AWADmail Issue 378
September 27, 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
National Punctuation Day: 24-hour mark of our failure
Computer to grade English essays
Your brain on words
The Philippine Star
From: David Potterveld (potterveld anl.gov)
Def: Overzealous censorship of material considered obscene.
I went to a Catholic prep-school where pages deemed "offensive" were torn
out of books before they were distributed to students. In that climate,
a courageous teacher taught the unexpurgated version of "Lady Chatterley's
Lover" by D.H. Lawrence, a work once banned in the USA. That teacher helped
shape my view of integrity, commitment, and life like no other.
Thank you, Becky.
Thank you, Anu, for this week's theme.
From: Ritu Mishra (ritu_mishra mcgraw-hill.com)
I wonder if it was deliberate, But you happened to choose the word for
the day (September 21) on Comstock's death anniversary!
From: Ian Venables (ivenables bigpond.com)
Subject: Anthony Comstock
In Australia and perhaps other places Anthony Comstock would be known as
a wowser. Considering his extreme
wowserism there would probably be a few expletives added before the word
"wowser" and maybe one or two after as well.
From: Cam Ellison (cam ellisonet.ca)
Def: To remove or change parts (of a book, play, movie, etc.) considered objectionable.
The word, bowdlerize, never fails to remind me of Byron's Don Juan,
specifically Canto 44:
Juan was taught from out the best edition,
Expurgated by learned men, who place,
Judiciously, from out the schoolboy's vision,
The grosser parts; but, fearful to deface
Too much their modest bard by this omission,
And pitying sore his mutilated case,
They only add them all in an appendix,
Which saves, in fact, the trouble of an index;
From: Rob Busek (rbusek ridgeviewclassical.com)
Subject: Concern regarding this week's topic (nihil obstat, imprimatur)
I have to question your choice of the words "imprimatur" and "nihil obstat"
on a list of words concerning censorship. Censorship itself is a loaded
term, implying a desire to control or destroy intellectual development. The
two words listed above are more about the development and preservation
of Roman Catholic spiritual doctrine. I don't believe that they represent
what most people see as censorship.
From: Robert Wilson (robwilsonit yahoo.it)
Subject: nihil obstat
Here in Italy, "nulla osta" is in everyday use in exactly this context.
From: kah454 (Via Wordsmith Talk bulletin board)
Def: 1. To mutilate a book by clipping pictures out of it. 2. To illustrate a book by adding pictures cut from other books.
My first job was working in a library. One of my duties was to repair
books that had pages removed or damaged by patrons. This was particularly
difficult if the book was out of print. We would obtain a copy from another
library and proceed to photocopy the missing pages or material and then
glue in the replacement pages to the spine of the book. Mind you this was
in the day photocopies were negative images. The books did look strange. I
guess you could say we were grangerizing that which had been grangerized.
From: Vaishali Kamath (vaishalikamath hotmail.com)
Had this word been coined recently, it would have meant 'to read every book
available in a place, for example in a library, after Hermione Granger
(of Harry Potter fame) who is aware of almost every book in the Hogwarts
From: Jennifer Tatum (ciceronian gmail.com)
Subject: Library Nerds Appreciation
I am a master's student getting my degree in Library and Information
Studies. Banned Book week is like a holy holiday to us bookworms, resulting
in celebrations nationwide. We write papers on our favorite banned books
and make it our priority to read something controversial. I was so glad to
see this week's words and promptly shared the theme with my classes for the
semester. Librarians everywhere certainly give this theme their nihil obstat!
From: Carol Broman (cbroman sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Library censorship
I live in West Bend, Wisconsin where two different groups have fought
zealously for removal of some young adult books. I'm proud to say that our
library board stood up to them and the books remain in the library. I'm
sure that we haven't heard the last of them.
From: B. Fernandez (comlink8 gmail.com)
Subject: How to complain to a library circa 2009
About the "Uncle Bobby's Wedding" complaint letter. The person who objected
did it all wrong. She should have taken a Flip video of some kittle child
reading the book with a good voiceover and then sent it to Glen Beck for
the evening news. It would have stirred a national firestorm and people
would have threatened funding, jobs, reputation via a torrent of email and
the book would have been removed. Gotta get with the times -- this letter
and thoughtful response stuff is so 19th century.
From: Andrew Piziali (andy piziali.dv.org)
Subject: Re: A Right To Be Offended
I always look forward to your introduction to the words of the week
because you convey insights few people are aware of. However, I have
one small bone to pick with you regarding your claim in your September
20 message that "People have a right to be offended by any book." I
would restate this as "People may choose to be offended by any book" in
order to remove "right" from the sentence.
A true right does not infringe on another's right. A false right
always does. Hence, things like life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness are true rights. Taking offense to a book, education, and
health care are not because they conflict with the author's right to
publish, the teacher's choice to teach or not, and the medical
practitioner's right to practice or not.
Lastly, there are countless examples of individuals and groups
assuming power over others by "taking offense" to one thing or another.
Taking offense is a powerful tool in a world that tries to mollify
everyone. I like my Dad's response: "I take offense to your taking
offense at (fill-in-the-blank)!"
From: AJ Fett (ironpie030448 yahoo.com)
Subject: Uncle Bobby's Wedding
Thank you for the link to the librarian's response to the parent who objected
to the book Uncle Bobby's Wedding being placed in the children's reading
section of the library. As someone who has struggled with accepting himself
his whole life and who went through a marriage to a wonderful woman --
and divorce from her -- before finding the courage to admit to himself and
his family at age 48 (sadly, long after his parents were deceased) that his
sexuality was not the "norm", I would like to think that the availability
of this book might have helped me deal with who I was at a much earlier
age. God bless the author. And you, for bringing it to our attention.
From: Vaishali Kamath (vaishalikamath hotmail.com)
Subject: Yesterday's quotation
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as
much to stand up to our friends."
I would like to suggest to J.K. Rowling that she adds 'relatives' to that.
It is equally difficult to stand up to your relatives. Believe me!
From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--comstockery
The world is divided between the good and the bad people.
Who decides who is good, who is bad?
The good decide!
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the
creativity of thousands of generations. -Edward Sapir, anthropologist,