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When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Nov 8, 2020
This week’s theme
Borrowed words

This week’s words
cushy
pogonip
pishogue
zarf
picaro

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Words having all five vowels and in order

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AWADmail Issue 958

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

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From: Claudine C.C. Elian (catchall ccelian.com)
Subject: Week of November 2, 2020 cushy

I was taken aback at the absence of your usual sensitivity to the plight of human beings when I read this week’s introduction which included this quotation: “English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore.”

Women who became/become prostitutes often emerge out of poverty and abuse. It can persuasively be argued that the men who seek out the services of a so-called whore are the impure ones for their willingness to participate in an economic system that profits from the plight of disadvantaged women, all of whom live in societies that practice their systematic disenfranchisement in rightfully sharing power.

Not cool.

With all due respect,

Claudine C.C. Elian, Sedro-Woolley, Washington

Thanks for taking the time to write. One may argue that the quotation (from 1990) is showing its age, but even at that time, at any time, it is demeaning and sexist. Perhaps we can ask the author of the quotation to consider a re-phrasing. How about “English is about as pure as a reality-television president”? Then, again, let’s not demean the language now.
-Anu Garg



From: Michael Poxon (mike starman.co.uk)
Subject: cushy

This jumped out at me! “Cushy” is from Romany (I am of Romany descent) where it means “good”. I can recall relatives talking about sweets (candy in the US!) as “cushies”; and a toast in Romany is “kooshti sante” (good health). The word has percolated through the UK, especially in London. It was frequently used in the South-London based series Only Fools and Horses by the lead character Del Boy. Several other words from the same source have been adopted, such as chav. My own surname features strongly in Romany circles. The former leader of the National Gypsy Council was a Mr. Grattan Puxon (just a variant spelling).

Michael Poxon, Norwich, UK



From: Alan W. Ritch (aritch berkeley.edu)
Subject: Pogonip

I expect every Santa Cruz subscriber to AWAD will tell you about our popular park named Pogonip which spills down the southeastern slope from the UCSC campus towards the San Lorenzo River. I doubt whether even long-term locals can remember the last time there was a pogonip at Pogonip. Climate change reduces the chance of inflicting a frost hazard on the park. Fire on the other hand came perilously close to it in August 2020.

Alan Ritch, Santa Cruz, California



From: Lynn Javoroski (lynnjav gmail.com)
Subject: Pogonip

I took these pictures some years ago; I’m happy to know “there’s a word for it”!

Pogonip Pogonip
Lynn Javoroski, Juneau, Wisconsin



From: Richard Gilbert (r.gilbert ns.sympatico.ca)
Subject: Pogonip

As a pogonophile, I was surprised to see this word with a similar base from a completely different language. But I suppose at my age, with my beard heavily frosted with white, “pogonip” might be a good descriptor.

Richard Gilbert, Linwood, Canada



From: Inez Fletcher (fletcherinez gmail.com)
Subject: pishogue

According to A Dictionary of Hiberno-English by Terence Patrick Dolan, pishogue/piseog/pishrogue means “A charm, spell; superstitious practice; a tall tale ...” This link Foclóir Gaeilge/Béarla / Ó Dómhnaill to the main Irish/English dictionary gives the definition for the Irish word, with a cross-reference from pisreog.

As someone with a background in rural Ireland, it is a word I would be very familiar with. Pishoguery is a belief in such superstitions.

Inez Fletcher, Dublin, Ireland



From: John Buchanan (tot78se gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zarf

Thank you for zarf. Many years ago I took the train from Moscow to Helsinki as a courier for paintings being returned to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In the morning the porter brought me strong black Russian tea in a glass held in a zarf. Now I can use the proper word in my memoir of my years at the Museum.

Jack Buchanan, New York, New York



From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zarf

I was surprised that zarf wasn’t paired with its true mate, the finjan. It is a special pleasure to enjoy coffee, sweet tea, or spiced cider served in a glass held within a delightfully contrived zarf.

Bob Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico



From: Stuart Miles-McLean (Miles-Mclean.Stuart epa.gov)
Subject: Re: zarf

I learned this word from my mother in the ‘70s when we accumulated a set of plastic zarfs with pyrex inserts (finjans) from the gas-station as perks for getting a series of fill-ups (remember those days, when you didn’t pump your own gas and you got a free gift for filling up?). Mom loved words and was tickled to use such fancy words for the free gas-station mugs. Then a couple decades ago, a relative brought back a pair of zarfs and finjans from Russia, which ended up in my hands and I use them every day. Amazingly, my zarfs appear to be identical to the one in your picture! (Although mine is not polished and the finjan is badly tea-stained.)

Stuart Miles-McLean, Washington, DC



From: Bob Stein (stein visibone.com)
Subject: zarf

In an episode of the Flintstones (Flintstone of Prinstone), Fred plays ZARF in a scrabble game with the newspaper boy. As I remember the story, he gets called out for making up this bogus word and goes back to school to repair his woeful education.

Bob Stein, Brushton, New York



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

From: Kay Keeler (kaykeeler33 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zarf

We lived in Turkey during the 60s and discovered the word zarf in Turkish. Our joke was to call those paper bags in the magazine pouch on the back of airline seats, barf zarfs.

Kay Keeler, Lopez Island, Washington



From: Pascal Pagnoux (pascal.pagnoux gmail.com)
Subject: Epic proportions

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
I don’t think that combat has ever been written about truthfully; it has always been described in terms of bravery and cowardice. I won’t even accept these words as terms of human reference any more. And anyway, hell, they don’t even apply to what, in actual fact, modern warfare has become. -James Jones, novelist (6 Nov 1921-1977)

As long as combat benefits Mammon, it will be described in lavish words.

The “Great War” created 21,000 millionaires in the US alone.

It would be a national infamy not to celebrate the soldiers whose courage made this possible, whose abnegation in dying or being permanently handicapped or disfigured for their country allowed the Benjamins to flow, the bravery of those guys who enlisted to exterminate the bloodthirsty murderers of the Kaiser’s “Huns” (I’m asking you... the country of Mozart, Beethoven, Kant, Goethe... :o) who were smashing babies against walls, gouging their eyes to play marbles (German soldiers have always been fond of playing marbles with babies’ eyes as everybody knows :o) and other fantasies imagined by full-fledged bastard Rudyard Kipling (who later supported General Dyer after he was disgraced for ordering the massacre of an unarmed crowd comprising women and children in Amritsar, India), Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and other literary luminaries of the War Propaganda Bureau or Wellington House, as detailed here.

Adolf Hitler himself wrote in Mein Kampf that he was very admirative of the efficacy of British propaganda in WW1, far more convincing for a literate public than the coarse stuff the Germans produced. Imagine the scandal if anyone had the gall to call these benefactors of Wall Street’s death industry a sorry mix of unconcerned drafted cannon fodder - including from colonies on the other side of the Earth who couldn’t care less about what happened on the Rhine - and gullible jingoistic suckers on both sides.

And yet as (cocaine addict) Hermann Goering once famously said to a journalist interviewing him in his Nuremberg prison cell: “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine its policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country, whether it is a parliamentary democracy or a fascist or communist dictatorship.”

And this much to the delight of warmongering psychopaths even in the enemy camp:

Wikiquote: “Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be made like this?” (Winston Churchill In a letter to his wife Clemmie, during the build-up to World War I).

“I think a curse should rest on me - because I love this war. I know it’s smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment - and yet - I can’t help it - I enjoy every second of it” (Winston Churchill in a letter to a friend, 1916).

Can’t stop progress! :o)

Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France



From: Janine Harris-Wheatley (janinehw20 gmail.com)
Subject: James Joyce on War

Does anyone really win a war? Not the dead, maimed or traumatized military personnel or their families. Not the civilians caught in the crossfire, the refugees uprooted from their communities, or the children left orphaned and homeless. Not the shop owners whose businesses are in shambles or destroyed, the farmers whose fields are pocked with land mines, the factory workers with no factory left to work in.

Does anyone win a war? Oh yes, the warmongers, the builders of planes and tanks and drones, the makers of guns and bombs and missiles, the dealers in mercenaries and black market goods, the generals and the politicians; they may thirst for victory but it is not a glorious win for most, just a tragic hollow loss. And from across the border we hold you in our hearts and pray that cooler minds let peace prevail.

Janine Harris-Wheatley, Tottenham, Canada



From: Maureen Doyle (maureen_mclinden_doyle msn.com)
Subject: War

Re: James Jones quotation. I’ve also realized that I learned history as a list of wars, of course all written by the victors.

Then I realized most of western civilization has been wars or lead-ups to wars, punctuated by brief hopes of peace.

Maureen Doyle, Boston, Massachusetts



From: Marion Parr (marion parrcarr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--picaro (and Tintin)

That’s so funny that you included the Tintin book cover. That’s how I learned the word “picaro”. My dad was in the Foreign Service so we grew up overseas. I read all the Tintin books and most of the Asterix and Obelix books, and assumed that all American kids read them. But when I came back for college, hmmm, Tintin (let alone Asterix!) wasn’t in anyone’s repertoire.

Thanks for bringing back a lovely memory, especially at the end of this crazy week.

Marion Parr, Palo Alto, California



Mork's Latest Word
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Zarf & Pogonip

Mork (aka Robin Williams), TV alien from the ‘70s-’80s sitcom “Mork & Mindy” arrived from the planet Ork with his own quirky lexicon, such as “KAYO” for OK and “mitz” for silly. Here, Froggy teaches Mork a new word, zarf, plenty quirky, but hardly extraterrestrial. On a personal note, in the early ‘80s at Hanna-Barbera I helped design the Mork and Mindy characters for their animated TV series. For me, nailing down Robin Williams’s Mork was a snap, Mindy (Pam Dawber), not so much. Too darn cute.

Pogonip-ped
On seeing our word “pogonip”, the cartoonist in me conjured up Walt Kelly’s comic strip possum “Pogo” and the zany antics of his swamp pals. Here, in the midst of a pogonip, Pogo puts the finishing touches on Snowman Trump, completing his straw coif. Pogo, habitué of the Florida swamp. Trump, a creature of the fetid Washington “swamp” that he’d vowed to drain of corruption, but over his four years in office has continued to advance his cronies.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California



Anagrams of This Week’s Words
1. cushy
2. pogonip
3. pishogue
4. zarf
5. picaro
= 1. posh
2. icy fog
3. in Oz?
4. a cup paper
5. roguish
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)



Limericks

Says boss to employee, “My dear,
you must either wear sexier gear
or be tossed on your tushy
right out of this cushy
position. Now fetch me a beer!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He had a cushy job, yet he slacked.
A hard work ethic is what he lacked.
His boss let it slide,
Gave him a free ride,
Until one day he simply was sacked.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

The young suitor gushed words oh-so-mushy,
Though the ladies all thought he was pushy.
But said he, “What to do?
My fave job is to woo.
I just like it. It’s flirty and cushy.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The man gave the job to his son,
Who found it was easily done.
That job was so cushy,
He’d laze on his tushy --
Don’t nepotists have lots of fun!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Determined, unobtrusively pushy,
she was seeking a job that was cushy.
The climb took its toll
and if she reached her goal
would she think it was worth it? Boy, would she!
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

When inducements or threats cut no ice,
The unfit team’s coach had to devise
A regime tough and pushy:
She purged all things cushy;
No-frill meals sans booze seemed good first-tries.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“The White House has truly been cushy,”
Thought Donald, “I loved being pushy.
I could shout and be crude
Yet still dine on great food,
But in prison, it’s gonna be mushy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


My beagle resented my iPhone,
So I had to throw Fido a dry bone.
My fear of his logon nip
Chilled me like pogonip.
Doggone it, please leave me alone.
-Alan W. Ritch, Santa Cruz, California (aritch berkeley.edu)

We’re caught in the cold, icy grip
of an early surprise pogonip.
“This looks pretty bad,”
determines our dad.
Mom’s rolling her eyes. “Weatherstrip!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He’d often seen snow, sleet, and hail,
For that is what winters entail.
But when he went through
A pogonip too --
He took off for Fort Lauderdale.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The sailor was told on his ship,
“Be careful, when some grog ya sip.
It won’t be so nice, see,
The deck will be icy,
And you’ll slip in this darn pogonip.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

If you’re walking along in a pogonip,
Be careful, or into a bog you’ll slip.
And then, “Like the story,
It’s my turn for glory!
Come kiss me, you fool,” a snide frog’ll quip.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“Alas, it’s our last pot of brew,”
cry the witches. “We’re bidding adieu
to conducting pishogue,
since it’s gone out of vogue.
Next project? Perhaps mountain dew!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

How brave to defame John McCain,
With fake bone spurs his personal bane.
“My pain was severe.”
(That part is unclear.)
Maybe pishogue has scrambled his brain.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

In places where witchcraft’s in vogue,
Some people may practice pishogue.
But I say, “Pshaw!”
I’m hardly in awe
Of such superstition gone rogue.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Let’s hope Trumpism’s never in vogue!
Though he’s able to work his pishogue
On millions, it seems;
On me? In his dreams!
He’s a fraud! He’s a cheat! He’s a rogue!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

If an Irish witch you should meet,
Be careful to greet her real sweet,
Or in her old brogue,
She’ll cast a pishogue,
And so you must quickly retreat.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said Murphy one day in his brogue,
“Look, boyo, he’s cast a pishogue!
Not one o’ the snakes
Had the moxie it takes
To resist our St. Patrick, the rogue!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I went to that new place for tea.
The brew was presented to me
in a cup with a zarf.
I wanted to barf
when I tasted it subsequently.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

My coffee I’ve always enjoyed
Whenever a zarf I’ve employed.
This lesson I’ve learned
Because I’ve been burned --
And that’s what I’d rather avoid.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When my fingers slipped off of the zarf,
I spilled coffee all over my scarf.
I’m upset as can be.
My kids gave it to me.
And it happened at Fisherman’s Wharf.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

My human drinks coffee - arf arf!
“Drinks” not really the word -- it’s more “scarf!”
It goes down so quick
That I don’t get to lick
A darn thing but -- who wants it? -- the zarf!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

When a cup of coffee you scarf,
Make sure that it comes with a zarf
To protect your fingers
From burns which are zingers,
And drink slowly, so you don’t barf.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“This cup I’ll knock out of its zarf,”
Said the cat, as the dog scolded, “Arf!”
But the mischievous feline
From there made a beeline
Upstairs, on the carpet to barf.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“It seems,” she declares, “as though I
have wed an adventurous guy.
You act like a picaro
gone ev’ry week or so,
never reveal where to or why!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A picaro’s choice of career
Could not have been any more clear.
“Adventure is great!
Accounting I hate!
And so I am off, Mama dear.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Unlike Bernie, you sure were no picaro;
But you won in one heckuva squeaker, Joe.
We have not come to grief,
And a sigh of relief
Can be relished; I do need a reefer, though.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)



Puns

A girl asked at the neighbor’s door about her friend. “Cushy come out and play?”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com

Kitchy-kitchy-cushy giggled, as she tickled the baby.
-Peter Jennings, St. Catharines, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

“Why are you so happy about Kamala Harris?” the reporter asked. “Cushy won!” her supporters answered.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Someone tried to plagiarize his famous “We have met the enemy” quotation, but pogonip’d it in the bud.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Nevermore, said the raven to pogonip on someone else.
-Peter Jennings, St. Catharines, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

“Ma, they’re bullyin’ Junior at school,” said Mr. Kettle. “Pogonip it in the bud,” she answered.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“When’s the next rest stop?” asked the little boy in the back seat. “I gotta pishogue God!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“These flowers zarf for you,” said Penelope’s ill-fated suitor.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Peter the Great, zarf from 1682 to 1725.
-Peter Jennings, St. Catharines, Canada (peterj benlo.com)

We don’t go to the supermarket for veggies anymore; having planted a garden, we picaro now.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I prefer a canoe, so I would never picaro boat on a day like this.
-Peter Jennings, St. Catharines, Canada (peterj benlo.com)



A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Your voice dries up if you don’t use it. -Patti Page, singer (8 Nov 1927-2013)

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