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AWADmail Issue 158

March 26, 2005

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Wayne Robinson (rainbowATgardensnyc.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--fractious

As a teacher, it wasn't unusual at all to hear other teachers (and me, on occasion) say, "I love teaching. It's the students I can't stand."


From: Byron Gassman (bgassmanATmstarmetro.net)
Subject: Charles Schulz and Jonathan Swift

Charles Schulz's attitude, "I love mankind; it's the people I can't stand" is the exact opposite of the one Jonathan Swift, the great 18th-century satirist, expressed in a letter to his friend Alexander Pope "I have ever hated all nations, professions, and communities, and all my love is towards individuals... But principally I hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth." That hatred he expressed through the two labels for mankind or parts of it that he invented and added to the English word hoard: Yahoo and Lilliputian.


From: Allen Foster (allenATfoster-brague.net)
Subject: Re: Charles Shultz Quote

I read with amusement your quote in this morning's A.Word.A.Day. ("I love mankind. It's the people I can't stand." Do you ever find yourself repeating these words of cartoonist Charles Schulz?) It put me in mind of a favorite quote stating the opposite point of view: "Though we adore men individually, we agree that - as a group - they're rather stupid." It's found in the song "Sister Suffragette" from the Walt Disney film Mary Poppins. The authors are Richard and Robert Sherman.

I hope that, in citing a contrary viewpoint, I don't come across as fractious.


From: Yoel Ben-Avraham (epublicistATgmail.com)
Subject: A little Hebrew Lesson (Re: fractious)

In reference to your comment, "... it takes all kinds to make this world". The saintly Rabbi Avrahan HaCohen Kook of Jerusalem is quoted as saying the Hebrew word for "public" (Tzibur) is written with three consonants: Tz, B and R.

The 'Tz' letter is the first letter for saints (in Hebrew Tzadikim)
The 'B' letter is the first letter for average people (in Hebrew Benonim)
The 'R' letter is the first letter for the wicked (in Hebrew Rashaim)

In other words, you can't have a "public" without expecting to have at least a little bid of each "type".


From: Archana Bharathidasan (archanabATiplocks.com)
Subject: An updated version of W.H. Auden's quote

And none will see the new e-mail icon
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

I check e-mail eagerly whenever the new e-mail notification pops up - even though I know that it is probably going to be spam!


From: Nancy Bronwell (nancybbATnts-online.net)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--execrable

Once, on the road, I stopped for a meal in a well-known motel chain where I've had two memorably dreadful meals in my life. The other one was twenty years earlier. As I finally pushed my still half-full plate away, the young waitress came over.

She said, rather anxiously, "Aren't you hungry? Was everything all right?"

I hesitated, then said, with a smile, "That was truly one of the most execrable meals I've ever eaten in my entire life."

She beamed. "Oh, thank you, ma'am!" she exclaimed. "We don't hardly git no compliments like that 'round heah."

Conscience-stricken, I left her a very large tip and fled.

P.S. For those of you who will berate me for taking advantage, I put myself through undergraduate and graduate school waiting tables. Had it not been for a sense of humor, I'd not have survived.


From: Mark R Chartrand (mrcATmrchartrand.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--execrable

Your word for today, execrable, recalled a famous quip by Edgar Allan Poe describing two writers:

"To speak algebraically: Mr. Mathews is execrable but Mr. Channing is (x+1)ecrable."

This is quoted in Clifton Fadiman's delightful "Fantasia Mathematica", which contains many words on the subject.

But may I extend this trend by describing AWAD as "(x+1)cellent".


From: Robert Tristani (robert.tristaniATngc.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--refractory

I work in a shipyard's Foundry, so the word 'refractory' has a whole visual image associated with it. Technically, a refractory metal has a melting point over 1650 Celsius (3000 F). Common refractories are Titanium, Tungsten, and Chromium (there are many, many more including compounds of base metals). Watching a 30-ton pour of molten metal is one of the most fascinating and beautiful things anyone could witness.

I didn't know that 'refractory' could also mean a 'stubborn person'. I'll have to alter my mental image to include a refractory foundry employee (meaning myself) as well.


A language is never in a state of fixation, but is always changing; we are not looking at a lantern-slide but at a moving picture. -Arthur Lloyd James, phonetician (1884-1943)

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