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May 24, 2020
This week’s theme
Which came first: the noun or the verb?

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AWADmail Issue 934

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

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

For Young Translator of Sold-Out Harry Potter, Yiddish Is Truly His Mamaloshen (mother tongue)
The Times of Israel

How the Pandemic Threatens Native Americans -- and Their Languages
The Economist

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! -- the family that plays together stays together.

From: Beye Fyfe (beye_fyfe yahoo.com)
Subject: verbing

This business of nouning verbs and verbing nouns is unsettling. I just came across another example on my doctor’s website and I don’t know quite what to do with it: “We have social distanced our waiting room.”

Beye Fyfe, Las Vegas, Nevada

From: Carole Kenney (captcarole aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--transect

I’ve been hearing the noun “office” being used these days as a verb -- ugh! In a radio ad, something like: we’re here for you, helping you to office at home. It was maybe an ad for Staples or Office Depot or some other national company.

Carole Kenney, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--transect

The topic this week instantly reminds me of a witty song by the songwriting team of Lou & Peter Berryman, well known for their wry Wisconsin humor and clever word play. (Peter is mostly words, Lou is mostly music, but both perform and sing together.)

The song is titled “Djever” and while the verses are full of delicious tongue twisters, it’s the chorus that plays with the noun/verb thing. The chorus appears three times with different words:

Did djever screw a screw, nail a nail, see the sea
Did djever drain a drain, judge a judge, flee a flea
Did djever dream a dream, dodge a Dodge, switch a switch
Did djever stitch a stitch
(Audio, 3 min.)

Joel Mabus, Portage, Michigan

From: Dave Alden (davealden53 comcast.net)
Subject: transect

Urban planning uses a variant on transects. Noting that natural systems tend to have consistent progressions, such as surf to open sand to coastal grasses to dunes to coastal forest, they propose that human land patterns should do the same, from natural to rural all the way to urban core. Many cities now govern their land use by transects rather than zoning.

Dave Alden, Petaluma, California

From: Christopher Burke (mrchrisburke gmail.com)
Subject: surfeit

King Henry I of England reportedly met an untimely death in the 12th century after consuming “a surfeit of lampreys”, which is a phrase that for some reason has always stuck with me.

Chris Burke, Tucson, Arizona

From: Joe Silber (bishopjoey gmail.com)
Subject: surfeit

Fairport Convention had a wonderful jig called A Surfeit of Lampreys (video, 3 min.). The album notes refer to the son of William the Conqueror who died of dysentery in 1135 having dined on the titular surfeit.

Joe Silber, Leiden, The Netherlands

From: Marion Wolf (marionewolf yahoo.com)
Subject: surfeit

This word made me think of James Thurber’s wonderful children’s story “Many Moons”, in which the Princess Lenore falls ill because of a surfeit of raspberry tarts.

Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey

From: Alphonse Lepore (alfy924 gmail.com)
Subject: Reconnoiter

When Halley’s comet came around the last time, I took my six-year-old nephew to a friend’s farm to see it. We parked on top of a dark hill. Once we started the car and the lights came back on, I couldn’t figure where to go. So I drove in a circle. He asked “why” and I said I needed “to reconnoiter”. About half way home he asked “What’s an oiter?” Not knowing what he meant, I asked, and he said “You were trying to wreck one back there.”

Alphonse Lepore, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

From: Rich Ball (richball comcast.net)
Subject: Reconnoiter

As a cameraman it was some delight to work with production crews from many points on the globe because all the good ones seemed to me cut from the same cloth, worked the same way. But they called some things by different names. In the US, if we could examine a location before shooting began, we’d call that a scout. But my British crews called it a reckie [recce], although I don’t know how they’d have spelled it. The meaning was clear enough.

Rich Ball, Oak Park, Illinois

From: Roger Groce (rtgroce hotmail.com)
Subject: reconnoitering

The Broadway hit Li’l Abner introduced most of us seniors to this word in this tribute to a fictional Southern general who gained entrance to the room of a Yankee spy, and -- despite battling her through the night -- lost a glorious fight.

According to song, it was he who also

“went reconnoitering to flank the enemy’s rear, Circled through the piney
woods, and disappeared for a year?
Why it was Jubilation T. Cornpone;
Old “Treat ‘em with scorn - pone.”
Jubilation T. Cornpone, the missing mountaineer!”

Roger Groce, Mt Gretna, Pennsylvania

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Reconnoitre

Gnosticism, the name of a seventeenth century religious movement, also originated from gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge. The gnostics had been followers of early Christian and Jewish religious sects, which emphasized personal spiritual knowledge over and above traditional authoritarian teachings.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interpose

In the revue Beyond the Fringe (1961), there is a parody of Shakespeare’s history plays by a very young Alan Bennett. After the Earl of Worcester is killed in a duel, the victor declaims, “Now is steel ‘twixt gut and bladder interposed. O saucy Worcester, and dost thou lie so still?”

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Saundra D’Amato (sdamato100 aol.com)
Subject: Nouns into verbs and vice versa

Currently there is a TV ad running that exhorts us to “brain better”. I guess they couldn’t think of an actual verb?

Saundra D’Amato, Memphis, Tennessee

From: Annette C. Boehm (annette.of.fernhill gmail.com)
Subject: verbing things

I came across an interesting instance of verbing in a short story today:

“[The] effect occurs when Placet is in mid-position between [...] the two suns it figure-eights around.”
Frederic Brown; Placet is a Crazy Place; Best SF 2.

Annette Boehm, Bochum, Germany

From: Sara Meyer (Sara.Meyer erm.com)
Subject: Signs

I thought you might enjoy this use of words and signs. Not quite the same as your “Do not beyond” picture, but equally as effective at leaving the reader scratching their head.

Sara Meyer, Holland, Michigan

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: transect and surfeit

Cutting the Mustard?
When I read the definition of our word “transect”, i.e., “a narrow section through a natural feature”, I took it personally. Over the past few weeks of birding at my local Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve here in Van Nuys, CA, I’ve been observing quite an impressive rapid natural growth phenomenon. Namely, the blooming bright-yellow non-native wild mustard plants straddling my homebound go-to dirt path, growing at mid-calf level a few weeks back, now having shot up to shoulder height, and even above my noggin, in some stretches. The path has narrowed to the point where it’s difficult to even discern that a path even exits. I’d have to say that my fast-shrinking path fits the definition of a “transect”. Here, I’ve pictured yours truly, on the aforementioned path, swathed in wild mustard, checking out a curious woodpecker with my binocs. Stalks of wild mustard are quite gnarly and nasty, kind of nature’s equivalent to barbed wire. So, traversing this ever-narrowing path is akin to running the gauntlet, particularly into the summer when the mustard plants die, dry out, and take on a biscuit-brown coloration. There can be blood.
PS: I actually applied real mustard as pigment on this illo.

Love-Struck Blues!
In seeing one of this week’s words was “surfeit”, my admittedly rather sketchy knowledge of Will Shakespeare’s plays kicked in. Yet curiously, I could immediately recall the opening line of his farcical drama, Twelfth Night, voiced by the love-smitten dandy, Duke Orsino, who courts the in-mourning, fetching Lady Olivia. From first-sight, back in my high school English lit days, the odd-sounding word “surfeiting” always stuck with me. In this scenario, the love-besotted, narcissistic nobleman, Orsino, has, for hours, been serenading the grieving Lady Olivia with the mellifluous strains of his lute. At this juncture, she has clearly had “excess of it”. No amount of persistent Orsino’s wooing overtures can move Lady Olivia to accept his amorous entreaties. Alas, for the love-sick duke, his desire for Olivia is unrequited. Hmm... Much ado about nothing? (groan)

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

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

1. transect
2. surfeit
3. reconnoiter
4. traject
5. interpose
1. cut
2. sate
3. snoop
4. cart
5. interfere; interject; or insert
     This week’s theme: Which came first: the noun or the verb?
1. transect
2. surfeit
3. reconnoiter
4. traject
5. interpose
1. intermesh, cut in
2. sate, error when (s)he overeats
3. check with, job of the scout
4. transmit
5. interfere, intercept
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

Says he, “I mean no disrespect,
but that swimsuit appears to transect
and distort your behind.
It’s unsightly, I find.
You ought to be more circumspect!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

In search of a short cut direct,
My garden some teens did transect.
The sprinkler came on;
They got thereupon
A shower they didn’t expect.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

If a jaywalker laws won’t respect,
and illegally streets will transect,
he cares little for others.
Both he and his brothers
the wearing of masks will reject.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Now over the globe he had trekked.
His marriage, his travel had wrecked.
Complained his upset wife,
Of his wanderlust life,
“This bed you will never transect!”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Your music my play could transect;
Let’s collaborate, Kurt,” proposed Brecht.
That night over vodka
The Threepenny Opera
Got started (if Google’s correct).
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“In the hills there’s a lovely transect,
So alive and with music bedecked,”
Young Maria would sing
In the Alps in the spring,
Till the lyrics she went and rechecked.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Just looked at my ragged back yard,
I’ll describe it in rhyme like a bard.
Of weeds there’s a surfeit,
I ought to re-turf it,
But may just plant cabbage and chard.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

My two-year old’s “birfday” was “worf it”,
He said, tho balloons in a surfeit
Clogged the doorways and windows --
You couldn’t get in those,
Or out -- he still thought it was “perfit!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Team probing train wrecks found it bizarre,
a surfeit of them were rear-most cars.
It told the railroad boss,
“To stop this endless loss,
Last compartments you have to debar.”
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Said a crab of the type that’s a hermit,
“On this beach I have friends in no surfeit.
The conch passes by,
And the clams won’t say ‘Hi,’
For I’ve stolen my house, didn’t earn it.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (jpmarlin456 gmail.com)

One night as the two dined on turbot,
“We must talk,” said Miss Piggy to Kermit.
“Being you is not easy,
But still I feel queasy;
Of green I have quite had a surfeit.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Delighted with her reconnoiter,
said Goldilocks, “Might as well loiter --
eat porridge, sit chairs,
test beds of the bears.”
That chick was a tricky exploiter!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Gunner the dog was a pointer.
On walks he’d with joy reconnoiter
To find just the right spot.
Mr. Gunner was not
In a hurry. He loved just to loiter.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

The fellow had followed his heart.
(In lockdown a move not so smart.)
Where teenagers loiter
The cops reconnoiter
And keep those young lovers apart.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Though she says that your grabbing annoyed her,
The facts we can always embroider,”
Said Ms. Conway, “We’ll say
That when girls want to play,
You must first with your hands reconnoiter.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Wolf warned the three pigs, “I’ll traject
my breath through the air. ‘Twill connect
with each flimsy construction,
effect its destruction,
continue till all have been wrecked!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

She tried her very best to traject
A life one could honor and respect.
Both honest and pure,
She’d somehow endure
Those who choose to be rudely direct.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

By sneezes this germ’s been trajected;
The whole world has now been affected.
We all share the pain,
Because it is plain
That all of our lives are connected.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

With others they sought to connect
and their concept and questions traject,
but fears of a hack
sadly made them hold back,
so the concept they couldn’t perfect.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The Covid we know can traject,
Through your mouth and nose, they detect.
So the Doctors do ask,
That we all wear a mask,
Which our President does reject.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“To ze Vhite House ve helped you traject,
Now ze public you’ll help us infect,”
Ordered Vlad, “Ve’re desirous
You downplay ze virus,
Zen tell zem to Lysol inject.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Sleeping Beauty’s been roused from her doze
too often by wannabe beaus.
To discourage these gents,
new electrified fence
bears a warning: DO NOT INTERPOSE!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said the sweet bride with quiet repose.
“Every night my new groom comes and goes.
Though he’s smart and robust,
Such a man I don’t trust.
Between him and his babes: interpose.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

How badly a Zoom session goes
Whenever attended by those
Who unmuted, munch
With audible crunch,
Not knowing they thus interpose.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“My subjects believe that my clothes
Between me and the sun interpose,”
Said Lady Godiva,
“I’m like a messiah
To women who hate pantyhose.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Did the noun or verb come first? Depends on which was satisfied.

Transect: A religious cult for cross-dressers.

I could eat lobster twice a day no matter how you surfeit to me.

The current administration I reconnoiter be turned out come November.

The attorney angrily threw his hat at the judge and shouted, “I traject!”

Upon seeing Goya’s La maja vestida the bumpkin remarked, “Wow! Interpose sexy?”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Bob Webb (rhw3fl aol.com)
Subject: puns

The Bishop’s new directive? ‘Twas so restrictive, ‘transect after sect out of the church en masse.

“Was the General angry, Sergeant?” -- “Yes, surfeit to be tied!”

Anyone whose car was totaled in a reconnoiter a new one from the dealer.

My handyman, after I agreed to pay ex traject up my car and put the spare on.

The Creative Writing instructor told his students, “Imagine that you could interpose mind as he was writing The Raven.”

Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan

The Trump "Tapes"
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Foibles & Follies

The Trump “Tapes”

Dr. Tony Fauci, head of our National Institute of Health (NIH), and arguably the most highly respected epidemiologist in the nation, has been a consistent truth-teller regarding the hard, cold facts and sobering stats regarding this COVID-19 pandemic, providing timely data relating to the likely efficacy of possibly therapeutic treatments and realistic projections as to prospects for a viable, reliable vaccine. Ever optimistic, yet still a pragmatic realist, Fauci sees a vaccine coming, at a minimum, a year from now. Yet at almost every turn, Trump downplays Fauci’s often grim data and his (Fauci’s) strong recommendations as to best preventative practices to counter this virus for governments, and the American populace at large. So, in this scenario, Trump has duct-taped Fauci’s mouth, essentially stifling a voice of reason, truth, and solid scientific credibility.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. -Bob Dylan, singer-songwriter, Nobel laureate (b. 24 May 1941)

It is the people who scream the loudest about America and Freedom who seem to be the most intolerant for a differing point of view. -Rosanne Cash, singer-songwriter and author (b. 24 May 1955)

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