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AWADmail Issue 400

February 28, 2010

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

This week's Email of the Week is from Jo Ann Lawlor (see below) who receives the Darwinian word game: "One Up! - Smart Always Wins."


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

Violent but Charming: The Dictionary of Old English
Humanities

Germany to Promote "language of ideas"
The Seattle Times

Linguistic Pet Peeves
National Public Radio


From: Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (bawriting earthlink.net)
Subject: Ex cathedra
Def: Spoken with authority; with the authority of the office.

I've always been fond of this term. When I graduated with my Ph.D. in English, as my major professor draped my hood over my shoulders, he said that henceforth I could speak ex cathedra on English literature and grammar, but not on any other topic. Of course, that was many years ago, I'm a freelance book editor now, and I dare to speak ex cathedra to my clients on any number of topics.


From: Therese Kulawiak (therese.kulawiak nordstrom.com)
Subject: ex cathedra

I am a long time subscriber to AWAD and always enjoy reading it first thing every morning, but I am insulted and very surprised by your remark in the Notes section today. You say the "Pope's supposed infallibility" and "as if an office or position conferred immunity from error". I am a Roman Catholic and, yes, that is our belief. The Pope is not infallible in all his statements and decrees, but we believe when he speaks "ex cathedra" he has divine intervention and his word is infallible.


From: George Pajari (george pajari.ca)
Subject: ex cathedra

The US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) once said:
"We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final."


From: Shalini Srivastava (shalsri hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--de jure
Def: By right; by law.

The word for today brings back childhood memories. At my brother's convent school, the Principal was liberal with using the ruler for other purposes than measurement. And when she did so, she made it a point to mention -- 'de jure we don't allow corporal punishment but de facto we do'.


From: Tim Aaronson (taaronson comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--de jure

Soup de jour vs de jure (link)? Is there a law de jour? Or maybe at a cafe in a court house a "Soup de jure"? To Google ... "soup de jure" means "this stuff meets the legal definition of soup".


From: Harry Grainger (the.harry gmail.com)
Subject: Ad hominem
Def: 1. Appealing to one's prejudices; 2. Attacking an opponent personally.

One of the classic fallacious argumental styles, seeking victory through:

Ad hominem - personal attack on the opponent
Ad Baculum - threat of violence
Ad Ignorantiam - lack of contrary evidence
Ad Misericordiam - agree with me, or you'll hurt my feelings
Ad Invidiam - you don't agree because you're jealous
Ad Verecundiam - I'm right because I'm more important than you
Ad Populum - everybody believes this
Ad nauseam - endless repetition
Ad crumenam - I'm right because I'm rich
Ad lazarum - I'm right because I'm poor

There are others, and many without Latin descriptions.


From: Justin Tilbury (justin_tilbury standardlife.com)
Subject: Caveat
Def: 1. A warning or caution. 2. A notice requesting a court to suspend a proceeding

At one of the prep schools I attended one boy used to be assigned to the door to watch for a teacher in between classes.

This was called 'keeping cave' (pronounced 'KV') and left the rest of us free to lob stuff at each other, draw inappropriate anatomies on the blackboard, and generally cause a row. But when the watchman called out "Cave!", order would rapidly be restored. At least, that was always the plan.


From: Christine Mason (formosap telkomsa.net)
Subject: caveat

This word really struck a chord: when we were free-ranging children with nothing but mischief planned, we'd always appoint someone to "keep cavey" so that we'd have enough time to escape the "big people"!


(Email of the Week - Presenting One Up! - The Perfect 10 for Mental Olympians.)
From: Jo Ann Lawlor (jal_573 yahoo.com)
Subject: caveat

Whenever I hear this word, it reminds me of Gone With the Wind. Near the end of the book, Scarlett O'Hara has decided to open a store, a general store, if I remember right. Rhett Butler, who has no illusions about his Scarlett, suggests that it should be called the Caveat Emptorium. She is delighted with this fancy-sounding name -- until she learns what it means. Then the fur flies.


From: Ilona Klein (shootingstars99 yahoo)
Subject: Latin not a dead language

Latin is still very much alive and spoken today. It is the official language of the Vatican State.

A dead language is one that's no longer learned as a native language. Latin may very well be the official language of the Vatican, but it's still a dead language. The Vatican might conduct certain rites in Latin, but they don't use it as their day-to-day language. Their website is available in seven languages and Latin is not one of them.
-Anu Garg


From: Diana Waygood (ditreas iinet.net.au)
Subject: Latin

I did Latin 101 at the University of Western Australia in 1984 and found a lot of truth in the schoolchildren's rhyme:

Latin is a dead language
As dead as dead can be,
First it killed the Romans,
And now it's killing me!


From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Thought for the day

The A THOUGHT FOR TODAY section in last Monday's AWAD was left blank. How thoughtless! It brought a ton of email from readers. A few selections:

My AWAD arrived with nothing for the "a thought for today". How Zen!
-Steven Stine (scstine comcast.net)

I really appreciated the "thought for today" for Monday. Sometimes we must take a break from the thoughts of others and listen to our own. =)
-Keilani Jacquot (keilanij hotmail.com)

Lord knows, I've had that same thought for decades. :o)
-Steve Fry (sfry state-journal.com)

In wracking my brain for several hours this morning for my thesis on a Japanese absurdist novel, "The Woman in the Dunes" I found your blank "A Thought for the Day" delightful. I actually laughed out loud at my own plight.
-Vaso Vukotic (sova.kuliana gmail.com)

Dang! I had to think for myself today. Just imagine the consequences!
-Susan McMillion (susan.mcmillion yahoo.com)

It looks like whatever you were thinking got censored.
-Marc Clerk (gmclerk axion.ca)

HA! Loved today's thought for the day! I'm afraid it's a prevailing thought for me, ergo my lovely wrinkle-free brow, but you've also given us the perfect thought for meditation. I'll be sure to hit SAVE!
-Chandler Carlson (chandler swbell.net)

What a pithy thought for today!
-Laura Story (caprockweb yahoo.com)

The importance of nothing?
-Carolanne Reynolds (gg wordsmith.org)

I missed your thought for the day. And then I thought...maybe it is refreshing to be a blank page today!
-Lori Rock (larock.namaste comcast.net)

The Thought for Today -- Blank. Empty Space. Void. Silence. Today that's just what I'll try to practise -- Nothingness.
-Devang Vaidya (dev.vaidya btinternet.com)

I actually felt something in my heart when I found no Thought for Today. I hadn't realized how much I looked forward to it each morning!
-Leslie Hobson (lesliehobson sympatico.ca)


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Often the accurate answer to a usage question begins, "It depends." And what it depends on most often is where you are, who you are, who your listeners or readers are, and what your purpose in speaking or writing is. -Kenneth G. Wilson, usage writer (b. 1923)
This week's theme
Latin terms in English

This week's words
locum
ex cathedra
de jure
ad hominem
caveat

Next week's theme
Words borrowed from various languages

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