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AWADmail Issue 549

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Mike Elfant (michael.elfant cdph.ca.gov)
Subject: numismatics
Def: The study or collection of currency: coins, notes, and sometimes similar objects, such as medals.

Many years ago, I decided the best way for me to remember this word would be to write a song about it. So I came up with a blues (with lots of innuendo) called "Numismatist". Here is one of the verses:

I wouldn't take no wooden nickels
But I'd stop on a dime
If you show me your quarters, baby
I'll show you mine
Oh baby, you'll find it hard to resist
You might be a silver dollar
I'm a numismatist.

Mike Elfant, Sacramento, California

Email of the Week (Courtesy One Up! -- Perfect Apres-Ski Fun)

From: Sonya Cashdan (SHCashdan aol.com)
Subject: numismatics

As my father was segueing from amateur to professional numismatist a few decades ago, my mother condensed her reactions thus:

My coin collection, laid out for inspection, a thing of great beauty to see,
Has caused some dissension I'd rather not mention -- the subject is painful to me.

My wife often lectures on coin collectors; her viewpoint is biased -- you see,
She wants potatoes, milk, bread, and tomatoes, while I need an S-VDB!

So she keeps insisting, while I keep resisting, and often our temperaments clash,
But I can't appease her, or buy gifts to please her --
My money's all tied up in cash!

Sonya Cashdan, Paso Robles, California

What is it about numismatics that causes people to break into rhyme? Is it because coins jingle? Or money talks (and sings)?
-Anu Garg

From: Duncan MacLaren (duncan maclarens.org)
Subject: Nouveau pauvre
Def: adjective: Recently impoverished. noun: One who is newly impoverished.

In the UK, nouveau pauvre has a more nuanced meaning than simply 'newly impoverished'. The nouveau riche are those who have acquired money and aspire to the lifestyle of the aristocracy, but without the knowledge to make 'tasteful' choices. Conversely, then, the nouveau pauvre are the old aristocracy who retain the knowledge to be 'tasteful', but lack the money to live as their forebears. NR means new stone lions at the gates of your owner-occupied council house: NP means old, crumbling stone lions at the Lodge House of your country estate.

Duncan MacLaren, Edinburgh, UK

From: Jeb Raitt (jbrmm266 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pneumonic
Def: 1. Of or relating to the lungs. 2. Relating to or affected by pneumonia.

The infamous plague had two forms: bubonic and pneumonic. The bubonic form caused the ugly pustules called buboes, and could sometimes be treated by lancing them. The pneumonic form, caused by an airborne pathogen, was more aggressive. One could go to bed healthy and wake up the next morning at death's door.

Jeb Raitt, Norfolk, Virginia

From: Gary Muldoon (gmuldoon muldoongetz.com)
Subject: words of the week

I mentioned this week's theme to a friend who speaks Yiddish. He replied, "Nu?"

Gary Muldoon, Fairport, New York

Words are timeless. You should utter them or write them with a knowledge of their timelessness. -Kahlil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)

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