Issue 193, page 4

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From Roger Whitehead:

Re auspex. Reading entrails is haruspication.

Indeed.  See our in-depth discussion of divination

From Cason Bang:

The reason most of us stumble on pcale is because, like the other email mentioned, we recognize words as a whole shape. The ascenders and descenders are what make lowercase EASIER TO READ THAN UPPER CASE. Upper case letters are recognized as a rectangle without ascenders and descenders to make the shape unique. The pcale moves the ascender of the "l" far enough from its original position that we no longer see it as the same shape as place. Basically the ascenders and descenders are also very important in recognizing a word.

Thank you for that further elaboration.

From Morgiana P. Halley:

1. Re: fallow as color of horse.  The horse with a golden-brown coat and cream mane and tail, now commonly known as palomino, was once known in English as an Isabella dun, due to Queen Isabella (presumably the Spanish one who financed Columbus, but I may be wrong) having had a preference for horses of this coloring. Does anyone know why a sorrel horse is so called? The herb sorrel is green, to the best of my knowledge, and the horse's color is a rich red which would be called "auburn" on a human head.

When the sorrel plant goes to seed, it turns a rusty red color.

2. Re: Say cheese.  When I was a youngster, (I believe I was living in Oregon at the time, so it would have been the early to middle 1950s) common lore was that saying cheese produced an artificial-looking grin in photos and one should, instead, say whiskey. The formation of the latter word tended to soften the mouth into a pleasant look, rather than freezing it into a rictus.  Another practice, to make young girls more photogenic, was to tell them to say boys, because "it makes your eyes light up".

3. Re: Misplaced modifiers in Curmudgeon's Corner.  Of course, the woman might have walked down the street and turned into a drugstore. ;> My favorite of this ilk, however, is: Filled with cement, George could hardly lift the bucket. To be sure, if he were truly filled with cement, George could scarcely be expected to lift anything ever again. Then there is the confusing statement: I saw a woman washing dishes with red hair. Did the woman have red hair? Did the dishes have red hair? Was the woman using red hair as a dishwashing tool? And then there are the famous punctuation confusions: What are we having for supper tonight?  Mother? *** Don't shoot Father before I give the signal. *** And how do you punctuate Woman without her man is nothing

Good ones!

From Wayne Resnick:

While word aficionados might find the origin of fenugreek interesting, the origin of the word curry conjures up more surprise for the average person. Curry comes from the Tamil referring to sauce. But it can be used for any sauce, just as Spanish speakers would use salsa to refer to any sauce. Few Americans would think of curry and salsa as synonyms, but they are both foreign words for the same thing. The obvious difference is the types of sauces that are typical in the country of each word's origin.

This once caused some confusion for an Indian friend of mine who could not understand the conflicting statements of his co-worker who stated a dislike for curry as he doused his food with sauce.

To many Americans, the unqualified use of the word sauce conjures up an image of an Italian tomato sauce, but where I grew up in Brooklyn, many Italian Americans used the word gravy for that. 

The bottom line is that there are types of salsa, types of curry, types of gravy and types of sauce, but most types of curry contain curry powder, at least in my experience.

As aficionados of Indian cuisine (and languages) we should point out that the Tamil word is only one of several suggested origins of the English word curry. Others include the Hindi words for a type of cooking vessel (plausible) and a cold yogurt dish (unlikely). There are also curry leaves, a South Indian spice that is seldom used in curries. And speaking of things not used in curries - that nasty stuff called "curry powder" is one such. Authentic curries are made with many spices, varying by dish, each of which is treated according to its properties and each added at different stages of cooking. Curry powder is a mixture of spices which are all treated in the same manner and added at the same time. Barbarism! Far from being an indispensable ingredient of "most types of curry", this invention of the British Raj gives only a vague approximation of what a real curry tastes like. Throw it out, we say! Learn to grind your own spices, make your own garam masala, and remember... add the chili at the beginning (with the garlic and ginger) but the masala at the end (with the fresh, chopped dhania leaves).

We must go now, we've just remembered the plate of cold samosas in the fridge.

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