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Sunday, August 4, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Nicole Brodeur / Times staff columnist

Word site takes root in Seattle

locate v. -cat• ed, -cat• ing. 1. To determine the position of. 2. To find by searching. 3. To place; situate. 4. To become established; settle.

Anu Garg and his family haven't situated or settled just yet. Most of the moving boxes are still sealed up, save for those that really matter: the dictionaries and thesauruses.

That is to be expected of the founders of A Word a Day, a Web site (www.wordsmith.org) that provides just that to more than a half-million people around the world.

Last month, Garg, 35, and his family moved from Columbus, Ohio, to Seattle, drawn by the area's natural beauty, but also its love affair with words.

"We have a disproportionate number of subscribers from Seattle," Garg said with a smile. "People here love language, reading. There's colleges all over the place."

So are AWAD's subscribers — not only geographically, but professionally. Everything from janitors to college professors to strippers.

"All people have to do with words," Garg reasoned. "You can't escape them."

Of AWAD's half-million subscribers, 542 have e-mail addresses ending in "washington.edu"; 336 from "Boeing.com"; and 43 from "Amazon.com."

One of them is Mike Pope, an admitted logophiliac who works at Microsoft. AWAD, he said, "is like a getting a little free gift every morning."

Pope especially likes the weekly themes Garg finds to tie the daily words together. (Last week's was words that have to do with calendars.)

"Given Anu's obvious fondness for our incredible lexical storehouse," Pope said, "it's clear why he's touched a nerve with people all over the world."

A prison guard told Garg of sharing his daily words with inmates, and how "slowly they found they didn't need to fight. They could just make do with words."

A blind man said simply: "You are my window to the outside world."

Subscribers elected mondegreen the most popular word. It is a noun that means "a series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. ( "I led the pigeons to the flag," for "I pledge allegiance to the flag.")

The site also features an Internet Anagram Server, so you can see "Real Networks" transformed into "lowest ranker" — or, my name to ... "boner cloudier"?

Garg's wife, Stuti, 31, founded Namix.com. and creates names for companies. She thought up Botanicare for a company that sells herbal products, and Ledger Keepers for an accounting firm.

But perhaps the hardest word the couple had to come up with was a name for their daughter. They settled on Ananya, the Sanskrit word for "unique." She is now 5.

I offered Garg a few words that he needs to know for living here:

"Puyallup," I told him, is a city to the south that is pronounced "pew-al-up."

Then I wrote down "S-P-O-K-A-N-E."

" 'Spo-kayne'?" Garg tried.

Look it up.

Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or at nbrodeur@seattletimes.com. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists. She wouldn't miss the John Pizzarelli Trio at Jazz Alley.

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