in stanza XIX when he describes the weeping Magdalen, who is following Christ, “where e’er he strayes”, as having been transformed into “two ... fountaines, / Two walking Baths ... .” She evolves into “Portable and compendious Oceans”.

I relish the metaphysical poets’ skill with the conceit, the yoking of two dissimilar objects to show comparison--think of the brilliant work of Donne and Herbert. But Crashaw, in his attempt to show the depth and voluminous volume of Magdalene’s tears, crosses the bourn and leaps into the swamp of the absurd. I don’t know whether one should grimace or evince an ironic grin to contemplate a perambulating Mary Magdalene, her eyes transformed into walking seas, or as one wag put it: “Two bathtubs in place of eyes”.

And now where e’re he strayes
Among the Galilaean mountains,
Or more unwelcome wayes,
He’s follow’d by two faithfull fountaines,
Two walking Baths, two weeping motions;
Portable and compendious Oceans.

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

from: Michael Klossner (klossner9 aol.com)
subject: Magdalene

Joan of Arc was another victim of the Catholic Church who had to wait a long time for an official correction. She was burned (by the English army but at the order of a church court) in 1431 and made a saint in 1920 -- 489 years. I believe she is the only Catholic saint whom the Church actually burned.

Michael Klossner, Little Rock, Arkansas

From: Garry Stahl (tesral wowway.com)
Subject: magdalene

You wrote: So much for ex cathedra! Religion, fighting reality, since, well ... forever.

Well, it is “from the seat” not “from the head” so consider the origin.

Garry Stahl, Dearborn, Michigan

From: Winifred O’Shaughnessy (dwosh yahoo.com)
Subject: Goliath

Actually, Goliath was somewhat hindered by poor eyesight, and David had lots and lots of training with the sling shot. The one who was “weak” was Goliath. Don’t you love myths and paradoxes?

Winifred O’Shaughnessy, Mirror Lake, New Hampshire

From: John Ingle (j.ingle verizon.net)
Subject: Goliath

One of the all-time great lyrics in a musical show (maybe it’s an opera?) is this one from Porgy and Bess:

Li’l David was small, but oh my!
Li’l David was small, but oh my!
He fought big Goliath
Who lay down an’ dieth!
Li’l David was small, but oh my!

The use of “dieth” is divinely inspired!

John E. Ingle, Lovettsville, Virginia

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Apollyon and the land of nod

Playing off our word “apollyon”, meaning “the Devil”, I felt a she-devil might provide a cool cartoon scenario... a nod to the distaff side, with 1960s’ San Francisco-based former underground cartoonist Robert Crumb’s menacingly erotic, totally buff, comic book character, Devil Girl, front-and-center. In this instance, a life-sized cast acrylic polychrome sculpture* contorted in an extreme acrobatic pose, with a somewhat guilt-ridden naked Crumb perched atop her muscular leg. The creator of the infamous Zap Comix, R. Crumb, not only conjured up his fiendish Devil Girl from the dark depths of his fertile, sexually obsessed imaginings, but came up with a litany of other wacko comic strip characters, including Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, Angel Food McSpade, and The Snoid. Not to mention his most iconic, enduring piece of art, drawn from the eponymous comic strip... the “Keep on Truckin’” dude. His hyper-extended forward stride should definitely be included in the cartoon version of The Guinness Book of Records. Ha! *Only a singular life-sized Devil Girl sculpture was ever produced, although limited-edition, smaller versions of her assuming varied seductive poses were marketed to eager Crumb aficionados.

The land of nod
In this “land of nod” scenario, future PGA pro golfer, a young John Daly, is sawing ZZZs in slumberland. In his deep reverie, he envisions himself proudly clutching the legendary Claret Jug, the much-coveted ancient trophy annually awarded to the winner of the British Open. Indeed, childhood dreams ofttimes do come true. Case in point, at the 1995 Open, Daly dumbfounded a gobsmacked golf world with his 4-hole playoff victory at the hallowed Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, soundly defeating his tenacious Italian challenger, Constantine Rocca. With his stunning win, Daly earned the honorific title “Men’s Champion Golfer of the Year”, bestowed jointly by the Royal & Ancient Golf Association and the USGA. Today, at 53, portly, somewhat hobbled (bad knees) Daly plays spottily on the Champions (Senior) Tour. Yet he still retains that familiar, on-course, boyish, devil-may-care charm about him, and continues to sport his signature Buster Brown-style blond locks... sans the flowing “mullet” of his youth. Still, a perennial fan favorite. My caption is a play on the movie title... “Field of Dreams”.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words
Biblical allusions:
1. corbie messenger
2. land of nod
3. apollyon
4. magdalene
5. goliath
1. mailman lolls
2. sleep, of course
3. Diablo, god in hell
4. obscene lady born again
5. giant
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

With aging, his neurons had frayed;
Corbie messengers all, they had strayed.
Though his thoughts were still lewd
When he noticed a nude,
His extremities failed to get swayed.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“Your brother’s a true corbie messenger,”
To Jack Kennedy said Arthur Schlesinger.
“I told him to go
And invite Miss Monroe
To your party, and now he’s obsessed with her.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Prince found Sleeping Beauty alone.
He kissed her, but she remained prone,
just muttered, “You clod,
this is MY land of nod!
Get out of here, go find your own!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said Trump, “We’re like peas in a pod,”
But Vlad told him, “You’re getting slipshod.
You lack true potential,
You’re not presidential,
Time to go to that far land of nod.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Insomniacs often will weep,
“I wish I could fall fast asleep!
It’s awfully odd
That land they call ‘Nod’
Is not in the atlas I keep.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My insomnia keeps me awake.
I can’t catch a break for pity’s sake.
So it’s not very odd,
When there’s no Land of Nod,
That I go to my fridge and eat cake.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Continue your story, Scheherazade,”
Said the king, but dozed off to the land of nod.
“This buys one more night
That my head he won’t smite,”
She exhaled. “Married life’s really very odd.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Our President thinks he’s Napoleon,
And wants to squeeze every simoleon
Of what each deal offers
Straight into his coffers;
A head of state? No, an Apollyon!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

An evil destroyer was he.
“Apollyon” his nickname could be.
He chewed up my phone
And wrecked all I own --
That puppy dog went on a spree.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Can our founders’ ideals Jeffersonian
Endure past the current Apollyon?
Sure, he’s made quite a mess,
But Capone met his Ness,
And, “I’ll take Waterloo!” said Napoleon.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Who’s that awful old hag that I’ve seen?
You say she’s a new Magdalene?
Well, if that’s what’s in store
For an old reformed whore,
I think I’ll stay bad and unclean!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Says she, “You’re one hundred percent
correct that my life’s been misspent.
Yes, my name’s Magdalene,
but no way does that mean
I aspire to retire and repent!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Mary Magdalene had a bad rap,
Calling her sinful was just a big flap;
Where are all the penitent men?
Are men ever sorry for their mayhem?
Some of our history is just so much crap.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

A most beautiful girl named Marlene
Was so slightly risqué and obscene.
Though with all of her men,
She had such a strong yen
To appear as a pure Magdalene.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

In Vegas she’d gotten her start,
But then she repented at heart.
This Magdalene now
Has taken a vow --
She’s left behind life as a tart.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

They wrote about poor Magdalene
in terms that were meant to demean.
She did not want that life,
just to be a good wife.
Scribes can be very catty and mean.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

“I have sinned, for I visited Dairy Queen,”
At confession admitted the Magdalene.
Said the priest, “For that Blizzard
You put in your gizzard,
Three Rosaries, then eat a Lean Cuisine.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Have you heard of the art family Wyeth?
Among peers they are clearly Goliath!
Said a student, “I know
I’ve a long way to go --
Think I’ll ever get there? Gotta tryeth!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Excitedly cries the goliath,
“This doctor, I hear, modifieth
one’s size. He’ll divest
folks of height on request.
I’m calling him! Hope he replieth!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He has a goliath ego.
Who that is, I am sure you know.
Now all I have to say
Is soon will come the day
To decide; should he stay or go?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

A young dealer, a real arts goliath,
Owned a gallery housing a Wyeth.
But when asked for a price,
Said, “Ten million sounds nice,”
Yet so far not one person would buyeth.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Goliath was known for his size
Which terrified most other guys.
Imagine their shock
When young David’s rock
Efficiently caused his demise.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

David shouted, “I’ll slay great Goliath.
Though he’s fearsome, I’m ready to tryeth.
I’m good with my sling;
It might be just the thing.
Either way, this day one of us dieth!”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The Philistine giant, well-known,
Had laughed at the lad not yet grown.
David took out his sling,
And a rock, he did fling.
Great Goliath fell like a stone.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said David one day to Goliath,
“With a slingshot, to smite you I’ll tryeth.
And you know what else, dude?
I shall fight in the nude,
And thus artists a model supplieth.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Biblical allusions needing ablutions

As punnable material, corbie messenger has left me stark raven mad.

Thanks to our new puppy my house slippers belong in the land of gnawed.

When Apollyon got to Waterloo there was hell to pay.

When Thatcher was PM, liberals had difficulty getting Magdalene their way.

Goliath down with dogs and thou shalt arise with fleas.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Writing is like carrying a fetus. -Edna O’Brien, writer (b. 15 Dec 1930)

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