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AWADmail Issue 685

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

Sponsor’s Message:
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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

The British Library is Crowdsourcing the Translation of a Mysterious 13th-Century Sword Inscription
Quartz
WebCite

Swarms, Floods, and Marauders: the Toxic Metaphors of the Migration Debate
The Guardian
WebCite


From: Fred Bach (cyclotrons hotmail.ca)
Subject: Roman Saturnalia

The Saturnalia is also where many Christmas practices came from, including the 25 of December where the return of the Sun was a big deal. Pagan celebration.

Fred Bach, Delta, Canada


From: Mark McNamara (spinmeayarn hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--saturnalia

When we here in Australia have a party, we tend to “party hard” and the word Saturnalia often comes to mind. It’s little wonder that whenever I see this word, I always see its anagram: Australian.

Mark McNamara, Brisbane, Australia


From: Jeanette Ertel (jeanertel gmail.com)
Subject: Astronomy

I agree that it would be an advantage if our legislators (and the rest of us) took time to study astronomy. Thank you very much for making this point. And thanks for the resource suggestions. I wish I had had a good dish of astronomy early in my high school education diet. By the time we are teens we should have a sense of our planet’s place in the universe. With all the current space exploration, it is increasingly significant that our schools teach astronomy.

What’s more, besides the question of astronomy being a worthy subject, I believe people ambitious to have power-holding roles in government should be required to pass exams in any subjects that would suggest they have an understanding of how best to help a democracy function. Included in these tests might be questions for them to answer on the issue of integrating immigrants to their and our benefit. There might also be questions on the historic use of basic science in making best use of our resources and keeping our infrastructure safe and sound; on the importance of various transportation systems and how best to help realize their usefulness; on our record of economic booms and busts and what might provide the way to employment for the most people; on the importance of ongoing genuine civil debates and how they might be encouraged; on the candidate’s understanding of philosophy’s formation of ideas, as well as a grasp of astronomy.

Jeanette Ertel, Chicago, Illinois


Email of the Week (Grit. Integrity. Courage. Authenticity. BUY into “Old’s Cool” TODAY.)

From: Evan Hazard (eehazard paulbunyan.net)
Subject: Astronomy 101

“I would make an Astronomy 101 course mandatory for everyone, especially for those running for office. That may not happen any time soon, but a small step would be to replace astrology columns in newspapers and magazines with an astronomy one.”

Also, a freshman (non PC!) course in evolutionary biology / general ecology would be good. As to columns, The Bemidji Pioneer has the mandatory Horoscope, which they pay for, and a monthly “Northland Stargazing”, which I write for free.

Evan Hazard, Bemidji, Minnesota


From: Hope Bucher (hopebucher gmail.com)
Subject: Appreciation of astronomy

Being retired scientists, my husband and I decided to watch a 30-minute lecture every day while eating lunch. Several years ago we completed a 96-lecture course in Astronomy and became so enthusiastic about the subject that we joined our local Astronomy Club. At one of the meetings we were taught how to make a device that would allow us to safely view the transit of Venus. On the evening of the event we had the privilege of seeing it through the members’ sophisticated telescopes. The thrill of the experience reminded us of one of our favorite Albert Einstein quotations: “The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.”

Hope Bucher, Naperville, Illinois


From: Clive Hook (clive.hook clearworth.com)
Subject: Meteoric rises in our UK culture

It’s interesting to note that, in UK English, a meteoric rise always seems to have the implication of an impending fall. Our mothers told us pride comes before a fall...and if I think about it I’ve never actually seen a meteor rising -- only falling to Earth, Icarus-style. Part of our culture (which seems to separate us from our US cousins) seems to be a kind of ‘schadenfreude’ in the future tense. When fame and glory touches someone we think they’re showing off and secretly wait for the terrestrial impact. Sadly, we have a whole list of rock stars, celebrities, and politicians to prove our point.

Clive Hook, Stroud, UK


From: David Bryant (davidbryant att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--meteoric

It’s time to pick a nit. A meteor passes through Earth’s atmosphere. A meteorite strikes the ground.

It is entirely possible for a meteor to enter Earth’s atmosphere with such velocity that it escapes the terrestrial gravitational field and returns to solar orbit. This may not happen often, but even if it only happens once in a great while, it is incorrect to say that “meteors always come down”.

David Bryant, Canyon Lake, Texas


From: Paul Castaldi (paulcast55 verizon.net)
Subject: Venery

I find it tragic that hunting animals for sport persists as a seemingly incurable “venereal disease”.

Paul Castaldi, Havertown, Pennsylvania


From: Giulio C Cassani (gcasmarina aol.com)
Subject: venery

A former royal hunting preserve near Torino, in Italy, is called Venaria Reale.

Giulio Cesare Cassani, Menlo Park, California


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

We gasped at her arc meteoric,
At the grace of her laughter euphoric;
A rich saturnalia
Garbed in regalia,
Her venery non-metaphoric.

-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)

My weight gain was quite meteoric;
the result of excesses caloric.
So I ate a lot lighter.
I trained like a fighter
and now I am slim and euphoric.

-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Bold rooster marched into the hennery,
intent on pursuing his venery.
But this wasn’t his day,
for the hens all said, “Nay!”
The procedure was quite parliamentary.

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

We might as well be epicurean
While wrecking the climate tellurian
Eat drink and be merry
The River Styx ferry
Is no place for thinkin’ and worryin’.

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

When Republican candidates constellate
There’s one I could jump up and strangulate
My bid is “No trump”
I’d prefer Forrest Gump
My poor heart when he talks please defibrillate.

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


From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Puns on Words of the Week

In ancient Greece, girls’ mothers advised, “Don’t let a saturnalia!”

Husky Gert Fröbe’s rise to fame was meteoric after playing Goldfinger. (Goldfinger’s first name was Auric)

On their third date, the eager coed asked, “Venery gonna do it?”

Each August we seem tellurian more of the Perseid meteors.

Following the prison break, police had to round up constellate at night.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
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)

Aug 16, 2015
This week’s theme
Words related to space

This week’s words
saturnalia
meteoric
venery
tellurian
constellate

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
Adverbs

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