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AWADmail Issue 293

February 10, 2008

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: Wordsmith Chat

Read the transcript of this week's Wordsmith Chat, an online discussion with Seth Lerer, a professor at Stanford University and author of "Inventing English".

And here are the coming events in Wordsmith Chat:

Mon, Feb 25, 2008, 6pm Pacific (GMT -8)
Ben Yagoda, author of "When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It"
Topic: Friend Me, Pimp My Ride, and Signage: Or, the Ever-Changing Parts of Speech

Mon, Mar 17, 2008, 6pm Pacific (GMT -8)
Michael Erard, author of "Um...: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean"
Topic: Verbal Blunders and What They Mean

From: Matthew Male (male.matt googlemail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--somniloquy

Readers in the UK may wish to explore this week's theme in more depth at the Sleeping and Dreaming exhibition currently on show at the Wellcome Collection in London.

From: Esther Krieger (estikrieger juno.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--somniloquy

I usually like to take a quick guess at an unfamiliar word's definition before checking to see what it really means. Today's guess was, "A speech that puts people to sleep".

From: Cyndi Schmitt (cschmitt psta.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--somniloquy

When my sister and I were young, we would sneak into my parents' room and ask my mom permission to do things that we would never be allowed to do had we asked while she was awake. I even remember writing myself a note excusing me from class and getting mom to sign it while she was asleep!

From: Suveer Bahirwani (suveerb airtel.blackberry.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--somniloquy

Now I know what to call it! My sister engages in somniloquy all the time. On most occasions, she's just fighting with someone. I can tell you that my name's come up often! She's a make-up artist by profession and has very late hours (which don't help and I'm sure aggravate the condition). Of course, we find it most amusing when this happens. ;-) Most humor is at someone else's cost, no?

From: Bonnie Gordon (bgordon lsac.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypnopompic

I have a question regarding today's word: hypnopompic. I have always heard (and used) the word 'hypnogogic' to describe this state. What is the difference?

    The word hypnopompic pertains to the semiconscious state before waking up while hypnagogic/hypnogogic refer to that state before going to sleep.
    -Anu Garg

From: Kary Shannon (kary.shannon ontario.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--hypnopompic

I just discovered this word along with hypnogogic when my 12-year-old who had contracted a particularly challenging course of pertussis started to have tremors and shake as she fell asleep. In typical 21st century parental obsession, we took a video of her poor body jumping to the same cadence as her daytime cough to show the infectious disease specialist who reassured us that nothing untoward was happening, merely a rather spectacular case of hypnogogic hallucinations. Sounded untoward to me! Fortunately, the cough and the shaking have both subsided, and peace and calm have been restored to the house.

From: Mike Daly (openmike stanfordalumni.org)
Subject: words about sleep

In the spirit of words about sleep: 'philagrypnia' was created in the scientific publication department of the Mayo Clinic in the 1950s to describe a condition rarely seen in clinic.

Amount of sleep, like many biological functions, has a Gaussian distribution; many people sleep approximately 8 hours. Patients with narcolepsy typically sleep more, sometimes around 18 hours a day.

At the other end of the spectrum, some people sleep as little as three to four hours a day. One of the few people to seek medical advice for this was a patient Daly and Yoss studied: a man in his 70s who had to give up his second job because the quality of his sleep had changed with age (joint pain) and he now needed five to six hours per night to become rested. The Mayo publication group literally constructed the term 'philagrypnia' for the group of non-sleepers.

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment. -Hart Crane, poet (1899-1932)

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