LANDLUBBER JUNE, 1999

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MICHAEL

Recently I sent two postcards with the name "Michael" misspelled with an "æ" ligature (an "aesc"). I just realized that this was not a correct typographical practice, and would like to request your forgiveness on this grave mistake.

The biblical name Michael comes from Hebrew, meaning "who is like God." Some related names are Micaiah, "who is like Yahweh," and its shortened forms Micha and Micah.

These names all come from Micha- (or Mixa, with the "x" sound being a throat fricative, similar to the Russian "kh" as in "Mikhail," the Russian counterpart of "Michael"), meaning "who is like . . ." in Hebrew.

"El" in Micha-el stands for "God" (cf. Beth-el, house of God; and Isra-el, who prevails with God), whereas "iah" in Micaiah stands for "Yahweh" (cf. Hallelujah, praise ye Yahweh).

All in all, the "a" and the "e" in the name "Michael" come from two separate morphemes, and really should be as removed as possible in the typographic presentation. I failed to accomplish this by using a hyphen ("Micha-el") or a diaeresis on the "e," and even managed to aggravate the situation by typesetting with an aesc, disregarding all good typographical practices for the benefit of a shameless show-off.

As much as this is unforgivable, I sincerely beg for your pardon and promise not to make the same mistake again. Thank you.

Humbly yours,

--Kai-hsu Tai

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