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AWADmail Issue 465

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

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

Robots Invent Their Own Spoken Language

As Slang Changes More Rapidly, Expert Has to Watch His Language
The Wall Street Journal

From: Lorie Vallejo (loredith_joy yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: reactionary
Def: adjective: Opposed to change, progress, or reform; extremely conservative. noun: An opponent of change, progress, or reform.

As a Toyota employee, I can say that a reactionary would definitely have a hard time working in our company. Change is not just welcomed -- it is encouraged!

One of the company's pillars is "Continuous Improvement", which manifests the Japanese philosophy of kaizen or "change for the better".

No matter how small a kaizen effort delivers, it is appreciated in the workplace because when small improvements accumulate, they yield large results.

Lorie Vallejo, Manila, Philippines

From: Dan Hoffman (guayiya bellsouth.net)
Subject: reactionary

In political science, a conservative resists future progress, while a reactionary wants to undo progress already made.

Dan Hoffman, Charlotte, North Carolina

From: Marc Chelemer (mchelemer att.com)
Subject: concupiscent
Def: Lustful; libidinous.

I first came across this word in the poem The Emperor of Ice Cream by Wallace Stevens, early 20th century American poet disguised as an insurance executive. As was typical, he interwove wonderful vocabulary and powerful images to tell his story in spare beautiful language.

Marc Chelemer, Tenafly, New Jersey

From: Allen Billington (ruth60al comcast.net)
Subject: concupiscent

The word concupiscent brought back fond memories of my father, American frontier historian Ray Allen Billington, whose hobby was collecting and writing limericks. On page 78 of his Limericks Historical and Hysterical (published posthumously by W.W. Norton in 1981), can be found:

Quoth a comely young lady from Norway
As she hung by her heels in a doorway,
"Although I'm proficient
In arts concupiscent
Thank God, I've discovered one more way."

It was one of his favorites.

Allen Billington, Fort Collins, Colorado

From: Rudy Rosenberg (rudyrr att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--concupiscent

In our Latin classes, back in Belgium, we used to titter, pronouncing "con cu(l) piss sent" To the great distress of Monsieur Barbier, our Latin teacher.

Rudy Rosenberg, Westbury, New York

From: John Carlson (jtcarl2 comcast.net)
Subject: concupiscent

"He was concupiscent as a rabbit and gentle as hell." -John Steinbeck describing Doc in Cannery Row.

John Carlson, Bosque, New Mexico

Email of the Week - (Brought to you by Comeuppance - Just Desserts in a Can.)

From: Jenni Herring (luvpumpkns hotmail.com)
Subject: callow
Def: Inexperienced or immature.

My first experience with this word was when I was 16, and watched a Kevin Smith movie for the first time. Known for his witty dialogue, he offered the following for callow, as two friends discuss the break-up letter one of their girlfriends wrote:

T.S.: Woah, she calls you 'callow' in here.
Brodie: You say that like it's bad.
T.S.: It means frightened and weak-willed.
Brodie: S***. That was the only part of the letter that I thought was complimentary.

Imagine my surprise to see the real definition -- immature. Fits Brodie to a tee. Thanks!

Jenni Herring, Aiken, South Carolina

From: Rachel Matthews (bruniquel sbcglobal.net)
Subject: callow

The first off-Broadway show I attended (when I was about eight) was The Fantasticks. According to my mother, I tried to get as close as I could to the stage, inching down the aisle on my tush. I apparently sat spellbound for the entire production. I don't remember getting out of my seat, but I do remember the play. My mother's favorite song from the production is "Try to Remember", which includes the lines

"Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow..."

Sweet... thanks for reminding me!

Rachel Matthews, Austin, Texas

From: Roy Flacco (roy wdcc.com)
Subject: Feedback

I subscribed to A.Word.A.Day over ten years ago, largely for the benefit of my daughter who was then 7 1/2 years old and growing a great vocabulary. Now she is about to graduate from high school with high honors, and I would say that A.Word.A.Day has materially contributed to her outstanding command of the English language.

Roy Flacco, Brooktondale, New York

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go. -William Shakespeare, playwright and poet (1564-1616)

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