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BS: Maven

Ringer 12 Jul 00 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Mrr 12 Jul 00 - 12:44 PM
Ed Pellow 12 Jul 00 - 12:46 PM
Ringer 12 Jul 00 - 12:46 PM
Ringer 12 Jul 00 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Mrr 12 Jul 00 - 12:50 PM
sophocleese 12 Jul 00 - 01:03 PM
GUEST 12 Jul 00 - 01:28 PM
katlaughing 12 Jul 00 - 01:35 PM
Homeless 12 Jul 00 - 01:36 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 02:53 PM
radriano 12 Jul 00 - 02:54 PM
Ed Pellow 12 Jul 00 - 03:02 PM
Ed Pellow 12 Jul 00 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Mrr 12 Jul 00 - 03:19 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 03:27 PM
katlaughing 12 Jul 00 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Mrr 12 Jul 00 - 03:34 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 03:38 PM
Ed Pellow 12 Jul 00 - 03:42 PM
IvanB 12 Jul 00 - 04:03 PM
katlaughing 12 Jul 00 - 04:12 PM
Jeri 12 Jul 00 - 05:35 PM
Bradypus 12 Jul 00 - 05:44 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 06:11 PM
Sorcha 12 Jul 00 - 06:20 PM
Ed Pellow 12 Jul 00 - 06:32 PM
catspaw49 12 Jul 00 - 06:42 PM
Ringer 13 Jul 00 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Mrr 13 Jul 00 - 09:41 AM
Ringer 13 Jul 00 - 09:45 AM
catspaw49 13 Jul 00 - 09:50 AM
Alice 13 Jul 00 - 11:31 AM
catspaw49 13 Jul 00 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Mrr 14 Jul 00 - 10:57 AM
Penny S. 14 Jul 00 - 11:47 AM
Peter T. 14 Jul 00 - 11:59 AM
Pixie 14 Jul 00 - 02:27 PM
Uncle_DaveO 14 Jul 00 - 03:05 PM
sophocleese 14 Jul 00 - 03:53 PM
Jacob B 14 Jul 00 - 05:50 PM
Ringer 15 Aug 00 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Les B 15 Aug 00 - 05:50 PM

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Subject: Maven
From: Ringer
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 12:39 PM

Reading a book by an American author (Words and Rules by Stephen somebody-or-other) and came across the word "maven" several times. From the context, it seems to mean "expert", but it's not in my dictionary.

Can anyone throw any light on its meaning and its etymology, please?


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 12:44 PM

It means both EXPERT and AUTHORITY (in the sense of She is an authority on [whatever the field is]). It's not just an expert but one who is consulted, at least in the usage I see. That is, I am an expert in my field but nobody asks me about it so I don't consider myself a maven. My dictionary doesn't derive anything. Am also interested in how this came to mean what it seems to... looks Saxon rather than Norman to me...


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 12:46 PM

My dictionary (Oxford Shorter) gives it's definition as "An expert, a connoisseur"

It originates from the hebrew word mebin which means "understanding" and is a mid 20th century American word.

Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ringer
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 12:46 PM

Good start, Mrr. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ringer
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 12:47 PM

And thanks, Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 12:50 PM

Ooh, a connoisseur - didn't think of that shade of meaning. Isn't that more someone who LIKES something than someone who is KNOWLEDGEABLE about it? Or is it both?

Fun thread, Bald Eagle!


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: sophocleese
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 01:03 PM

Mrr, a connoisseur, is someone with fine taste and large experience/knowledge. A connoiseur of wine will not only know what wine is good and what to eat with it but will also know where it comes from, how it is made, and why it is better or worse than something else. I've generally thought of the word maven as applying to women rather than to men.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 01:28 PM

"Maven" has Hebrew roots, but enters the English language by way of Yiddish. "One who is experienced or knowledgeable" (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 01:35 PM

Funny thing, I guess my BIG Book is earlier than this word. I cannot believe it wasn't in there!

Anyway, here is what I found at www.yourdictionary.com Nothing really any different, except that at the end, the 4th meaning/synonym was listed as FREAK:

Main Entry: ma·ven
Variant(s): or ma·vin /'mA-v&n/
Function: noun
Etymology: Yiddish meyvn, from Late Hebrew mEbhIn
Date: circa 1952
: one who is experienced or knowledgeable

I have heard it used in a "freak" kind of context too, usually by one who was deingrating whomever and their field. I've heard it used to describe someone who frequents a certain setting, i.e. the Opera, etc. so I am wondering if it couldn't also mean an afficianado?

I love these kind of threads!


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Homeless
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 01:36 PM

The on-line Merrian-Webster (http://www.m-w.com/netdict.htm) lists the info above, but says "see also: Freak"


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 02:53 PM

I think what differentiates "maven" from the others is the element of passion for whatever it is. "Fanatic with great knowledge" would fit the bill I think.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: radriano
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 02:54 PM

I've seen the word maven used in the book 'The Tipping Point'. The Tipping Point is a non-fiction work about how little things make a big difference with regard to events and trends. In the book the word maven is used to represent a person with many social contacts who is capable of spreading information quickly and efficiently. I can't think of the author's name at the moment but I heard about the book from the author when he appeared on a talk show on National Public Radio. I can certainly track down the information if anyone wants it.

Regards,
Radriano


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:02 PM

Curious to know:

I've never heard the word mavin here in the UK (though I'm probably not as well read as I should be). Whilst it's evidently not common, is it a reasonably well used word in the US?

'Spaw, does your 'fanatic' equate with a "connoisseur" who by definition must be at least slightly fanatical?

Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:06 PM

mavin = maven *blush*


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:19 PM

Very interesting indeed. I would say that radriano and I kind of agree that it isn't enough to be an expert, or a fan, to qualify as a maven, you also have to disseminate your knowledge. Ties into my feeling that you had to be CONSULTED, like an expert witness, on top of being the expert you have to be first. Aficionado and connoisseur seem to have similar meanings, what with the fanatic interest coupled with the great knowledge (although I think of conoisseurs as more knowledgeable than aficionados, who can just be enthusiastic, like fans, while still ignorant or at least unexpert). The main difference between radriano and me seems to be whether you are asked for your expertise or just proffer it. I would think that maven, which I think of as complimentary (despite all this new info about its disparaging meanings), would refer more to someone consulted than someone who just offers. Nuances, nuances. And I have not noticed maven being more for women, has anyone else? Perhaps it's just a similarity to bevy, or coven?


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:27 PM

Did you ever meet one of those people who was completely nuts over something and they couldn't shut up about it? Every waking moment is tied to it? You talk to them and they get even physically excited, acting almost ravenous to give you knowledge or to gain more about whtever it is. The least thing that even semi relates comes to town and they are completely nutso for it and attend every performance or whatever?

Maven.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:29 PM

I almost always thing of "Maven" as female, don't know why.

As for afficianado...I've also always regarded it as fitting when applied to someone who is very knowledge and, esp. someone who is a bit fantatical in their "collecting". I am reminded of a music group in Connecticut. They got together every month to discuss the miniscule differences between recordings, productions, and live performacnes of classical music. Everyone of them had multiple copies of the same works, different artists, conductors, etc. and the scores to follow along. I don't find anything wrong with that and I do have my preferences, but I buy the one I like best and that does it for me. Anyway, we considered them *that big word.* **BG**


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:34 PM

Aha, now I understand. If you are a Zonker-type freak, you are a freak, not a maven. But if you are, say, totally into the Mudcat, where you might have been called a Mudcat freak, you are (also, or in fact) a Mudcat maven. If you know a lot about it. And go on about it. So this seems to contradict my prior feel that you had to be consulted, but still agree with my feel that you did have to talk about what you know, not just know it.

FFTKAT: in French, "amateur" means fan, freak, maven (lover of) - NOT amateur (to wit not professional). Professionals are more likely to be amateurs of their field than are amateurs.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:38 PM

Sure....right....whatever you said........that's it.......uh, yeah..........sure thing..........and uh.............right then.......whatever it is..........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 03:42 PM

This is very interesting.

You seem to be suggesting that 'maven' has come to have the same meaning as the word 'sad' has (over the last few years) had in the UK - that is to denigrate people for having a consuming interest in anything.

Here in the UK, you would be considered 'sad' if you, for example spent your evenings cataloging every variety of an obsure plant, it's geograpical locales, population density etc, etc.

If you just sat and watched TV all night you wouldn't be sad.

Is this what 'maven' means in the US, or am I misunderstanding?

For the record, from what I've read, I'd be flattered to be considered a maven

Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: IvanB
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 04:03 PM

I've seen some uses, possibly incorrect, which would equate 'maven' with 'dilettante.' Used in that sense, I suppose it would seem disparaging.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 04:12 PM

Ah! That is a perfect word! I don't know where I first heard of maven as denigrating here in the US. The phrase "media maven" sticks in my head...since we've been in broadcast for upteen years, maybe I heard it there...it brings to mind a person who is almost obsessed with being in the thick of things and being *seen*, i.e. socialite tendencies. Oh, hell, I dunno, I guess really it has all kinds of connotations, good and bad.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Jeri
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 05:35 PM

I've never heard the word used negatively. I've also never heard it used to describe a man. In my experience, the word is used to describe a woman having a respected position in a social circle more than merely a knowledgable person. For example, if a woman is a ballad maven, she will not only possess a lot of knowlege, but be seen at all ballad-related events and be a person to whom people are referred when they have questions. I don't know if this interpretation is right or wrong, or whether I'm the only person who thinks this way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Bradypus
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 05:44 PM

I haven't heard the word used often, but somehow it feels feminine when I do - could be related to the name Mavis, I suppose. Combining 'Mavis' and 'Raven' and 'Maven' conjures up a picture of a dark, wise, female bird. Nothing do do with the word's derivation, but a nice picture nonetheless

Bradypus


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 06:11 PM

Okay Ed.....

YOU'RE A MAVEN!!!!

I'M A JACKLEG !!!!

Okay Don Pardo, tell 'em what they've won.......

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 06:20 PM

Martha Stewart is the ultimate maven. Emily Post, Dear Abby/Ann are not far behind. Perl Mesta probably was one too. I also, seem to associate it with females, and teaching. What would men be? Mavos? Mavenos?


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ed Pellow
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 06:32 PM

I'm starting to worry that I said I would be proud to be considered a maven...


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Jul 00 - 06:42 PM

Yes Ed.....Give ol Spaw an inch............I have a feeling you may get to detest the word. Luckily we are on opposite sides of the pond!!!***BG**

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ringer
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 09:24 AM

Wow: I didn't know I would generate so many postings. Many thanks to all contributors. I now know the meaning and many connotations; also, I gather from kat's first posting that the pronunciation is "mave-en", not "mavven" (I wasn't sure, before).

The original book, by the way, is Words and Rules by Steven Pinker. (Sorry, Steven)


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 09:41 AM

Bald Eagle, I would be interested in the rest of your take on that book, Steven Pinker is one strange thinker. Also have consulted a linguist friend of mine, who thinks of maven as someone, not necessarily female, who THINKS they know a lot about something and won't shut up about it, a self-styled (soi-disant) expert. The dictionaries do say Expert, though, as well as agreeing to the talking about. And both pronunciations are acceptable although the one that rhymes with Raven is more common. So after all this, I go back to my original synonym of AUTHORITY (in the sense of expert who shares their expertise).


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ringer
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 09:45 AM

OK, Mrr, I'll file my thoughts on the book in due course. I've only read Chap-1 so far, and don't get much time for reading, so don't hold your breath. I'm v interested in the way language works and its relationship to mind and brain, so it's right up my street so far.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 09:50 AM

So Baldy, you're not a "Reading Maven" huh? Time is tough ain't it? But maybe you can be a maven elsewhere. Ed wants to be a maven too.

"I think we're all bozos on this bus."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Alice
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 11:31 AM

http://www.maven.co.il/whatsnew.asp Maven, The Jewish World portal directory

http://www.arthurschwartz.com/ The Food Maven (obviously not a woman)

http://www.jewishmaven.com/jewishmaven/ Phil the Jewish Maven (another guy)

http://www.bergen.org/AAST/Projects/Yiddish/English/comwor.html Common Yiddish Words (defines meyvin as connoisseur)

Connoisseur (male or female) is the main Yiddish meaning, but if people have made it a disparaging term, that may be a later development. Some people just don't like a know-it-all.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 Jul 00 - 11:45 AM

Here's another I found by Ed Pellow:

http://www.mavenwannabe.org/helpme.htm

And this one:

http://www.spawsapain.ass/beating.deadhorse.hoho

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Mrr
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 10:57 AM

Bald Eagle, me too. Will pm when at home, have read his earlier work and lent it to someone and never gotten it back...


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Penny S.
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 11:47 AM

Thank you for this. I had been going to ask. I can imagine how it could have become derogatory over here though. Here we have the expression "too clever by half", and knowledge is not cool. Here also we have a reaction to people who use expressions picked up in US business contexts to show their superior knowledge, and this word combines those two attitudes. It was sitting alongside "suits" as metaphor for those who wear them in my mind.

Now I know better. Thanks.

Penny


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 11:59 AM

In North America the word has achieved currrency because of a man called William Safire whose politics I despise, but who writes a column for the New York Times, and on weekends in the Sunday New York Times has a language column about words, usage, etc., populated by "word mavens", "language mavens" etc. -- people who keep track of bad grammar, neologisms, etc. for him. He is the one who is really responsible for its current fadlike appearance in various other contexts, since the NYT is so influential.

yours, Peter T. (eco-maven)


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Pixie
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 02:27 PM

All I know is that when I play internet Scrabble, Maven rears her/his ugly head when I mis-spell a word or put a "phony" word down.....(sigh)

Pixie


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 03:05 PM

I wonder if the feminine connotation of "maven" isn't due to a confusion or association with the girl's name, "Mavis", which is a bird. I've never had the impression that there was a gender implication either way in the word "maven".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: sophocleese
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 03:53 PM

Actually when I think about why I associate "maven" with women is simply because the first person I ever heard described as a maven was a woman.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Jacob B
Date: 14 Jul 00 - 05:50 PM

To me, this discussion is fascinating. I know "maven" as a Yiddish word. In Yiddish it means expert (or connoisseur, if you prefer), but this discussion hasn't been about the meaning of the word in Yiddish. The discussion has been about the meaning of the word now that it has come into English. I didn't know it had. Since it came into English so recently, I'm sure that there is no maven on the English meaning of "maven".

The maven on the subject of Yiddish words that are used by English speakers is Leo Rosten. His book "The Joys Of Yiddish" is subtitled "A Book About English". I don't have my copy handy, but I'm sure that many of the connotations people mentioned were not in his entry for the word. Since it's adoption into English, the word must be changing. Discussions such as these are the source material that language mavens of the future will use to trace the evolution of the word.

If I can find an email address for Leo Rosten, I'll send him a link to this thread. I'm sure he'd love it.

Jacob


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: Ringer
Date: 15 Aug 00 - 01:17 PM

OK, Mrr: you asked for it, so here it is. My review of "Words and rules" by Steven Pinker.

First of all, it's an entertaining read, although reading a few pages each evening before going to sleep is not the best way to read it - it really needs just a few concentrated sessions. Had I more time, I'd re-read it, but queuing up to be read are Age of Reason and Enchanted Looms at the top of the pile and many more below.

I've little experience in the subject outside of popular texts so am happy to be corrected on detail, but Pinker makes, it seems to me, a good argument for his thesis and seems to be even-handed in discussing not only evidence in support, but also evidence which may cast doubt on it. The thesis is that language-processing in the brain is a combination of retrieving words from a stored dictionary and modifying and combining them with rules. So, for example, my mind stores a word, walk, and I retrieve it and describe my current action, I walk. To put it into the past tense, I apply a rule, add "-ed", and describe yesterday's action as I walked. Thus it is not necessary for the brain to store a past-tense for every verb in its dictionary: storing the root of the verb only and one rule for making regular past-tenses is all that's necessary. Now, that doesn't seem so surprising, does it?

But what about irregular verbs: Today I go, yesterday I went; today I write, yesterday I wrote? These, says Pinker, are stored in the dictionary, and, for example, lookup of the past-tense of I am follows the path "Is there a stored past-tense? Yes, was, therefore retrieve it and block the regular rule, add "-ed", to yield I was. Intuitively appealing, to my mind.

Having proposed this thesis, Pinker takes us on a guided tour of current linguistics theories discussing as we go such interesting points as why the final consonant of "cats" sounds different from that of "dogs" (caution, all you Mudcatters reading this at work: your colleagues will think you mad, hearing you muttering CAH-TSSSSS and DOH-GZZZZ to yourself), why we say mice-infested (more than one mouse) but rat-infested (only one rat), why Chomsky's Deep Structure theories are likely to be mistaken, why neural-network computer-models of forming the past tense are unsatisfactory, how children acquire language and how the behaviour of people with brain abnormalities lend credence to the basic thesis. And a lot more. Fascinating stuff. All in all, a book to be recommended; I certainly enjoyed it, anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: Maven
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 15 Aug 00 - 05:50 PM

Mmmm - two interesting M words in one week: -- Maven and Merken - can one be a merken maven ??


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