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AWADmail Issue 662

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

Sponsor’s Message: “Old’s Cool” sums up our philosophy of life in a neat little turn of phrase. Look at what this UP-i-tee shirt is saying loud and clear: Common sense. Nerve. Backbone. Self-reliance. Perseverance. Old school with a shot of wry, served neat. We’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Carolina Amoruso (see below), as well as all AARP AWADers the TODAY-ONLY sale price of $20 -- so why not flaunt your charming lack of political correctness with wit and style, and a little grit to boot?


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

How Rhythm Shapes the Way We Use and Understand Language
The Guardian
WebCite

Can Hip Hop Save Endangered Languages?
Lingua Obscura
WebCite

National Grammar Day: Stop Fighting the “Good” Fight
harm·less drudg·ery
WebCite


From: Scott Davis (scottdavis3 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parastatal

Today’s word brings to mind one of my favourite terms, Quango: quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization.

Scott Davis, Halifax, Canada


From: April Gornik (artnik pipeline.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parastatal

How about a government wholly or party owned by companies, like the USA?

April Gornik, North Haven, New York


From: Michael Redepenning (mredepenningjr gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--parastatal

I have the perfect word for tomorrow! The only problem is that it’s German.
Erdbeergelee n. Strawberry Jello

Michael Redepenning, Amberley, New Zealand


From: Milan Schonberger (milan.schonberger sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Defervescence

A very touching and effective defervescence scene is so skillfully shown in the Academy-Award-winning Czech film Kolya. While Klára helps Kolya, who suffers very high fever, to defervesce, her love for Louka, the boy’s stepfather, grows more ardent. (video, 4 min.)

Milan Schonberger, Los Angeles, California


From: Steven Stine (scstine1672 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--imprimis

In the spirit of playing Devil’s Advocate, I would like to offer a contrary opinion to Wednesday’s quotation.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY (4 March 2015):
It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man!
-George Gamow, physicist and cosmologist (4 Mar 1904-1968)

CONTRARY OPINION:
If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world’s age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man’s share of that age. [Would anybody] perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for?
-Mark Twain, author (1835-1910) “Was the World Made for Man?”

Steven Stine, Highland Park, Illinois


From: Gloria Dumas (dumaswitsend aol.com)
Subject: tumulus

Probably adding to others from the US Pacific Northwest, we know the Mima mounds “tumuli” but are really the leavings of giant prehistoric gophers!

Gloria Dumas, Port Orchard, Washington


Email of the Week (Old’s Cool is old school -- With a shot of wry, served neat.)

From: Carolina Amoruso (a2awee verizon.net)
Subject: poltroon

In Italian a “poltrona” is an easy chair. The image, of course, is just dropping oneself into it after a hard day at the soccer stadium. “Poltrona” gave rise some years ago to “poltroneria” or the slothful disengagement from the world especially Italian political life and is associated with TV watching. You might say it’s a not-too-distant cousin of couch potatoism closer to home.

Carolina Amoruso, Jackson Heights, New York


From: Scott Wagner (scott.wagner.ny gmail.com)
Subject: Saturday AWAD?

Given a sixth quasi-vowel in the English language, will you slyly stymy thy rhythm with a Satyrday tryst, or will you snub poor “Y” as unworthy?

Scott Wagner, Rochester, New York


From: Richard Mott Pearce (rmottpearce outlook.com)
Subject: This week’s words

One of my favourite words that might fit your list this week is syzygy. My father was an astrophysicist and taught me this word when I was a boy. Now at 79, your words this week brought back a fond memory.

Richard Mott Pearce, Tsawwassen, Canada


From: Doug Peterson (dopeter rei.com)
Subject: Words using only one of the vowels

This week’s theme reminds me of a game we play around the campfire. We take a traditional nursery rhyme and try to come up with a version that is inspired by the original but is made entirely of words using only one of the vowels. We call it a Single Vowel Nursery Rhyme. For example, if the original rhyme is:

Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go

Then the Single Vowel Nursery Rhyme could be:

Jojo owns two bold old dogs
Two dogs of color brown
Both dogs follow Jojo so
Two old dogs go to town

Doug Peterson, Kent, Washington


From: Bob Stein (stein visibone.com)
Subject: Words using only one of the vowels

Can it ever be writ? A paragraph, or even a sentence, where all words in it own, how shall I say it, a solo soft letter. I do not know! It is hard! But mebbe.

Bob Stein, Lyme, New Hampshire


From: Geoffrey Wildanger (edward_wildanger brown.edu)
Subject: This Week’s Words

This week’s word of the day theme reminds me of the great writer Georges Perec. For those who are unfamiliar, Perec was among the members of the French literary movement Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle), which pioneered the use of constraint-based writing. One of Perec’s most famous books is La Disparition, which is a detective novel written entirely without any words in which the letter “e” is used, and without deviating from standard orthography. As in French, “e” is the most common vowel in English, and the novel has been successfully translated into English as A Void. The oulipians refer to this rule as a lipogram. This week might best be thought of, however, as an experiment in univocalics. That is, a text in which, again without deviating from standard orthography, only one vowel is used. Perec accomplished this in French in his text What A Man, however, my favorite example is by the Canadian writer Christian Bök, whose Eunoia is organized around five univocalic chapters.

Geoffrey Wildanger, Providence, Rhode Island


From: John Noll (john coastal-mktg.com)
Subject: This week’s vowel theme

This Week’s theme reminded me of a recent crossword clue: aioli, e.g.
Answer: vowels.

John Noll, San Ramon, California


From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

If you’re sick in a clinic parastatal,
Defervescence can make it less fatal.
So imprimis, act soon!
Be not a poltroon.
Vaccines zap bugs when they’re prenatal.

-Greg Holmes, Louisville, Kentucky (gregholmes2100 gmail.com)

When his doctors proclaimed defervescence
The monarch began convalescence
The dukes were relieved
The prince a bit peeved
But it meant nothing much to the peasants.

-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The judge declared, “Imprimis,
the court has come to see, Miss,
you hit the man
and then you ran,
and left him in extremis.”

-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When injecting a poltroon named Dick
The nurse said “It’s just a small prick!”
He said “Yes I know
But soon it will grow
And I’ve been told that I’m really quite thick!”

-Bob Thompson, New Plymouth, New Zealand (bobtee xtra.co.nz)

The Anthropologist felt great,
On her discovery, first rate.
Said she, “That tumulus,
Hides a fine tomb to us.
Dig we must, I simply can’t wait.”

-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words. -William H. Gass, writer and professor (b. 1924)

Mar 8, 2015
This week’s theme
Words using a single vowel

This week’s words
parastatal
defervescence
imprimis
poltroon
tumulus

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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