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AWADmail Issue 971

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

The Greeks Had a Word for It ... Until Now, as Language Is Deluged by English Terms
The Guardian

Why AI Needs to Be Able to Understand All the World’s Languages
Scientific American

From: Werner Guter (werner guterfamily.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Faustian

These days I have heard the word “trump” to be used several times here in Europe and in several languages as a synonym and eponym for “bad loser”.

Werner Guter, Lucerne, Switzerland

From: George Nielsen (genie swissmail.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Faustian

“The word Trumpian is likely to enter the dictionary, as well. It would be a fitting coda to a man who likes to see his name in giant ugly letters everywhere.”

For this we have the word herostratic, named after the infamous arsonist Herostratus.

George Nielsen, The Hague, Netherlands

From: Fred Kepler (fkepler me.com)
Subject: Trumpian and Faustian

After your introductory quotation from The Daily Beast, it seems fitting to say that trump (intentional use of lower-case “t”) might have made a Faustian deal if 1) he could negotiate, and 2) he had a soul to sell. (Whether the devil would then trust him to fulfill the contract remains beyond my speculation.)

Fred Kepler, Vancouver, Washington

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

There are several instances in the operatic repertoire of the Faust legend. Probably the most famous is the one by the 19th-century French composer, Charles Gounod, in which the aging philosopher offers his soul to Mephistopheles if the latter arranges for him to become young again and gain the love of the innocent young woman, Marguerite. In the end, Faust is damned, while the supposedly errant girl’s soul ascends to heaven.

The oratorio The Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz (the composer referred to it as a “dramatic legend”) shows Faust wandering in the wilderness in search of rejuvenation and true love, only to fall afoul of the devil’s machinations.

The Czech composer Leoš Janáček based his opera The Makropoulos Case on Karel Capek’s play of the same name. In it an old actress wishes for eternal life, but finally realizes that, once deprived of youthful vigour, life is not worth living.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

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

From: Lisa Hallberg (wirely.lisa gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--faustian

As always, thank you for this lovely gift that arrives every day in my inbox, and which I have enjoyed (on different email accounts) for over a decade and a half.

I just wanted to point out, on Langston Hughes’s birthday, that the wonderful stanza you included in today’s Thought for the Day, really is more poignant -- and true to the meaning of the poem -- with the line that follows; “(It never was America to me.)”. Your quotation reminded me to read the whole poem again, and to be reminded of Hughes’s still-relevant words, and his aspirations for America, in spite of the fact that it continually falls short of those dreams.

Thank you for reminding me of that, and for all you do!

Lisa Hallberg, Lawrence, Kansas (also where Langston Hughes spent part of his childhood)

From: John Ingle (j.ingle verizon.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gallionic

I read the scriptural reference (Acts, Chapter 18), and it seems to me that Gallio has gotten a bad rap in the dictionaries. He refused to punish Paul for merely talking about his version of God and religion and making converts among the Jews. That doesn’t meet my definition of uncaring or indifferent.

John E. Ingle, Lovettsville, Virginia

From: Fred Glienna (fglienna aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dunce

There is hay to be made over the priest’s last name, Scotus, these days an acronym for the Supreme Court of the United States. It’s easy to say there are at least six dunces now on that court. Fitting.

Fred Glienna, Pasadena, California

From: January Kiefer (januarykiefer yahoo.com)
Subject: Dunce

So that was the inspiration for the KKK’s headgear!

January Kiefer, St Louis, Missouri

Frontispiece and front page to The Dunciad Variorum (1729)
The Dunciad Variorum (1729)
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: dunce

Undoubtedly the most famous usage of this eponym is Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad, at once a satirical send-up of the social affectations in British society and of the pitiful publications by Pope’s contemporary poetasters. Eighteenth-century literature provided copious examples of such nonsense, or -- as Pope himself elsewhere admonished -- “Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Marvant Duhon (mduhon bluemarble.net)
Subject: Duns Scotus and contemporaries

Thanks for the excellent piece on Duns Scotus (1265/6-1308), the “subtle doctor” (this could be used as a gibe, because he used long and convoluted questionable logical excursions to prove that logic was of no use). Perhaps some readers would be interested in two of the still very relevant contemporaries of Duns.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was called the angelic doctor and (because he wrote in plain easily understood language) the common doctor. In his two books (which for hundreds of years were the longest books in Europe) he used math, science, scripture, history, evidence of the senses, and especially philosophy to prove theology. So, for example, Aquinas settled the question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin (which he regarded as unimportant, but theologians were debating it) using Euclidian geometry. Duns devoted his life to opposition to Aquinas, proclaiming that God violated the rules of all those disciplines. One only came to theological truth through pure faith - in particular through the pure faith of Duns Scotus.

Duns Scotus had a disciple, William of Occam (1287-1347), who is often misunderstood today. His Razor was the principle that you MUST NOT multiply causes, which is often simplified as that you must choose the simplest explanation that describes something. To Occam this meant that, not just in theology but in every subject, the only relevant explanation was “God wills it”. And you only understood that explanation through the light of faith alone. All other explanations, such as ones using mathematics, were false.

Marvant Duhon, Bloomington, Indiana

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

Wow, this is a word for which the historical antecedent is back in the dark ages yet is vital (albeit with societal amnesia) to this day. “Vandalize” is certainly easier to say than “Republicanize”.

Robert Burns, Ocean Beach, California

From: Diane Amaral (diane born2bworn.com)
Subject: Political

To bad you are also playing the political game. Stop sending hate and decision. You are the part of the problem.. learn the word love and unity.

Diane Amaral, Westport, Massachusetts

From: Barrie Avis (barrie.d.a gmail.com)
Subject: Thank you

In the comments on the website, I see that you get some shade for your “political” take, so I feel compelled to counter that: Thank you for NOT suggesting that we “get over it.” Our government was nearly overthrown, and many of us absolutely cannot just “let it go,” and, in fact, we are horrified at the suggestion that we should. Thank you for NOT being so insistent on “balance” that you ignore the ongoing threats to our democracy. Thank you for NOT whitewashing racism, as if it was some sort of cultural heritage to be defended rather than the ugly, shameful, deadly evil thing that it is. It seems to me that the only way for us to correct our course is for us to learn and accept the truth of our nation’s history, rather than to merely make hollow claims about our superiority and demand that all the world recognize our “great”-ness.

We have so much work to do if we are ever to become the nation we would like to believe we are. Your words give me hope, because you are not afraid to speak truth and keep reminding us of the value and strength of our words. Thank you for risking offending your readers, for with great freedoms come great responsibilities, and you demonstrate that quite gracefully every day.

Barrie Avis, Westminster, California

From: Ray Wiss (portray vianet.ca)
Subject: This week’s words

Continuing on with my joining of the week’s words in a single sentence, even though this one practically writes itself.

“The cost of the GOP’s Faustian bargain was made evident on January 6th, when the Turveydropian dunce they so worship, showing a gallionic disdain for decency, or even for reality, incited his worshippers to vandalize the very seat of their government.”

Ray Wiss, Greater Sudbury, Canada

From: Dianne Sinclair (happywanderer9 gmail.com)
Subject: redaction

Should you want to feature this word (I see that you did “redact” in 1999), The Nation has the perfect illustration in the Jan. 26, 2021 issue. The article is The Madcap Mysteries of Homeland Security.

Dianne Sinclair, Porter, Maine

From: Kathy Borst (kborst mcn.org)
Subject: An eponym that’s not in the books yet

We have one we use that many will recognize.

I was out pruning an old apricot tree that had seen better days. Although I’m no expert, I decided to give it one last chance and miagi it, to the best of my ability. (From the Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi)

Kate Cook, Yorkville, California

From: Sarah Whitman (sarahbwhitman yahoo.com)
Subject: Dante

This year, one of the initiatives celebrating Dante’s death 700 years ago is an “AWAD” from Dante himself, offered by the Accademia della Crusca (the most important research institution of the Italian language as well as the oldest linguistic academy in the world). Each day the Academy posts a word taken from one of Dante’s works -- it’s fascinating and I wonder if the academy got the idea from you!

Crusca means bran and the “Accademia della Crusca” has come to signify the work of “cleaning up” the language, bran being the part of the wheat that is discarded when the grain is cleaned up. What more apt word for this institution knowing how devoted Italians are to bread!

Sarah Whitman, Impruneta, Italy

Trump's Faustian Bargain
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Faustian and dunce

With Trump’s insatiable appetite for power and wealth, eschewing any semblance of ethics, scruples, morality, or just plain common decency, one could argue that he’d made a Faustian deal with the devil. In this scenario, a deflated Trump is dissing Satan, accusing him of reneging on their pact. Satan implies that Trump has only his hubris and uncaring self to blame.

A Confederacy of Dunces
Entering a late-1970s TV time warp, I’ve introduced Saturday Night Live’s Dan Aykroyd’s Conehead character, Beldar, who has mistaken dunce-capped Trump as one of his extraterrestrial kinfolk. My caption, “A Confederacy of Dunces”, is the title of John Kennedy Toole’s farcical novel, whose lead character, the pudgy, delusional Ignatius J. Reilly is uncannily similar to Trump. Toole was inspired by Jonathan Swift who said, “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by a sign that the dunces are in a conspiracy against him.”

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words
This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Faustian
2. Turveydropian
3. gallionic
4. dunce
5. vandalize
= 1. sell out to devil, keep and use money
2. vain
3. uncaring
4. identify with cap
5. raze, smash
= This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Faustian
2. Turveydropian
3. gallionic
4. dunce
5. vandalize
= 1. unsoundly fraternize, seek a sly pact with the Devil
2. vain
3. impious
4. nonce
5. damage
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


Who doesn’t like a Faustian plot?
The ones I read, I never forgot.
It’s the kind of reading
That is so intriguing,
And boring it certainly is not.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Political power’s appeal
Had led to a Faustian deal.
A win sounded nice
But came at a price --
Trump’s hold on the party’s now real.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When she traded health for a svelte look,
‘twas a dubious course my wife took.
A Faustian urge
made the poor dear girl splurge
on such treatments unwise in my book.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

If you deal with the devil, you see,
Be prepared to be burned, certainly.
In a Faustian pact,
When you sign that contract,
Now in Hell you will be a VIP.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If a nice warm dry box you would house me in,
I would catch every manner of mousie kin,”
Went the wildcat’s plea.
Now no longer born free,
His descendants quite like this pact Faustian.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A tad Turveydropian’s he --
To him first impressions are key.
“From my tan you can tell
That I’m vibrant and well!”
(But in truth he looks orange to me.)
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Well, hello, billionaires Turveydropian!
As we won, you’ll have taxes draconian,”
Says Bernie. “Your dough
From its heights we’ll bring low;
What goes up must come down -- it’s Newtonian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The maestro was way too demonic.
Conducting the great Philharmonic,
He led with some bellows
That frightened first cellos,
Whose playing then squeaked gallionic.
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunnytravel att.net)

Amidst a pandemic demonic --
Relieved it’s not dread plague bubonic --
A good boss sees the needs,
And at once does good deeds;
We do not want a man who’s gallionic!
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

When picking a partner it’s clear,
Do choose someone who is sincere.
Don’t seek looks Byronic,
If he’s gallionic,
You’ll find that he might disappear.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Though to us, crickets sound inharmonic,
To them, it’s a chorus symphonic.
That primordial voice
Leaves a female no choice;
To romance, she cannot be gallionic.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Though we knew that towards truth they’re gallionic,
Repubs have become tragicomic.
“I do great at fundraisers
With ‘Jewish space lasers’,”
Says one who is truly moronic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I’ll let you believe I’m a dunce,
And then I’ll bring forth verbal stunts.
If you try to match wits,
You’ll soon cry “It’s the pits;
You’ve got me damn beat on all fronts!”
-Sondra Landin, New York, New York (sunny travel att.net)

“Hey, Goldilocks!” Papa Bear grunts.
“As I’ve mentioned to you, more than once,
you’re not welcome here.
Yet you still persevere.
Desist, you intransigent dunce!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

There’s a story that happened just once,
‘Twas regarding a so-called old dunce.
It turned out, but who knew
He had a high IQ
And was not just a guy out-to-lunch.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

If lightning should happen to hit,
Your golf game you really should quit.
Please don’t be a dunce;
Take shelter at once,
Or else we’ll all read your obit.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Barnum said there’s one born every minute.
I’m afraid there’s a lot of truth in it.
Any credulous dunce
you can fool more than once
with a rumor so wild you can spin it.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Though starting as a rank outcast,
by and by he a fortune amassed,
Strange! In school a maths dunce,
He took to coding at once.
My friend had found his passion at last.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

John Duns Scotus, a Cath’lic priest once
Was the source of the modern word “dunce”
His middle name gave it
And (sigh), couldn’t save it
From endowing all sorts of affronts!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Said Melania, “What kind of dunce
Gets impeached and then pulls the same stunts?
And no more can I stand
What you do with that hand;
You must stop grabbing those girls by their....fronts.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Most writers will likely use “scandalize”
To rhyme with the given word, “vandalize”.
In solving this riddle,
Lines three-four say little.
So this entry will probably not tantalize.
-Gary Muldoon, Rochester, New York (gmuldoon kamanesq.com)

He raises his right hand and lies,
“I swear I did not vandalize
that property there!”
Says his honor, “Howe’er,
you’re off to the pen anywise!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The perps felt no need to apologize
after they got together to vandalize.
It’s just that the guys
needed some exercise:
“Gyms are closed and so we had to improvise.”
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

She was truly a jealous-type mate.
When he cheated, her anger was great.
So it was sure no surprise,
His new car she’d vandalize,
And with paint she would redecorate.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The Capitol go vandalize;
The election we have to capsize,”
Said Donald. “A riot
Will scare ‘em -- let’s try it!
It’s nothing you can’t handle, guys!”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The country he did vandalize.
Known for his gallionic lies.
A Turveydropian dunce,
Trump served in office, but once,
With a Faustian bargain, unwise.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)


After Ian and I bickered as to who should go to the head of the line, I finally exclaimed, “I will go Faustian will go second.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said the editor, “Selling your wonderful James Bond novels to Hollywood would be a deal worthy of Faustian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After trying to juggle several balls, they eventually went topsy-Turveydropian all over the floor.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Vowed the two chemists at their wedding, “From now on we’ll be a guy and gallionic-ally bonded.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Dunce stop believin’,” sang Journey. “Dunce stop thinkin’ about tomorrow,” added Fleetwood Mac.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

After searching for the next thing to wreck, finally the vandalize his target.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Said Anu, “I shall make a cross-country trip in my camper and bring a large supply of lentils which I will in the vandalize.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Profile in Cowardice
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Profile in Cowardice

True to form, Trump shifts the blame for inciting the Jan 6 riotous assault on Congress from himself, the actual prime mover, to members of right-wing radical groups Qanon, the MAGA maniacs, and the Proud Boys, whom he contends acted on their own volition. Here, the now-infamous horned Qanon rabble-rouser and an irate MAGA true-believer confront now-citizen Trump, expressing their discontent, arguing that he had betrayed them, with yet another impeachment trial pending.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

I have known a vast quantity of nonsense talked about bad men not looking you in the face. Don’t trust that conventional idea. Dishonesty will stare honesty out of countenance, any day in the week, if there is anything to be got by it. -Charles Dickens, novelist (7 Feb 1812-1870)

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