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Jul 25, 2021
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AWADmail Issue 995

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

What Will Be the Language of Our Digital Future?
The Nation

Corpus Linguistics, Public Meaning, and the Second Amendment
The Web of Language

From: Nelson (nelsonmybalo gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A Thought For Today

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” -Eve Merriam, poet and writer (19 Jul 1916-1992)

I have a nightmare of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Father, what was democracy?”

Nelson, Hanoi, Vietnam

From: Frank Schorn (frank.schorn gmail.com)
Subject: Re: “A Thought for Today” by Eve Merriam (Monday)

People have been imagining a world free of war for uncounted years. In early 1970, amidst the Vietnam War and the political and social upheaval of the time in the US, Johnny Cash wrote and released a protest song, “What is Truth?” (3 min.). One of its stanzas:

A little boy of three sittin’ on the floor
Looks up and says “Daddy, what is war?”
“Son, that’s when people fight and die.”
The little boy of three says “Daddy, why?”

The song focuses on the generational and cultural divide over politics, protest, war, drug use, music, and dance. Cash clearly comes down on the side which listens to the “lonely voice of youth” that asks “What is truth?”

As a country protest song, “What is Truth?” was a rarity. Yet Johnny Cash performed this song and others in the White House for President Richard M. Nixon on April 17, 1970. According to the White House Historical Association, this song received the loudest applause of the mini concert.

At the time, Nixon was escalating the Vietnam War and was known to be staunchly opposed to the political and cultural left, drugs, hippies, and Blacks.

When the music stopped, Cash wasn’t done. At the end of the concert, while thanking the President, he pointedly addressed Nixon: “We pray, Mr. President, that you can end this war in Vietnam sooner than you hope or think it can be done, and we hope and pray that our boys will be back home and there will soon be peace in our mountains and valleys.”

The senseless destruction and devastation wrought by the Vietnam War continued five more years, with thousands more deaths and injuries, visible and not, upon Americans, Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians, until the US finally departed Vietnam on April 30, 1975.

Frank Schorn, Glendale, New York

From: Sharon Jennings (sharon spectacle-media.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--philocynic

Hmmm, I have no problem with you quoting or using examples of statements or historical descriptions in context stating that dogs are better but this seems to be part of the editorial content on the site:

“But, of course, dogs are the best.” under the “NOTES” section.

As an ailurophile, I am considering unsubscribing from your site. But, since cats and cat lovers are better and I am fond of all animals (some just less than others, e.g., dogs), I will let this pass... this time.

The struggle is real. Please do not add to the wildly inaccurate characterizations of cats in our culture that they are worse than dogs, which is what happens when you make comments like “dogs are best.”

Sharon Jennings, Los Angeles, California

But dogs are 69% better, as shown by a 20-year double-blind longitudinal study at UCLA (n = 5000 dogs; also some cats). They are doing a follow-up comparing philocynics with ailurophiles to find out who is better. We’ll learn the official results in 20 years, but we all know who it’s going to be.
-Anu Garg

From: Jonathan Sims (profitpie aol.com)
Subject: Philocynic

My dog gives me so much pleasure but doesn’t charge for it.

He works pro bono.

Jonathan Sims, St Teath, UK

From: Bernadette E. Kazmarski (bernadettekazmarski comcast.net)
Subject: Ailurobibliophile

But only a cat can be an ailurobibliophile! I devised that word for people who who ... well, it’s obvious! 🙂


Bernadette E. Kazmarski, Carnegie, Pennsylvania

From: Phyllis Hobson (phyllishobson yahoo.com)
Subject: philocynic

Re: ailurophile, I would state that cat lovers come first (at least in the dictionary with this word!).

Phyllis Hobson, Nashville, Tennessee

From: Caroline Crippen (dellacat3 gmail.com)
Subject: dogs and cats

Dogs are wonderful, of course. Not as beautiful as cats. Nor as graceful. (George Balanchine chose a cat to live with and choreograph for.) Dogs are more fawning. More useful, perhaps, if one wants to hunt other animals or herd sheep. Though cats will keep the mouse population down in one’s dwelling. And no one is more affectionate than my cat Bean, who is lying in my lap as I type and just finished grooming my face.

Caroline Crippen, Linlithgo, New York

From: Samantha Covington (sam samsworld.me.uk)
Subject: dogs v cats

Oi! What do you mean by “But, of course, dogs are the best.”

Dogs are pleasers, owned by needy people. Cats are independent, like their staff. :-)

PS: It took me a while to type this because my most affectionate, adorable, naughty, funny feline was attempting to cuddle me!

Samantha Covington, Amesbury, UK

From: Janet Nielsen (a1jnielsen comcast.net)
Subject: Philocynic

Of course, philocynic has been misspelled. Ought it to be fidocynic instead?

Janet Nielsen, Tacoma, Washington

From: Charlie Cockey (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)
Subject: cats & dogs

I myself am either an ailurophilic philocynic or a philocynical ailurophile. I can’t decide which, and opinions vary between my two four-legged home companions.

Charlie Cockey, Bilovice nad Svitavou, Czech Republic

From: Bob Richmond (rsrichmond gmail.com)
Subject: ailurotimoroumena

I call my local NPR station’s morning classical DJ Ailurotimoroumena, the cat torturer, because of her love of 20th-century violin music, where the compos(t)ers love to make the violin howl and squeal in a way that must rotate Bach and Mozart in their lowly graves.

Bob Richmond, Maryville, Tennessee

From: Vikram Hukmani (vikhuk engineer.com)
Subject: The more I like dogs ...

The more I like dogs, the more I wonder what they like about humans! Now, that is what I would call being philocynical.

Vikram Hukmani, Baltimore, Maryland

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by One Up! -- Steal Two Today.

From: Anthony Tesoriero (aptes bloomberg.net)
Subject: Obviate

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Schisms”, Lt. Cmdr. Data uses this word in a poem about his cat, “Ode to Spot”:

I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.
(more here)

Anthony Tesoriero

From: Rubyha McKenzie (rubyaah70 gmail.com)
Subject: Mamaguy

Lovely to see this Caribbean/Trinidadian colloquialism introduced and the quotation from Ingrid Persaud’s book. This opens up a whole world of colourful language, including sayings, words of wisdom, and picong!

Rubyha McKenzie, Mississauga, Canada

From: Carol Breedy (via website comments)
Subject: mamaguy

Very excited and elated to see our Trinidadian dialect being featured. We Trinis are famous for mamaguying or mamagisim and one cannot leave out our world famous carnival.

Carol Breedy

From: Timothy Rand (tim randfarm.com)
Subject: Mama and Papa

Today’s word, mamaguy, was new to me, and there is an interesting companion word in German: Papagei (parrot).

Timothy Rand, Ayr, North Dakota

From: Eric Miller (ericmiller1957 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mamaguy

Apropos “mamaguy”, I wonder if the expression might also have its origin in its impossibility. Both as a bird and as a male, a rooster simply cannot “be suckled”: it cannot give milk, since it has none to give. When you deceive by flattery, you get your victim to believe the impossible: the emperor’s new clothes, for instance.

In some parts of rural America, foolish city slickers -- who are thus ripe to be conned -- are described as “looking for the teats on a bull”.

Eric Miller, Norwich, Vermont

From: Mary Baker (via website comments)
Subject: mamaguy

I know a few things about chicken fighting and I suspect the term comes from a particular maneuver used by the handlers in between rounds of a fight. They put their mouths over the rooster’s beak and nose and do a quick suck to pull out mucus and blood, clearing the bird’s airway in a single action. Then they spit, the bird can breathe better, and a few seconds later the next round begins. I’ve seen this done hundreds of time but never knew there was a specific term for it. Then again, my experience is all in the US. I’ve never heard a term for a rooster feebly pecking.

Mary Baker, Skiatook, Oklahoma

Sunday in the Park with Ted and Sigmund
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: philocynic and mamaguy

Inspired by the usage example for philocynic, I arrived at this scenario of two avowed dog lovers, Dr. Suess (aka Theodor Geisel) and Sigmund Freud, out for a mid-afternoon stroll with their beloved pooches. I recalled one of Dr.Seuss’s fanciful hybrid creatures, Dog Fish, mostly canine, but with “fishy”, fin-like appendages. For Freud, an Austrian, who in later life adopted London as home, it’s fitting that his choice would be an English bulldog. My caption is a play on the ‘80s Stephen Sondheim hit Broadway musical Sunday in the Park with George.

Mamaguy ... not a Mama's Boy

Our word mamaguy took me back to the madcap cartoon world of animator Tex Avery, and his recurring lupine cur, Mr. McWolf (aka Slick Wolf or Wolfie), unabashed lothario and incorrigible criminal. Here, he’s sweet talking comely nightclub chanteuse “Red”, in Avery’s classic 1943 MGM theatrical short “Red Hot Riding Hood”. McWolf’s lines are reflective of a bygone era... the early 20th-century. Froggy is on to McWolf’s sly modus operandi.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


Theme: words that aren’t what they seem:
1. quotennial
2. philocynic
3. obviate
4. mamaguy
5. diplomatics
= 1. annual
2. in simpatico with each dog
3. stave
4. coquette, be it myth
5. they map world relations (mayhem!)
     This week’s theme: Words that aren’t what they seem
1. quotennial
2. philocynic
3. obviate
4. mamaguy
5. diplomatics
= 1. yearly
2. we who quite like the canines
3. I avoid, hmm what spoilsport might
4. tease
5. test many a document batch
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Antigram (anagram that’s opposite of the original)
This week’s theme: Words that aren’t what they seem
1. quotennial
2. philocynic
3. obviate
4. mamaguy
5. diplomatics
= 1. twelve-month waits
2. a cynophilist (to be pitied as he may hate kitty)
3. quash
4. gammon; wile
5. document research
     This week’s theme: Words that aren’t what they seem
1. quotennial
2. philocynic
3. obviate
4. mamaguy
5. diplomatics
= 1. quotidian (daily, that is)
2. I’m cynophobic (we hate mutts, whiny mammals)
3. let; evoke
4. honest tweet
5. research gap
-Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.


“No, the clause in our contract’s quite clear.
I get nookie one night every year.
Withholding for spite
My quotennial right
May be grounds for divorcing, my dear.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

My need to make love was perennial.
But now as I reach my centennial,
I will not complain,
For ‘twould be in vain.
I’m glad that it still is quotennial.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

As annual tax time grows near,
once again it becomes very clear
that this dreaded quotennial
duty’s perennial,
ad infinitum, we fear!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A boomer who wed a millennial
Lamented his birthday quotennial.
“As I’m getting older,
My child-bride’s grown colder;
I fear that our love’s not perennial.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Said E.T., “Being extraterrestrial,
I can’t pay a visit quotennial.
But be glad, for a sequel
So rarely can equal
The first; Star Wars retreads make many ill.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Philocynic? I am -- to the core,”
“Like dogs better than wives?” “Oh, way more!
Dogs don’t carp, nag, or scold,
Mostly do as they’re told,
And they don’t hold a grudge or keep score.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Says the convert, “I used to abhor
keeping pets, but I don’t anymore.
No longer a cynic,
I’m now philocynic,
with twenty-five dogs I adore!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

According to wisdom rabbinic,
My landsmen were not philocynic.
In shtetls a hound
Could seldom be found,
In part for reasons hygienic.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

I work at an animal clinic.
And because I am so philocynic,
When puppies are born
I feel terribly torn:
Which is cutest? Don’t know, I’m no critic.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Anu, heed ye this wisdom rabbinic:
You’re misguided to be philocynic.
Cats earn tributes by Keats,
Where dogs merely want treats;
Their affection is purely a gimmick.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Say the three little pigs, “Let’s consolidate.
If all of our efforts we concentrate
on one sturdy dome,
and make it our home,
the threat of old wolf we will obviate!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

To obviate Covid-19,
Let’s all of us get the vaccine!
A surge we’ll avert --
For I would assert
That anguish enough we have seen.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“To sting them’s a need we can obviate,”
Said the bee, “for their flowers we’ll pollinate.
They won’t swat like a jerk
When they see our hard work,
Though their males are like ours -- they just copulate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Says the vampire, “You’re lovely, my dear.
Come closer; you’ve nothing to fear!”
Says the lady (she’s wise
to his sly mamaguys),
“You’re obviously insincere!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He’d mamaguy girls with great praise,
Though many got wise to his ways.
“If just one I deceive
Then I firmly believe
That all of my sweet-talking pays.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To succeed (it soon came across),
One must curry favour with the boss.
Well-delivered mamaguys
would gain ‘em career highs,
Though the firm may be making a loss.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

“Last night was so dreamy,” I sighed.
“Gee, I wonder if Archibald lied
When he said I was gorgeous,
Thrilled him to his core” -- “Jus’
The first time you’ve been mamaguyed?”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

Though their tweedy professors you mamaguy,
Oxonians won’t let their comma die.
When it’s not on a list,
You can see their eyes mist;
Over here, Anu says, “Don’t make Brahma cry.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I regret to inform you ... madam,
That the licence you hold is a sham.
Diplomatics have shown --
Ah, you’ve guessed, hence the groan --
That you’re still mademoiselle, though a dam.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Some students can be real fanatics
While searching through dusty old attics.
They’re looking for what?
Historical smut?
Not a dull discipline, diplomatics!
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Says the lawyer, “I’m sorry to say
that your files are in such disarray
it’ll take acrobatics
to do diplomatics.
Prepare a small fortune to pay!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Among all the posh aristocratics
Was a man whose forte’s diplomatics.
His main purpose, you see:
The old family tree,
Which told tales of their quirky dynamics.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Diplomatics is what he knows well,
And such specialized knowledge is swell!
A living he makes
Uncovering fakes --
If a document’s forged he can tell.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Some people may find in their attics
Old documents, and are fanatics.
Till they find out mistakes
Proves the papers are fakes,
When examined with fine diplomatics.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Said some horses one day in their paddocks,
“No more racing; we’ve learned diplomatics.
Seems our kinsmen of yore
Thought such nonsense a bore;
We’re now Pegasus’ biggest fanatics.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I often repeat what Flounder and Sebastian have to say,” said the Little Mermaid, “but never Flotsam and Jetsam. I won’t quotennial.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Greek pastries can’t compare to French,” said the philocynic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Said the oil-spill-eating microbes deployed by Germany, “Ve don’t feel so good after zat bl-obviate.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Mamaguy told me I’m not tall enough to be a model, and that was my dream. Now what?”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

Papa and mamaguy-ded their kayak through the rapids.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“You’re still living in her basement?” “Yeah, I guess I’m a bit of a mamaguy.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The secret to ducking under a limbo pole can be found in the study of diplomatics.
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

“We just can’t seem to stop pursuing more degrees,” sighed the diplomatics.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Lost in Transition
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Lost in Transition

As the US military exits Afghanistan after over 20 years, many feel the American withdrawal will allow the Taliban to quickly fill the power vacuum left in the region. Curiously, there are many Afghan interpreters and translators formerly embedded with the US troops who have been left behind, whom Biden vows to bring to America. Yet time is of the essence. My caption could have read, “Lost in Translation”, a kind of subtle acknowledgment of the brave Afghan translators who now find themselves in danger.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Nationalist pride, like other variants of pride, can be a substitute for self-respect. -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (25 Jul 1902-1983)

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