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AWADmail Issue 268

July 1, 2007

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


From: Andrew Pressburger (andrew.pressburger primus.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pudibund

This is one of those words that cuts both ways by having two diverging variants (cf. guest and host). Prudish and modest, while not exactly antonyms, are not synonyms either. In Latin pudibundus means modest or bashful. Pudendus on the other hand is translated as disgraceful, while pudens (i.e. pudent) is modest. (In English we use mostly its opposite: impudent.)


From: Adale O'Brien (adale insightbb.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--agrestic

There's a TV comedy called Weeds on Showtime, and the community all those interesting characters live in is called Agrestic. It's an intelligent, delightfully off-kilter, fascinating show.


From: Frederick Lee Armstrong (frederick-lee.armstrong mex.dupont.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sequacious

In Spanish the word "secuaz" refers to a follower of a nefarious organization. Sort of like henchman. Now I know where the word may come from.


From: Toni Marsh (tonimarsh iinet.net.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--moiety

I'm glad you mentioned this word. I work in a remote Yolngu (who, in my experience, dislike being lumped in with all Australian Aborigines, but prefer to celebrate their difference) community in NE Arnhemland NT and the 16 Yolngu clans of the Yirrkala community are divided into two moieties.

These moieties relate to the Yolngu cultural traditions of what we "napaki" (or whitefellas) might refer to as "skin", which clearly shows who can "marry" whom, usually across moieties. This is a very simplistic interpretation, the system is much more complex in reality. In the light of the recent scaremongering about remote Aboriginal communities, it was pleasant to see a word that is very commonly used and respected up here.


From: Sherry Hardage (teckwando aol.com)
Subject: moiety

The Pueblo Indians of the Southwest have moieties that run the pueblo from year to year. At Cochiti for instance, the moieties are called the Pumpkin people and the Turquoise people. Each year on January first a moiety takes over the management of the pueblo. So any rule or law passed one year can easily be undone the next by the other group.

This system of government requires people to be very considerate of the other side because they'll be in charge next year. Imagine how well the US would run if the Dems ran everything one year, and the Republicans ran everything the next year.


From: Marc Williams (marc_williams comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--moiety

Today's word, moiety brought back fond memories of my undergraduate days as a chemistry major. Moieties are used in writing chemical formulae. Here are the official nomenclature rules.

Presumably the use of the word in chemistry relates to the second definition, portion. One of the core principles of chemistry is that each portion (moiety) is represented in a specific proportion in relation to other moieties.


From: Veronica Moriarty (vmoriart srhs.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ataraxia

Atarax is a brand name of an antihistamine, hydroxyzine, that has been used to treat anxiety. I always wondered how the manufacturer came up with that name. It now makes more sense.


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

Would a 107-year-old blogger be compossible with the youngsters who inhabit the YouTube world? Olive Riley, the world's oldest blogger, believes she's also the world's oldest YouTuber. I agree with her, and have written about her and her amazing memory in Life Begins at 80... on the Internet.


Language is more fashion than science, and matters of usage, spelling and pronunciation tend to wander around like hemlines. -Bill Bryson, author (1951- )

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