’20 A To Z Challenge – G

Ham

I recently took a linguistic tour of names, from South America, to Mexico, and parts of Europe.   It was all virtual – in a book, and online.  In real life, I’m barely allowed out the front door by myself.

The hero of the book fled a refuge in the headwaters of the Amazon, high up in the Andes, where Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela all bump together.  Reaching Mexico, he found that a friend had been killed.  He discovered that a U.S. Navy Seal, who he had thought was an American named Eddie Gamble, had actually been a Mexican named Eduardo Gamboa.

Gamboa’, as a Spanish name is not common, and I thought at first that it was really Portuguese, through Brazil, so I started looking.  Maybe because Portugal is on the other side of the Pyrenees mountains from Spain, the language developed different.  They spell words and names like this, the other way.  Their version is Gambao.

It was at this point that my ever-reliable…. uh….memory – that’s it!  Memory, reminded me that, when I am playing my free online game of Solitaire, I am often cajoled to BUY the game Gambino Slots.  Gambino??!  Dear Lord – the Italian mob owns my computer games.

Too lazy to think, I began running them through a couple of translation programs.  The problem is that, because they are proper names, the computer just gives back the same spelling in either language.  Just as I clicked the button to switch from Spanish to Portuguese, for a fraction of a second, the word ‘stem’ appeared.  😳  Duh, FACEPALM!

facepalm-cat

Now, I knew where I was going.  Not stem, but LEG!  I fearlessly ventured on into French.  There, the equivalent name is Cambe, a spelling variation of the word jambe – a leg.  An uncommon English version is Camby.  The French word for ham – a pig’s leg – is jambon.

This even explained the old gangster word referring to a good-looking woman’s legs.  Back during WWII, Betty Grable, and others, had ‘great gams.’

Betty Grable

 

I would like to claim that I came up with a great idea for the letter G, in this A to Z Challenge, but I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.  It was the daughter who suggested this.  You keep coming around to read, and I’ll keep pumping out this dreck interesting trivia.

Flash Fiction #230

Jiggery

WOW

I couldn’t get too egg-cited about Rochelle’s photo prompt, but I finally decided on a theme for a Word Of The Week post.  It took a little

JIGGERY-POKERY

but I did it.

trickery, hocus-pocus; fraud; humbug.
sly, underhanded action.
manipulation:

C19: from Scottish dialect joukery-pawkery

Like many folk-sayings involving the Scots, its pronunciation has changed over the years.  Joukery means a sudden, elusive movement, or, to duck or dodge.  It comes from the Old English word which gave us both jerk, and jink.  High jinks – high-jinks – or hi-jinks, therefore, is/are boisterous celebration or merrymaking, unrestrained fun.

Pawky, in British English, means cunning, or sly.  In Scottish, it means having a dry wit – from the Scottish word pawk, meaning trick.

***

I couldn’t hatch a 100 word post from Todd Foltz’s photo prompt.  It took a little sly, underhanded, linguistic, broken-field running to produce this.  I hope a few are interested.

Friday Fictioneers

WOW #59

Here’s a soft, sweet piece of nostalgia for this week’s Word Of the Week

POTSY

Potsy means = hopscotch, and several dictionary websites have no idea why, except to say that it is an Americanism, first noted 1930 – 35.  The ‘scotch’ in hopscotch is a line – cut, or scored – made a mark.  This is why Macbeth said, “We have scotched the snake, not killed it.”  Sweet butterscotch is removed from a large, flat sheet by cutting or scoring it.  I thought that butterscotch was a gateway drug for teenage drinking.  You loved Butter Beer at Harry Potter’s, now try our single malt – Butter Scotch.

Potsy

In the popular TV series, Happy Days, Anson Williams played the character of Potsy (actually, Potsie) Weber, which matched the goofy, likable character of Skippy, in the Family Ties series.  Both nicknames may have been applied because of their nerdy, ADHD type of erratic behavior, bouncing and skipping from subject to subject.

Potsy (or Potsie) is obviously just a nickname, and not very common.  Other than the Happy Days reference, the only other ‘Potsy’ I could find was Thomas Clinton –Tom – ‘Potsy’ Jones (1909 – 1980), who played NFL football for eight years in the early 1930s, for four different teams.

Despite extensive research (alright, I Googled it and got no answer), I can’t find how/why/when he acquired it.  Now that Canada has legalized marijuana, I wonder if we’ll start hearing of more Canucks named Potsy, who are One Toke Over The Line.

It would be sweet if you’d hop back here on Monday, to see what verbal abuse I’ve inflicted on the English language, in the name of the letter F.  There’s no need for social distancing, so you won’t have to form a line.  😀

Lying Around Again

Pinnochio

Here’s another chance to exercise your imagination muscles.  Take down the following questions.  Get some help from your friend Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, or Donald Trump, and compose some really inventive responses.  Mine are beneath the list – and beneath belief.

  1. What are Porkies, Chorkies and Morkies?
    2. Why did the Wicked Witch of the West melt?
    3. Will Smith said ‘I have got to get me one of these’. What was he referring to?
    4. Why aren’t dumb blondes quiet?
    5. Why do they call it ‘High Tea?’
    6. What makes a banana split?
    7. What happened when the Princess kissed the frog for a second time?
    8. What goes best on rhubarb?
    9. How is the best way to serve coffee?
    10. Why are rock buns so called?

Have fun (and fib away to your heart’s content!!)

1: They’re just words that the author of this list made up to confuse us…. Attention!  Breaking news!  Scientists have just discovered that they are pretentious breeds of dogs.  They are Yorkshire Terriers, crossed with Pekinese, Chihuahuas, and Maltese Terriers – all except the Porkies.

Porky Pig

They might alternatively be – a juvenile 1981 frat-boy movie, meat pies, hats which look like the pork pies, porcupines in the American South, chubby kids – or cartoon characters, and British rhyming slang for lies – pork pies = lies – which has oozed like toxic waste from Cockney London, 500 miles north to the border of Scotland, where they already have their own ridiculous slang.

2: Because she got a look at the waiter at the grandson’s recent wedding reception.  Two of the old-enough-to-be-ashamed women at the table were drooling – and not from the food.  The son said, “He doesn’t do anything for me.”  I replied, “He might, if you asked nicely.”

3: A wife who can do a media interview without revealing all their sexual secrets.  Open marriage, three-ways, sex toys, polyamory, which their just-18 daughter thought meant having a series of boyfriends, and went on social media to extol.  Surely Will has something that he can shove in her mouth to keep her quiet.

4: Dumb blondes are like black holes, if they didn’t make noise, you’d never see them.  A lot of it is just all that hot air leaking out of their heads.  When one of them walks into a room, it’s like two normal people walk out.

5: It’s a custom that began with the British Raj in India.  The tea was brewed with marijuana leaves added.  By the time they were finished, waiters were serving through second-story windows.  It’s why Swamis think that they can levitate.

6: The arrival of a hungry orangutan.

7: She acquired a socially acceptable excuse for those genital warts.

8: I put a bag of sheep manure on ours.  ….And boy, does it grow??!  Well, that’s what that orangutan swung down out of, looking for bananas.

9: Bow, say Yes Sir a lot, and grovel, hoping that, when Coffee gains dominion over the entire world, that you’ll be awarded a position where you’ll get money for nothing, and the chicks for free.

10: Suzanne Somers called them that when she and the little waiter used to exercise together, using the ThighMaster©, and the ButtMaster©.  He used to give her makeup tips.  For those of you like me, so old that you only vaguely remember sex, but remember lunch – twice – here’s a recipe for Rock Buns, a Scottish delicacy even more mouth-watering than deep-fried oatmeal.

It’s no lie that I’ll have something a little more serious to publish in a couple of days.  Don’t be late!  The meeting is called for 1:00 AM, EST.  I’ll do a reading, and then take up a collection.   😆

’20 A To Z Challenge – D

A To Z ChallengeLetter D

Death

I am the God of Hellfire and in this episode of the A to Z Challenge, I bring you

D’EATH

(deeth)
This little-known English word is almost as uncommon as the imported surname. The D’eath family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D’Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Middle English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder.

Families with the name D’eath might know where it came from and what it meant. The word’s other reference is to the rather sketchy occupation, whose bundles of firewood sticks known as faggots, have deteriorated into a modern insult for homosexuals. To the superstitious, this, and its similarity to the word ‘death,’ make them uneasy when they encounter it.

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey DSO is the fictional protagonist in a series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers (and their continuation by Jill Paton Walsh ). A dilettante who solves mysteries for his own amusement, Wimsey is an archetype for the British gentleman detective.

In one book, the hero investigates a suspicious fatality at a company doing sensitive government work. He poses as the man’s replacement, under the name Peter D’eath, telling the manager that he hopes it will startle the guilty party into somehow revealing himself. It was an amusing but needless literary device, because the author goes on to show that it was a prank of a mail-room teen with a slingshot – an English ‘catapult’ – which caused the man to fall down a flight of stairs.

WOW #57

Brat

Nobody is totally useless, or wrong all the time. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. While they are often irritating and contradictory, a Christian Apologist recently gave me a new word. He wrote that ‘God is

FROWARD

The eyes do not see. It is the mind which truly sees, and the mind sees what it expects to see. The blogger’s usage of the word kept seeming wrong in his context. I read it three or four times, before I realized that his correctly-spelled word, which meant
willfully contrary; not easily managed
from the concept of ‘to and fro’ – this is not to-ward, it is fro-ward – the negative
was probably being used incorrectly.

I don’t know why a God-believer would describe his Deity with such an adjective. It seems almost as if he were trying to “control God” into doing, or at least meaning, something that supported his views.

Or, perhaps he was just flinging around scholarly, cultured words, in order to appear erudite. I know I do. I’ve just managed to get another whole blog-post out of a word that I don’t expect to ever use (or see) again. This is what happens when Ego runs high, and creativity runs low. I’ll do better next time – I promise!

Crossed Fingers

Walkin’ In Memphis

Pregnant

A co-worker once tried to set me up with her pregnant nanny. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t know about the baby bump till afterward.

In later years, I was awed and amazed at how much I walked when I was younger. As a child, I walked miles and miles of my hometown, including three paper routes. I had a bicycle, but there were times and places where bikes did not go – or were left unattended – so I walked.

When I got my first job, a hundred miles from home, I owned a little English car, but there was no place to park it, and I couldn’t afford to bring it along – so I walked and walked, to get to know my new city. One evening, I walked a young lady a couple of miles home from a restaurant, on a coldly bitter February night. I left at -18 F, and returned an hour later to -23 F. By the time I walked back, I had frozen both my ears solid.

Even 20 years ago, when we visited Charleston, SC, the wife and I walked all over the Old Town, one day, ending by walking from the aquarium, all the way down to Battery Park – about 2 miles – and back, to the car.

After I had worked at the bank for several months, the head teller asked me what I did in the evenings. With no communal rec. room or TV, I stayed in my room. I listened to radio, read, hand-wrote 2 or 3 several-page letters each week, and assembled car models.

That would not do. I should get out and socialize. She had two children under five, and had hired a nanny/housekeeper, so that she could work at the bank. The girl was about my age, and had come from Newfoundland to Ontario for a job. I was given an address, and a time next evening, to present myself.

newfoundland-map

The walk to or from work, was about a mile and a half. After walking home for supper, I cleaned up and set off. From my domicile, to her house, was a bit over a mile, but as I got near, I realized that there was a slight problem. The street I was on stopped, and continued, further on. The cross-street stretched a long block in both directions, turned in the right direction, for the width of two house-lots, and ran back together, forming a large horizontal O. I could see her house, but it was an extra two blocks…. if I walked all the way around.

The back yard of the home in front of me abutted her back yard. There was no fence at the top of the driveway, which meant no dogs. I quietly walked past the house, and across a couple of inches of snow in the yard, vaulted a four-foot chain-link fence…. and I was there. Going home later, I just reversed the process.

Later visits proved that I wasn’t alone. My double set of tracks in the snow were soon joined by several others. Either this was already a well-known shortcut, or I had started something. I never got stopped or yelled at.

On my first visit, I was met at the side door. I was not taken up to the main floor. I don’t know what her living room, her husband, or her kids looked like. She led me downstairs, introduced me to the au-pair…. and disappeared. On later visits, I just let myself in.

The basement was completely finished. There was a comfortable den, with stereo and cable television, the nanny’s bedroom, a breakfast nook, and probably a laundry room where she spent considerable time and labor.

Used to high school girls who weren’t giving away much, if at all, I wasn’t too insistent with my expectations – a little slap and tickle, a little grope and grab. Mostly, we just cuddled, watched TV, talked, and got to know each other. With each visit though, the petting sessions were growing a bit more intense. She was a lusty lass.

Finally one evening, she reached over, grabbed a big handful of my crotch, and said, “Oh, you’re horny.” Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how OCD I was about English usage. I knew from the vernacular, that ‘horny’ meant sexually aroused. I later found that it actually means ‘horn-like, hard.’ It’s mostly a male thing, although engorged nipples and labia must surely count.

I was usually horny when I was with her, but she said it almost like an accusation, so I replied, “Well, you’re horny too!” “What’s that?? What did you say?” I wasn’t about to debate definitions with a Grade 8 Newfy girl. I shut up, and wouldn’t answer her.

In an attempt to recapture the mood, she said, “It’s okay. You can do whatever you want. I’m already pregnant.” Screech! Wait! What??! Apparently she wasn’t as busy and lonely as her employer thought she was. I quickly let myself out, vaulted the fence, and never came back.

About three weeks later, the teller asked me if I knew that the girl was pregnant. I admitted that she had told me, the last time I was there, but that I wasn’t responsible. I walked away from that trap.

***

Click here if you’d like to hear Marc Cohn sing that 1990 title song.

Which Of These Would You Ban From The Dictionary?

Bookburning

This post began when I read a post from another blogger, ranting about Kendall Jenner using the word, gnarly.
Whenever I read about Kendall Jenner (as seldom as I can), I always think of a Ken doll. They both have about the same IQ rating, although Jenner probably contains more silicone.

There is a song, currently being offered on YouTube, by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, titled In The Shallow, from the remake of the movie ‘A Star Is Born.’ A tune about being shallow??! At first I thought it was the theme song from the ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ TV program.

There are many words and phrases, (over)used in the vernacular, which I would like to hear and see far less often. They become like profanity, just verbal punctuation marks, used by people too lazy to think of something better. Any word, used too often, will begin to sound strange, and irritate. Try repeating the word ‘pumpkin’ to yourself, out loud, ten times, and see how it begins to sound weird. It doesn’t even look right on the page.

There are no ‘bad’ words – only words which become objectionable, depending on the person using them, the situation where they are used, the frequency of use, and the social reference. I find the above title objectionable. I don’t feel that there are any words which should be denied, or removed from common usage. To even suggest such a thing is a short step from book burning.

Below is the list that he had compiled, with a request to others for their most unfavorite word/expression. It’s a short list, but seems to have included a few limited, regional entries. I, of course, have some info and opinions.

Gnarly
It is what it is
Eshay
Literally
‘Tings,’ instead of “Things”
Insane
Aw bless
Lit

Gnarly: Gnarled is classier, but gnarly is Valley-Girl speak, perfect for Kendall, like, for sure, like, totally, and gag me with a spoon. (Don’t tempt me, bitch!)

It is what it is: Is business-talk, carried over into regular conversation. While it is hackneyed and trite, it is a quick, easy, verbal-shorthand way to tell someone to stop bitching and whining, and accept reality. Karma, dude!

Eshay: This is a regionalism. I don’t know how far it has spread, but Eshay is the Australian equivalent of British chav. ‘Eshays’ are almost always from a poor background, have little or no secondary education and rely on welfare payments or theft to support their habits.

Literally: I would literally like tons of people with no linguistic imagination, to stop using this as a verbal exclamation mark, when they literally mean ‘figuratively.’

‘Tings,’ Instead of ‘Things’: Here, we get into pronunciation, instead of usage, and that’s even harder to ‘correct.’ People who speak like this are frequently like the Eshays, or the chavs, above. It often, but not always, indicates poor education. Hey, it is what it is. We all have examples of enunciation which sound strange to others. To eliminate it all would soon create a silent world.

Insane: I can understand someone becoming irked by the constant use of this adjective. It is just hyperbole which means that the user is so narrow-minded and opinionated, that he thinks anybody else’s point of view is crazy. One God??! That’s insane! There are three, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Aw, bless: Another regionalism – this one is the British equivalent of a couple of similar expressions from the American South. If a little old Southern belle says Well, Bless You, or, Bless your heart, it translates to ‘Fuck you very much, asshole!’

Lit: Originally just meant illuminated, but came to refer to people who were under the influence of alcohol, and/or drugs. Like ‘woke’, its colloquial value has come to mean what hip, cool or neat meant, a few years ago.

I hate them too, but I don’t want to see them banned. They are signposts, indicating which way the population, and its language, are heading. 😳

WOW #55

CCI_000010

Here’s a word only my Grandmother would have used. Actually, she was too much of a stern, proper old lady to ever allow herself to be in a position to use the word

AMBUSCADE

an ambush.
to lie in ambush.
to attack from a concealed position; ambush.

Middle French emboscade < Old Italian imboscata,

When English riffled the pockets of other languages for words, sometimes the ears and mouth worked, but the eyes were busy elsewhere. Often, foreign words were inducted into English like a Manhattan – with a twist.

Manhattan

English is Larry The Cable Guy’s “Git ‘er done” language. It don’t have no time for all them extra little syllables. The Spanish ‘La Riata’ (something to retie with) becomes simply lariat, in English.

The word petty came from Old French petit, small, minor. So a Naval Petty Officer is not mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things, but rather of secondary rank, especially in relation to others of the same class or kind.

What was subtile (soob-teel) in French, somehow became subtle (suttle) in English. Check (a means of verification) went from English to Middle French, to become cheque, and then back. The German word pflug, became an English plough. Wisely, American English has made each of them (back) into check, and plow. In French, fait simply means, ‘made, completed, or done.’ When it got to England, it became quite a feat.

Elvis Presley’s birthplace, Tupelo Mississippi, is named for a local tree. I thought that it was Spanish. You don’t even want to know how it got into English, from the Creek Indian word, ito opilwa.

Why They Don’t Speak English

Stunned Emoji

Why do you study English??! We all speak it.   😳

The lights are on, but there’s nobody home.
The wheel isn’t turning. The hamster is dead.

Once upon a time, on a sunny September afternoon in 1958, I sat in a high school English class. We were studying Shakespeare’s ‘Merchant of Venice.’ The teacher had just read a passage, which included the phrase, “By dark and divers ways.”

The SCUBA diving system was a relatively recent invention, having only been patented by Jacques Cousteau 15 years earlier, in 1943. Suddenly, Biff, the class jock who sat in the row next to me, put up his hand. “Uh, Mr. Johnson, are they talking about guys who jump off cliffs, or that new SCUBA thingy?”

Mr. Johnson is bewildered. As far as he knew, we hadn’t been talking about people throwing themselves off cliffs – and he had no idea what a “SCUBA thingy” was. As he was stammering for a reply, I hissed at Biff, “Put an E on the end of it!”
“Whuh??
No talking in class!
Well, I was in it now. Might as well be hung for a sheep, as a lamb. “Put an E on the end of it!”
“Uh…. Edivers??”
That’s right Biff; there are two ends to a word. Only you would pick the wrong one. Now there were at least two confused people in the room.

“What’s going on back there?”

I stood up. I’m sorry Mr. Johnson. Biff saw the word ‘divers,’ and wondered if Shakespeare was talking about people who dive off things like cliffs, or if he was referring to the new mechanical system which allows people to be SCUBA divers, and breathe underwater, even though it didn’t exist 400 years ago.

We just came here from French class, where the French word ‘divers’ (dee-vare) means of many types, different, various. I was trying to tell Biff to add an E at the end, to produce the English word, ‘diverse.’

This led Mr. Johnson on a spirited lecture about the origin and changes to many English words, and got me off the hook. Biff probably went on to fame and fortune, and a football scholarship, while I can only define the word ‘obscure.’ He was regularly outwitted by the tackling dummy, and needed a handler to tie his shoes, ‘cause Velcro hadn’t been invented yet.