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AWADmail Issue 237

November 26, 2006

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


From: Leslie Tierstein (ltierstein earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exigent

I know the word exigent through the French "exiger", to demand. I will always remember it because it is part of a very common tongue-twister in French:

"Je veux et j'exige" (said, of course, with the "x" in elided onto the vowel of the following word).

Try saying that one three times, fast.


From: David Steiner (residentdiva comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exigent

The military has used the noun form for at least 50 years as in "exigencies of the service" as a way of permitting or excusing unusual actions, often involving war.


From: Elsi Dodge (elsidodge aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exigent

A long time ago, when I was in high school in the early '60s, the honors English teacher had a "1000 word list". In the course of 10th grade, we were to find each of the 1000 words in our reading, cut out or copy the context and source, write the definition, and use the word in a sentence. "A substantive sentence that shows you understand the word," Mrs. Lanagan said firmly. "I will not accept: 'Exigencies are fun.'"

I thoroughly enjoyed the word hunt, expanded my vocabulary, discovered Time magazine was a great place to look, and burned 'Exigencies are fun' into my brain for all time. Thanks for the memory!


From: Aaron Embry (aembry gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--invidious

I'm thinking the computer graphics hardware manufacturer "nvidia" either didn't know about this word or were banking on most people not knowing it when they gave that name to their company.


From: Ravi Palihawadana (ravi informatics.lk)
Subject: feedback: invidious

Today's word reminds me of a limerick I read as a youngster.

There was a sculptor named Phidious
Whose manners in art were invidious
He carved Aphrodite
Without any nightie
It startled the ultra fastidious


From: Grey M. Tarkenton (gmt acphysics.com)
Subject: Extolling the virtues of a broader diction...

I would like to relate to you a frustrating story that comes from work in the American defense industry. It ties with your "more practical" words for this week's theme. When we write proposals or documents to deliver to our customer, we are told over and over that we should write at a 7th grade level. So, any opportunity to use more sophisticated words is more than frowned upon, it is edited -- in many cases completely changing the meaning of the passage. I am fighting this as best I can, but with coworkers not much better off than our customers, the drive to please will mean more slang and rap in our professional works. What a shame!


From: Denise Koster (jkoster esrta.com)
Subject: Using these words

I've been getting your word every day for some years now. I'm always pleased at how many I already knew (like exigent, today's word). I'm a native English speaker, law-school graduate, current English teacher, with a large vocabulary. As for not using the words, this summer, one of your words was "pollicitation". I'd never heard of it, but it struck a chord with me. I used it as the basis of a short story about a pollicitation. It worked VERY well as inspiration, and I have since used several other of the words presented to be the bases of other short stories. It's actually inspired me to try to write a novel, a life-long aspiration of mine. So, never say a word is too esoteric to use. You never know when it will inspire you to do something, like follow your dreams.


From: Loren & Dee Myer (tsk-tsk sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Why Do We Learn New Words?

I read with interest the introduction to this week's words. It reminded me of my own experience. I taught 10th grade English for a number of years, and I assigned twenty vocabulary words each week. Students often complained about these "weird" and "strange" words -- these big words that they had never heard of and would never use. My stock response was that there was no point in my assigning words that they already knew. I would tell the students, "You may use these words and you may not. But I can guarantee that if you don't know a particular word, you will never use it."

One year a student complained about the word "feasible", saying that it was a ridiculous word and asking when he would ever have a chance to use a word like that. Some months later he used "feasible" correctly in a written assignment. I immediately pounced on it, circling it and noting in the margin, "When will you ever have a chance to use a word like this?" I still occasionally see this former student now as an adult, and he has never forgotten that lesson. Neither have I.


From: Lee Anne Bowie (bowie.la gmail.com)
Subject: Using the words

Your idea to provide words that we can use reminded me of a group of friends that met for coffee back in the day.

One of our favorite entertainments involved finding a new word that the others didn't know. We could never just bring it up and say, "Hey, I've got a new word." That was cheating. The challenge was to guide the conversation around so that we could "casually" introduce the word into the conversation. After it was introduced, the others would make it clear whether or not we knew the word, and if it was a new one to us, we would show our appreciation. There was no AWAD in those days to help us out, so days would go by without a new word.

So, I challenge AWAD readers to make a conversation happen so that they can use the new word the very next day. Only then will it become theirs. And then they cannot complain that they will never use it.


From: Robert Tristani (robert.tristani ngc.com)
Subject: using the words

Actually, I do use them from time to time. It's great to sit in a meeting and announce a recrudescence of sand inclusions in castings, to accuse someone of having inspissated the procurement process, to claim that the committee of senior leaders must suffer from abulia, or to simply say that the new shop superintendent is quite sequacious (to some, that sounds like a compliment). I have found that when people have no idea that you are saying, and feel that they _should_ understand what you are saying, they generally keep their mouth shut.

My favorite was in one of my PowerPoint slides: "No more will the Foundry have to hear the floccinaucinihilipilification of their manufacturing process improvement efforts. No more will the Director need to experience Weltschmerz concerning the same." The blank stares were priceless.


From: Carolyn E. Brown (heiace verizon.net)
Subject: One more on articles

I loved last week's AWADmail compendium about the duplication of articles and other words. I copied the text, pasted it into a Word document, and laughed as I titled it: AWAD Article Article.


The living language is like a cow-path: it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs. From daily use, the path undergoes change. A cow is under no obligation to stay. -E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)

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