AWADmail Issue 374
August 30, 2009
A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net
Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?
Manx Gaelic 'Not Extinct'
From: Susie Burstein (twinssa wol.co.za)
Def: Colored glass or enamel used in mosaic.
What an unusual word -- but tell me what is wrong with the word tessera?
I always understood it to be
the favoured term of use for mosaic tiles.
Sometimes I think the liberality of the English language in so freely
allowing foreign words into the vocabulary when there are perfectly
adequate existing words in the lexicon, allows for much misunderstanding
Anyway, thanks for all the enlightenment I get from your fine site!
From: John Marino (jrmsf sbcglobal.net)
Def: Loss of ability to recognize objects, people, sounds, etc.
This word brings to mind the new science of agnotology, the study of
ignorance and its application in modern culture. The new science finds
its origins in the use of doubt, misinformation, disinformation, and
downright lying by the tobacco industry to defend its product.
Out of this has grown the "product defense industry" whose sole purpose
is to create sufficient confusion in the minds of the consuming public
to allow the ongoing use of toxic products until such time as those
who are harmed by them can prove, beyond doubt, that those products
are the source and cause of the harm they have suffered.
It is the skillful application of this new science that fueled the rush to
war in Iraq; sustains beyond all good reason the "healthcare" debate that
is nothing more than an argument over who is to derive most profit from
the care of the sick; and promotes the use of carcinogenic and otherwise
toxic petrochemical byproducts to add "fragrance" to personal care and
household products and to "refresh" the air.
For more information see the book
From: Theodore L. Drachman (tldrach webtv.net)
Subject: Scrutinizing facial-recognition ability | Harvard Magazine
"Prosopagnosia" goes to Harvard!
P.S. AWAD joke?
"Who was that woman I saw you with last night?
"Beats me -- I've got prosopagnosia."
From: Henry Higman, MD (hhigman1 verizon.net)
Subject: Comment: Agnosia
I was disappointed not to see anosognosia among the related words:
a=not, nosos=disease, gnosis, knowing. It is often encountered in a patient
with dense left hemiplegia, unaware of and denying paralysis. In a visual
form due to bilateral lesions of the occipital cortex, the patient usually
injures himself crashing into obstructions because of the blindness which he
ignores and denies. The term might be applied metaphorically as a disorder
afflicting certain political figures. I leave it to you to decide which
party offers a better illustration.
From: Martha Rustad (mehrustad yahoo.com)
Def: A pal.
I graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where the mascot
is a cobber. I always thought that the name came from the fields of corn
that once occupied the campus land. This name could not have inspired much
fear in sports opponents. Your definition opened up a whole new meaning to
me. When I returned for Homecoming last year, I learned that now someone
on the cheering squad dresses up in a corn cob costume as Kernel to the
cries of "Fear the Ear!" The face of this cobber really is a little fierce.
From: Brice Bowman (beaumambo hotmail.com)
A friend has written a story with the title, "Cops and Cobbers". I enjoyed
reading the story but didn't fully understand the meaning of the title.
Today I read the word of the day, cobber, and forwarded it to my friend
who replied, "Indeed. The title was a tongue in cheek reference to the
Guardia Civil cops acting as friends.
Thank you for assisting two very good friends to enjoy a mutual love
From: Dave Zobel (zobeldave aol.com)
Subject: cobber: Flanders & Swann
Michael Flanders, of the 1950s/'60s songwriting team Flanders & Swann
(noted for "Madeira, M'Dear?" and other comedy classics), used to tell of
an Australian hotel at which "every morning at the crack of dawn this great
beautiful Betjeman girl would come clumping into the room, slap a great
mug of scalding tea down [a guest's] chest, and say [nasal Strine accent],
' 'Ere y'are, cobber -- an' if you don't like sugar, don't stir it.'"
From: Kiko Denzer (potlatch cmug.com)
I'm amazed that so close to the heart of the cob revival you didn't include
the local meaning of "cobber" which is someone who makes things out of mud
or "cob" as they call it in England, from the Anglo-saxon for "lump", as
in "cob-coal", a "cob-loaf", or "cobble-stone" or even the horse called a
"cob" because it tends to be short and stocky -- lumpish.
Google "cob" today, however, and you'll find numerous references to a
marvelous mix of dirt, water, and straw, which has been used for centuries
to build beautiful, comfortable homes -- warm in winter, cool in summer
-- even in cold, wet SE England, where there are tens of thousands of cob
homes, some of them 500-700 years old! In Devon, they say "give a cob house
good boots (foundation) and a good hat (roof), and it will last forever!"
In the US, in the past 15 years, there has been a huge revival of interest
in cob and other traditional, earthen materials (like adobe, from the
Arabic, Al-toba, meaning "the brick"), rammed earth, light-straw clay,
and the modern hybrid straw-bale, which is, at best, straw protected with
a thick layer of mud plaster.
It makes sense. We all know how to make mud pies, and when you
work with mud, architecture reverts to its traditional roots,
which are sculpture and playful nest-making. For more info, try
digyourhandsinthedirt.net, or look up The Hand Sculpted House,
at chelseagreen.com, or just look up "cob" on the web! A mud
house won't burn down, the bugs can't eat it, and it's dirt cheap (if you
make it yourself)! Mine took just 700 hours, and it cost me less than a
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
A different language is a different vision of life. -Federico Fellini, film
director and writer (1920-1993)