WOW #22

Dictionary

This week’s Word Of the Week is….

CERVINE

As with so many other things, I found it when I was looking for something else. I have no smart comments to make about it.  I can’t even think of a way to relate it to my life, to give you some kind of cute little story about it.

The English adjective cervine comes directly from Latin cervτnus “pertaining to a deer” ( cervus). Latin cervus means “stag, deer” and derives from a complicated Proto-Indo-European root ker- (with many variants) “uppermost part (of the body), head, horn.” The same root yields Latin cornū “horn” (as in unicorn and in corn in the sense “thickening and hardening of the skin on a toe”), cervτx “neck,” and cornea (horny coating or tissue). In Germanic the root appears as her-, source of English horn, hart (the animal), and hornet. Cervine entered English in the 19th century.

Just about every animal has a similar word to describe it. Most are easy to identify if you know the Latin base.  Bovine = cow-like, ovine is sheep-like, equine is horses, canine and feline are cats and dogs, aquiline soars like an eagle, ursine refers to bears, lupine is wolves, leonine is lions, although saturnine means gloomy or taciturn, and refers to the dour astrological influence of the planet Saturn.  The dictionary does not mention Grumpy Old Dude – Archon.  Vulpine refers to foxes,  and is the basis for the European surname ‘Volpe’.  We have a “Don Volpe Interiors”, locally.

Porcine refers to pigs. I once watched a C-grade movie.  Essentially it was The A-Team Invades Cuba.  Soon after our heroic lads came ashore, they required local assistance.  It quickly came in the form of a Rubenesque young female with a low neckline, short skirt, and high heels in a dirt-road village.

The squad leader thanked her, and asked her name. When she said that it was ‘Porcina Perez,’ I fell off the couch.

I don’t imagine that I’ll use this word much. I have very little need to describe things (animals) which are deer-like.  The reason that I included it is because of all the English-language words and concepts that it engenders.  Heads and horns and hornets and corns and cornets and cervix and hart and cornea and unicorns, oh my.  It’s like this one word supports half the dictionary.

Please join me again, later this week, when I rant off at a completely different vector.  😀

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WOW #21

Dictionary

Once upon a time, people knew what they were talking about. As the English language grew and grew, and became more and more complex and nuanced, it became necessary for its many users to have a way to know what others were saying.  I thought that I should take this Word Of the Week series back to where it started, in the

DICTIONARY

noun, plural dictionaries.

a book, optical disc, mobile device, or online lexical resource (such as Dictionary.com) containing a selection of the words of a language, giving information about their meanings, pronunciations, etymologies, inflected forms, derived forms, etc., expressed in either the same or another language; lexicon; glossary. Print dictionaries of various sizes, ranging from small pocket dictionaries to multivolume books, usually sort entries alphabetically, as do typical CD or DVD dictionary applications, allowing one to browse through the terms in sequence. All electronic dictionaries, whether online or installed on a device, can provide immediate, direct access to a search term, its meanings, and ancillary information:

an unabridged dictionary of English; a Japanese-English dictionary.

a book giving information on particular subjects or on a particular class of words, names, or facts, usually arranged alphabetically:

a biographical dictionary; a dictionary of mathematics.

As technology constantly leaps and bounds forward, even the definition of dictionary continues to expand, with the addition of terms like electronic, and CD and DVD. It finally became evident that there was a need for some sort of book which made this information available.

One of the first was Samuel Johnson. In 1755 he published a book giving the information value of many English words.  However, he didn’t resist the temptation to include some social comment along with his definitions.  He referred, disparagingly, in his dictionary definition for oats: “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” His biographer, James Boswell, noted that Lord Elibank was said by Sir Walter Scott to have retorted, “Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?”

Most people are only interested in what a word means right now. I often am fascinated by etymology, what a word first meant, and how it has matured and changed, sometimes over centuries.  For example, the word ‘girl’ used to mean ‘boy.’  Actually, when the word was first used, it indicated a young child of either sex.  As Germanic languages provided the base for ‘boy’, the word ‘girl’ was left to indicate only females.

Which came first, the color orange, or the fruit? Old English didn’t have a word for ‘orange.’  It was simply known as ‘aielloredd’, yellow-red.  When Europeans first discovered the plants in Northern Africa, the Spanish pronounced the natives’ name for them as ‘Naranja.’  In English ‘a naranja’ became ‘an orange,’ and the word was also used to identify the color.

When British colonists first asked Australian Aborigines for the name of those funny, hopping animals, the natives didn’t care, and had not bothered to name them, so they answered kanga roo, which, in their tongue, means, “I don’t know.”  And so, another mistaken word was added to the language.  There was room for it, because the Abo word for a four-legged canid pet, was ‘dog.’

A To Z Challenge – M

Challenge2017

Please don’t let me be misunderstood, by The Animals.  (Click for YouTube)

letter-m

Worse than being misunderstood, is being misidentified.  Those of you who know me, know that my name is not John Smith, but it’s almost that common.

I once worked with a young woman named Kauffeldt, a very non-common German name meaning ‘a purchased field’. She came to Kitchener from a town north of Ottawa, the equivalent of a 6-hour drive, because – that’s where the jobs were.

She started dating a guy, then they were ‘going steady’, then after a year, they got engaged. I thought that I should show at least a little bit of interest, and asked his name.  She told me that he was Barry, but managed to pronounce it more like Bawry, than berry.

As the wedding approached, I asked what her married name would be, and she told me that it would be Kauffeldt. “You’re not going to keep your maiden name are you??”  A hundred years ago, two brothers settled on opposite sides of a lake….and the families lost contact.

Barry was a 4th or 5th cousin, who lived in a different township.  They went to different elementary and secondary schools.  He also came down here for a job, and they met in Kitchener.  Talk about not even needing to change the monograms on the linen – she didn’t have to change her driver’s licence, or any other official paperwork.

My more common name though, has caused misunderstandings, if not actual problems.

I went to my dentist, to have some work done on a lower, right molar. The tech bustled in, and gave me a shot of Novocaine in my upper left jaw.  When I asked why, we found that another ‘John Smith’ had moved into the neighborhood.  She had his file, and I got his shot.  Then, of course, I got my own Novocaine shot, and spent the rest of the day with my face falling off.  I’ve since learned to provide address, Social Insurance Number, telephone, and/or birth date, to prevent this sort of thing.

On a street I once lived on, a house was built on the last empty lot, 8 houses past mine. One day I got a letter from a lawyer, threatening to sue ‘John Smith’ for cutting down a tree.  John Smith the contractor was from a small town, 25 miles away.  Shouldn’t someone know this?  When I called the lawyers office, the clerk alibied that, “We thought it was a work-site address.”

About 2:00 AM one Saturday morning, as the wife and I were watching a late movie, the phone rang. “Hey, this is Guido.  I’m checking in.”  That’s nice Guido.  Why are you calling me?  “Ain’t you John Smith, my parole officer?  I lost my contact information, so I looked you up in the book.”   Shortly after that, we put the phone in the wife’s name, and list it with just her initials.

One evening the phone rang, and when I answered it, a very irate man threatened to come over to my house and “punch your f**kin’ lights out.” Why would you want to do that?  “Halfway to the next town, my f**kin’ transmission fell out.”  And what does that have to do with me?  “Well, aren’t you John Smith, of John’s Transmissions?”  No sir, and next time, take a business card, or better yet, take your car to Mister Transmission.

Fifty years ago, when I took my Government-operated Academic Upgrading/Business Practices course, I may have been a bit more intelligent and educated than the run-of-the-mill factory/fisheries/ lumber crowd. I was dragooned into being the Acting Office Administrator for two weeks, while the real one (finally) enjoyed a much-earned vacation.

With a strong, independent Mother, it was amusing yet disturbing, that there were still bastions where a 22-year-old kid made executive decisions and directed 3 competent middle-aged female clerks – because men ran offices, and told women what to do.

Later, I found myself supervising and teaching several classes per day of a Basic Business Machines course, for six weeks, while they located and hired a replacement for a teacher who’d found a better job.

Shortly after I graduated, my Adult Education Program was absorbed, and officially renamed Conestoga College Continuing Education. About ten years ago, just before we put the phone in the wife’s name initials, I answered it one day.  A man queried, “John Smith?”  ….Uh, yeah.  “From Adult Education?”  What do I respond to that?

It turns out that it was a new student, trying to reach a newly-hired instructor named ‘John Smith.’ Apparently, unofficially, the old Adult Education name was still being used, to encourage mature students.

Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner – but please be sure, when you do call me, that I’m the Me you really meant to call.   😳

***

My apologies!  I should have posted this under the title A For Alzheimer’s, or F For Forgetful, or wait and publish it under R For Rerun.  I knew it sounded familiar.  We did it before, and, apparently ‘we’ (I) did it again.  This is an almost word-for word repeat of ‘Oh Yeah? Name One!‘ which you can click on below if you want to leave a comment, ridiculing my memory.  Sorry about that.  New material coming soon.   😳

WOW #2

katzenjammer

The Word Of the Week is;

Katzenjammer

Dictionary.Com’s word-of-the-day is often archaic, unusual or foreign – typical click-bait. I was, but yet I wasn’t, surprised to find this one.  It was in the middle of; crambo, laterigrade, rectitude, and igneous, not easy, or interesting, words to write about.

Definitions for katzenjammer

  1. uneasiness; anguish; distress.
  2. the discomfort and illness experienced as the after-effects of excessive drinking; hangover.
  3. uproar; clamor: His speech produced a public katzenjammer.

Origin of katzenjammer 1845 – 1855
Katzenjammer is a borrowing from German, in which the obvious, literal sense of the word (“wailing of cats”) does not apply and instead has the meaning “hangover.” The word entered English in the mid-19th century. The additional senses of katzenjammer date from the late 19th century.

When I was quite young, there was a newspaper comic strip entitled ‘The Katzenjammer Kids.’ Click to see the Wiki article about it.  After the Second World War, with still some resentment against Germans, it became ‘The Captain and the Kids.’

Perhaps it wasn’t clichéd for its time, but its formula of an inept adult male, often made fool of by two rowdy boys, was followed by ‘Our Boarding House’ as a comic strip, and on into radio, and later, TV shows.

This has reminded me of something else I used to read as a child, in the Saturday Evening Post. Occasionally, they would print short poems called Rhymes Mein Grosfader Made (Rhymes My Grandfather Made), composed in heavy Germanic accent, and making fun of Fairy Tales.

Be sure to stop by for the next WOW, to see if I select an English word.  😀

HOT-DAMN HOT ROD

Mustang

Once upon a long time ago, shortly after the invention of the wheel….

One day I had to take my car in to a garage to have some work done. Back when ‘Customer Service’ was still a proven fact, and not a forgotten myth, the apprentice mechanic drove me to work and took my car back to the shop.  He, or someone else, was supposed to pick me up at 5:00 PM, when both our firms were finished for the day.

About 3 o’clock, my phone rang. They had dismantled the car, but a couple of necessary parts wouldn’t arrive till early the next morning.  I would have to leave it overnight, and find a way home and back in the next morning.

Home was almost 10 miles across town on a hot August afternoon. Walking was unthinkable.  Transit would mean over an hour, three buses, and still a good walk to the house.  I approached DORIS, a ditzy clerk, old enough to be my mother.  She lived on the same side of town, but normally took a road parallel to mine.

Sure! She could drive me home.  She was also taking Ethel, who lives near me.  At 5:00, we all left the office, and headed for the parking lot.  Doris handed me a key chain, and said, “When I’m in the car with a man, he drives.”  A little strange, but, Okay.

I know she drives a crappy Dodge Dart. The keychain she handed me was quite masculine – a blue rabbit’s foot, one die (dice), and a Ford key.  She saw me looking at it questioningly, and said, “I had to take my car in too.  I’m driving the son’s car.”

When we got to her spot, there was a new(ish) Mustang. I climbed in and fired it up, and saw a couple of reasons why she wanted me to drive.  Gearhead son bought the ‘Tang with the stock 283 cubic inch motor, but had got ahold of, and shoehorned in, a gigantic seven liter (427 C.I.) engine with 4-on-the-floor transmission.  I was raised on standards, so I was good to go.

As I backed up and pulled out, I found yet another reason. While son had installed the big motor and tranny, he hadn’t (yet) put in power steering or heavy-duty front suspension.  Here was an engine as big as Mount Rushmore, sitting over extra-wide front tires. It was like trying to steer the Titanic with a canoe paddle.

Once I got it going more or less straight, on the road home, the conversation turned to language. How could it not? I was in the car.  I mentioned that the first thing I had learned about German when I arrived, was that there are no silent letters.

I had asked a German-speaker about an Amish dish called ‘schnitz und knepp.’ I confused her by pronouncing it ‘nepp.’  This is when she told me it should be ‘kenepp.’  We had recently hired a new, young engineer, named George Kniseley.  When he came around to introduce himself, he pronounced it ‘nizely.’  I told them that, properly, it should be pronounced ‘kenizely.’

Doris said, “Who??”
“George Kniseley!”
“Who??!”
“The young engineer we just hired.  He sits upstairs, across from Bill, our chief engineer.”
“Oh, him!?  I’ve been calling him Kinsley (kins-lee) for six months, and nobody’s said a thing.”

That’s okay, Boris….uh, Doris, I’m sure he doesn’t mind.   😕

Chastised

Shrew

I took shit twice this week, and both times from a woman….  Wait, I’m a male, and I’m married – that statement is redundant.

I took the wife to a grocery store that we don’t normally patronize.  Once you’re in, they give you all the room in the world, but, worried about ‘shrinkage’, they funnel you in, and funnel you out.

Finished with our shopping, we joined the mule-train heading for the exit.  Suddenly, the two women with carts ahead of us, came to a complete stop.  I waited for a few seconds to allow someone to put change or coupons in a purse, but when a minute had passed and we still weren’t moving, I looked to see what the holdup was.

Three women had entered the store, one, 5 to 10 years older than me, and what seemed to be her daughter and a friend.  The daughter was treating her like she was senile, and giving minute instructions – go here, look for that, don’t buy this, etc., etc.  The problem was, they’d stopped her when her cart was crossways to the access aisle.  If the two in front of me wanted to stand there like sheep, I’d play herd-dog.

The old gal wasn’t leaning on the cart, so I grasped the front and slowly, gently turned it 90°, till it was against the wall, and out of everybody’s way.  The senior’s hand and wrist moved with it.  Now the two dreamers woke up and headed out of the store.  The darling little old lady looked up in surprise and said, “Oh, was I blocking the aisle?  I’m so sorry.  I apologise!”, because that’s what thoughtful, well-mannered people do.

Suddenly, like a fireworks display, the daughter started popping off.  To the friend, “Well, isn’t he aggressive?”  To me, “What’s the matter?  Are you so busy that you couldn’t wait a minute?  She’s an old lady you know, and she has mobility problems.”  At which point my wife hobbled up to the corner with her forearm crutch, where the bitch could now see her, and blasted right back at her.  “I’m an old lady too, and I also have mobility problems, and it causes me a lot of pain to have to just stand there and wait!”  Uh…yeah…well…  She was still trying to close her mouth when we walked out.

Later in the week, I went down to my usual supermarket.  It sits on a five-lane street, the center lane for left turns, everywhere except at the supermarket’s driveway, where the roads crew have painted a swoop and stop-line.  I must turn left into that store, and oncoming traffic must turn left into the side street for the EuroFood market.

I pulled over and stopped for oncoming traffic in the other lanes.  I looked up and saw a pair of seniors, older than me, coming at me.  They want to go in on the side-road….  Whoa!!  No they don’t!  He wants to go on past me to the entrance at the far end of the strip-mall.  He managed to get the car stopped just before he hit me, and then they sat there gesticulating at me.

When it was safe to do so, I pulled past them and made my left, but as I did so, the sweet little, 80-year-old wife rolled down her window and offered some verbal opinions.  I’m glad I had my windows rolled up.  When I got home I had to buff scorch marks off the passenger side of the car.  I think a taxi driver had to pull over and catch his breath.

I saw the kind, round, old Germanic face, and heard (faintly) what was coming out of it, and all I could think of was the subservient, aproned haus-frau who curtseyed, and opened the counter-weighted gate for Goldfinger, in the James Bond movie – who went all Valkyrie, and pulled out a Schmeisser machine gun on him when he tried to escape.

Entitled without being attentive, opinionated without being informed, judgemental without the faintest shred of suspicion that they may be in error – I begin to understand how wars, and jihads, and feuds, and murders come about.  It all comes back to the Ego and Insecurity.

Has someone taken you to task for something you were innocent of??  How did you handle it?  😕

While I’m asking questions….like the occasional debate as to whether to call carbonated soft-drinks Pop, Soda, or Coke (even when it’s obviously not)….I only referred to them as ‘carts’ in the body of the post, but I tagged it ‘shopping carts’, which is what I call them.  I have heard them referred to as ‘buggies’, which I think of as a baby conveyance.  At a couple of stores, I’ve heard the teenager paged to ‘go bring in the wagons.’  What do you call them?

#466

Plastic Surgery

#446

Just over two years ago, I wrote a Coming Home piece about how my old auto-parts plant was being given a cosmetic makeover.  An engineering firm was ready to move in, and an electronics firm was considering renting space.

Google had set up in a nearby, refurbished, gentrified tannery building, steadily increasing their local presence till they occupied the entire top floor, but was looking for still more room, and was considering a move to my old plant.

Google Building  Google’s ultimate dream

‘Considering’ is over, and money is being spent.  Not satisfied with mere lipstick and eye shadow, they are paying for a pair of implants.  On top of the three-storey section where I used to make Jeep parts, they are installing a partial two storey addition, set at a rakish, artistic angle.  They plan to occupy this entire ‘new’ (1956) end, as well as the complete top floor of the older 1906 brick section.

Prehistoric section  front

Indoors  rebuilt inside

SDC10700rear

It fronts on a street named for a German pioneer, Henry Breithaupt (brite-up), so it’s now called the Breithaupt Block, 200 feet wide and a block long.  The tank which was white, and held vinyl chips when I worked there, has been painted Gawdawful Orange, and now probably holds enough Starbucks coffee to fuel all the offices.  Note the gorgeous new (expensive) Thermo-pane windows.

Nothing is too good for Google employees.  They will have a spa, a gym, a nap/rest/reading room, several lunch rooms, c/w microwaves, stoves and refrigerators, and a staff of fulltime cooks in a cafeteria.

I have taken, and lifted, several pictures for those few who are interested, showing then, now, and near future, above.  The second photo below, shows the deteriorating brick facing and cracked windows.  During several really cold spells over the years, we would come in, to a couple of rented, jet-engine-type propane heaters on each floor.  Other photos show the facings stripped off, and the new upper floors, getting ready for a new look, taken from several angles.

SDC10701  New joining old.

Jeep building  Old Girl with her clothes on.

Jeep stripped  Stripping down to essentials.

SDC10698Standing on the shoulders of giants.

Jeep goiing upEnd-on from the main drag.

The strange angle is because the side street doesn’t meet the main one at 90 degrees.  The bus is crossing railroad tracks, and the road is currently being dug up to lay tracks for the new LRT.

This is all located right beside the upcoming bus/train/LRT transit hub, and just at the edge of the Technology Circle, envisioned, promoted and coming to fruition in the core of Kitchener, Ontario.

The old girl looked pretty good when I visited her a couple of years ago.  These new additions and improvements proceed apace.  She’s looking so much better and more functional now, and may be open for Google business by the time I publish this post.