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AWADmail Issue 2

Oct 22, 1995

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

Some of the most beautiful letters I receive bear the postmarks of South Korea. AWAD statistics mirror their evident fondness for the English language -- the addresses with "kr" domain make the third largest number of linguaphiles from a country on the list (trailing only US and Canada). In spite of his apparent new affair with English, Jung-Sun has gotten his message across. Charmingly. :

From: Jung-Sun (ac.kr)


It is lovely to say hello to you.
I found this WWW on the magazine.Then I entered this world.
Feeling is good.
I can not English..well
I want your 'daily word mail'
Please send me some vocabulary.
I want to you thank me.

    Dear Jung-Sun,

    You're welcome. And you are part of the list now.

From: Paul Hruska (bmcwest.com)

Good morning,

I would like to pose a request that you may have had before. Would it be possible to change your sending procedure so that the informational portions of your mailing that occur in the message header (reply and quote info) are appended to the message instead? I have recently changed mail packages, and very much miss the 'quote of the day', and additionally am guessing at the address to post this query.

I suppose you have had this request before, but perhaps a vote from another fan of your postings will have some sway.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

    Dear Paul,

    As you can see from the new format of AWAD postings, your message did have a lot of sway. I understand that many linguaphiles were missing the quotes included in the headers. In fact, many were not even aware that daily quotes (known as X-Bonus in AWAD world) are part of daily postings since many mailers gobble up most of the headers.

    So, I have moved the X-Bonus to the message body. Also the instructions to join the list or sign-off are in the message body now.

From: Mark Lakata (lbl.gov)

Speaking of words and computers, what is the official spelling of email?

E-mail e-mail email

The N.Y. Times claims that the spelling is E-mail, in light of words like T-shirt, A-frame, H-bomb. However, those last three require the use of a capital letter because the item either looks like the letter (T -shirt and A-frame) or the first letter is the standard symbol for something (H = Hydrogen). However, E-mail does not look like the letter E nor is E a standard abbreviation for electronic. I don't see any good reason for the hyphen either-- it doesn't bring any more meaning to the word besides etymology. I think "email" is the best.

Also, as there is no singular form for the noun "mail", is it ok to use the singular form of "email", e.g. "I received an email this morning"? It may sound awkward, but the meaning is clear and less wordy than "email message". I think this usage was first brought about by foreigners ... at least I remember getting messages like this from my German collaborators several years ago (Of course some of them still say, "I received a bitnet this morning").

    Dear Mark,

    Thanks for your email.

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)

Previous issue of AWADmail carried a missive from a linguaphile wondering about "coaybtete-leranus" he found in Microsoft Word thesaurus. Your letters had many suggestions about the origins of the word. Here are some selections from all the speculations, guesses, musings, and expert opinions...

Verify-it-first department:

Lee Dickey (uwaterloo.ca)
Instead of "coaybtete-leranus" I found "coaybtete-leranous"

Helfrich Raymond (sbi.com)
YES, my Mac Word 5.1 shows this synonym for common!!!
Disgruntled ex-employee on the way out?
Or, soon-to-be-ex-disgruntled-employee?

Jeffrey Windsor (byu.edu)
The OED doesn't list it either. I checked the Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., and found nothing near to "coayete-leranus." As a matter of fact, there is nothing between "coax" and "cob." And if it's not in the OED, it isn't.

To-err-is-human-to-really-foul-it-up-takes-a-computer department:

David J. Swift (wyoming.com)
I bet it's an algorithm belch.

Bob Funchess (msi.com)
I suspect this is an artifact caused by the way many computerized spelling dictionaries and thesauri store words.

Ask-the-source department:

Jason Reed (aa.net)
I called Microsoft, as I live in Seattle and the call is local, contacted somebody in MS-Word (Mac) (206-635-7200), anyway... they told me that it was a unknown word placed there by mistake.

It's-a-plagiarism-protection-device department:

Andy Eddy, Editorial Manager, New Media Group (iftw.com)
Authors of reference material often put misspellings, fake words or phrases into their work. That way, if there's a question of another reference copying material, words like this would be red flags of where the material came from and very strong evidence in a legal argument.

Thomas Hudson (unc.edu)
... putting in tiny inconsistencies that shouldn't interfere with normal use (who's going to use "coaybtete-leranus"?) but would be an instant tipoff if somebody steals their thesaurus database.

Bernard Booth (apana.org.au)
When I ran my bookshop we often resorted to various versions of Books In Print - an extremely useful resource, we discovered, however, that BiP was littered with bogus entries (which were occasionally ordered by customers), the reason for this was to provide proof of plagiarism if someone ever released their own list. All D.J. Dwyer would have to do is to cite the deliberate errors in the text to prove that it was merely a copy of their own work.

Lee Dickey (uwaterloo.ca)
Map makers are known to include things in their maps that are deliberately wrong, just to use in the event that they find a blatant copy, because then they can prove that it came from _their_ map, and not from another source.

Other-interesting-tid-bits department:

Jim Falconer (nt.com)
I tried re-arranging the letters, in case this was an anagram. I came up with "Your Seattle Beacon", which seems just too damn coincidental not to have been done on purpose (not to mention that it was set up to be a synonym for "stodgy" or "dull").

Luke McGuff (microsoft.com)
I've heard that if you type `supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' into an otherwise-empty Word document, you get `precocious.'

Most of the responses suggested that the word was a deliberate inclusion, designed to thwart unauthorized copying. That seems like the most valid explanation. Thank you all for helping solve the mystery of the Word!


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