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AWADmail Issue 435A 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)
Tibetans in China Protest Proposed Curbs on Their Language
'Haitch' or 'aitch'? How do you pronounce 'H'?
From: Carol Freeman (cfreeman forsythtech.edu)
This word sent me running back to John Ciardi's Second Browser's Dictionary (c. 1983), where he appends this note after the definition of ventriloquism:
"Historic. Early witch doctors must have mastered ventriloquism as an art of mystification, as still practiced by Eskimo, African, and Polynesian witch doctors, the geographical distribution indicating the antiquity of the practice. The priests of various oracles and idols used ventriloquism to make their voices sound as if from the sacred object. The true art, I suspect, lay not so much in the practice of this fraud, but in the priests' ability to believe the fraud was divinely directed."
That last sentence always gave me chills.
From: Joe Fleischman (jfleischman wbcm.com)
In reading Peter Mere Latham's quotation, "Poisons and medicine are oftentimes the same substance given with different intents", my thoughts went immediately to the anti-coagulant medication Coumadin. When my father-in-law was taking this medication, I was quite surprised to learn it was actually a medical version of the rat poison, Warfarin.
Whereas the poison version is intended to kill by promoting internal bleeding in its victims, the medical version is intended to save lives by preventing blood clots through carefully controlled dosage.
From: Chris Weaver (chrweave gmail.com)
Paracelsus, the famous renaissance physician is regarded as the father of toxicology. Perhaps his most famous quotation is:
"All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous." ("Alle Ding' sind Gift, und nichts ohn' Gift; allein die Dosis macht, daß ein Ding kein Gift ist.")
Email of the Week - (Sponsored by Smart Pills - Ignorance can be cured.)
From: Chris Shea (cshea medicine.bsd.uchicago.edu)
Def: Divination by the letters of a name.
"Some parents name their children after careful consideration of onomancy to assure the best possible future for them."
A great example of this notion is set forth in "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman" by Laurence Sterne. The hapless hero's father intends that his son shall receive the most powerful and fortunate name, Trismegistus ("thrice-greatest"), but through a misunderstanding he gets stuck with the woeful name Tristram ("sad").
From: Kate Karp (doowopqueen yahoo.com)
Dionne Warwick went through this -- she either dropped or added the e at the end of her name. Don't know how much good it did. Roger McGuinn of the Byrds was born as Jim McGuinn. He tells the story at his concerts of how he decided that Jim just didn't fit him and he wanted something extraordinary. He was practicing an Eastern religion at the time, and his guru told him that he felt a vibe from the letter R. He asked McGuinn to come up with a name with that initial consonant that resounded with his passion. McGuinn adored space travel and science fiction (check out the Byrds' clever "Mr. Spaceman"), so he thought up things like robot, rocket, rrrrrrrrrr, and roger, the latter being the radio call for "received and understood". After all the mishegoss about wanting something out of the ordinary, the guru advised Roger so that he'd be taken somewhat seriously. I don't know whether that gave him the psychic boost he needed -- that came from talent and maybe a few other little elements -- but it sure was some oddly humorous version of karma.
From: Rudy Rosenberg Sr (RRosenbergSr accuratechemical.com)
My father was born in Poland and his name was Rozenberg. When he arrived in Belgium where I was born, the name was changed to Rosenberg that was pronounced as if it still had the "Z". (Is there a term for when the S is S and when it turns into a Z?)
When I arrived in the USA back in 1949, my name was routinely pronounced with the Zee and always sounded "RoZenberg". In recent years and more and more, telephone operators and solicitors now pronounce my name with the ss sound. Thus I am becoming "Rosssenberg" This gives me an immediate clue that the person at the other end is Hispanic. The change from being Rozenberg to the new Rosssenberg does not please me. Is there a term for that new pronunciation twist?
Have other readers experienced similar changes recently?
From: Lucie Singh (lmsingh aol.com)
Misomiso - the hatred of Japanese soup
From: Hope Bucher (hopebucher gmail.com)
Having grown up in "The Hamptons", I was made aware at an early age of the importance of the Social Register -- the list of names and addresses of prominent American families who form the social elite.
At the time, I lacked the proper nomenclature but now, with the encouragement of this week's AWAD, I will create "onomatolatry" for the worship of names in this pretentious compilation.
From: Alfredo Cruz (alfredo.cruz rrd.com)
This is rather obvious, I know. I should even be ashamed, but temptation was too much to resist. Thanks for the fun!
From: F.J. Bergmann (demiurge fibitz.com)
A reader sent you incorrect information: "There is a certain gene affecting coat color in dogs, which causes a mottled pattern overlying the basic color. In most breeds it is called merle, but the Great Dane breeders call it harlequin." In Great Danes, harlequin is white-and-black spotted, like a piebald horse. Merle is a blue-gray base color with smaller black or darker gray spots. Merle is not accepted as a show dog color, but harlequin is.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Our expression and our words never coincide, which is why the animals don't understand us. -Malcolm De Chazal, writer and painter (1902-1981)