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AWADmail Issue 990

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

Why Ableist Language Needs to Change

What Makes Language Offensive?
The Economist

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

Here’s a selection of contracts & abbrevs readers shared in response to this week’s theme:

I think the Australians are the world champion condensers of the English language. The Melbourne Cricket Ground was understandably shortened to the MCG. It is now known as the G. What’s next? A simple glottal stop?
-Jonathan Sims, St Teath, UK (profitpie aol.com)

Many people use rents for parents.
-Robb Knapp, Ebensee am Traunsee, Austria (robb robbsbooks.com)

About 35 years ago, my husband, our friend Pat, and I were riding in a car together looking for a parking space. When I thought I spied one, Pat said, “Nah, that’s a drunt” (a fire hydrant). Hubby and I have been calling it a drunt ever since. Even Pat doesn’t know that... yet.
-Gabriele Schafer, Brooklyn, New York (gaby ratconference.com)

In my family we nug, which is, of course, a contraction of snuggle.
-Suzanne Taylor, Anchorage, Alaska (suzannet601 gmail.com)

My family lived in Japan for several years, and we often use the abbreviation “sando” to refer to a sandwich. In Japanese they use the loan word サンドイッチ or “sandoicchi” which is sometimes abbreviated “sando” on menus and the like, and we just imported it into our family lexicon.
-Jeremy Edwards, Brussels, Belgium (pazmundial gmail.com)

We have a friend who likes to say sitch for situation, merch for merchandise, and stimmy for stimulus check (my favorite!).
-Lorinda Lucas (via website comments)

Maybe our most common contraction is “goodbye”, a contraction of “God be with ye.” Not being a proponent of God, I’m sometimes silently self-conscious about saying “goodbye” to people. Perhaps I should try to consistently say “See ya”, as with the French “Au revoir”.
-Rob Butler, Andover, Massachusetts (rob.butler.999 gmail.com)

Well, my girlfriend uses one that I’d never heard before. She says micro for microwave.
-Steven Stein, The Villages, Florida (steve32162 gmail.com)

When referring to my animals I often call them mules. For example, “It’s time to feed the mules.”
-Tom Oakes, Southbury, Connecticut (toakes snet.net)

A number of English words have been borrowed into Thai, given Thai pronunciations, and then abbreviated to the point where they are unrecognizable. So I recently had to take my Chep in for new chock-ap. (Chevrolet and shock-absorbers).
-Alec Bamford, Bangkok, Thailand (chanida.alec gmail.com)

Meteorologists use the word “prog” (short for “prognosticate” or “prognostication”) for “forecast”. They also use the acronym “CAFB” for “clear as a [ahem] bell, i.e., cloudless”.
-Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois (gunputty comcast.net)

My friend in Melbourne OZ writes “goss” in her letters and emails -- and I finally had to ask her what it meant. I would not have known it meant “gossip”.
-Marlene Fair-Fischer, Vista, California (via website comments)

My daughter did not understand me today when, after tap dance class, I said, “This new instructor is more trad than our usual teacher.” Traditional.
-Rich West, Alhambra, California (westrichie yahoo.com)

Apparently, all sorts of lenses used in front of the human eye are subject to contractions. As an ageing ornithologist it often bothers me that I have to remove my specs before looking through my binos (or bins, even) or my scope.
-Barbara Ganter, Husum, Germany (barbara.ganter t-online.de)

Many years ago, members of my hang-gliding community used to refer to bystanders and especially gawkers as “wuffos”, typifying their questions as “Wuffo you want to go way up there for?” It was not uncommon for overly curious bystanders to ask us questions that we had heard many times before, at times when we were concentrating on the task of properly assembling or checking our gliders.
The unfortunate disparaging aspect of the term came about because it was always difficult to properly balance public relations with sufficient concentration to maintain our own safety.
-Chuck Malloch, Montague, Massachusetts (CBMalloch icloud.com)

“Unfort” as in: Unfort, I may need to explain.
-Barbara Degyansky, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania (degyansky verizon.net)

Family usage: Slater = See ya later.
-Dave Puketza, Sacramento, California (dpuketza gmail.com)

One of my favorite hyper-contractions in these parts, Raleigh, NC, is “Jeet?”, short for “Did you eat?”, often eliciting a reply of, “No, djou?”
-Timothy Hinds, Raleigh, North Carolina (hinds.timothy epa.gov)

Just a silly family one: Sqweet = let’s go eat.
-Raymond Daull, Cleveland, Ohio (daull att.net)

As a scientist, now retired, I would say, “I’m going to phorese my samples” meaning analyze them using electrophoresis. Having never thought of the derivation, I checked out phoresis and learned it is derived from Greek meaning to carry.
-Kent Rhodes, Charlotte, North Carolina (krho1 aol.com)

Everyone uses bougie for bourgeois.
-Donna Cox Wells, Tarzana, California (donnacoxwells gmail.com)

I’m all for contractions, except when Australians do them. They always end them with such an inappropriately cutesy “ie” sound. A barbie is a doll, not a barbecue! A Hell’s Angel is a biker, not a bikie! That rugby-soccer-volleyball thing that they play down there should be football, not footy! Man up, Ozzies!
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by The Official Old School Field/Log/Road Books -- a hilarious trifecta of adventure and edutainment.

From: Philip Long (theartistphil gmail.com)
Subject: Welks (Re: contractions)

Welks: You’re welcome.

My son would say “thanks” somewhat disrespectfully instead of “thank you” when being helped by someone far his elder who, in my opinion, deserved more respect (say, a food server at a restaurant).

After growing frustrated at explaining this over and over I decided to turn the tables on him. The next time he gave me his castoff “Thanks” response, I replied “Welks” in the same tone. He was as incensed as a 5-year-old boy can get, but finally I got my point across.

I’ve used it frequently with friends and at work (without the condescending tone) and it seems to be spreading organically. At 51 years old, I am definitely the elder statesman at work in a San Francisco startup where most of my coworkers are twentysomethings who condense and assign acronyms to as many things as humanly possible.

Philip Long, Castro Valley, California

From: Chippo Old (chiphog gmail.com)
Subject: Language change

I love all your work. But what I love the most is your continual reminding (of us) that languages change. Afrikaans will be 100 years old in four years and yet Afrikaners are amongst the most *-language-nazi of them all. They think that they love language, but they love a fantasy of languages that doesn’t exist.

Note that Afrikaans was made an official language in 1925 and shortly thereafter dictionaries, grammar books, and bibles were updated. The language obviously existed before then, but the spelling and grammar differed widely between region and region.

Most of us struggle to read Chaucer in the original. Languages that don’t often do spelling reforms are phonetically fucked -- like English and French.

Chippo Old, Johannesburg, South Africa

From: Kenneth Gorelick (pulmon me.com)
Subject: Bolshie

You made me remember a Smothers Brothers joke, where Dick stated that the Russians claimed to have the world’s greatest ballet, to which Tommy replied, “Bolshoi!”

Kenneth Gorelick, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

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

Although bolshevik means majority and menshevik minority, a reversal of meaning occurred at the congress of the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1903. Lenin and a few of his supporters challenged the officially elected leader Plekhanov and, holding a separate meeting in a different room, declared themselves to be the actual party, while their opponents were denounced as unlawful representatives of the real interest of the proletariat.

Such undemocratic takeover came to be a favoured method of twentieth-century dictators and to Orwell’s sarcastic formulation “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” that has come to characterize much of contemporary realpolitik.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

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

In my youth’s corner of the world (Southern Illinois near the Mississippi River) I always heard this word pronounced lacksadaisical -- or perhaps laxadaisical. I heard it from teachers. As in “You children so lacksadaisical today!” I supposed I was one of those who lacks a daisy. But to this day, without the “s” it just sounds wrong to me -- even if my spellchecker agrees with you.

Joel Mabus, Portage, Michigan

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: lackadaisical

In the early to mid-1960s, Tom Swift jokes played upon various words, turning them into adverbs. Here’s one, about Daisy air rifles: “I wish I had an air rifle,” said Tom lackadaisically.

Steve Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington

From: Carolyn Currie (curriecp gmail.com)
Subject: lackadaisical

“I wish I had some flowers for Mary,” said Tom lackadaisically.

Carolyn Currie, Chicago, Illinois

From: Daniel Miller (milldaniel gmail.com)
Subject: lackadaisical

And the oldie-but-goodie: when there’s a flower missing from your bouquet and you just don’t care.

Daniel Miller, Laredo, Texas

From: Judith Fritsch (hnjfritsch gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lackadaisical

One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter -- who was a child at the time -- asked me, “Daddy, why are you writing so fast?” And I replied, “Because I want to see how the story turns out!” -Louis L’Amour, novelist (1908-1988)

My mother-in-law was an avid knitter and one day I saw her knitting away as fast as she could. When I asked her why, she responded: “I’m short on this yarn and I want to finish this sweater before the yarn runs out.”

Judith Fritsch, Yonkers, New York

From: Stephen Tolkin (smtolkin gmail.com)
Subject: Blitz

In mostly British cooking usage, blitz also means to whip or puree. Nigella Lawson uses this word almost exclusively for those activities.
“Using an immersion blender, blitz the pesto ingredients to a thick green paste.”

Stephen Tolkin, Los Angeles, California

From: Norman Rabek (nrabek gmail.com)
Subject: blitz

Then there is always the slang usage “blitzed” meaning the effect of way too much alcohol. Usually used with a form of “get” or “am”.

Norman Rabek, Burnsville, North Carolina

From: Eloise Flood (esioledoolf yahoo.com)
Subject: pronunciation of zounds

I’ve always heard it pronounced “zoonds” because it’s a contraction based on “wounds”. But this is clearly an open question, as attested by this Stack Exchange.

Eloise Flood, Brooklyn, New York

From: Tobias Robison (tobyr21 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zounds

We have a book of poetry somewhere in our home that was published in Britain in the late 19th century. The word “zounds” was too much of a swear to be printed in full, as in:
“Z***ds,” said the captain.

Toby Robison, Princeton, New Jersey

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

The problem with being sure that God is on your side is that you can’t change your mind, because God sure isn’t going to change His. -Roger Ebert, film-critic (18 Jun 1942-2013)

The timeline of war events carries abundant evidence that God changes His mind all the time. During the Hundred Years War for instance, He didn’t lift a finger to spare Joan of Arc the stake at which she was burnt by the English that He had personally ordered her to attack only a couple of years before. That’s how fickle the Guy is!

Pascal Pagnoux, Saint Gaudens, France

The "Bolshie" Ballet
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Bolshie and blitz

Our word “bolshie” immediately brought to mind the celebrated Russian dance troupe, the Bolshoi Ballet. Here, I’ve envisioned Bolshevik revolutionary, leapin’ Lenin, jeté-ing across the stage, imagining his life having taken a different, more artistic turn, as say a premier ballet dancer, rather than following his actual cruel, calculating, ruthless dogmatist path. Hmm... I’m picturing Lenin’s comrade-in-arms, Karl Marx, in a tutu right now. Ha!

Groggy Froggy
Just how “blitzed” is our Froggy? Let me count the ways... zonked, blotto, stewed, wasted, hammered, buzzed, pickled. Beer and Froggy... clearly, not so sobering a combination. Hic! hic!

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


When the bolshie pseudo-president hobnobbed with his Bolshoi Buddy, one wanted to exclaim: “Zounds! How could such a lackadaisical idiot blitz the US electorate to the point where he seems to benefit from immunity at home and extrality everywhere else?”
-Ray Wiss, Vancouver, Canada (portray vianet.ca)


This week’s theme: Contractions
1. bolshie
2. lackadaisical
3. blitz
4. zounds
5. extrality
= 1. tetchy
2. inert
3. hit, smack, razzia
4. odsbodikins
5. it’s the execs unliable to local laws
     This week’s theme: Contractions
1. bolshie
2. lackadaisical
3. blitz
4. zounds
5. extrality
= 1. this is radical
2. lazy, won’t mobilize, slouchiest SOB
3. attack
4. the dickens
5. external
     This week’s theme: Contractions
1. bolshie
2. lackadaisical
3. blitz
4. zounds
5. extrality
= 1. resister
2. listless, lazy
3. to attack in ambush
4. excited “Ooh!”
5. hold back in citizen law
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


I am bolshie by nature. It seems
Defense lawyer’s the job of my dreams.
I get paid to provoke,
And to prod and to poke,
And to argue each case to extremes.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

A young politician is she,
A bolshie purported to be.
For this some abhor her
And always deplore her,
Yet others adore AOC.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Ah, yes those rebellious teens!
How well do I know what that means!
‘Twas my sister’s whole role! She
Was quite the young bolshie --
We witnessed some memorable scenes!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

She thought that her son was a dope
With radical ways. She lost hope.
He said, “It’s my role, see.
To be a bad bolshie.”
And mom washed his mouth out with soap!
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“In Vermont,” said the white-haired old Bolshie,
“I’m so loved I’ve become an emoji.
But I can’t work alone
Billionaires to dethrone;
It takes teamwork with Nancy Pelosi.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Lackadaisical? Eek! That sounds bad.
Should I go see the doctor? Oh, Dad!
When I heard what you said ...
Almost jumped out of bed.”
“I was hoping you might have, my lad.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

The ten-year-old fell on his knees
And begged of his folks, “No more, please,
Lackadaisical sessions
Of violin lessons.
I’d rather play ball and climb trees.”
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

Lackadaisical days in the heat,
I’m too lazy to rise from my seat.
Let others have fun
Beneath the hot sun --
In the summer I simply feel beat.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Our Ferdinand’s too lackadaisical,”
Said Pa. “This is no way to raise a bull.”
Answered Ma, “If our boy
In those flowers finds joy,
I say old gender roles are erasable.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’m not house-proud, okay? I confess.
Truth to tell, the whole place is a mess.
Now and then, I will blitz.
That’s my way -- I’m a ditz:
But get this! When it’s tidy, I stress.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Bombarded with ads on TV,
On one thing we all can agree:
This media blitz
Is giving us fits,
Whomever our mayor will be.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“Sit down, George, I’ll pick all your nits,”
Said his mother, “Those lice eggs I’ll blitz.”
He replied, “Please stay calm,
But I’m curious, Mom;
Staying home’s not the story that fits.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Delighted excitement abounds,
as she ventures to weigh herself. “Zounds!
Although it’s been stressful,
my diet’s successful!”
she cries. “I have lost twenty pounds!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

The old guard who kept up the swank grounds
Was just prowling for things out of bounds.
Once a girl did intrude:
Climbed the wall in the nude,
All the watchman could do was shout, “Zounds!”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

She stepped on the scale with no shoes,
But still she was given bad news.
The doctor said, “Zounds!
You’ve put on some pounds,
Which I would advise you to lose.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

In school it was fun singing rounds,
But I sneezed and the others yelled, “Zounds!”
Row Your Boat was stopped cold,
And I cried, but was told
By my friend, “It’s okay. Here’s a Mounds.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“Here I am! I’m to race Churchill Downs!”
Said the filly. “Incredible! Zounds!
But I’m finding Kentucky
In some ways quite yucky;
Rand Paul and McConnell are clowns.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

While ensconced on my in-laws’ estate,
I’m immune from their rules, which I hate.
I behave like a brat,
We’ve a signed concordat,
So, extrality means that I skate.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

In seeking a writ of extrality
From oppression of laws of morality,
Monsieur Sade, the marquis,
Wound up not being free
But in Bedlam for life with finality.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“You’ve trespassed again!” cries Pa Bear.
With attitude devil-may-care,
“It’s not criminality.
I’ve got extrality!”
Goldilocks counters. “So there!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Extrality was the defense
For the creature’s outrageous offense.
Earth’s rules didn’t apply
To the beast from the sky
Who was purple and really immense.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

No matter the local legality,
A diplomat’s granted extrality.
He gets a free pass,
But sometimes -- alas! --
This means an affront to morality.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“As A.G. I would grant you extrality,”
Said the applicant, “plus immortality.”
Answered Donald, “You’re hired!
Boys, check if he’s wired.
Strip down, Bill, it’s just a formality.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


When Mia Hamm gets the bolshie inevitably scores.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

I have no response. What you said was pure bolshie.
-Ray Pasinski, Downers Grove, Illinois (rayomic yahoo.com)

When she saw the fruit bolshei took an apple from the top.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“We’re out of the yellow ones,” said the florist lackadaisically.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

It is important not to lack a day in combating the red blood cell disorder, otherwise one will lackadaisical cell anemia.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“I vill silence any lamb zat blitz too much,” warned the evil shepherd.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Zees zounds wery interesting,” said Vlad to the hackers.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Your attempt at expressing surprise or indignation zounds just right to me.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

The young man’s nerdy Poind-extrality made the dating scene quite an ordeal.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Cry Bibi
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Cry Bibi and Calling Putin’s Bluff

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu gets the hook! After a tumultuous 12-year run as Israel’s prime minister, he’s been yanked off the political stage by a motley Knesset party coalition headed by the newly-minted PM, Naftali Bennett. Curiously, Bennett is viewed as an even more right-wing-conservative hard-liner than Netanyahu.

Calling Putin's Bluff
On the heels of the recent G-7 summit, a fly on the wall snoops in on a tête-à-tête between Biden and Putin. Biden suspects the former KGB operative is still up to his old tricks, namely, promoting Russian government interference in recent US elections by planting misinformation and wild conspiracy theories on social media in order to discombobulate and divide the American electorate. Here, Biden sets the bait. Ever the cunning obfuscator, Putin isn’t biting. Froggy, seeing right through Vladimir’s deception, speaks truth to power.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

People change and forget to tell each other. -Lillian Hellman, playwright (20 Jun 1905-1984)

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