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AWADmail Issue 483

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

Eponyms on National Public Radio
National Public Radio

Monkeys Also Reason Through Analogy

Email of the Week - (Brought to you by One Up! - Are you wicked/smart?)

From: Anita Hajdu (anita.hajdu arcor.de)
Subject: Boswell

In the German language there is a pendant to Boswell. Johann Peter Eckermann (1792-1845) helped Goethe prepare the publication of his last works, noted the conversation with him, and published them under the title "Conversation with Goethe in the last years of his life". Eckermann's name is now becoming an eponym, i.e. it is possible to say of somebody in a similar situation, that he is the Eckermann of a certain person.

Anita Hajdu, Cologne, Germany

From: Srinivas Shastri (shastrix gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--boswell

At the start of the foreword by Aldous Huxley to The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna we read:

In the history of the arts, genius is a thing of very rare occurrence. Rarer still, however, are the competent reporters and recorders of that genius. The world has had many hundreds of admirable poets and philosophers; but of these hundreds only a very few have had the fortune to attract a Boswell or an Eckermann.

Srinivas Shastri, Bangalore, India

From: Don Williams (don.williams park.edu)
Subject: schlemiel

Thanks for this word and its accompanying schlimazel. I heard these every week in the Laverne and Shirley sitcom theme song many years ago but never knew what they meant. They certainly described, as they were supposed to, the two characters in the program.

Don Williams, Kansas City, Missouri

From: Mary Jo David (MaryJo writeawayent.com)
Subject: You say schlemiel...I say schlimazel!

You can't choose a word like schlemiel as the word of the day without acknowledging the 1970s sitcom Laverne and Shirley. The wrap-up to their theme song included the two of them chanting the following as they skipped down the sidewalk: "Schlemiel, schlimazel, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated." I went searching the web before sending this to make sure my memory was serving me correctly, and admittedly, it was not! All these years since watching that show as a teen, I assumed they were saying "Schlemiel, schlimazel, Hots and Pepper, Incorporated." (I think I like my version more!) [see mondegreen] Thanks for dredging up some fond memories.

Mary Jo David, Plymouth, Michigan

From: Boruch Negin (boruch gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--schlemiel

There is a third part to your note on the schlemiel and the schlimazel: the nudnik wants to know which type of soup it was.

Boruch Negin, Brooklyn, New York

From: Veronika Tasic (veronikatasic gmail.com)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--quisling

Your example for the usage of this word is very inappropriate. Zoran Djindjic was the first democratically elected Mayor of Belgrade, Serbia, and one of leading figures who worked to benefit the country ridden by wars, hyperinflation, poverty, and increasing social injustice. In 2003, while serving as Prime Minister, he was assassinated by the same people who drove Serbia into poverty and misery. He will be remembered as a hero.

Veronika Tasic, Serbia

From: Jennifer Herring (luvpumpkns hotmail.com)
Subject: quisling

I was so excited to see this word, as I thought it had been invented by a modern author! In the novel World War Z (a novel about a zombie apocalypse), Max Brooks uses the word quisling to refer to human beings who can't mentally handle said zombie apocalypse and pretend to be zombies themselves to cope.

One of the narrators of the novel notes that it's difficult to tell quislings from the real thing, since they attack people and smell as badly as if they were zombies themselves. How much fun it was to learn this word's true definition. Thanks again!

Jennifer Herring, Aiken, South Carolina

From: Remak Ramsay (remak rcn.com)
Subject: augean

I remember the nominating speech for Dwight Eisenhower at the Republican convention in the summer of 1952, made by then Maryland governor Theodore McKeldin who said of Ike: "He is a fighting man who will sweep away the stench and stigma of the Augean stables of the Washington administration on inauguration day." McKeldin was a deliciously flowery orator and you could tell how he loved the alliteration of stench, stigma, and stables when he rolled it off. It was a terrific political speech.

Remak Ramsay, New York, New York

From: Rudy Chelminski (rudychel gmail.com)
Subject: euphemism (Re: Augean)

You're doing a disservice to newcomers to classical images by euphemistically describing horse shit as compost. Couldn't you at least have written manure? (I know that much of it would have degraded to compost after a long period without cleaning, but that's missing the intent and force of the image...)

Rudy Chelminski, Fontainebleau, France

From: Doug Dorsey (doug.dorsey architect-on-duty.com)
Subject: celadon

My friend made the following comments regarding the word celadon:

This is very interesting. Seladon (same historical roots) is, in Eastern Europe countries and regions such as Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, used as noun addressing a male person with "love of looking good", fashionista. Interesting is how the word could acquire such a different meaning from the same roots. Maybe now is the time for a new CSI television show spin-off called "LSI - linguistic-forensics".

Lubomir Dzamba, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Doug Dorsey, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

From: Laszlo Rakoczi (lrakoczi t-online.hu)
Subject: Celadon

Besides the meanings you mentioned, in Hungary we use Celadon in everyday speech as an admirer of females, a romantic lover, or a petticoat-chaser young man.

Laszlo Rakoczi, Budapest, Hungary

From: Eric Shackle (ericshackle bigpond.com)
Subject: Eponyms

Could Mapother be another eponym? Thomas Cruise Mapother IV is the real name of the American film actor and director Tom Cruise. His father was Thomas Cruise Mapother III. His great-grandfather, Thomas Cruise O'Mara, was adopted by a Welsh immigrant and renamed Thomas Cruise Mapother. For more details, see Nimble Nonagenarians.

Eric Shackle, Sydney, Australia

"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra." -Lewis Carroll, mathematician and writer (1832-1898)

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