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AWADmail Issue 229

October 1, 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 wordsmith.org)
Subject: Wordsmith.org online chat with Anatoly Liberman: Word Origins

Everything you wanted to know about etymology but were afraid to ask.

Our guest in this live chat is Anatoly Liberman, author of "Word Origins and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone". The event will take place on Oct 29, 2006, 7 pm Pacific (GMT -8). For more details, please see wordsmith.org/chat.

Mark your calendars.


From: Kristen M. Jones (kmjones2 wisc.edu)
Subject: This page intentionally left blank (Re: prelapsarian)

While in high school I worked for the literary magazine. Deadlines were always lax until a few weeks before classes ended and the work needed to be edited and sent off to the publisher. One year six pages were somehow lost between the publisher and the final draft and the magazine contained six pages of "This page is intentionally blank."


From: Tim Bales (timbales timbales.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prelapsarian

A friend and I recently enjoyed an official sign stating "No Trespassing Allowed".


From: Harry Grainger (hgraing aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prelapsarian

Guinness, the Irish drink, ran a long advertising campaign based on the alternative wall-warning "Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted" and starring the eponymous William "Bill" Stickers in all sorts of scrapes.


From: Matt Steichmann (matt.l.steichmann usps.gov)
Subject: Blank pages

Re: printing on blank pages. The United States Postal Service requires anything mailed at Periodicals mail rates to be comprised of "printed sheets". Blank pages are charged at a higher rate.


From: L. Douglas Mault (eai ewa.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prelapsarian

"This page intentionally left blank" may seem funny in that the page is, obviously, not blank. However, for those of us who fly airplanes in weather requiring us to rely on instrument flight rules (IFR), not outside visual flight rules (VFR), we use a series of manuals provided by Jeppesen.

When we are to make an instrument approach, that is, one where we may not see the runway until we are only a few hundred feet above the ground and where forward visibility may be as little as 1/4 mile and at speeds ranging from 90 knots to 150 knots (depending on the aircraft), it is comforting to know that the 'blank' page is, in fact, devoid of information and is not a page left blank by mistake.


From: Karen M. Platt (kplatt fwrv.com)
Subject: Re: prelapsarian

Your reference to "Post No Bills" reminds me of the same sign I saw posted in New York City at the corner of 42nd Street & 8th Avenue several years ago. Major construction was happening on the northeast corner of that intersection and as part of the city's effort to spruce up the neighborhood, the ordinarily blank walls outside the construction zone were decorated with photographs of people who had visited the area. Each photograph was about 2 and a half feet high and showed just the subject's face. Printed below the picture was the subject's name. Every morning as I passed through that corner on my way to work I smiled and quietly applauded the person who hung the pictures, for I'm sure that he or she intentionally placed the photograph of a gentleman named "Bill" right next to the sign that said "Post No Bills".


From: Sarah Gretzky (slgretzky mindspring.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--prelapsarian

My favorite sign posted outside a church read:
Sign broken, come inside for message.


From: David Mezzera (damezz att.net)
Subject: This week's (non)theme

You reminded us of books, manuals, and annual reports with a "blank" page bearing the text: "This page intentionally left blank." There is also the practice among academicians writing books to place in the "index" the name of a friend or colleague who does not appear in the actual text of the book. The single page reference for that person's name is then listed as the index page itself on which the name appears! How's that for a tautology? Or should I say a redundant tautology?


From: David Griffith (davegriffith prodigy.net)
Subject: Edison Quotation

While true at the time it was spoken, Edison later worked on several weapons. The quotation was taken from a 6/8/15 interview by the New York Times. rgj.com
"During World War I, Edison headed the U.S. Navy Consulting Board and contributed 45 inventions to the war effort, including finding substitutes for chemicals not available because of the war, anti-torpedo nets, smoke screen devices, and methods of aiming and firing naval guns."

See patents 1,297,294, 1,300,708, and 1,300,709 filed in January and February 1916: rutgers.edu.


From: Harry Campbell (harry.campbell virgin.net)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 228

From: Francis Roe (cfroe aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--buccaneer

The word buccaneer reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago back in Scotland. On Guy Fawkes night (British equivalent of Halloween)

Guy Fawkes night is certainly not the "British equivalent of Halloween", any more than Thanksgiving is the American equivalent of the Queen's Birthday. Halloween in Britain goes back long before America was ever heard of!

The professor said that, hearing what the vowels used to sound like, a student said it was "pirate talk", and the professor said, in fact, that's what it was. The Pirates' language was frozen in the decades when English made that vowel shift, and that's one reason it sounds so distinctive to us.

This too is of course nonsense. The Great Vowel Shift took place in the 14th and 15th centuries; why would there be any reason to think that pirates' accents, as opposed to those of any other calling, were somehow mysteriously "frozen" in those centuries?


From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: Prelapsarian

I had a prelapsarian moment this week when I recalled riding my first motorbike, that I bought for 30 shillings in the 1930s. I was writing a story about the New Zealand money guru, travel writer, and avid motorcyclist Gareth Morgan, who a few months ago gave 40 million dollars from his dot.com fortune to charity.

He's touring South Korea on a more modern motorcycle, and has been astonished by the country's progress since his previous visit eight years ago. The story's in The World's First Multi-National e-Book.


Time changes all things: there is no reason why language should escape this universal law. -Ferdinand de Saussure, linguist (1857-1913)

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