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AWADmail Issue 321

August 24, 2008

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


From: Lorrell Louchard (llouchard hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--louche
Def: Of questionable character; dubious; disreputable.

It's fortunate for me, perhaps, that the translation of certain words into English is not generally known, as my married name is louchard, i.e., "one who is of questionable character, etc."; loo-shahr sounds very elegant unless you know the meaning!


From: Jason Bodnar (jason shakabuku.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--louche

Louche is also the name for the milky cloud that is created when preparing absinthe in the traditional style of drinking.


From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (rrosenbergsr accuratesurgical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--clochard
Def: A beggar; vagrant.

Clochard is the term for individual bums; collectively they are also known as la cloche.


From: Amy Metnick (aam3 catskill.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--myopic
Def: 1. Nearsighted. 2. Shortsighted.

The word "myopic" reminds me of a neologism that my sister, Abby, a shameless punster, assigns to people who tend to think only of themselves as the center of the universe. She says they're wearing "myfocals".


From: Francis Roe (cfroe aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ambisinister
Def: Clumsy with both hands. (Literally, with two left hands.)

When I was in my surgical residency in New York, one of the older surgeons had long ago earned a reputation for being as adept with his left hand as his right. Now he was losing his touch, and the word went around that he gone from being ambidextrous to ambisinistrous.


From: Melissa Emmons (melissa.emmons gmail.com)
Subject: Dexterous and ambisinister
Def: 1. Skillful or adroit, mentally or bodily. 2. Right-handed.

This week's one-two punch of the words dexterous and ambisinister is bound to raise the ire of southpaws everywhere. How offensive that in the word dextrous, skillful is synonymous with the right-handed, and in ambisinister, clumsy is synonymous with having "two left hands".

It's an unfair and inapt characterization, especially as those who are left-handed are often extremely right-brain dominant: The right side of the brain, which controls the nerves and functions on the left side of the body, is also that side of the brain from which creativity and intuition dominate.

Those in the arts of any type tend to have a higher percentage of left-handed people. While left-handed people are the minority, it was with great delight I discovered that in my high school art class, a good 75% of the students in it were left-handed!

Nowadays, lefties are not only "left" to do their own thing, rather than being forced into right-handedness as in the past, but they are also treated as a market niche, with all manners of tools designed now for the left-handed. Good quality, too: A far cry from those useless "left-handed" scissors I remember using about 35 years ago, which didn't work for ANYONE, left-handed or not!

Remember, "Left-handed people are the only ones in their right minds" (and the correct right-handed response is, "Right-handed people are the only ones with any minds left")!


From: Andrew Kerr (andrew andrewkerr.plus.com)
Subject: ambisinister

Ambisinister is a very insulting word to those of us who are left-handed. My left hand is noble, capable of delicate and sensitive creation. My family has been left-handed for 800 years in recorded history and in their Border keep their spiral staircases are built in the left-handed way, confusing English marauders. They have been anything but sinister. My right hand is a clumsy brute, incapable of fine work.


From: Eric Shackle (eshackle ozemail.com.au)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--dexterous

Could this pun be called dexterous? The citizen reporters' online journal OhmyNewsInternational has published a story about The World's Oldest Facebooker under the heading Ivy Bean There, Done That, at 103.


Language is fossil poetry. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

This week's theme
Words for physical characteristics used to describe people figuratively.

This week's words
louche
clochard
myopic
dexterous
ambisinister

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