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AWADmail Issue 469A 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 Evelyn Falkenstein (see below), who will get the Uppityshirt of her choice, and there's a heck of a selection.
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Dan Hope (dan.hope icg-uk.org)
Anyone reading any of R. Scott Bakkers "Prince of Nothing"/"the Aspect Emperor" series of books would recognise the name Golgotterath instantly. As Bakker is known for his love of words and language, many of his other place names and people have strong meanings behind their roots, and this seems no different; Golgotterath was no doubt a place of extreme suffering, as armies crashed against its walls and prisoners were chained, netted, and gored on its gargantuan walls (maybe even crucified; ah! meaning come in droves!).
Dan Hope, Stourbridge, UK
From: Gary McCalden (gary.mccalden intecgroup.com.au)
Here in Adelaide, South Australia, we have a hospital called Calvary. Based on the first definition, I sincerely hope it doesn't live up to its name.
Gary McCalden, Adelaide, Australia
From: Evelyn Falkenstein (evfalkenstein yahoo.com)
In France, the word calvaire is used all the time as in, "O, O, c'était le calvaire, le calvaire, je te dis!" and everyone knows "it" was a miserable experience, even those who have not been anywhere near the physical object since they were seven.
Evelyn Falkenstein, Davis, California
From: Sam Boskey (sboskey total.net)
In Québec French, where much profanity is based on religious rather than scatalogical terminology, "calvaire" is a common all-purpose expression used to denote frustration, dissatisfaction, etc.
Sam Boskey, Montreal, Canada
From: Robin Brown (RobinBrown knology.net)
My local newscasters cannot distinguish between calvary and cavalry. So when the local armored division of our US troops deploy it is always reported that the Calvary is leaving for Iraq, Afghanistan, or whatever. Drives me crazy.
Robin Brown, Knoxville, Tennessee
From: Lorie Vallejo (loredith_joy yahoo.com)
One of the most notable details in Douglas Adams's book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the existence of the babel fish, a small, yellow, leech-like creature, which, when a person sticks it into his ear, enables him to instantly understand everything said to him in any form of language. The babel fish is a universal translator which simultaneously translates one spoken language to another.
It was not a good thing for the main character, Arthur Dent, when he had a babel fish in his ear while a Vogon recited poetry. Vogons are popular for being poetasters.
Lorie Vallejo, Manila, Philippines
From Beverly Smith (bevjsmith earthlink.net)
Your love and presentation of words is a daily wonder for us, and I can never thank you properly for A.Word.A.Day. But today's word, babel, brought to my 80-year-old mind... Isaac Babel. After setting out to read ALL the classics (yes, har-har!), having gotten pretty well along, I only recently discovered Isaac Babel. He is so superior a writer, that it took me ages to learn what it was he did (yes, another har-har!) -- which was to work and work at making everything as clear and event-imaging as he could. I am totally in love with him, and recently heard his superior "You Must Know Everything" read on NPR.
Beverly Smith, Cottonwood, Arizona
From: Betsy Rosenberg (betsy netvision.net.il)
I first heard the word aceldama while performing as a chorus member in the operetta "Patience" with the Oberlin Gilbert and Sullivan company. Bunthorne, the parodic pre-Raphaelite poet character (played then by the great actor John Lithgow) recites:
"Oh to be wafted away
From this black aceldama of sorrow
Where the dust of an earthy today
Is the earth of a dusty ---- tomorrow"
I loved that, but it was only thirty years later, here in Jerusalem where I live, that somebody pointed out the actual Aceldama to me, a mere ten-minute walk from my house.
Betsy Rosenberg, Jerusalem, Israel
From: Tim Johnson (tjohnson0610 gmail.com)
Friday's thought of the day has become dated.
It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English -- up to fifty words used in correct context -- no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.
-Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)
See this article.
Tim Johnson, Evergreen Park, Illinois
From: Barbara Hertenstein (bhertenstein yahoo.com)
Re: the dolphin quotation, here is an interesting thought from author Douglas Adams:
"...on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars, and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons."
Barbara Hertenstein, Lebanon, Illinois
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Cut these words and they would bleed; they are vascular and alive; they walk and run. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)