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AWADmail Issue 217

July 9, 2006

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


From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Result of the discover-the-theme contest

Last week's challenge was to find out what's common among the five words featured: scintillescent, vetitive, rapparee, bilabial, and froufrou.

You are good. So many of you guessed the theme on the very first day! Of all the puzzles featured so far, this one received most answers, many of them correct.

Last week was a Noah's Ark of words. In all words, each letter appears twice. You could say letters "reappear".

First to send the correct answer was Annette Sabor of New Zealand (annettesATeconz.com) whose reply came within minutes of the first word, scintillescent, being published. She receives an autographed copy of the book Another Word A Day.

If you didn't win the book, you can still find it in a bookstore near you.

Some wrote that the spread of readers in various time zones means that not all see the newsletter at the same time. So we award a second prize to a reader (almost) randomly selected from all correct entries. Jason Nabi of the US (nabiATvirginia.edu) sent the correct answer and described it this way, "Failed palindromes who couldn't quite get their act together!" He gets an autographed copy of the book A Word A Day.

Here's the day-by-day report:

MONDAY: scintillescent

Most common guess:
Fourth of July fireworks.

Weirdest guess:
I think it is continent, continent, vowel, continent, continent, vowel, repeated through the word.
(Aren't we glad none of them was incontinent. -Anu)

Almost-got-it guess:
Two vowels repeated twice in the word.

Most creative guess:
I believe this week's words will resemble the NY city skyline with the World Trade Center towers, as a memorial to them and the victims of 9-11. I can see those towers in the two Ls in scintillescent.
-Mark Roberts (robertsmarkATsbcglobal.net)

TUESDAY: scintillescent, vetitive

Most convoluted guess:
Words with just duplicated vowels "e" and "i", alternating with either one or two consonants.

Seeing-trees-for-the-forest guess:
Words have repeating doublets. The "sc" scintillescent and the "ve" in vetitive.

Most creative:
The first three letters of each word are used to shorten the name of an occupation: sci - scientist, vet - veterinarian.
-Russell McAthy (russell.mcathyAT3valleys.co.uk)

WEDNESDAY: scintillescent, vetitive, rapparee

Almost-got-it guess:
All letters are repeated twice.
(All letters were repeated only once. -Anu)

Most obscure guess:
What the words refer to is sparsely distributed in the word's domain.

Put in a most unusual way:
All of them are twice as long as the size of alphabet used to form the corresponding word.
-Shankar Manyem (shankarmATku.edu)

THURSDAY: scintillescent, vetitive, rapparee, bilabial

Most creative:
I will guess that the theme relates to stealing a kiss. The woman is sparkling and vetoes the attempt but her suitor steals a kiss using both lips.
-Patricia Blaine (patricia.blaineATspcorp.com)

FRIDAY: scintillescent, vetitive, rapparee, bilabial, froufrou

Most creative:
None of these words is used by us East Tennessee hillbillies.
-Dennis Miller (jdmiller4037ATverizon.net)

Most unusual way of saying it:
The euphonic vocalic duplication and the consonantal repetitions.
-Josep Tebé (jtc181AThotmail.com)

Overall, I was struck by how many people saw only vowels being repeated while others only saw repeated consonants. Also amusing were incorrect answers which one could have verified easily by a quick look at the words. Examples:

    They have two sets of double vowels and one set of double consonants.

    Eight-letter words made up of only four letters.

    All have French origins.

    The second half of the word is an anagram of the first half.

Thanks to all who participated. Many sent their answers later in the week while noting that they may not be the first but were happy to have solved it anyway. Well, that's the spirit of participation!


From: Sara Werboff (sfw307ATgmail.com)
Subject: This week's theme

It reminds me of a really fun party game called "Through the Green Glass Doors", the premise of which is that you can bring some items through the doors, but not others. For example, you can bring books, but not magazines. You can bring anything that has double letters somewhere in the word (you can bring letters, but not words.) It is always interesting to play the game in a room full of people, and to see who gets the trick and who doesn't.


From: Mark Johnson (cmjohnsonAThrjconsulting.com)
Subject: Theme contest

This was a lulu, and my face was turning redder until at an arraigning (for some shanghaiings) of a horseshoer at noon it hit me, by happenchance, like I'd been bitten by a tsetse fly in my intestines - the theme is words made using pairs of letters, each pair of which is only used once.


From: Marty Butler (mbutlerATcqmail.net)
Subject: What's common among the five words

Each word consists exclusively of unrepeated letter-pairs.

scintillescent--7 unrepeated letter-pairs (s, c, i, n, t, l, e)
vetitive--4 unrepeated letter-pairs (v, e, t, i)
rapparee--4 unrepeated letter-pairs (r, a, p, e)
bilabial--4 unrepeated letter-pairs (b, i, l, a)
froufrou--4 unrepeated letter-pairs (f, r, o, u)

Given that Tuesday of this week was the Fourth of July, the number pattern, "7-4-4-4-4," is also interesting.

7 4 = July 4th
4 x 444 = 1776

July 4, 1776 = Independence Day in the United States.


From: Denis Agar (canrocksATgmail.com)
Subject: Re: "Yours to Discover"

To all Ontarians and most Canadians, this week's theme conjures images of this: images.google.ca.


From: Jen Stosser (jeneratorsAToptusnet.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--scintillescent

Scintillate scintillate globule vivific
Oft have I pondered thy nature specific
High above the aether capacious
Like a mineral, carbonaceous.


From: Ram Venkatraman (ram.venkatramanATbt.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bilabial

In the taxi on the way to work, I heard on the radio that today is National Kissing Day and then I came in to work to see this word, how apt!


No man has a prosperity so high or firm, but that two or three words can dishearten it; and there is no calamity which right words will not begin to redress. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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