Issue 142, page 4

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Sez You...
From jg:

For some reason your wonderful and very informative site is thought to be "entertainment" and the overseer (someone named Websense) won't allow access to it. Is there anything you can do about that on your end? 

You are referring to an internet management system that prevents employees from accessing certain web sites (the statistics at the Websense web site about web traffic during the work day are a bit surprising).  We wrote Websense and asked how our designation within their management system may be changed.  They gave us the following prompt reply:

Melanie and Mike, 

Thank you for writing to Websense. 

The site you submitted has been reviewed and the master database has been modified so that it will be correctly filtered under the category of Educational Materials. This update will be available in the next database published.

Please let us know if you have any questions. Your suggestions are greatly appreciated.

We think very highly of their swift reply and their swift modification of the problem.  Just for that we'll give them a free plug: they're at http://www.websense.com.  Thanks, jg, for alerting us to this situation.

From Stacie Wolny:

Reading this week's TOWFI, I remembered this that someone sent me recently: http://www.apostrophe.fsnet.co.uk/ 

"The Apostrophe Protection Society was started in 2001 by John Richards, now its Chairman, with the specific aim of preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark in all forms of text written in the English language."

Excellent!  Thanks, Stacie!

From Malum99:

I know the question was rhetorical (Issue 141's Sez You...), but I think Tagalog plurals are formed by repeating the noun (e.g., bundook bundook), as in Malay/Indonesian. Thanks for the informative site.

Thanks very much!  After writing our reply we thought about it further... It's one mujahed and three mujaheddin but what would one say for two?  English has only singular (one) and plural (more than one) but Arabic has singular (one), dual (two) and plural (more than two).

From Gary L. Bertrand:

A quick note to let you know that I enjoy your site. I was playing around and animated your curmudgeon gif.

So now he's a ranting curmudgeon!  Perfect, Gary.  We'll replace the static judge with yours in the near future.

From Rob Ryland:

In Issue 140 You Sez:

The red pigment used for such highlighting in medieval "Books of Days" was a mineral known as minium. Occasionally, in addition to the colored letters, scribes would add little red drawings in the margins. These were, necessarily, small and were called miniatures from the name of the pigment.

Whoa, wait a sec... miniature comes from the pigment name?... Do minimum, and minor derive from the pigment name as well? When exactly did these words come into usage? I had thought they were from the Latin and could trace histories back to the BC.  Or was it just chance that the pigment name already meant "small" in some sense, so the term "miniature" was a bit of a pun. I don't know diddly about etymology, but this sends up red flags. At the very least, we could use a little more detail on the story.

Nice pun: "red flags".  We liked that.

However, the min- of miniature and minium has no connection to the min- of minimum and minor, it's pure coincidence.  Minium means "native cinnabar" in Latin and has nothing to do with size.

From Rachel Weston:

I was reading through a document at work, and came upon this sentence: "No representative will escort the passenger's back to the airport - passengers are on his or her own."   I laughed, I cried.   Love the site - thanks!

Beautiful...er, horrible!  Thanks, Rachel!

From Greg Umberson:

There was a question in Issue 141 about the translation of "Mots d'heures Gousses". I have a copy of the book wherein the author, or rather "discoverer", of the verses provides some help on the translation. The full title of the book for the 1977 edition is "Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames, The d'Antin Manuscript, Edited & Annotated by Luis D'Antin Van Rooten". In the Forward: "To detail the exact manner by which "The d'Antin Mss. Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames" came to my hand would be too tedious and of but little service here." The "discoverer" of these wonderful little poems then goes on to tell the story of how they came into his possession. In the footnotes he provides help translating the title: ""Mots d'Heures": "Words of the Hours." A more poetic title than the more familiar "Book of Hours." A religious or philosophical background is tacitly indicated by this title." The rest of the title is translated: ""Gousses, Rames." A "gousse" is a clove or section, as in the bulb of the garlic plant. We can therefore assume that this implies "Root and Branch," or a complete unity. Alas, would only that the poems had come down to us so."

I'm not sure if the book is still in print but can heartily recommend it to anyone fascinated by word play, especially the multilingual sort.

Looking forward to your next issue. Keep up the wonderful work.

Very interesting!

From Israel "Izzy" Cohen:

It is interesting that this association of "human being" with "earth" is even more obvious in Hebrew.

The Hebrew word for "human" is (ben) ?aDaM.
The Hebrew word for "ground" is ?aDaMaH.

Yes, that's probably the only Hebrew that more than just a few non-Jewish Americans know (which is a shame!).  Yiddish is another delightful language of which most Americans know only a few words (another shame!).


Comments, additions? Send to Melanie & Mike: melmike@takeourword.com
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Last Updated 12/12/01 09:24 PM