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AWADmail Issue 450

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

This week's Email of the Week is from Ranadurjay Talukdar (see below), who will receive the Uppityshirt of his choice - and there's a heck of a selection.


From: Harshita Yalamarty (esperante.hash gmail.com)
Subject: dyspeptic
Def: 1. Relating to or suffering from dyspepsia (indigestion). 2. Having a bad temper; gloomy; irritable. noun: One suffering from dyspepsia.

The song Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (video) has a line that goes "Couldn't eat/ was dyspeptic/ life was so hard to bear." It was always such a jarring visual (because I just can't dissociate 'dyspepsia' from the bright pink Digene tablets) in a song that was in any case recounting the uncomfortable things about being in love.

I should add the line that rhymes with the above one in the song, it's equally visual and quite hilarious - "Now my heart's antiseptic/ since you moved out of there."

Harshita Yalamarty, New Delhi, India


Email of the Week - (Brought to you by Smart Pills - The Perfect Cure for Stupidity.)

From: Ranadurjay Talukdar (ranadurjay gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--dyspeptic

Interestingly, Pepsi was originally marketed as a drink to cure dyspepsia, hence the name "Pepsi".

Ranadurjay Talukdar, Kolkata, India


From: Jason Kornelis (jsnkrnls dordt.edu)
Subject: Dyspepsia

The online text-based RPG "Kingdom of Loathing", which treats wit and wordplay as the basic building blocks of the English language, includes "Dyspepsi-Cola" as a usable item.

Jason Kornelis, Sioux Center, Iowa


From: Sonja Gross (SMHeinze2 aol.com)
Subject: This week's words

Seriously, I'd have a coronary if I learned people I work with subscribed to AWAD. If they did, I probably wouldn't be so dyspeptic.

Sonja Gross, Amarillo, Texas


From: Colette Monier-Coughlin (cmonier taggl.com)
Subject: tetchy
Def: Easily annoyed; oversensitive.

Being a Pittsburgher, I've been accused of using "Pittsburghese" when I've used tetchy in a sentence (instead of touchy). It was considered similar to using "chimley" for chimney or "sammich" for sandwich. Nice to be vindicated!

Colette Monier-Coughlin, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


From: Marilyn Waggoner (marilynjo ma.rr.com)
Subject: tetchy - origin uncerain?

My father's family always used this word in place of "touchy" so I am somewhat perplexed that the origin is not the same as the word "touchy". I always thought they were merely "hickifying" the more recognizable English word. Am I wrong?

Marilyn Waggoner, Terre Haute, Indiana

Many readers wrote about the origins of this word. Some guessed it was from a southern US variant of the word touchy. Others figured it may have come from the Yorkshire dialect of English (northern England). It's one of those words we are not 100% sure about, but indications are that the word touchy is a variant of tetchy (not the other way) under influence from the word touch. The OED lists the earliest recorded use for tetchy from 1597, while touchy is from 1605.
-Anu Garg


From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Subject: Valetudinarian
Def: A weak or sickly person, especially one who is constantly or overly worried about his or her health.

Not, of course, to be confused with "valedictorian". Interesting to note that while the morpheme "vale" confers a sense of "well" to the latter word, to the former it contributes rather the opposite sense of ill, i.e., as health that one is constantly worrying about not possessing.

M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden


From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: dyspeptic

The "Thought for the Day" in the Feb 6 AWAD issue was a very good one and fitting for our shut-in status caused by all the snow. It was by a man I'd not heard of -- Jerome K. Jerome.

Seeing his name reminded me of Ford Madox Ford and I wondered if there is a word for people whose first and last names are the same. So I googled both persons together. Didn't find a word describing this phenomenon but did find this wonderful poem:

Said Jerome K. Jerome to Ford Madox Ford,
'There's something, old boy, that I've always abhorred:
When people address me and call me 'Jerome',
Are they being standoffish, or too much at home?'
Said Ford, 'I agree; It's the same thing with me.'
-Cole, William
'Mutual Problem', collected in The Oxford Book of American Light Verse (1979).

Other than Major Major Major from "Catch 22" and the pianist, Lang Lang, who else (famous) can you think of with repeated first/last names? (William Carlos Williams doesn't quite qualify...)

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

The word tautonym http://wordsmith.org/words/tautonym.html is used for the scientific names in which the genus and the species names are the same, e.g. Gorilla gorilla. Why not use the same word for Jerome K. Jerome and Ford M. Ford too?
-Anu Garg


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground. -Noah Webster, lexicographer (1758-1843)
Feb 13, 2011
This week's theme
Words to describe people

This week's words
dyspeptic
caitiff
tetchy
valetudinarian
reticent

Next week's theme
Polysemantic words

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