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AWADmail Issue 80

May 21, 2002

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Lawrence Wallin (lawrenceATwallinstudios.com)
Subject: legal lingo (Re: estoppel)

I had a lawyer years ago that explained to me that laws are not written to be understood, they are written so they can not be misunderstood.


From: Vinay Jog (vinayjogAThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--estoppel

I myself am one of the many lawyers in India and hence, do find this theme particularly interesting. I think it might have been better to add another major aspect of estoppel, viz. that the thing on which people have relied upon did not have originally support of law. Had that been not the case, and if some legal principle itself was later on tried to be reversed, the law itself would have been sufficient to take care of the people who have acted in good faith relying on the principle.


From: Tim Wu (timwuATvirginia.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--estoppel

A linguistically interesting but obscure legal doctrine related to estoppel is the "mend the hold" doctrine. A phrase apparently borrowed from wrestling lingo, mend the hold estops a party from changing their interpretation of a contract to suit present needs, or "mending their hold".


From: Jessica Roney (jeroneATwm.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--estoppel

In the schoolyard parlance, it seems to be quite simply the well-understood concept that, "you can't change the rules in the middle of the game".

Maybe we should teach our kindergarteners about estoppel? They might get as much use out of it as the legal types.


From: Patricia Curley (patricia.curleyATcourts.state.wi.us)
Subject: legal words

While "sui juris" is a ok word, there are some legal words that are lots more fun. "Sui generis" for example means unique. There's also a band in Madison, Wi named "sui generis" whose members are all lawyers. I also like the phrase "nunc pro tunc"(now for then), "sua sponte" (of his or her own motion), "a fortiori" (more convincing force) and my personal favorite "res ipsa loquitur" (the thing speaks for itself).

Judge Pat Curley, Wisconsin Court of Appeals.


From: Ellison Goodall (brideyrevisitedATaol.com)
Subject: Legalese - This week's theme: terms from the world of law

What other profession carries a special term for its special terms? "legalese".. haven't seen medicalese, dentalese, businessese, or accountingese (although we might see enronese soon)?


From: C. M. Moore (cmmchgo706AThotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mittimus

As a judge presiding in a high-volume narcotics court, my final order for every defendant sent to the penitentiary was "Mittimus to issue." One defendant apparently misunderstood what I was saying and replied, "I'll miss you too!"


From: Dr Robert Drake (dr.rmdrakeATsympatico.ca)
Subject: mittere

When writing a prescription the word mitte appears as an instruction to the dispensing pharmacist, followed by a number (traditionally, Roman numerals). It tells how much or how many to "send".


From: James Hayes-Bohanan (jhayesbohATbridgew.edu)
Subject: Comment on toponyms (Re: doolally)

For geographers, toponym has the opposite meaning: a place name derived from a word. Some geographers make a lifetime pursuit of toponyms, as they - sometimes - provide clues about the nature of a place at the time of settlement.

James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D., Geographer, Dept. of Earth Sciences & Geography


From: James McEwan (featuresATtpg.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--doolally

I had a few old soldiers in my family in Scotland who had "got their knees brown" in India and Ceylon. My father was in the Royal Navy and I can remember him saying that Deolali also had a Mental Hospital for soldiers who had "gone Troppo" i.e. insane in the tropics.


From: Desibeo (desibeoATutvinternet.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--doolally

We have a slang phrase here in Ireland (possibly elsewhere also) -"tapped" as in "That guy is tapped in the head" (crazy). I always thought it came from the way one would tap their head when talking about such a person, but maybe it too came from the Doolally tap.


From: Richard Springsteed (consultant2ATearthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--doolaly

When my daughter was 8 or 10 years of age, she would insist that I sit with her and watch Walt Disney's cartoon animation of Robin Hood, complete with its animal characters. In one scene Robin and Little John play a practical joke then end up, as I recall, running from the Sheriff's men, singing "Oh doolally, oh doolally!" And all this time, not knowing what they were really saying, I assumed it was just some clever Disney-ism!


From: Elena Sargiotto (respectATinwind.it)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--lido

From Italy: I would like to point out that lido is a common noun in Italian, meaning "shore", or "sand bar", "beach". Nowadays it is used mostly in a literary style.


From: Cpl John M Shewfelt (shewfeltjmATiiimef.usmc.mil)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Rosetta stone

The Rosetta Stone is not a black basalt stone. The black colour of the stone is the result of printer's ink applied in 1799. After the discovery of the stone during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, the ink was applied so that copies of the inscriptions could be sent back to Europe.

Over the years, other substances were applied to or accumulated on the stone, including carnauba wax and handling grease. Of course, two centuries of being pawed over by the oily mitts of researchers contributed as well!

Interestingly, the link you provided your subscribers to view images is that of the British Museum, the very museum which recently carried out the restoration of the stone. The stone itself turned out to be a dark grey granite-like stone with a pinkish hue and a pink vein at the top. Here's a link to a nice little synopsis of the cleaning of the Rosetta Stone.


From: Michael Saklad (sakladconsultantsATcompuserve.com)
Subject: This week looks like fun!

I savor the writing I find in many Indian papers, perhaps because I'm peripherally in the word dodge myself.

"Doolally," however, was new to me. So maybe one day, or in a separate space, you will regale us with some more choice selections from India.

I have particularly fond memories of reading The Hindu every morning in Madras when I was last there 10 years ago attending the winter Music Festival. I can't quite put my finger on what it is an American experiences when he hears and reads Indian English. Maybe it's the phrases we seldom hear these days, which of course brings back fond memories of past usage. But there's frequently an educated inventiveness, unorthodoxy, simplicity, directness and visual appeal as well. All these refreshing elements seem so sadly absent from the "new," impoverished English spoken in the U.S. (at least in California), with its trite euphemisms and cute phrases masquerading as educated talk.

One of my favorite language experiences in India occurred on returning to Ahmedabad at 4 a.m. one morning after an uncomfortable night train ride from Bhuj. My girlfriend and I tried finding lodging at several hotels, but with little luck initially. To our dismay, the night porter at the first place we stopped responded to my query saying, "The hotel is packed, sir!" The vision of rooms with guests crammed together like sardines has never left my mind.


From: Les Smith (lcsmithATgovmail.state.nv.us)
Subject: Yiddish week

I hope it's not too late to put in an anecdote about Yiddish. While I was attending Brigham Young University (a decidedly Mormon school) I alternately studied German and Hebrew. Of course that was 25 years ago. So, now the two often become confused. I explain all my deviations and upgamixing as being my own brand of Yiddish, (picture that, a Yiddish-speaking, Zen Mormon -- only in America).


From: Rhana Bazzini (rhanaATatt.net)
Subject: No wonder...

I'm an atheist! Every time I think of Northern Ireland, the Middle East, India and Pakistan, I recommit.

I find it hard to believe (well, not really) that people protested Yiddish items.

If it weren't so dangerous for such beliefs to proliferate it would be sad. How much of life one misses when one dismisses those different from oneself.

    What is ironic about all this is that Yiddish itself has a somewhat second-class status in Israel where Hebrew was promoted as the official language. If only those who signed-off in protest knew this when they perceived the Yiddish week in AWAD as a mark of support for Israel. -Anu


From: Ray Sullivan (rayysullATaol.com)
Subject: Subscription problem

I do not always get my AWAD. It misses several days and then shows up again. I did not receive today's. What gives? I could go doolally over this.

    I've received similar complaints from aol.com (AOL) and cs.com (Compuserve) subscribers. Unfortunately spam is getting worse and in AOL's efforts to fight spammers genuine newsletters get caught as well. AOL silently discards these messages, so we don't get any indication of error. I suggest you contact AOL support and tell them about this prophetic anagram: America Online = Re: Mail in Ocean. -Anu


Language, n. The music with which we charm the serpents guarding another's treasure. -Ambrose Bierce, writer (1842-1914) [The Devil's Dictionary, 1906]

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