’19 A To Z Challenge – U

AtoZ2019Letter U

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A USELESS TALE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

O Nostalgia, where is thy sting?

What do I do when a blog-post theme occurs to me while I am having lunch?
Keep munching! A good platter of nachos is like a contract with God Himself. You guys can read my blatherings any time.

Nachos

My Father was a minor performer. Before the advent of radios in automobiles, he used to regale us with ditties and folk-songs on Sunday drives and road trips. I have found most of them on Google, as folk or minstrel songs, but no indication that any of them were ever recorded. He must have received them as oral history.

The other day, as I was dashing through melted cheese and jalapeno rings, I recalled my mother crooning a little ballad to me in the late 1940s. At first, I thought it might have been just something that she had heard Dad sing. My friend, Dr. Google assured me that this had been a real, live song.

I typed in, Down In The Garden Where The Praties Grow.” If you tap, you will see that the title is merely, The Garden Where The Praties Grow. I remember asking my Mother what ‘praties’ were. She explained that this was an Irish term for ‘potatoes.’

I already knew what indignities the skirt-wearing Scots had inflicted on the language. It was no surprise to find that the drunken Irish couldn’t keep their words straight. Mom must have heard it on the primitive radio when she worked in the big city of Detroit. It was recorded in 1930, but the original version must have been written about 1870, with fashion references to Grecian Bend – women’s hunched stature, caused by a huge bustle – and ‘chignon’, a large, then-trendy, braid or bun at the nape of the neck.

I hope that some of you enjoy a bit of entertainment/fashion history. While I claimed that this story is useless, and about nothing, to me it is a fond remembrance of the soft, kind, loving support that my Mother gave to me as a growing child. This post, and the history/musical link, are particularly dedicated to 1Jaded1, who likes when I connect my story to a song.

I Didn’t Mean That

Contradiction II

Here’s a list of words that don’t mean what they used to.

  1. Nice

The original meaning of nice used to be, well, not so nice. The adjective actually comes from the Latin word “nescius,” meaning “unaware” or “ignorant.” When it was picked up by the English language in the early 1300s, it described a “stupid, ignorant, or foolish” person. Ouch!

2. Awful

Nowadays, if you say something is awfulyou’re not being kind. However, back in the day, it was actually a term that people used to praise things, seeing as it literally meant that someone or something was “worthy of awe.” As awful became more negative, the word awesome largely replaced it in terms of its original meaning.

3. Flirt

Flirting with someone in today’s sense is what most people would consider to be flattering. However, if you were to flirt with someone based on the word’s original meaning, then what you’re doing is less sweet and more savage. Back in the 1500s when this term was coined, it was actually used to describe a quick motion or jerk—something like a flick

4. Cheater

Centuries ago, the term cheater was used to describe the royal officers who looked after the king’s escheats, or the land he acquired when someone died without a legal heir. However, because of the shady ways these officers went about their jobs, the word “cheater” eventually became synonymous with someone who lies, tricks, and defrauds—and this is how we define the word today.

5. Egregious

When someone describes something as egregious, they are trying to say that it stands out—and not in a good way. However, when it was first coined, the word actually meant the exact opposite. According to Merriam-Webster, the adjective was once used as a compliment to describe someone “who had a remarkably good quality that placed him or her eminently above others.”

6. Naughty

In the 1300s, people who were naughty had naught, or “nothing.” In other words, they were poor. Nowadays, however, the word is used to describe someone not as poor, but as evil or improper.

7. Terrible

The original meaning of the word terrible is similar to its definition today, only way more extreme. When you described something as terrible back in the day, it meant that it caused genuine fits of terror; today, people use it to describe anything that’s mildly bad.

8. Bully

No one wants to be called a bully—unless you’re using its original meaning, that is. In the archaic sense, bully means “sweetheart,” as it was derived from the Dutch word for lover, and for a while meant excellent, or splendid. Think Teddy Roosevelt, and his, “Bully, bully, bully!”
(David Bowie’s song, Fame has the line, “Bully for you, chilly for me.”)

9. Silly

The word silly has seen quite a few definitions throughout history. Derived from Old English, the adjective has been used over the years to mean everything from “happy” and “fortunate” to “innocent.” Eventually, though, the word somehow became synonymous with ignorance, thus bringing us to its current meaning of “foolish.”

10. Dapper

If you’re a stylish, neatly groomed man, someone today might call you a Dapper Dan. However, if you were to use the word according to its original meaning, then this wouldn’t make sense. Seeing as it’s derived from the German word tapfer for “brave,” dapper was originally used to describe someone as bold and daring—not in their fashion choices, but in their endeavors and undertakings.

11. Fantastic

Fantastic is an adjective used to describe something that is extraordinarily good. However, seeing as it was derived from the Latin word phantasticus—meaning “imaginary”—this word was originally used to describe something that only exists in the imagination. So, technically, a unicorn would be fantastic in either sense of the word!

12. Artificial

When something today is described as artificial, it’s usually a far cry from what’s considered a masterful creation. However, that’s exactly what the adjective used to refer to. If something was artificial back in the day, it was artfully or skillfully constructed.

13. Brave

Being called brave is quite the praise by today’s standards. But the word’s original definition—which is “showy” or “gaudy”—is much less complimentary.

14. Girl

A young female is typically referred to as a girl today. However, when the word was first used in the Middle Ages, it referred to any young person, regardless of their gender.

15. Guy

Guy, man, dude, fellow—they’re all monikers used to refer to the male species. However, you wouldn’t want to just throw the word guy around back in the day; in the 1800s, it was used to describe a person of grotesque appearance.

16. Clue

If someone were to give you a clue today, they would be giving you a hint about something. However, when the word was first coined, someone who was giving out clues was actually giving out something more tangible: balls of yarn, now spelled ‘clews’.

17. Manufacture

Manufactured, when used in its original sense, describes something that has been produced by hand. However, today, people generally describe something as manufactured when it has been mass-produced in a factory by machinery.

18. Nervous

There are a lot of things that can make someone nervous nowadays: job interviews, talking to someone they’re attracted to, public speaking… the list goes on and on. In the 1600s, however, nervous in this context wouldn’t make sense, seeing as it was originally used to described someone who possessed great strength.

19. Passenger

If you’re a passenger, you’re just someone who’s along for the ride. However, the original meaning of the word passenger is someone who is traveling, fleeting, or just passing by, typically by foot.

20. Pretty

The term pretty is derived from various words in other languages that meant “cunning,” “tricky,” and “skillful”—and therefore, it makes sense that the adjective was originally used to describe a sly person. Nowadays, however, it’s used to positively describe someone’s appearance rather than their deceitfulness.

21. Radical

Radical is an adjective used to describe anything extreme that shakes up the fundamental nature of something, and it’s typically employed in regards to social or political activism. However, radical actually comes from the Latin word for “rooted,” and it was once used to describe the opposite of extreme: something rooted, basic, and fundamental.

22. Sad

It’s no fun being sad or unhappy. However, it wouldn’t have been such a bad thing to be sad back in the day. In Old English, to be sad meant to be satisfied or content, usually in regards to feeling full from a meal.

23. Success

It’s a good thing to have success nowadays. However, back in the day, it could go either way, seeing as success originally described both positive and negative outcomes alike.

24. Villain

You know a villain as any evil person, typically in a movie, novel, or play. However, in Old English, this word simply referred to anybody who worked on a country estate or villa, such as a farm laborer.

25. Fathom

Today, fathom is just another word for “understand.” But way back when, it was used for measurement purposes and described the length of someone’s outstretched arms (about six feet!). Can you fathom that?

 

A Sign Of The Times

A man rushes into a bar and demands a rubber band martini. “A rubber band martini??” says the bartender. “Yes, and make it snappy.”

***

My boss says that a company’s most valuable asset is its people, but I don’t think that’s right. The people sit in open cubicles, but the toilet paper is in a locked steel box, bolted to the wall.

***

Reverend Jones was the pastor of the large First Baptist Church in town and Reverend Griggs was the pastor at the non-denominational church across the street. The two were working hard together at the side of the road, pounding a sign into the ground that read:

THE END IS NEAR!
TURN AROUND NOW
BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

As they hammered away they held a deep theological discussion on the end times. Just as the sign was in the ground, an expensive Tesla went speeding by. The driver leaned out his window and shouted, “You religious nuts!”

As the car rounded a curve, they heard the sound of screeching tires followed by a big splash. Rev. Jones looked at Rev. Griggs and asked, “Do you think maybe the sign should have just said, ‘Bridge Out?”

***

It’s a 4 minute walk from my house to the neighborhood bar.
It’s a 45 minute walk from the bar, back to my house.

***

My teacher said that unison is not a proper word.
That’s ridiculous; she should know that it’s one buffalo, standing by itself.
If there are two buffaloes, then it’s bison.

***

I tried to sue the local hospital. I explained that after her operation there, my wife had lost all interest in sex.
The hospital representative replied, “Your wife was admitted for cataract surgery. All we did was improve her eyesight.”

***

A young frog hears the story about the beautiful girl who kisses a frog and turns him into a prince. He goes to a frog fortune teller and asks if he will ever meet a beautiful young girl. The fortune teller tells him, “Yes, you will and very soon.” The frog replies, “Where? By the lake? By the river?” The fortune teller answers, “In biology class.”

***

Moon

Two blondes were sunning themselves on a California beach. One looks up in the sky and asks the other, “Which do you think is further away, the Moon, or Florida?” “Florida” her friend responds. “Why?” she asks. “Duuhh – you can’t see Florida.”

Flash Fiction #214

Swag

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

SWAG

Brucie had a very rewarding Christmas. He was old enough to know that there was no Santa, but smart enough not to say so.

“Santa” had finally brought him a basic cell phone. He’d got socks and underwear (Thanx, Mom) books, video games, dark chocolate and Scottish sweets. He’d watched A Christmas Story and asked for a BB gun, but Mom said that Ralphie’s mother was right – maybe later. “Later…. right.” Adults speak a different language.

Mom had warned him not to just throw his wrapping paper everywhere, so he’d carefully placed it all in a neat pile beside him.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story

friday-fictioneers-badge-web

’19 A To Z Challenge – S

AtoZ2019Letter S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The judge asked the accused in a paternity suit, “Have you ever slept with this woman?”
He replied, “Not a wink, Your Honor! Not a wink!”

Bed

Without even thinking about it (and that’s what causes problems) most people expect social conformity.

Despite my liking for archaic language, there are just some 19th century insults that should not be brought back. Have you ever been called a

SLUGABED

a lazy person who stays in bed long after the usual time for arising

Neither have I. Not quite.

Late one Sunday night (by my calculations), about 4:30 AM, I walked down to the end of my driveway to pick up Monday’s newspaper. I arrived at the same time as my neighbor across the street, who was putting out Monday’s garbage.

Full of perk, and perhaps perked coffee, he brightly said, “Oh, I see that you’re up early too. I have to drive to Ottawa today (5/6 hours), so I thought I’d get an early start.”

I told him that I wasn’t getting up. I was about to go to bed at 5:00 AM, and would be back up at 1 PM. “You sleep in till 1 o’clock??! How in Hell do you get anything done?” I had just spent four quiet, productive hours – half a workday – on the computer. It was fine for him to modify and set his sleep hours, getting up at 4 AM, rather than at 7:00, to suit his needs, but he felt that I was wasting time by doing the same thing, to fit my schedule and my usual time.

There was no ASSUME here. The only ass was the one trapped in a car for hours, while I recharged my energy in a nice soft bed. He didn’t make me into one. 😯

Now that I’m awake again, feel free to comment.   😀

WOW #52

Dictionary

The United States, and Canada – two counties, separated by a single language.
If you think that’s a problem, compare either country’s speech/writing, with Britain’s. If only they’d all speak the Mother Tongue. Instead, most of them speak in some Motherf**king tongue. It’s like the bloody tower of Babel.

I recently had my ears assaulted from the TV, by the word

MANKY

It was used by the narrator on a (Would you believe it?) BBC archeology show. From context, I knew what he meant – scanty, paltry, mere. It’s a very British, English word. Since I live as near to (almost)French-speaking people, as they do there, I thought that it came from the French word, manqué – lacking, or needing. When I checked, I found
slang:  worthless, rotten, or in bad taste

dirty, filthy, or bad

Word Origin for manky

via Polari from Italian mancare to be lacking

So, I got the lacking, or needing right, but not from French. Polari??! What in Hell is Polari??

A distinctive English argot in use since at least the 18th century among groups of theatrical and circus performers and in certain homosexual communities, derived largely from Italian, directly or through Lingua Franca.

The show I was watching was called Time Team. When the wife first found it, I hoped that it was a paradox-laden Sci-Fi program. Only the Brits could make a series about archeology, interesting. Using actual archeologists to explain what was going on, would be as dull as the dirt they were excavating.

To make it interesting, they added a perky little narrator who runs his own little production company, doing little historical satire films. Suddenly, I understood the homosexual reference.

There is a core group of 10 or 12 experts. They are each the best in their respective fields. Some of them are professors at prestigious universities, with doctorates, and letters after their names. They are not all archeologists. Some are historians, or geophysical investigators, or pottery experts, or a landscape analyst, who knows how the presence of humans alters the scene over centuries, or eons. They all have their regular “day-jobs.” The show began when BBC convinced a bunch of them to rush away from those jobs on long weekends, or what the English call Bank Holidays, and spend three days digging at various sites.

There are only 8 or 9 ‘Bank Holidays’ per year in England, but the series increased to 12 or 13 episodes a year. They did this for 20 years, stopping in 2014, but there have been several ‘Making Of….’ specials produced since. 20 Years??! This show lasted as long as Gunsmoke.

They dug mostly in England and Scotland, with a couple of trips over to Ireland. They did a dig in the Channel Islands, the only portion of Britain that the Nazis invaded and occupied. They did one in France, one in southern Spain, and managed to get all the way to the Caribbean island of Nevis, to investigate 400 years of British sugar plantations.

Check it out! Give it a try. It’s a great idea in the spring, when regular network shows all become reruns – of reruns – of reruns. Caution – you may learn something interesting.

Getting From There To Her

Shakespeare

A man became a woman – and it wasn’t even Caitlyn Jenner.

Even though English is not technically a Romance language, many of the rules apply to the usage and formation of words – including names. In French, Italian and Spanish, names ending in O are male, and names ending in A are female. In English, numerous male names are made female, by adding an A. Don becomes Donna. Robert becomes Roberta. Shawn becomes Shawna. Paul becomes Paula.

(Paul & Paula who were actually, neither Paul, nor Paula was a 1960’s pop music duo with one, million-seller hit, Hey Paula. Click, if you’d like to reminisce.)

We all probably know several of these, but I’ve run into a few less common ones that you may not have seen. Most Dons are actually Donalds. For those who think of themselves, formally, in that way, a few have daughters named Donalda. I’ve met two.

The name Donald is reasonably common, at least among my Scottish relatives. The name Samuel is currently less common. I recently met a Samuela. Like Samuel, Simon tends to be a Jewish name, and fairly rare in English. I recently ran into a Simona. The less common man’s name, Roland, has the even rarer Rolanda, female equivalent.

Shakespeare is accused of creating more than 50 new words for the English language, a few out of whole cloth, but many by merging other words, or adding suffixes. He also added at least four new female names. He created the name Perdita for the daughter of Hermione in his play ‘The Winter’s Tale’ (1610). It is a Latin word, which means lost. While first produced in England, this rare name is most often found among Spanish-speaking people. Kenneth Bulmer used it as the name of an evil villainess in The Key to Irunium, and several other books in this series.

Derived from Latin mirandus meaning “admirable, marvelous, wonderful”, the name Miranda was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play ‘The Tempest’ (1611), about a father and daughter stranded on an island. Modern baby-name books now say that it means ‘cute.’

He constructed the female name Jessica from the Jewish male name Jesse, the father of David, meaning God Exists. The female version is now taken to mean, God beholds, or God’s grace. He gave it to the daughter of Shylock, in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1596/1599). The original Hebrew name Yiskāh, means “foresight”, or being able to see the potential in the future.

Olivia is a feminine given name in the English language. It is derived from Latin oliva “olive”. William Shakespeare is sometimes credited with creating it. The name was first popularized by his character in ‘The Twelfth Night’ (1601/1602), but in fact, the name occurs in England as early as the thirteenth century. In the manner of extending the olive branch, the name indicates peace, or serenity.

All of these names end in the feminine-indicating final letter A. Not a Chloe, or an Amber, or a Summer, or a Robyn in the bunch. What did your parents name you…. Or, what did you name your daughter?? Are there any regrets?