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AWADmail Issue 454A 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 Thomas Blair (see below), who will now have enough intellectual soup in the can, so-to-speak, to One Up! all his friends and enemies with impunity.
From: Roberta M. Eisenberg (bobbi alumni.nd.edu)
I have a widget on my computer that brings me a painting every day from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. So yesterday's word was corniche and by a big coincidence, today's painting is Monet's La Corniche.
Roberta M. Eisenberg, New York
From: Steven Patterson (pattersons allentownsd.org)
Corvidae has contributed other words to the construction industry. Corbel is a supporting bracket, a crowbar is a prybar with a notch for pulling nails, and though less species-linked, the bird's mouth is a notch applied to a rafter to accommodate the supporting wall beneath.
Steven Patterson, Allentown, Pennsylvania
From: Jim Burns (indybones shaw.ca)
This word visually reminds me of the word "cornice" (KOR-niss), the architectural term for sculptural detail at a wall-ceiling interface in a room, or for the sculpted overhang just below the eaves of a building. Some examples of both may have a beak-like appearance, as you suggest. Cornices on early 20th-century buildings are quite common in my home town of Winnipeg. Skiers are familiar, too, with beak-like snow cornices in the mountains. To what feature, then, does the term "corniche" refer in the name of the Rolls Royce Corniche automobile? Its front end is hardly beak-like. Perhaps it is a (road-)cut above the rest?
Jim Burns, Edmonton, Canada
From: Jahn Curran (viator xmission.com)
As an American, who studied French, I was surprised the first time I arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to see the popular coastal road called the "Corniche" when I knew that it was NOT a road cut into the cliff ... but as I traveled to other Middle Eastern countries (Dubai, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Oman, etc) and they all had a road called "the Corniche" which often had elaborate outdoor sculptures, restaurants, or were lined with palm trees, I was reminded that just as we in English have borrowed many words from other languages and made them our own, so too had the Arabs. Your word of the day brought back pleasant memories, and I went back to my photo albums to revisit the "corniches" that I had known.
Jahn Curran, Salt Lake City, Utah
From: David (morganfrost yahoo.com)
Ironic, is it not, that the dog is almost certainly the least cynical member of any household?
David Frost, Silver Spring, Maryland
From: E. Cox (ellen.cox maritz.com)
It would seem that the modern definition of a cynic is quite different from the original. Exactly when did it become entirely pejorative? As one who tends to cynicism, I like the following...
Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those
who have not got it.
E. Cox, St. Louis, Missouri
From: Sandi Raub (sandra_raub yahoo.com)
Aegis is the name for the weapons system used by the US Navy, as well as several other navies worldwide. Named for Zeus's shield, it uses powerful computers and radars to track and guide weapons to enemy targets.
Sandi Raub, New Milford, Pennsylvania
Email of the Week - (Sponsored by One Up! - The Dumbed-Up Word Game.)
From: Thomas Blair (trwblair gmail.com)
Subject: Calvert Watkins on aegis
The great linguist Calvert Watkins has traced the aegis historically as a sort of sacred satchel carried in battle (which really makes more sense given the material). Since learning that, every time I hear the word aegis, I think "goatskin bag", which brings some lightness to the word's grandiose uses. (On the other hand, Watkins also discusses the likelihood that the golden fleece and the aegis are in fact the same thing.)
Thomas Blair, San Francisco, California
From: Alexa DiNicola (photosynthetic.430 gmail.com)
The word pedigree has one more meaning as a scientific and medical term. It refers to a particular type of chart used to track traits either known or suspected to be genetic. Pedigrees are useful tools for studying the genetics of a particular trait, particularly in organisms -- especially humans -- where it isn't possible to selectively breed for the trait of interest. Wikipedia has a quick introduction to the use of pedigrees, and the NIH's digitized textbooks include a more thorough one . Here's a good example of diagnostic pedigree use, coupled with a short guide to using them.
Alexa DiNicola, Columbus, Ohio
From: Vaughn Hathaway (pastorvonh bellsouth.net)
I've always enjoyed AWAD since being given a gift subscription by one of my sons. But, occasionally you come out with an exceptional post even when the word of the day is rather mundane. Thank you.
Vaughn Hathaway, Charlotte, North Carolina
From: Marian Ely Bo Ward (marianboward gmail.com)
My elderly aunt, Patty Getz, has published a quarterly newsletter with all the news on her huge and wide-spread family for many years -- you can guess by now what it's called? The Getzette, of course!
Marian Ely Bo Ward, Indianapolis, Indiana
From: Kenneth Brodey (kbrodey alice.it)
Thanks for the lovely animal words! I think the guess about the origin of gazette is a good one -- to wit, the Venetian news sheet cost one gazeta. Today there is an Italian newspaper il Resto del Carlino, whose name means 'the change from the "carlino" -- an old Italian coin'. It's like saying with the pocket change from your euro, dollar, or carlino, you can buy our paper.
Kenneth Brodey, Lombardia, Italy
From: Raphael Barousse, OSB (raphbar catholic.org)
In the etymology for gazette it is mentioned that the paper may have been named for its price, the Venetian coin, a gazeta. The New Orleans daily newspaper, The Times Picayune, was indeed named after its price, a small French coin, a picayune.
Raphael Barousse, St. Benedict, Louisiana
From: Michael Rohr (michael_rohr_ab61 post.harvard.edu)
The quotation from Plutarch is not original with him. As he acknowledges (Moralia, On Superstition 166C), he's quoting from Heraclitus (fragment 89 DK = VI Kahn). And while Plutarch is best known as a biographer, he was equally well known in antiquity as a philosophical essayist. The quotation from Heraclitus appears in his essay on superstition, in which he argues that a superstitious religion is worse than atheism.
From: Eric Shackle (eric.shackle gmail.com)
The leafy sea dragons you mentioned will be featured in a festival in South Australia next month. For more details, see here.
Eric Shackle, Sydney, Australia
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Men ever had, and ever will have leave, / To coin new words well suited to the age, / Words are like leaves, some wither every year, / And every year a younger race succeeds. -Horace, poet and satirist (65-8 BCE)
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