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April 19, 2010

AWAD - A Word A Day - Every Word Tells A Story

Everyone who is learning a language - or expanding their knowledge of their own native language - is always learning new words - or the stories behind them. One of my favorite websites for learning new words - and good stories about words is...

...AWAD - A Word A Day. You can see their website at http://wordsmith.org/words/today.html.

AWAD describes words, their usage and their origins. You will find odd and arcane words, familiar words with unexpected origins or applications, and, of course emerging slang and pop culture contributions to English - and many other languages around the world.

For many years I subscribed to their daily email newsletter. If you also would like a glimpse into the world of words, one word at a time, you can subscribe here http://wordsmith.org/awad/subscribe.html.

One of my favorite aspects of this site is the anagram server http://wordsmith.org/awad/subscribe.html also known as "I, Rearrangement Servant" or "Internet Anagram Server".

An anagram is a word or phrase that, when the letters have been rearranged, forms different words, sometimes with quite surprising and revealing meanings.

I typed in "ESL Employment" and thought I'd share just a few anagrams with you - My Element Slop, Men Ply Omelets, Lee Plenty Moms, Seemly Men Plot, Peel Men Mostly, My Molten Sleep, My Pestle Melon, Mom Lent Sleepy, Sleepy Men Molt, Enemy Smell Pot, Enemy Spell Tom, Solemnly Pet Me, Smell Omen Type, Smell Money Pet and of course, Pellet Me My Son.

Here's a simple anagram related to cars - Camry is an anagram of "my car".

And then there are pangrams. A pangram is a sentence that uses all letters of the alphabet. Here's one:

Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx.

If you want to incorporate Wordsmiths anagrams on your web page, look here http://wordsmith.org/anagram/display.html.

It is always fun to type in the names of students and see what kind of random phrase emerges. You might even do a name scramble and see if students can identify each others names.

For example, can you decode this anagram? It is someone everyone should know; A Bemoaned Strip, A Ripest Abdomen, A Boatmen Spider, A Bad Empires Not, or A Bead Tenors Imp. (See bottom of this post for the answer)

Yep, this language - and perhaps every human language - is pretty darn weird, but I love it and I just can't get enough of its odd corners and stray distortions and expressions.

So look me up at "Pellet Me My Son" or ESL Employment for further adventures in English.

I love poking around web sites that explore where our language comes from. These are only a few. I'll be posting more later - and if you have any favorites, let me know.

We are all always learning. And we, as well as the world around us, are always changing. And we never know what stray novel, song, poem or short story might shed some light on a situation or make us wonder or be thankful for the life we have.

It is always more fun to learn together, so let me know what it is about English that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foreign foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

The answer to the anagram above is President Obama.

Posted by mmorf at April 19, 2010 12:03 AM

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