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AWADmail Issue 315

July 13, 2008

A 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

How English Is Evolving Into a Language We May Not Even Understand:

When Using Gestures, Rules Of Grammar Remain The Same:

The Scottish Language Dictionaries program is facing funding cuts:
The Scotsman
Support their fundraising auction.

From: Michael Bailey (bailey alum.rpi.edu)
Subject: new format feedback

I do not like the new message format. I recommend that you keep the word at the top of the message. Having to scroll down to see the word and definition is *very* inconvenient.

This week's words and this week's theme aren't as important as the word itself. Put those under the word and definition. If you want to pitch the book, put it to the right.

We continue to get email about the new format. Overwhelmingly, most like the change, but some readers do not. I suspect it's because their mailreaders are not displaying the new format correctly. Here's a sample of what you should be seeing.
We have successfully tested the new version on major platforms such as Linux, Windows, and Mac, and on most common mailreaders such as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Outlook, Eudora, etc. If your mailreader shows AWAD incorrectly formatted, perhaps updating your software would help. Keep us posted. Thank you.
-Anu Garg

From: Jesper Andersen (toubib40 hotmail.com)
Subject: Orthopaedic

Orthopaedic is one of the more "funny" ortho- words. Actually it means straight children (!) The first orthopaedics treated children with rickets (= rachitis), an illness that affects the bones, often leading to a curvature of the spine. The orthopaedics made corsets/girdles for the children to straighten them up.

In my native language, Danish, rickets is called "engelsk syge" (English disease). The reason for this is that it was first described by an Englishman (called Glisson).

From: Charles F. Hruska (chruska earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--orthography
Def: The commonly accepted way of spelling words.

There is another meaning for "Orthography", or at least "Orthographic". Orthographic projection is one of the ways to draw an object. It is the standard method used for dimensioned plans, blue prints etc. See here.

I suppose this is the "correct" way to draw, or possibly show three views at "right" angles.

From: Bill Stanley (valcouns earthlink.net)
Subject: Combining words

I'm reminded of that quintessential combining-combining word, antidisestablishmentarianism, which before supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was the cutting edge of verbal show-off.

From: George Reisman (george nj.rr.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--coprolite
Def: Fossilized excrement.

A coprolite of a carnivorous dinosaur, found in Saskatchewan, Canada. (actual size: about 1 foot)

You might call it a footstool.

From: Leslie Hobson (lesliehobson sympatico.ca)
Subject: coprolite

My parents bought me a necklace in New York City when they visited there that had an inset of coprolite and they thought it was the coolest thing. I miss the 70s.

From: Ruth Witt (rrwitt cabletv.on.ca)
Subject: coprolite

As rockhounds my husband and I know of this stone and have found at least one piece in South Dakota. I understand there are specialists whose profession it is to study these stones and in so doing they are able to analyze the type of food digested and who did the digesting. A special sort of work!

From: Chris Papa (doxite verizon.net)
Subject: coprolite

Ironic, it just seems to me,
That, not only does one earn a fee,
For bringing to light,
But they usually need a PhD.

While radiologists with an MD,
Will likely a fecalith see,
As everyday fact,
In some GI tract,
And cause of real pathology.*

* They cause obstruction.

From: Michael Bedward (michael.bedward gmail.com)
Subject: coprolite

Your usage example for coprolite, about a display of "genuine mineralised Viking excrement" brought back happy memories! In an episode of The Science Show on our Australian Radio National channel I heard the director of a archeological museum in York, England, wax lyrical about the "Lloyds Bank Turd". This coprolite, or coprolith as he called it, was named after the excavation site where it was found along with a rich collection of Viking artifacts. The director, much taken with the shapeliness of the coprolite, mused about the contented, even meditative state that its creator had obviously been in.

My partner and I were in the UK a few months later so of course we had to visit York to see this famous object. At the archeological centre we were shown looms, jewelry, locks and keys, and a host of other exhibits. Finally, I could stand it no more and blurted out "But where is Lloyd's Bank Turd?" Our guide looked severely puzzled and said nothing. "It's famous," I assured him, "we heard about it on the radio in Australia!" He disappeared into a back room and after a few minutes reappeared with the coprolite, which apparently he'd found in a box somewhere rather than its being the central and prized exhibit that I'd imagined. Still, we saw it and went away happy. I'm sure the guide thought we were completely unhinged.

From: Jim Davidson (jrdav umich.edu)
Subject: Coprolite

When I first entered the industrial world about 1940 with my new degree in Mechanical Engineering, there were many trade names in common use for metal alloys, like Duralumin. It was tradition, when neophytes were trying to select a metal for a new product, for the experienced engineers to suggest that they try Coprolite, which sounded like a new light-weight copper alloy. They finally suggested the dictionary when the victim failed to find it in catalogs. (I heard the story early, so I didn't join the victims.)

From: Janet Popish (jcwpopish yahoo.com)
Subject: coprolite

I have a display of fossils in my china cabinet that includes two examples of coprolite, among more aesthetically pleasing fish, leaf, and wood specimens. It just goes to prove that sh*t not only happens, it lasts a really long time.

From: John R. Crosiar (jcrosiar uoregon.edu)
Subject: coprolite

Coprolites made headlines in April when University of Oregon and other archaeological researchers announced the discovery of pre-Clovis human DNA in coprolites from the Paisley Caves in southcentral Oregon. Dating to 14,300 years ago, some 1,200 years before Clovis culture, the human DNA is the oldest yet found in North America and apparently provides ties to Siberia and Asia. Here's the report.

From: Gareth Cook (gcook nfld.net)
Subject: Coprolite

Interestingly, there is a Coprolite Street in the town of Ipswich, Suffolk, UK. I have no idea why it is so called but, knowing the definition, it always struck me as a rather odd name for a residential street.

From: Bryan Burke (burkebryanl uams.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--iatrogenic
Def: Caused inadvertently by medical treatment, such as an infection or a complication.

I am a general pediatrician and teach medical students and residents. Physicians find it hard to learn and believe Hippocrates' admonition to "First, do no harm." Hippocrates knew that all medical interventions, even those as simple as taking an over-the-counter medicine, have some potential iatrogenic harm. One potential meaning of the phrase "the art of medicine" is learning to find the balance point between doing too much for the patient and doing too little.

Time and patience -- allowing the natural healing process a chance to occur -- are wonderful diagnostic and therapeutic tools.

From: Sylvie Browne (sbrowne dot.state.ny.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--callipygian
Def: Having well-shaped buttocks.

I first learned this word as an undergraduate student of ancient Greek. Several years later I was delighted to find that a sculpture in downtown Stuttgart, Germany, of a classically dressed young woman delicately lifting her dress and looking back at her anatomy, was entitled "Venus Callipygus".

From: Steve Kelley (stevekelle aol.com)
Subject: Callipygian

I learned this word as a kid from a song written by Malvina Reynolds for the folk trio The Limeliters. The song praised the assets of an aspiring young actress named Vikki Dougan, who wore a gown cut so low in back that it revealed a new cleavage. Photos available with a Google search.

How appropriate to feature this word this week, too. The city of Flint, Michigan, has declared war on baggy pants. Underwear exposed, pants below the buttocks merits a disorderly conduct charge. Buttocks exposed equals indecent exposure. Punishment for either is 93 days to a year in jail and/or up to $500 in fines.

From: Jim Scarborough (jimes hiwaay.net)
Subject: callipygian

Since I learned this word many years ago, I have used it to test dictionaries to decide if I want to buy them.

My favorite encounter with this word was in the Sir Mixalot "Baby Got Back" video. He's rapping, proclaiming "I like big butts", and everyone's dancing around, showing their rears, then a 10-foot-tall faux magazine cover appears in the background, featuring a large-tushed woman, and obviously patterned after the "Cosmopolitan" magazine cover, but the title is "Callipygian"! What a treat!

From: Rose-Marie Ullman (rosmari operamail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--callipygian

Some years ago, in preparation for a trip to Ethiopia, I borrowed several books from the library on that country. One of them talked about its callipygian women.

And, indeed, the women there are exceptionally beautiful -- though not just in the middle part of their body. I have loved that word ever since and even use it occasionally.

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

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