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AWADmail Issue 281

November 18, 2007

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

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

Vigil for the Vanishing Tongue:
The New York Times

Building a Nation of Polyglots, Starting With the Very Young:
The New York Times

Basque Inquisition: How Do You Say Shepherd in Euskera?:
Wall Street Journal

From: Korny Sietsma (korny sietsma.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--recalcitrant

It's worth noting that this word is somewhat infamous in Australian politics. In 1993, Paul Keating, then Prime Minister of Australia, described Mahatir bin Mohamed, then Prime Minister of Malaysia, as "recalcitrant" for not attending a regional summit. This caused some uproar in Malaysia, and they threatened trade sanctions against Australia -- there was some suggestion at the time that the Malaysian translation was rather more severe than the English word, or maybe it's just that relations between the prime ministers were never that good to start with.

These days the word just brings some vague nostalgia for the days when our politicians were willing to use some "intellectual" words in public, without fear of losing popularity with the "common man".

From: Hector McDonnell (hector hectormcdonnell.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--patrician

Of course, as an Irishman I have to point out that this is the origin of our patron saint's name. He was indeed a Roman patrician by birth, as he and his father were Roman citizens and their family owned a villa in Britain called Bannaventum Tabernae, staffed with both servants and slaves. A real patrician indeed.

From: Pauline Sarkar (pauline.sarkar planet.nl)
Subject: patrician

In the Netherlands, a patrician is not an aristocrat, because he does not have a title of nobility. But, as you said, he is well-bred and has a lot of culture. Nowadays he is often also wealthier than the aristocrat. Therefore, the marriage between the two is much sought after, especially the title of the nobleman with the money of the woman.

From: Grant Barrett (gbarrett worldnewyork.org)
Subject: Nominations for 2007 words of the year

The American Dialect Society is a 118-year-old not-for-profit, noncommercial academic organization, devoted to the study of the English language. I am a vice president of the organization.

The American Dialect Society's word-of-the-year vote takes place in Chicago in January at its annual meeting. The society is now accepting word-of-the- year nominations at woty@americandialect.org. Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as "vocabulary item"--not just words but phrases. Your nominations do not have to be brand-new, but they should be newly prominent or notable in the past year, and should have appeared frequently in the national discourse. The word-of-the-year vote is not a formal induction of words into the American language, but a whimsical affair. Nominate accordingly.

More information about the conference and the vote is here. Also, check out the past words of the year.

A word in a dictionary is very much like a car in a mammoth motorshow -- full of potential, but temporarily inactive. -Anthony Burgess, author (1917-1993)

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