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AWADmail Issue 260May 6, 2007
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages
From: Anu Garg (words wordsmith.org)
Is French still relevant?
Join us for a chat on French with our guest Julie Barlow, a writer, journalist, and speaker from Montreal, Canada. She and her husband Jean-Benoet Nadeau, are authors of "The Story of French" and the earlier "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong".
From: Martha Robinson (mgr0920 comcast.net)
I acted upon your suggestion for searching the web for instances of Missippi. One of the top hits is:
"South Missippi Writing Project
From: Joe Fleischman (jfleischman wbcm.com)
In reading this issue on haplography, on my company's MS Outlook email system, I was amused to see a message at the top of the window: "Extra line breaks in this message were removed."
From: Judy Redman (judyr tpg.com.au)
I'm an Australian who has been visiting Texas for the last four weeks and have found that haplology is rife here. Sometimes I have no trouble working out what's being said - "uncomforble" is easy - but other times it's not so clear. It took three repetitions before I realised that "code" was actually "cold".
Haplography is a word that I know well because I am involved in Biblical studies. In copying biblical texts, there are examples in which whole lines or sentences have been omitted -- very easy to do if your attention gets distracted from copying from a manuscript that has no spaces between words, no upper and lower case letters, and no punctuation. The writers of ancient manuscripts just kept copying letters until they got to the end of the line and then put the next letter at the beginning of the next line, regardless of whether it came at the beginning, middle, or end of a word!
From: Art Haykin (theart webtv.net)
The Brits are especially good at haplography. They pronounce Cholmondeley as Chumley, and we often say Rockafella or Rockerfellar for Rockefeller.
A Cockney chap visited America and was greatly impressed with Niagara Falls. He was relating his visit to a friend who seemed a bit confused, but then blurted out, "Ow, me lad, I think you mean Niffles!"
Then there's Bucknum Palace for Buckingham Palace, and Indja for India.
From: Yan Zen (yan.zen vodafone.com)
Although in the past half of my life I was familiar with Huckleberry rafting on the Mississippi, now the next half or so is familiar with Woolloomooloo (east of the Opera House in Sydney). Either way of haplography or dittography, it catches thousands in a cast on the Internet.
From: David Edkins (david.edkins masterware.co.uk)
A nice example of haplology is the word idolatry (from Latin idololatria and a similar earlier Greek word).
From: Zach Shatz (prismind hotmail.com)
This isn't exactly haplography, but close enough to share this joke:
A young monk, new to the monastery, noticed that the scribes were copying the scriptures from copies, not originals. He expressed his concern to the abbot that any mistakes in the copies would be passed on, and the scriptures would become corrupted. The abbot replied that this is the way it had always been done but the point was valid, and he would check it out. He descended into the vaults to look over the originals, and he was gone a long time. With some concern, the young monk went looking for him and found him sobbing with abandon, his tears pouring upon his frock. "What is the matter, my good abbot?" asked the monk, to which the abbot choked out, "In the original, the word was 'celebrate'!"
From: M.P. Chevrette (chevy_trivia hotmail.com)
Surely, the most well-known example of polysyndeton is the immortal chant of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz: "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"
From: Tisha Havens (thavens insurancetechnologies.com)
One of the recurring elements of the popular musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is a chorus detailing the colors of Joseph's many-colored coat. It includes an excellent example of how both asyndeton and polysyndeton can be put to powerful use.
As the chorus revisits the colors in different places through the show, it varies between asyndeton ("It was red, yellow, pink, orange, ochre, peach, chocolate, mauve..."), and polsyndeton ("It was red and yellow and pink and orange and blue!"). Sometimes both are combined, as different groups within the chorus are split between the two. Together, these techniques make for one of the most powerful musical moments I've ever experienced in musical theater.
From: Lynn Mancini (mancini dtcc.edu)
Here is one of life's little ironies: I have delighted in languages since I was a child, and I even have a Ph.D. in linguistics. One of the things I had most looked forward to in becoming a mother was seeing my child's expressive language develop. As it happens, my five-year-old son is autistic and has minimal expressive language. (Fortunately, his receptive abilities far exceed his expressive abilities.) He does engage in some delayed (often functional) echolalia, but he also repeats what appear to be nonsense syllables. (Although, with his poor articulation, it might be that he is trying to say something that I simply am not "catching".) I am thrilled to find that there is a word to describe what he is doing. I'll have to try "verbigerate" out on his speech therapist to see if she knows it.
As far as I'm concerned, 'whom' is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler. -Calvin Trillin, writer (1935- )