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AWADmail Issue 521

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

This week's Email of the Week is from William Melgaard (see below), who will get a pretty cheap education as well as FREE (ONEUPMAN)SHIPPING on any of the many treasures of our Miltonic mind.

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

Vanishing Languages
National Geographic
"Different languages highlight the varieties of human experience, revealing as mutable aspects of life that we tend to think of as settled and universal, such as our experience of time, number, or color. In Tuva, for example, the past is always spoken of as ahead of one, and the future is behind one's back. 'We could never say, I'm looking forward to doing something,' a Tuvan told me. Indeed, he might say, 'I'm looking forward to the day before yesterday.' It makes total sense if you think of it in a Tuvan sort of way: If the future were ahead of you, wouldn't it be in plain view?"

The Endangered Languages Project
Google Blog

A Book-Burning Party

From: Stu Tarlowe (STarlowe earthlink.net)
Subject: sere
Def: noun: An intermediate stage or a series of stages in the ecological succession of a community; adjective: dry; withered.

I'm sure that, for many readers, the word "sere" conjures the military acronym SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (or, in the UK, "Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract").

Stu Tarlowe, Rosedale, Kansas

From: Jim McNamara (JamesEMc att.net)
Subject: Ablate
Def: verb tr.: To remove by melting, vaporizing, erosion, etc. verb intr.: To become ablated.

The moment I saw ablate as the latest AWAD, I was transported to a USAF classroom at Sheppard AFB near Wichita Falls, Texas and the year 1962. As a young airman learning how to repair launch and checkout systems for Titan I ICBMs, I was introduced to "ablative material" that was attached to the nose cone to keep that enormous bomb from vaporizing on re-entry so that it could later vaporize itself and everything else in its path.

Jim McNamara, Statham, Georgia

From: Liz Juniper (lizjuniper hotmail.com)
Subject: Back-formations

Gen Y (and younger) are fond of using the back-formation "verse" as in "Who is our team versing this week?" (in sport) -- back-formation of "versus". It hurts my ears... but I suppose I have to get used to it.

Liz Juniper, Melbourne, Australia

From: Monroe Thomas Clewis (mtc mtclex.com)
Subject: Way back

In the "Is there no limit?" category, "back-formation" has its own back-formation, "back-form" which brings to mind this nursery rhyme:

Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
And so, ad infinitum.
(The Siphonaptera)

Monroe Thomas Clewis, Los Angeles, California

From: Jan Manyfeathers (janjan92 yahoo.com)
Subject: back-formation

Our local radio station has just announced that parents must registrate their kids for summer sports camp by the end of the week.

I bet a week does not go by that I don't hear someone saying they want to just conversate with so-and-so, and the other word that gets so much abuse around here, funeralize. "When they gonna funeralize him?" "He gone be funeralized Friday." We call it word morphing here.

Jan Manyfeathers, Onley, Virginia

From: Doug Hickey (uisgue frontier.com)
Subject: chicken or egg?

In terms of evolution, the first chicken egg would have come from a (very slightly) non-chicken. Species evolve by mutating incrementally from their ancestors. So, the answer to that age-old question is the egg.

Doug Hickey, Eugene, Oregon

Email of the Week brought to you by Oneupmanship -- Winning isn't everything. Just kidding!.

From: William Melgaard (piobair mindspring.com)
Subject: the chicken or the egg

The egg obviously came first. The chicken has the identical DNA as the egg, but the egg has an unique combination of DNA from both parents, plus any incidental mutation.

And then, If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, it makes a sound (pressure wave) but it does not make a noise. Noise implies that someone passed judgment on a sound.

William Melgaard, Hampton, Virginia

From: Art Hurt (artlisahurt bellsouth.net)
Subject: Chicken or Egg?

Don't make it so complicated. The egg is first. Why? Well, you have eggs for breakfast and chicken for lunch.

Art Hurt, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Réjean Lévesque (kevel videotron.ca)
Subject: the chicken or the egg?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? "The chicken probably came before the egg because it is hard to imagine God wanting to sit on an egg." (author unknown)

Réjean Lévesque, Quebec, Canada

Who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since, while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding, and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient; that he, whose design includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not understand. -Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784) --_----------=_1213667412307430--
Jun 24, 2012
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