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AWADmail Issue 345

Feb 8, 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

Fastidious Spelling Snobs Pushed Over the Edge
MSNBC

Obama Picks Up An Intruder
Toronto Star


From: Dennis Metzger (coastalfx comcast.net)
Subject: An unconventional AWAD classic

I serendipitously happened upon this ~40-year-old skit featuring the late Dean Martin and Goldie Hawn (during her "dumb blonde" Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In days). The dictionary enters at the 3:19 mark, a musical tribute to AWAD @ 4:41. ;-)


From: Harold Brown, III (dirtyb ix.netcom.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--propinquity
Def: Nearness in space, time, or relationship.

I first encountered this word in Ian Fleming's novel Live And Let Die, as part of an aphorism by Felix Leiter, something to the effect of "Nothing propinqs like propinquity." The multiple meanings of proximity and kinship were so remarkable to me (at age 12) that I immediately added it to my vocabulary, seeking opportunities to use it but rarely finding them. Another phrase from that novel also stays with me: "He disagreed with something that ate him."


From: Ardyth Eisenberg (ardyth_eisenberg hotmail.com)
Subject: propinquity

The ultimate use of this word came in the early Sixties, thanks to a nerdy television character named (what else) Zelda. She was in constant pursuit of Dobie Gillis, the namesake of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". Dobie was indifferent to her, but she was convinced she would prevail because, "Propinquity will do the rest."


From: Doc Rick (docrick petalk.com)
Subject: Propinquity

"All things are relatives," one day, said Darwin in the park... ..and Einstein overheard and said, "That is a singular remark!" (Source unknown)


From: Kate Wellspring (kwellspring amherst.edu)
Subject: minor correction

On the Origin of Species was published Nov 24, 1859 rather than on Feb 12 (Darwin and Lincoln's birthday). Thanks for showcasing these two remarkable and progressive thinkers.


From: Stuart Showalter (showalter.stuart gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--conduce
Def: To lead to or contribute to a particular result.

Being a lover of the law and an admirer of Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr., I have always remembered his use of this beautiful, uncommon word.

It seems Holmes had a standing desk where he did much of his work. "Doesn't it tire you?" his wife asked, watching him write one day.

"Yes," the Justice replied. "But it's salutary. Nothing conduces to brevity like a caving in of the knees."


From: Chuck Chambers (cchambers direcpath.tv)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--interdict
Def: noun: A prohibition. verb tr.: To prohibit or stop.

This is a very common word in military parlance; used by naval, air, and ground forces. Interdiction operations are conducted by naval elements to stop or impede an opponent. Even back in WWII, we were instructed in the use of interdiction firepower to deny movement of opposing units of whatever size.


From: LukeJavan8 (via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Subject: interdict

I very clearly remember back in the middle of the last century the Roman Catholic bishop of this city (Omaha, Nebraska) placed a theater under interdict for showing a movie to which he had an extreme objection: "Lolita". The theater closed immediately for want of patronage, was torn down and today is a parking lot. These bishops had that sort of power. Seems very medieval but it was the 20th century: the Interdict was posted everywhere.


From: Vileen Shah (vileen hadley.edu)
Subject: Bicentennial of Louis Braille's Birth

Yet another person born in 1809 was Louis Braille in France (Jan 4). A special script based on dots for the blind is called braille in memory of this great inventor. Making millions of blind all over the world literate using braille script and allowing them much greater independence is an incredibly great contribution that Louis Braille has made.

It is because of the braille script that the blind all over the world have been able to receive the highest levels of education and lead independent lives. I am one of them. Blind since age three, I am successfully working as a professor of Social Science and History and teaching sighted students. I keep attendance and grade records of my students in braille. Bicentennial celebrations of Louis Braille have already begun all over the world with special ones in Paris. The United States, India, and other countries have released special coins in honor of Louis Braille's Bicentennial Birthday Anniversary.

Louis Braille, Abraham Lincoln, and Charles Darwin, each one of them made revolutionary contributions in their fields of interests. I salute them all!


From: Jack Kelso (jkelso ed.umuc.edu)
Subject: Felix Mendelssohn

Along with Darwin and Lincoln, the great German composer Felix Mendelssohn also celebrates his 200th birthday this year (Feb 3). While neither a scientist nor a statesman, he was an artist in tone. His "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (after Shakespeare) music, Violin Concerto, "Hebrides" Overture, oratorios, symphonies, and piano and chamber works enjoy great popularity world-wide.


From: Peter Gravely (pgravely snyderpaper.com)
Subject: evolution

Evolution is a theory. No passage can turn a lie into the truth. Your lumping together of observable fact -- a heliocentric solar system and a spherical Earth -- with an unprovable theory of origins is so typical of the intellectual bigotry that we often observe from academics. As a long-term subscriber, I expected better of you, especially given your history of allowing an honest discussion of ideas.


From: Tim Juchter (juchtert earthlink.net)
Subject: "theory" of evolution

People are correct in calling evolution a theory. What they fail to understand is how serious a thing a theory is in science. In common speech, it ranks not much higher than a hypothesis, but in scientific thought and research, a theory is a hypothesis that has withstood long, rigorous, repetitive testing and proof. Perhaps a week of scientific terms is in order?


From: Dr. Dale Samler (dsamler hotmail.com)
Subject: "theory"

Science uses the word "theory" in a very specific manner, unlike the word's use in common parlance. An idea must meet two stringent criteria in order to be called a scientific theory:

1. It must be a broad idea that connects and explains several other large concepts into a comprehensive whole
2. It must be backed by a lot of evidence, not just thoughts.

Examples are the theory of relativity (physics, astronomy), quantum theory (chemistry and physics), and the theory of evolution (biology). Evolution is backed by evidences from fossils, biogeography, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, comparative molecules (proteins and DNA). All this evidence, including recent advances in cell biology, tell the same story about relatedness and modification through evolution.


From: Brett Beiles (brettb hardyboys.co.za)
Subject: Darwin

A poem of mine, recently published:

"Sabbath Blessing"

this lazy evolutionist
blesses the much lazier
creationists for their beliefs.

instead of slaving for millions
(or even billions) of years
to reach their present state,

they had it made in six days flat
(and some still think the earth is that)
which is why this evolutionist

gives thanks to the creationists,
for without them i would miss
this heaven-sent day of rest.


In the common words we use every day, souls of past races, the thoughts and feelings of individual men stand around us, not dead, but frozen into their attitudes like the courtiers in the garden of the Sleeping Beauty. -Owen Barfield, author (1898-1997)

This week's theme
Words from Darwin and Lincoln

This week's words
propinquity
conduce
interdict
sanguine
irascible

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Next week's theme
Words derived from birds

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