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AWADmail Issue 344

Feb 1, 2009

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


From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

New Lingua Franca Upsets French
BBC News

Its a Catastrophe for the Apostrophe in Britain
Associated Press
(also see these apostrophe words in AWAD from last year and readers' comments)


From: LukeJavan8 (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ex libris
Def: 1. From the library of. 2. A bookplate.

In a Benedictine Monastery school where I attended high school, the monks, who take vows of poverty, could not own the books they used. Inside their books were the words "ad usum" (for the use of...).


From: Marlene M. Reuber (mmreuber aol.com)
Subject: Ex libris and stolen books

A friend and I disagreed about whether she had returned a book she had borrowed from me. She finally gave me a framed Charles Lamb quotation in beautiful calligraphy. It reads: "Borrowers of books--those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of lost volumes."

And she bought a replacement book.


From: David Blanchard (david.blanchard pgn.com)
Subject: feedback ex libris

What Anatole France really meant is that ex libris means "liberated from the library of".


From: David Evans (dbevans hardynet.com)
Subject: Anatole France quotation

I was amused by the comment by Anatole France on building your library on books "borrowed" from others. I have a poster reportedly from the Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona (date unknown). It reads:

A Curse Against Book Stealers
For him that stealeth a book from this library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy and all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sink to dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of hell consume him for ever and aye.

Now that's one hell of a curse to accompany one's ex libris.


From: Sherill Anderson (clintonsherill comcast.net)
Subject: ex libris

Years ago I worked with a man who had a little slip taped to his office scissors: "Stolen from C. W. McKnight".


From: Rob Loughran (rjploughran55 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ex libris

Henny Youngman once said: "I have 2,000 books and no bookcase. No one will loan me a bookcase."


From: Peter Mutchler (pmutchler hotmail.com)
Subject: ex libris

It's also the name for a national organization of retired workers from Canadian libraries and others in the information field: Ex Libris Association.


From: Barry Pegg (bpegg8614 charter.net)
Subject: in medias res and ab ovo
Def: In the middle of things.

You're right about the phrase being quoted from Horace's ars poetica; the best part is that it refers to a particular story, that of Troy, which began with the egg laid by Leda from which Helen hatched.


From: John Campbell (johnppj aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dramatis personae
Def: 1. The characters in a play or story. 2. The people involved in an event.

Robert Browning's 1864 collection of poems is entitled Dramatis Personae. These poems are marked by his grief after the death of his wife (1861), and by his thoughts on examining the relation of human to divine love.


From: Nidia Edfelt (nidia.edfelt comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lares and penates
Def: 1. Household gods. 2. Household goods.

The word lares is still used in Spanish to mean home or family possessions, usually in a romantic or literary context (e.g., "Los lares del Rey Salomón" or "Hace dos años que no regreso a mis lares").


From: Nancy Bleil (nbleil earthlink.net)
Subject: Thought for the day 01/27/09

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. -E.E. Cummings, poet (1894-1962)

The "Thought for the day 01/27/09" comes from the poem in Just. Please note that there are two separate ideas in the original poem which both begin with "when..." There is no line in the original poem which reads "The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful."

I would suggest that e.e. cummings does not need to be edited!


From: Rachel Perry Welty (artichoke5 verizon.net)
Subject: spam

In light of your discussion of spam, I thought you might like to see that I've begun using the subject lines for spam in my art. I've found that taking them out of context often reveals a bit of found poetry.


From: Laurie Lovell (hp.cruzin gmail.com)
Subject: Serendipity (Re: AWADmail 343)

There's a lovely word for you!

I unsubscribed from the website in a fit of political and ideological frustration and I must apologize for suggesting that you are not rational. I've seen no real past evidence that you are not rational. My bad, sorry.

What I would like to tell you is that I have gotten so many responses to my simple unsubscribe that I am truly overwhelmed. I have acquired many many new e-friends and have expanded my worldview to half the globe away. I have learned two different South African points of view, one black, one white, both extremely disturbed at the same things going wrong in their country. My worldview has been tremendously expanded! I know you never expected this sort of result but in my humble opinion international relations between at least this citizen of the USA have profoundly affected my thinking, and that of more than 30 other people in our world. How fun is this?

By the bye, I still check AWAD and do enjoy the vast majority of your entries. You just struck the wrong chord with me last week. But in the light of the new email venue, I can only thank you for posting my unsubscribe no matter why you did it.

So I am saying a great big thank you and am apologizing for being abrupt and rude. I know you had no malice in your Obama week, and I bear you no malice at all.

Enlightenment is so fun, don't you think?

Best to you,
Laurie Lovell
conscientious unsubscriber


From: Leslie Sutcliffe (lesliesutcliffe sbcglobal.net)
Subject: gift subscription

I meant to send my niece and nephew gift subscriptions to A.Word.A.Day and inadvertently sent it to everyone on my email list. You should see all the hearty "Thanks Yous" I am getting. Thank you, Anu.


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

A copy of Robert Burns's poems translated into medieval Latin verse is on display at the University of Glasgow library. I wonder how anyone could translate, without losing the imagery, verses such as

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!

You may like to read a story headed Rabbie Burns: A Woman's Man For A' That.


Words are like money; there is nothing so useless, unless when in actual use. -Samuel Butler, writer (1835-1902)

This week's theme
Latin terms in English

This week's words
ex libris
in medias res
dramatis personae
lares and penates
ex parte

AWADmail archives
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Next week's theme
Words from Darwin and Lincoln

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