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AWADmail Issue 37

Jul 8, 2001

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

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--full monty

Good English, Bad English, Singlish:
http://nytimes.com/2001/07/01/world/01SING.html (requires free registration)

Eric Shackle has written about his last week's experience as a guest wordsmith:
When He Wrote About Eric Catman...

From: Brian S. Mobley (bsmobleyATaol.com)
Subject: cromulent

When watching one of my favorite shows, The Simpsons, some time back, there was a joke about the use of a word (I think the family was playing a game of Scrabble) in which Homer commented "It's a perfectly cromulent word." Obviously, the joke was that he was using a word he made up to support the validity of his use of another word. I've used "cromulent" as a Simpsons reference/joke with many of my friends, but the more I think about it, and use it, the more I do really think it should be a word, preferably a synonym for "legitimate" (as used in the Simpsons episode). It just sounds like a word that should exist... but I doubt the OED would agree.

    Given the recent addition of "D'oh" to the OED, thanks in large part to the Simpsons, I won't be so pessimistic. -Anu (-:

From: Jack Lynes (jlynesATjacklynes.com)
Subject: teaching English in Russia

My mother is on a 18 month mission in Russia, working in Yekaterinburg Russia (just over the Urals) and her assignment is to teach English. She said initially she was to teach one lesson a week to several different classes during the week, but the people are so hungry to learn English that her advanced class comes every day instead of just once a week, so she is struggling to come with enough lessons to keep them moving along. She told me she is very grateful to receive AWAD, which gives her a good starting point. Thanks for being there and helping her!

From: Deborah Blankenberg (dblankenbergATjps.net)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 36

In AWADmail Issue 36, Chris Elmore (elmorecATattglobal.net) wrote:
> You said: "If a word fills a need, it is a word, no matter whether it's in
> a dictionary or not."
> This has always been my philosophy when playing Scrabble. <G>

This reminds me of a version of Scrabble my friends and I used to play in college. The rules were essentially the same as the official rules, with these exceptions: To be acceptable, a word must NOT be in the dictionary. Further, the player who places the word on the board must be able to pronounce it, define it and use it in a sentence, and the other players must agree that it sounds plausible. We certainly had a lot of fun with it!

From: Lucy D. Strickland (misslucystATaol.com)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 36

In response to the issue raised about solidifying the knowledge of a new word: When I was in the 7th grade - a long time ago - we had to purchase a "Word Book" in which we were to fill out blank spaces for new words we had heard or read (not fair including words we already knew), followed by the pronunciation, etymology (from a dictionary) - we were at the time beginning the study of Latin, more than one sentence in which we ran across it again, and a sentence of our own devising using the word. Amazing how soon one would see the same word again. When taken seriously, this served as a wonderful expander of our vocabularies. The teacher required these to be turned in periodically. It was not acceptable to pad them at the last minute in order to get a good grade. Regardless of the possibility that some were doing that, it became a fascinating and fruitful endeavor for most of us. I could never find such a book to encourage my granddaughter to get the same boost.

From: Ce Merrigan (merriganATwncc.net)
Subject: remembering words

You asked how others learned AWAD words. I leave each day's word on my list of email messages until I have learned it. Sometimes it takes days - depending on how often I check my email and how much time I have to "internalize" a new word. Occasionally quite a few words are there. Seeing and re-learning a word day after day finally helps it "stick." Then I can feel good (and smarter) when I delete the message!

From: John Gilliver (john.gilliverATbaesystems.com)
Subject: Re: AWADmail Issue 36

Here are two sentences on which I've pondered. Firstly, a line from Gray's "Elegy in a Country Churchyard":
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way.

It was pointed out to us at school that you can rearrange the words in that line into a vast number of ways, and it still means something.

And, from the logbook that comes with the keys to our little site van:
Use unleaded petrol only in this vehicle.

Which it occurred to me did not mean what it was supposed to; on reflection, it occurred to me that the word "only" could be placed in virtually every possible position in the sentence, and still mean something - usually subtly different each time!

From: Wendy R. (iwriteATsnet.net)
Subject: newspaper names

I used to work in the food industry and wanted our company to name its newsletter, "Eater's Digest."

A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small haemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

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