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AWADmail Issue 252

March 11, 2007

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


From: Jennifer Bird-Pollan (jbirdpollan law.harvard.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--de novo

We law students see the word 'de novo' all the time, since it is a standard of review for appellate courts who are hearing cases that have been appealed from lower levels. Most questions of law that reach appellate courts are reviewed de novo, which means that the higher court is not bound by the lower court's findings with regard to the question of law. In contrast, a trial court's findings of fact will, in almost all circumstances, be binding on a higher court that is hearing an appeal of that lower court's decision.


From: Claire Schaeffer (clairem.schaeffer mms.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ipso facto

Can any of us (OK, of a certain age) forget Archie Bunker of TV sitcom "All in the Family" saying "ipso fatso"?


From: Claire Thomas (eclaire333 earthlink.net)
Subject: Latin terms

Habeas corpus is the most important Latin term in English. It stems directly from the Magna Carta, 1215, when furious barons rebelled at summary imprisonment, of themselves and/or their wives, for refusal to pay assessments for John's unpopular wars to regain lost lands in France. It is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, Section IX:

"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

Government officials may ignore the requirements of a written constitution but the existence of the written words requires them to justify (if they can) their actions as being within the letter of the law.


From: Dana Rabenberg (danacathy yahoo.com)
Subject: Latin

Your reference to Latin being a dead language took me back to my high-school days in Latin class. We all learned the Latin student's lament: "Latin is a dead language, as dead as dead can be. First it killed the Romans, and now it's killing me!"


From: Joey (merlock13 aol.com)
Subject: Dead Language?

Latin isn't quite dead yet---aside from its semi-use in scholarly fields, it (along with Italian) is one of the official languages of Vatican City, a sovereign, if not very large, country, so its still being used, albeit only as a shadow of its former glory.

    It might be an official language of Vatican City, they might conduct certain rites in Latin, but they don't use it as their day-to-day language either. Their Web site is available in six languages and Latin is not one of them.
    -Anu Garg


From: Mark Hughes (mhughes hugheshome.net)
Subject: Elvis, Finland, & Latin

How dead can a language be if Elvis uses it?


From: John Lenton (jlenton gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--de novo

In Spanish at least, if you only mean the parts of Isthmian, Insular and South America that speak Spanish or Portuguese, you usually say "Iberoamérica" ("Iberian America" in English, I guess). Latin America specifically also includes the French-speaking countries and dependencies (sometimes including e.g. Quebec in North America), and often does not include the Dutch- or English-speaking dependencies

Check out Wikipedia, it's pretty accurate, and shows that even what I just said is only partially true: the view that Latin America is everything south of the 'states is the usual US view of things.


From: Carsten Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--de novo

I'd like to mention two languages that should not be forgotten: Rhätoromanisch (Romansch) - still spoken in some parts of Switzerland (mainly in Kanton Graubünden (Grischun)) and it's one of the four official languages of Switzerland and Ladin (or Ladinisch, very similar to Rhätoromanisch) spoken in a few regions of the Italian Alps both of which should have a very close relationship to original Latin. There are AFAIK a few more of those languages in the Alps region, but these two are the more popular ones.


From: David Wallechinsky (maussane aol.com)
Subject: Doug Larson, Olympic Gold Medalist-Hoax

That was a great quotation from Olympic gold medalist Doug Larson about the disappearing eight hours. Unfortunately, there is no such person. Elsewhere on the Internet this quotation is attributed to "Doug Larson, English middle-distance star who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympics." The middle-distance star of the 1924 Olympics was English and his name was Douglas, but his last name was Lowe.

David Wallechinsky
Vice-President, International Society of Olympic Historians
Author, The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics


Words are a commodity in which there is never any slump. -Christopher Morley, writer (1890-1957)

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