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AWADmail Issue 717

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

America Needs ‘Y’all’
The Atlantic
WebCite

Linguistic Analysis of Campaign Speeches from the 2016 US Presidential Campaign
CMU
WebCite

Bilingual Children
The New York Times
WebCite


From: Beth Ullman (beth.ullman gmail.com)
Subject: bema

I was fascinated seeing “bema” as today’s word, wondering at first if it had any relation to the word it sounds like that we use all the time. Reading the definition I found it is the *same* word, but spelled a way we’ve never used; we always spell it “bimah”. My old Random House/Webster’s Dictionary defines “bimah” (under the listing for “bema”) as a platform specifically for the table used for reading from the Torah, not a general purpose platform. Seems the word went from Greek to Hebrew and is usually shown as “bimah” when transliterated. The other definition matches your #2.

Thanks for edifying us with the original language of the word we always assumed came from Hebrew.

Beth Ullman, Northridge, California


Email of the Week brought to you by One Up! -- A way better buy than Bananagrams.)

From: Charles H. Hegarty (chheg61 yahoo.com)
Subject: quale

Quayle: For some, spelling “potato” is a subjective experience.

Charles H. Hegarty, St. Johnsbury, Vermont


From: Charlie Cockey (czechpointcharlie gmail.com)
Subject: starets

In Czech, “starets”, spelled “starec”, the C taking the “ts” sound, means simply an old man.

What is interesting is that the English word uses the same plural as its Slavic source (in Czech it would be spelled starcy).

Charlie Cockey, Brno, Czech Republic


From: Evan Hazard (eehazard paulbunyan.net)
Subject: genera

For a subset of your readers, genera is the first word that popped into our minds Monday. BTW, I’ve never heard a fellow biologist say or write “genuses”. Of course, there is also species, which is its own plural, but where the abbreviation for the singular, sp., is different from the plural, spp. For literati in general, there is woman and women, where changing the second syllable’s spelling changes the first’s pronunciation.

Evan Hazard, Bemidji, Minnesota


From: Chris Allinson (chrisallinson bell.net)
Subject: paries

"An important cause is the original sin working defects in human embryo while yet in his mother's womb. It causes the parietes to yield to the forces of the intra-abdominal pressure."
Hanna Rizk Wannas; The Original Sin and Human Diseases; WestBow Press; 2014.

A positively weird usage for today’s word -- trust the good doctor (sic) does not work for a national health system?

Chris Allinson, London, Canada


From: Peter Armstrong (armstrong.pete gmail.com)
Subject: Unusual Plurals

My favorite common singular with an unusual plural is cow and kine, a plural containing none of the letters of the singular.

Peter Armstrong, Lafayette, California


From: Marc Williams (msw60223 gmail.com)
Subject: Plurals

The focus of this week on plurals reminded me of a brilliant routine by comedian Brian Regan on the “intricacies” of the English language. The portion that addresses regular plurals occurs between 1:40 and 3:30 of this clip.

Marc Williams, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania


From: Maurice Herson (mherson phonecoop.coop)
Subject: plurals

When I was a classics student, our joke was about the possible plural of rhinoceros. The -ceros bit is from a Greek word ‘keros’ meaning horn, whose plural is ‘kerata’ But ‘rhinocerata’? -- hardly.

I also lived in The Netherlands for a while, and there -- pleasingly to a classicist -- they use ‘musea’ as the plural of ‘museum’.

Maurice Herson, Oxford, England


From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 windstream.net)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

The anagram to the right is composed by using all the letters in the five words below, plus this line:
1. bema
2. quale
3. starets
4. paries
5. genus
=
1. pedestal, altar base
2. assessment of qualities
3. religious servant
4. thin body wall (in her womb, it stretches the lump height!)
5. gene group
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.

Dharam Khalsa, Espanola, New Mexico


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

Quacksalvers perched on their makeshift bemata
Hawked Gospel and snake-oil; thus they begat a
Great US tradition:
The Devout Politician --
Hawker of cure-alls, and holy schemata.
-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

“Lissen up,” said the coach; “I mean all ‘o ya:
Live in their heads; get their qualia.
But when I call the play,
Ya do it my way,
Or ya’ll get no post-game bacchanalia.”
-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

Online ad: “Young SF, seeking startsy,
For spiritual tips and such: ‘❤sie’.”
--”I’m your hombre.” Signed: “Hutch”.
--”Well, thanks ever so much,
But to pluralize, bring along Starsky.”
-Oliver Butterfield, Kelowna, Canada (obutterfield shaw.ca)

A tennis player named Venus,
A fine athlete of her genus.
She beats women on tour,
And I know for sure,
A few men. Keep that between us.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Whether Gemini, Virgo, or Aries
You’re fated to sing like canaries
If hiding some loot
From the mob, or they’ll shoot
A big hole in your abdomen’s paries.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Somepun’s wrong

One of these dais will you bema valentine?

I prefer objectivism -- not creepy quale things.

The unordained Religion 101 professor said, “Your training starets now.”

The damaged chromosomes cried out to the scientist, “Help! Genus!”

The redneck cook told his helper, “Paries here apples.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma


From: Addisyn Draco (addisyn.draco gmail.com)
Subject: Like, seriously

Honestly, your daily emails have enabled me to survive day to day. My HIV medication has effectively dropped my vocabulary by 50% since I’ve started taking it, but your daily words have made it possible to retain and improve the intelligence I had before. Thank you.

Addisyn Draco, Redcliffe, Australia


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination. -Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher (1889-1951)

Mar 27, 2016
This week’s theme
Words with unusual plurals

This week’s words
bema
quale
starets
genus
paries

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week’s theme
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