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Mar 4, 2018
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AWADmail Issue 818

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

Sponsor's message: Hey, Wisenheimers! When was the last time you gave a housewarming/thank-you gift to the cleverheads in your life that actually flummoxed them? Email of the Week winner, Amy Marcus (see below), as well as all AWADers, can frustrate and fascinate their brainy generous frenemies for the rest of the year with our wicked smart word game One Up! - The Gift That Keeps on Unforgiving. Purchase at your peril NOW.

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

Will a New Law Forever Change the German Language?

English Teacher Already Armed With Deadly Weapon Called Shakespeare
The Onion

From: Joan T Grimbert (grimbert cua.edu)
Subject: Choosing names just because they like them

Your comments about “Frankly” made me laugh because my stylist owns a shop called Salon Anu. When I asked him how he chose “Anu”, he said, “No specific reason: I just liked how it sounded.”

Joan Grimbert, Arlington, Virginia

From: Scott Jordan (scojo78 gmail.com)
Subject: Adverbs

Your story about encountering Frankly reminded me of one of my favorite lines from the hilarious movie Johnny Dangerously. A woman asks the protagonist, “Did you know your last name’s an adverb?” (audio, 7 sec.)

Scott Jordan, Edgewood, Washington

From: Raju Umamaheswar (sapraj2711 gmail.com)
Subject: deasil

Frankly, it is ONLY fair that one names one’s ONLY child as LONELY as long as she’s LOVELY and COMELY! After all, she’s your FAMILY?

Raju Umamaheswar, Cooimbatore, India

From: Harvey Damaser (hdama sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Adverbial names

About 50 years ago, when I was teaching high school English in southern Massachusetts, I had two students, twins, named Happily and Merrily.

Harvey Damaser, Sarasota, Florida

From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--deasil

One of my friends was named Storm. During her mother’s pregnancy there was a fierce debate within the family about a proper name for the baby-to-be. One faction was determined that the baby have a traditional Biblical name. The other demanded a traditional African name. When the girl-child was delivered, the father cut the Gordian knot with Storm.

Robert Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Don Wright (wright.don sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--deasil

Note to self: If ever I have progeny, and exactly two of them, name them Deasil and Widdershins.

Donald Wright, San Jose, California

From: Margy Clark (MargyClark charter.net)
Subject: Adverbial names

Of course, there’s Merrily, which is not too uncommon. I’ve known at least one Mary Lee in my lifetime, and in the South it sounds very much like merrily.

Margy Clark, Kingsport, Tennessee

From: Mark Raulston (markraulston5 gmail.com)
Subject: Anu’s weekly dose of happiness

I just wanted to express my appreciation for your weekly introductions into yet another wonderful topic. This one (and so many others) make me happy. Informative, but also full of adventure, and just plain fun!

If by some unexpected circumstance I find myself naming another child (I can’t afford more than the two I have, so I’d have to find a brave and foolish soul to seek me as namer of their child), I may just go with Anuly, or Wordly (though confusion with worldly would make for a challenging childhood. Kind of akin to Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Called Sue”. ha)

Mark Raulston, Chicago, Illinois

From: Stephen Caron (scaron1 aol.com)
Subject: Shirley

How about Shirley?

Stephen Caron, Lexington, Massachusetts

From: Raphael Barousse (frraphael sjasc.edu)
Subject: Bravely

I once made the acquaintance of a man of Choctaw and African-American lineage named Bravely Outlaw.

Raphael Barousse, Saint Benedict, Louisiana

From: Jim Schubert (razonjim centurytel.net)
Subject: Names

A while back I encountered a Starbucks barista with the name “Thatsit” on his name tag. I asked him about it. He said he was the sixth child and his dad said “That’s it” when he was born and the family was so amused by it that his parents gave him that name.

Jim Schubert, Kingston, Washington

From: Donald Moffitt (moffitt12 cox.net)
Subject: Decimus et Ultimus

On personal names: Decimus et Ultimus Barziza (1838-1872) was an officer in the Fourth Regiment of Texas’s Civil War infantry. He seems to have been his parents’ tenth and last child.

Donald Moffitt, Virginia

From: Ben Stern (stern.ben gmail.com)
Subject: a post about using adverbs for names

Concerning adverbs for names ... Over five decades ago there was a well-known mathematician who, when born, was given only initials for his first and middle names: R.H. Bing. When he published papers in mathematical journals, he wanted to stress that he had only initials for names, so he submitted an article with his name written as R.(only) H.(only) Bing. The journal failed to understand and turned it into Ronly Honly Bing.
[Also see Snopes]

Ben Stern, Haifa, Israel

From: Ian Gordon (awad ipgordon.me.uk)
Subject: Re: Widdershins

Terry Pratchett used widdershins as one of the cardinal (compass) directions on the Disc in his “Discworld” novels. The full list of four directions he used is:

Hubwards: radially towards the centre of rotation, where an infinitely tall mountain provides the home of the gods.

Rimwards: radially outwards towards the Rim, over which the Discworld’s oceans continually fall.

Turnwise: circumferentially around the Disk in the same direction it is turning.

Widdershins: circumferentially around the Disk in the opposite direction to turnwise.

Ian Gordon, Surrey, UK

From: Joanna C Fink (jfink68510 gmail.com)
Subject: deasil

This word is regularly used in Wiccan circles. Circles are cast (setting up sacred space for a ritual, since we typically lack consecrated churches for services). They are cast deosil, repeating certain words at the cardinal directions. I have been to scores of Wiccan (and Neo-Pagan in general) rituals and discussions over decades and have NEVER heard this word pronounced as DEE zuhl. “DEE zuhl” is a truck engine, not a word for counterclockwise.

Since the origin is Gaelic, the s is pronounced “sh”, as in the name Sean. As for the first syllable, it is regularly pronounced “DESH”, although a few claim “JESH” is closer to the Gaelic form.

Joanna Fink, Lincoln, Nebraska

Thanks for your note. We list the pronunciation of a word as it's used in English, not in its source language. For example, you pronounce the word lingerie as (lahn-zhuh-RAY), not as it's pronounced in its source language French (lanzh-REE).
-Anu Garg

From: Beth Noeller (beth wedotests.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tantivy

How fun to find that tantivy is really a word, not a sound. My mother used to sing a song to me, and I remember the word tantivy being repeated several times in the chorus. I always thought it was to simulate the sound of the horses or the rhythm of their gallop. Although my spellchecker says it’s not a word, I can rightfully use it, after 60 years of hibernation!

Beth Noeller, Iowa City, Iowa

From: Gray Frierson Haertig (gfh haertig.com)
Subject: Tantivy

Author Thomas Pynchon ties today’s word, tantivy, back to another AWAD, maffick, a Toponym from 16 April, 2010, with his “Gravity’s Rainbow” character, Oliver “Tantivy” Mucker-Maffick, known for his low (as Mucker might imply) and roisterous ways. His cosmopolitan carousing even earned him an eponymous ballad:

The Ballad of Tantivy Mucker-Maffick

Oh Italian gin is a mother’s curse,
And the beer of France is septic,
Drinking Bourbon in Spain is the lonely domain
Of the saint and the epileptic.
(More here)

Gray Frierson Haertig, Portland, Oregon

From: Nelson (nelsonmybalo gmail.com)
Subject: Fain

Your usage example for the word fain must be read rather than heard in order to be sure of its meaning. “Now I would fain work, but am unable to”, could just as easily be, “Now I would feign work, but am unable to.” The latter might be true because the boss is present.

Nelson, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: piecemeal

There are a dozen or so other “-meal” words listed in Wiktionary, all of them except piecemeal being obscure or obsolete. For example, inchmeal means “inch by inch”, which is the way an inchworm moves; and pagemeal means “page by page”.

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: Pam Robertson (pollish xtra.co.nz)
Subject: piecemeal

I was delighted to see the Air New Zealand logo on your piecemeal picture. As a New Zealander (Kiwi), I am very proud of our airline. Thank you for picking this picture.

Pam Robertson, Wellington, New Zealand

From: Lynny Moore (thegrls thegrls.info)
Subject: Widdershins & Snails

...as if left-handed, counterclockwise was a bad thing. :)

Evidence in a study of snails and snail-eating snakes points towards counterclockwise adaptation as a way to avoid being eaten. Snail-eating snakes are less successful eating counterclockwise snails.

Lynny Moore, San Marcos, Texas

From: Stephen Page (swp advet.com.au)
Subject: widdershins

More on snails -- clockwise or anticlockwise shells?
The shell illustrating widdershins is actually deasil (there is a convention in the the way in which direction-ness of snail shells is determined - always look from above at the apex of the shell) - and this is a common mistake historically. A wonderful and detailed description can be found in the fabulous essay by Stephen Jay Gould ... S.J. Gould (1997). Dinosaur in a Haystack, Chapter 16, Left Snails and Right Minds. Worth a read, it says so much about human cognition. Recommended! PS: It is important to know the direction as this helps identify the snail species, which can be critical information in determining if the snail under investigation is an intermediate host for particular parasites, esp. trematodes.

Stephen Page, Newtown, Australia

From: Frank Brown (frank.brown travelport.com)
Subject: Widdershins or Deasil?

I looked at the picture of the snail representing widdershins and thought “What a delightful example of deasil.” The snail started in the center and grew outward in a clockwise direction. Of course, if you turn the snail over, it would also be counterclockwise. All this stems from the movement of the shadow cast by the sun in the Northern Hemisphere. The shadow on a sundial in Rome and Greece or Egypt and Persia, for instance, goes deasil. When we started making clocks, we just made the hands go in the same direction as the shadow on the sun dial. If we spoke a language developed in the Southern Hemisphere, I suppose our words would be “back-words”. Since so many clocks and watches are digital now, perhaps clockwise and counterclockwise will once be replaced by deasil and widdershins as they were replaced by clockwise and counterclockwise.

Frank Brown, Atlanta, Georgia

From: Joe Trivers (joe_trivers amat.com)
Subject: widdershins snails

An article about two widdershins snails, with a photograph, is here. Their shells grow in the direction opposite to that in the AWAD photo. They’re very rare.

Joe Trivers, Toronto, Canada

From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: widdershins & deasil

Did you know that Tibetan Buddhists circumambulate their holy sites deasil, while those of the Bon persuasion go widdershins?

Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India

Email of the week -- sponsored by One up!

From: Amy Marcus (amarcusx gmail.com)
Subject: -ly adverbs

I am a Canadian and, when the NAFTA agreement was signed, we jokingly bemoaned the loss of our adverbs to free trade since Americans don’t use the “-ly” as commonly as we do. I’m “real” sorry as opposed to “really” sorry.

Not long after, I fell in love with a Texan and sponsored him to join me here in Canada. When he arrived, I gave him a gift. It was a box of “-ly”s. (Included in the box were some “u”s as well so that he could spell properly like a good American neighbour.) Sometimes unsure when to add the “ly” he started adding it to everything. Now we routinely say “really goodly”.

Amy Marcus, Victoria, Canada

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: widdershins/deasil & tantivy

Here, a mama Virginia opossum, North America’s only marsupial, and an Aussie mummy kangaroo with her joey in tow (well... in pouch. Ha!), observe and comment on the swirling water action of their respective flushing toilet bowls, unwittingly, with their words, reenforcing the long-held myth that water always drains in a counterclockwise direction (“widdershins”) in the Northern Hemisphere, and clockwise (“deasil”) in the Southern Hemisphere. The esteemed astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has opined on this alleged myth, stating... “Toilet bowls drain however they’re designed to circulate water. It’s irrelevant whether you live above, or below the equator.” So there you have it.

Many would contend that the 1865 fantastical short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, launched Mark Twain’s illustrious literary career. Few knew that Twain, early on, had also worked up another tall tale centered on a quirky amphibious character.... namely, Terence, The Tantivy (Galloping) Toad of Tulare County, California. But realizing the inherent charm, and charisma potential of frogs, Twain dumped poor Terence the toad, opting for his now much celebrated “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. For Twain, Terence, The Tantivy Toad, was somehow lacking, failing to make the grade... uncelebrated, and sadly, long forgotten. (Sob!)

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. deasil
2. tantivy
3. fain
4. piecemeal
5. widdershins
= 1. implied a watch
2. fast
3. easily
4. dined in?
5. inverse
= 1. i.e. ahead
2. swift clip
3. ay, minded
4. even
5. sinistral
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)   -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: limericks

Into my grandson’s little tractor, we put diesel.
He started to drive in a direction deasil.
Round and round to the right he did whirl,
It literally made my hair curl.
Now, I will spend hours trying my locks to teasel.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

Deasil is the direction of the world clock,
That hums along with a tick and a tock.
With the red-headed weasel,
We run “counter” deasil,
Tock ticking along -- and the world is in shock.
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

Trump’s hair floats in a direction quite deasil.
His expressions are that of a weezel.
So, how to define him?
He’s dim, grim (but not slim),
The personification of evil?
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

“Now turn just a little bit deasil,”
Said Gauguin as he sat at his easel.
“Like that! Oh, you sweetie,
I just love Tahiti,
So many nude girls and one weasel.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Our government’s in disarray.
We must all go to vote, and then pray.
Folks are angry and “grievy”,
Doom approaches tantivy.
Great Again? Not in Trump’s USA.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The school shootings make us all tense:
Attacks on students, the ultimate offence;
Despite the shock,
As Fate seems to mock,
The NRA rushes tantivy to self-defence.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Lost, the hunter stripped down to his skivvy,
And shivered all night in a bivvy,
Where he dreamt, the poor gent,
That the hounds found the scent
And woke him up shouting “Tantivy!”
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (phyllismorrow1 gmail.com)

Protesting the high taxes civi,
Ms. Godiva shed even her skivvy!
Then (according to source),
Rode through village on horse
And I hear she went slow, not tantivy.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

When a scullery maid or a skivvy
Said, “Leave me in peace, sir, I prithee,”
A chap had his way
Nonetheless in my day,
But #MeToo they all tweet now tantivy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Sometimes when she’s in severe pain
she thinks that she might go insane!
Quick! She pops some oxy,
be damned, orthodoxy!
She’d fain risk getting hooked than abstain.
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

If a bus you must catch in the rain,
My umbrella I’ll share with you fain.
It’s a fine way to start
An affair of the heart;
Once we’re married, I’ll drive you insane.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

Had Shylock asked me for one pound of flesh,
I’d fain have proffered ten, no less!
For, the all-white diet,
though tested and tried,
didn’t, in my case, have much success.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

He asked if I would like a drink.
I didn’t quite know what to think.
Could it lead to a date?
Should I leave it to fate,
Or show fain interest and wink?
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

“Uncle Claude and my Mom?” said the Dane,
“Mortal coil, I’d shed thee most fain.
Should I be or not be?
That’s the question for me,”
He droned on in an endless refrain.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As we await The Big Reveal,
The news from Mueller comes piecemeal.
With every twist and turn
We wonder when we’ll learn:
Did Donald and Vlad make a deal?
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The ingenue, she let out a loud squeal
At her costar, who was quite a heel.
Oh, he was a shrewd lad,
A most cunning bad cad,
Who went after the showgirls piecemeal.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Though the mood in the office is hushed,
The boss pretends he is nonplussed.
It’s piecemeal every day,
While our Hope fades away
And another one bites the dust.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

“We’ll rebuildeth Jerusalem piecemeal,”
One day said the prophet Ezekiel.
“And we’ll never give up;
We’ll just laugh when a pup
Who’s called Jared says “Here’s my Mideast deal.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Old dancing master disciplines
the belle, “Dear girl, your crinolines
are out of sync.
You must, I think,
control their twirling widdershins!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He complained of his broken clock
To anyone who heard his squawk.
“For when the hand spins,
It goes widdershins,
And it says, tocktick, not ticktock.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Bernie and Trump, two agents of change,
What won the race is immoral mange,
Pustuled bitter wens,
Wacko widdershins,
Wrenching backwards the sanity range.
-Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada (texzenpro yahoo.com)

Though Warner and Burr partner well,
Our congress heads widdershins pell-mell.
Reps Nunes and Schiff
Are having a tiff --
That handbasket seems bound for hell.
-Mary Rice, Greenville, Illinois (merice2010 gmail.com)

The election last time went all widdershins,
And the fault is Ohio’s and Michigan’s.
Wisconsin, you too.
Pennsylvania? You’re blue!
For one day did you turn into simpletons?
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: You’ll like these... no ly!

I told the NASCAR driver, “If you need tires, deasil never do.”

A pasty-white man can’t get a tantivy stays inside.

Happily, I needn’t fain ignorance of this AWAD.

Is roast dove garnished with an olive branch a piecemeal?

Dances at the retirement home display lots of widdershins.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It took less than an hour to make the atoms, a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, but five billion years to make man! -George Gamow, physicist and cosmologist (4 Mar 1904-1968)

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