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AWADmail Issue 619

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

Sponsor's message: It's Officially Huge. This week's Email of the Week winner, Alex McCrae (see below) -- as well as all AWADers worldwide -- can now make their own terrific fun word-nerd party for nothing. Introducing our best-selling One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game as a free PDF download, absolutely gratis. Hurree y'up.

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

Using A Foreign Language Changes Moral Decisions

Bad Grammar Award Reveals Shortlist of English Language Offenders
The Guardian

Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- with our compliments.)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--samson

As the original catchy slogan for TIMEX watches extolled, their trusty, durable timepieces could "take a licking, and keep on ticking". According to Old Testament Biblical accounts of strongman Samson's many trials and tribulations, he could as well.

Ironically, his ultimate demise was self-inflicted, when he allegedly singlehandedly downed the pillars of the great temple, as the entire edifice then came tumbling down, fatally crushing him and his misguided transgressors in a mass of marble rubble.

I'm pretty certain the promo gurus at Samsonite luggage had the mighty Samson in mind when they first coined the now most familiar brand name of their product line. The collapse of the temple may have done in the durable Samson, but I bet the admen at Samsonite would try to convince us that their suitcases could have stood that ancient test... admittedly a tad bruised and battered... yet fit enough to live and lug another day.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Gerry Hoffmann (gerbear cocreatives.biz)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--jeremiad

Not being a Bible scholar, all I knew about Jeremiah was that he was a rich man, was a good friend, and he always had some mighty fine wine which he let people help him drink.

But Jeremiah stands out? Weren't all the Hebrew prophets sort of Woody Allen-type worriers? I mean, think about it. In any given year, you got only two options: Judea survives, Judea doesn't survive. So after just two years, you're already at a 50-50 chance of being right. Am I right?

Gerry Hoffmann, Kalamazoo, Michigan

From: Denise Hopkins (ddhopkins wesleyseminary.edu)
Subject: jeremiad

I have a PhD in Biblical Studies. The prophet Jeremiah's complaints are found in the book that bears his name, 'Jeremiah' in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Most scholars today do not accept the argument that Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentations. That book was linked to him because of its laments and the fact that Jeremiah is called 'the weeping prophet'.

Denise Hopkins, Montgomery Village, Maryland

From: Maria Grazia (m.capitani ocme.it)
Subject: Methuselah

Regarding this word, I could not help salivating because many bottle sizes (especially for champagne) are named after Biblical kings: from Nebuchadnezzar (15 L) to Solomon (20 L) to the mythical Melchizedek (30 L).

Maria Grazia, Parma, Italy

From: Kathy Smith (kathy.leapbaby gmail.com)
Subject: Re: Methuselah Tree

The tree pictured in your email is a standing dead tree located along the one-mile Discovery Trail at Schulman Grove. The Methuselah Tree is one of the trees located on the Methuselah Ridge (traversed by the five-mile Methuselah Trail).

The Forest Service does not identify the specific tree in order to protect it. According to the rangers there, people used to try to deface it, or take pieces of it. This is a nice picture of some of the trees in the grove on the ridge.

The oldest trees appear to be mostly dead, with a lot of exposed wood. There will be a strip of bark that nourishes a few still-living branches. We were told by the rangers when we visited there that they are no longer trying to find the oldest tree. They believe that there are trees in the area older than Methuselah. They are focused on building a tree-ring chronology going back more than 10,000 years. They are using pieces of fallen dead trees to accomplish this. This website has some good information about the trees.

Kathy Smith, Goodyear, Arizona

From: Steven G. Kellman (kellman1 gmail.com)
Subject: Biblical Daniel

One of the more striking examples of a Biblical name used as a generic noun occurs in Act Four Scene One lines 223-24 of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

When Portia, disguised as the lawyer's apprentice Balthazar, insists on the literal wording of a contract to award Shylock a full pound of Antonio's flesh, Shylock at first responds with glee, praising Portia as:

"A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!
O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!"

Steven G. Kellman, San Antonio, Texas

From: Gavin Maitland (gavin.maitland boomcom.com)
Subject: words

When I see words like Methuselah and Samson used by The Economist and The New York Times, I begin to wonder at what point words are deemed as common usage, and when lofty publications see usage on A.Word.A.Day and start using them. Interesting, don't you think?

Gavin Maitland, Boulder, Colorado

From: Irving N. Webster-Berlin (awadreviewsongs gmail.com)
Subject: Song based on this week's words

Here are this week's AWAD Review Songs (words and recordings) for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Irving N. Webster-Berlin, Sacramento, California

Words are loaded pistols. -Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher (1905-1980)

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