All The Languages Of The World

I am so glad that my blog-buddy, BrainRants made me aware of The Expanse series.  I have been reading the books and, not quite as quickly, watching the TV programs for several years.  It is a great epic series, not just because I love Sci-Fi, but because the writers provide tons of eclectic detail to flesh out the story arc, and the characters.

Two male writers, taking a cue from their mentor, George R. R. Martin – he of Game Of Thrones fame – and/or J. R. R. Tolkien, publish as James S. A. Corey, when neither of them is James, nor Corey.  As male authors, they have created at least four powerful, well-defined female characters.

The depth and breadth of their knowledge, which they work into the books is awe-inspiring – especially (for me) the linguistics.  Millions have gone into space, and many are mining the asteroid belt.  People move around on Earth, and the language where they migrate to slowly changes, but remains basically the same.

There was no Native Tongue in the Belt, so a new language, called Belta, has come into existence.  It includes some sign language, for folks encased in space suits, who can be seen but not heard.  The spoken language is mostly English, with additions and admixtures of American Spanish from Pittsburgh to Patagonia, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Maori, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more.

Every chapter brings examples of words and expressions that impress the Hell out of me, or drive me to dictionary or search-engine sites.  Remember, Belta is like Star Trek’s Klingon.  It is a non-existent language that these two are completely creating themselves.  The fact that I’m at least a year behind the avid fan readers, means that I sometimes reach a site where others have gone for explanations.

Recently, I hit four words on two pages that I needed to research.  One of the asteroids described, was not an asteroid, but rather, a collection of rocks with enough common gravity to hold them together, but not enough pressure to coalesce into a single unit.  Like a bag of giant marbles – without the bag.

The writers described it as a Duniyaret.  The Hindi word duniyah means ’world,’ and the Hindi word ret means ‘sand, or gravel.’  They had created a neologism in a foreign language, to describe this conglomeration of rocks.  A habitat had been created on the biggest chunk, by welding together, what were essentially steel shipping containers, at a slight angle to one another, to bend around the curve.  The authors called this “town”, Nakliye, a Turkish word that means ‘shipping.’

On the next page, I found a blazon – from heraldry, a patch or badge, often worn on lapel or sleeve, indicating owning or belonging, especially with good qualities.  When we affix such a marker, we use the slightly more-common word, emblazon.

The residents drank water that was hyper-distilled.  At first, I thought it might be like double-distilled whiskey, but the Hyper, in this case, refers to Hyperion, the Titan that the Greeks believed was the father of the sun.  They didn’t waste precious power, but used a large parabolic solar-collector, aimed at the distant sun.  I had trouble researching this term, because the search engines kept throwing up an American company named “Hyper Distillation,” which is not the same thing.

The UN Space Navy had an Admiral named Souther.  I was reminded of J. D. Souther, a singer/songwriter from Detroit, who influenced Glen Frey of The Eagles, to compose country-lite style.  I had assumed that the basis for the name was someone originally from the South of England – a southerner.  Imagine my surprise when I found that the name is occupational, coming from old English/old French soutere – a boot or shoe – therefore meaning a cobbler.

I have cobbled together a little more click-bait to lure you in.  Drop by in a couple of days, to see where my mind has gone without me.  😎  🌯

Fibbing Friday (Along [Nose] Came Pinocchio)

Pensitivity101 offers a monthly chance to flex your exaggeration (Okay! Downright damned lying) muscles.  She provides a list of questions/items that you are urged to provide ‘Creative’ answers for.  Here is my most recent submission.

  1. What are florins, tanners and bobs?

They are the Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell names given to men’s haircuts, otherwise known as Man Buns, Mullets, and Shark Fin.


2. What is Dead Man’s Fingers?

It’s what happens to Greedy Gus at the neighborhood barbecue, who goes back for seconds before everyone has had a serving of ribs.

3. What killed the Triffids?

Binge-watching ‘Bridgerton.’  People are dropping dead left and right from overdoses of taffeta, lace, and proper speech.

4. What’s the difference between a buck and a quid?

You can have a quid pro quo, but you can only have a buck pro tem, until the Tax Department finds out you worked and received it, and then they want their pound of flesh.


5. How much is an old crown worth?

Turning 40??!  The son said it wasn’t worth much.  😳
Dinner out (before COVID) to celebrate, at King’s Buffet Chinese?  $18.95
Being embarrassed by the clapping, singing wait-staff, getting his picture taken with a cardboard circlet that makes the Burger King’s topper look ritzy, and bringing the old crown home to adorn his personal totem pole?  Priceless!!


6. What can be known as a ‘Little Gem’?

The eagerly-awaited, recently-born Great-Grandson.  He will also be known as Cairngorm cairngorm stone – Google Search.


7. What is pearl barley?

Pearl Barley was a mid-20th century, female, Negro, Jazz and pop singer, well known for such classics as Takes Two To Tangle Tango.


8. Finish the sentence: ‘I came, I saw, I………………..’

I read the menu at the French fry wagon, and said, Screw the diet!  I’m not going home to make popcorn!  I’m gonna order poutine!


9. Who said ‘Smile, it enhances your face value’?

An animated Disney clockmaker.  And the digital generation said, “What’s he talking about, Great-grandpa??

10. Where on the human body is the zygomatic arch found?

It’s on the human body??!  Shit!  Now I have to do more research.  I thought that it was this one, just outside of Athens.

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things

I give all credit for the idea of this post to the late journalist Sydney J. Harris, who would occasionally include something he called “Things I Learned While Looking Up Other Things” in his syndicated column.

This is a post about words and phrases. These are my building blocks, so they’re something I’m always interested in.  You understand the sometimes frustrating task of trying to find the correct word or phrase.

Occasionally, I’ll read or type words that I may understand in the context in which I’m seeing or using them, but will suddenly realize that I’m not certain where the words or phrases originated.

In this amazing Computer Age, I can afford a few minutes of distraction to investigate them further.

Right off the bat — As expected, the phrase “right off the bat,” meaning “immediately; at once; without delay” is a sports metaphor that has been traced back to the late 1880s with that usage. I just made the assumption that the sport was baseball—and it probably is—but some suggest that it may have originated with cricket (as baseball did).

Nitpicker — The word nitpicker means someone who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. We all know someone like that. If we don’t, it’s probably us. The word itself is relatively new, from about 1950 or so. It comes from the idea of picking nits (or lice eggs) out of someone’s hair. A nitpicker is as meticulous about finding faults as a literal nitpicker should be at finding each louse egg. Yes, it’s kind of a disgusting word origin, which is why nitpicker has negative connotations.

Top-notch — We know that top-notch means “excellent” or “of the highest quality.” But, what are its origins? It seems that no one really knows. It first appeared suddenly in its current usage in the mid-19th century. It has been suggested that it originated from one of several tossing games imported from Scotland that required a player to throw a weighted object over a horizontal bar. The best score would be when the bar was in the “top notch,” naturally. This sounds reasonable, but it’s really just a guess. Other guesses have it relating to logging, with the best lumberjacks able to cut from the highest notches, or some such thing. Another had something to do with candles and courting, but that’s been mostly debunked. Bottom line: we don’t know.

Since Hector was a pup* — Meaning “for a long time.” I can’t say this is exactly a regional colloquialism, although I heard it the first (and only) time from some guy in South Carolina. He said that it was something his dad always said, and, in the context it was used, the meaning was obvious.  Best guess, according to Internet sources, is that it is referring to the Trojan War hero Hector, since the phrase originated during a time when people were more well-versed in the classics. And that was, indeed, a long time ago.

Hemming and hawing — The phrase means to hesitate to give a definite answer. It dates back to the 1400s and is echoic in nature. A more modern interpretation would be “um-ing and er-ing” probably, with “um” and “er” being common filler sounds in hesitant speech. I always assumed it had something to do with either sewing or sailing. I was mistaken.

Gamut — I used the word “gamut,” knowing that its definition meant the complete range or scope of something. My actual sentence began “our entertainment choices run the gamut from …” But, where did the word “gamut” come from? It turns out that gamut originally meant “lowest note in the medieval musical scale” and it was a contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter indicating a note below A, plus ut (later called do (as in “do re mi”), the low note on the six-note musical scale. So the word gamut was originally all about music, but later morphed into meaning “the whole musical scale,” or, figuratively, “the entire range or scale” of anything. Its first usage in this manner can be traced to the 1620s.

Honeymoon — The word and concept of the honeymoon owes more than a little to alcohol (as do some weddings: but, I digress—). The medieval tradition of drinking honeyed wine for a full moon cycle after a wedding was supposed to ensure a fruitful union between the new bride and groom. I guess Champagne is a modern-day analogue to honey wine.

Throwback — It means a person or thing that is similar to something of an earlier type or time. It was already in use with more or less the current definition in the mid-19th century. It is a combination of the verb “throw” and the adverb “back.” I can’t find a more pithy origin story for the word, even apocryphal stories that have been debunked. I was sure it would have its origin in the sport of fishing.

Venting your spleen — This particular idiom means “to express your anger.” From medieval times until the 19th century, the spleen—an organ in the body near the stomach—was thought to be the source of the “humors” that caused the emotion of anger. This is a colorful and archaic phrase. I contracted hepatitis as a 12-year-old.  (My mother called it jaundice, because I turned a lovely yellow/orange color from all the excess bile in my system.  I couldn’t keep food or drink down for two weeks, and lost 20 pounds – not a good thing on a skinny, stick-thin kid.)  But, I digress— anyway, my spleen was swollen while I had jaundice. I don’t recall being angry, but I did throw up a lot.

One to grow on — I thought an origin for this idiom would be easy to find, but it remains mostly a mystery.  When you had a birthday, it was a tradition to receive your birthday spanking by your friends or family, with the flat of the hand or with a paddle or belt. One person on-line said the birthday person would be “lightly paddled.” They didn’t live anywhere near me. Anyway, you’d get one swat for each year of your age, and then one extra swat, called the “one to grow on.” It’s like the baker’s dozen of birthday-themed beatings. I still don’t know the origins. Here’s one guess: you say something “grows on” you to mean that you become accustomed to it. Is the birthday punishment tradition meant for you to get used to pain because that’s all adulthood has to offer you in the future? That’s a little bleak, but it will serve as a placeholder until someone can offer me a better explanation.

* * * * *

Things I Learned While Researching Other Things = TILWROT
Remember that!  
As a lover of words, I know I’ll keep collecting these. Plus, I’ll keep posting them, I’m sure.

*Actually…. My Mother used to say, “Since ‘Towser’ was a pup.”  Now I’m off to research ‘Towser.’  Lord knows what I’ll find.

 

’20 A To Z Challenge – Z

And the First shall be Last, and Last shall be First.  At last we are approaching the first of a new alphabet challenge – But first, the word

ZENOSYNE

zenosyne – The sense that time keeps going faster. .Coined in 2012 by John Koenig in The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, https://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/ a project to create a compendium of invented words for every emotion we might all experience but don’t yet have a word for.  And Keta – an image that inexplicably leaps back into your mind from the distant past.  Koinophobhia – the fear that one may have lived an ordinary life.  Wytai – feature(s) of modern life that one may consider absurd, like zoos, drinking milk, or organ transplants. 

Morii is the desire to capture a fleeing experience, something we try to do incessantly every waking minute of our lives these days, with Instagram stories, photographs, and snaps.  Lacheism is a longing for clarity of a disaster or apocalypse.  Lilo is a friendship that can lie dormant for years only to pick right back up instantly, as if no time had passed since you last saw each other.  Astrophe – the feeling of being stuck on earth when there is an entire universe or beyond to explore.  Modus tollens – is the feeling that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense any more. 

Onism is the realization of how little of the world you will experience.  Socha is the hidden vulnerability of others.  Lutalica is the part of your personality that doesn’t fit into categories.  Vemödalen is the fear that everything has already been done, and Avenoir is the desire to see memories in advance. 

We take it for granted that life moves forward.  But you move as a rower moves – facing backward.  You can see where you’ve been, but not where you are going.  And your boat is steered by a younger version of you.  It is hard not to wonder what life would be like, facing the other way.

Klexos is the art of dwelling on the past.  Your life is written in indelible ink.  There’s no going back to erase the past, tweak the mistakes, or fill in the missed opportunities.  When the moment’s over, your fate is sealed.

Xeno is the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone.

Mahpiohanzia is the disappointment of being unable to fly.  Being unable to stretch out your arms and vault into the air, having finally shrugged off the ballast of your own weight and ignited the fuel tank of unfulfilled desires you’ve been storing up since before you were born.

Trumspringa is the temptation to step off your career track and become a shepherd in the mountains, following your flock between pastures with a sheepdog and a rifle, watching storms at dusk from the doorway of a small cabin, just the kind of hypnotic diversion that allows your thoughts to make a break for it and wander back to their cubicles in the city.

Kairosclerosis is the moment you realize that you’re currently happy—consciously trying to savor the feeling—which prompts your intellect to identify it, pick it apart and put it in context, where it will slowly dissolve until it’s little more than an aftertaste.

Sonder – the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as yours
Opia – The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
Monachopsis – The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

Kenopsia – The forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people, but is now abandoned.

Mauerbauer-Traurigkeit – The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends that you like.

Énouement – The bitter-sweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
Vellichor – The strange wistfulness of used-book shops.

Anticipointment – The sinking feeling when anticipation fails to be the greater part of pleasure.
Jouska – A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.

This man obviously had way too much time, sitting by himself in the attic.  I don’t know whether he should have taken more drugs – or less.  At least he got an entire book out of it – portions of which I have stolen researched, and used for free, for this post.

The same old alphabet begins with brand-new words in a couple of weeks.  This year, C may be for Compulsive.

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.  😀

Flash Fiction #227

Investment

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

INVEST IN YOURSELF

Josh’s orientation meeting at the investment firm was an eye-opener. He thought that he would be offering carefully researched stocks and bonds to willing buyers.

The Sales Manager said, “Our analysts are good, but we’re not here to make our clients rich. We’re here to collect a commission on every trade, whether they’re buying as stocks soar, or dumping when they dip. The economy works, because they believe that it works. If you sense any reluctance, turn up the volume! Give them a little song and dance. Most of them love the personal attention, and your paycheck will appreciate it.”

***

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

’18 A To Z Challenge – X

Xerxes

I was afraid that I was actually going to have to do some research – but I skillfully avoided it.

The number of words – interesting words – that begin with the letter X are severely limited, and every year that I publish one reduces the options further. I thought that I might do some sort of historical post about the ancient Persian king, Xerxes. Fortunately, while I was hanging out in the X neighborhood, I found a new, not quite useless word.

xertz

The origin of the word ‘xertz’ is not known. However, it is used in the context of gulping your food or drink quickly and, not to forget, quite greedily. The best example to explain and use this word is when a person comes indoors after bearing the summer heat, and gulps a glass of juice or water with haste – or, when you hungrily gobble the last slice of pizza.

Xertz

I’ll be back, later in the week, with a post that you can sink your teeth into…. after I’ve finished sinking my teeth into the rest of this pizza.   😉

 

’18 A To Z Challenge – U

uvula

I luv my Uvula.  It’s that dangly body part that women, as well as men, have.  I thought that it was about as useful as a ‘Best of Keeping Up With the Kardshians DVD, non-functional, merely a plaything for Ear, Nose and Throat doctors, good only for silly cartoons.

Then I desperately needed a word starting with U for the Challenge, and didn’t want to use one that was merely “un” something – unusual, uninspired, unmoving – and had to actually do some research.

Uvula Function:  The main function of uvula is to prevent food going through the breathing passage while you swallow. The uvula function also involves articulation of your voice to form sounds of speech. The uvula functions along with the back of the throat, palate, and air coming up from the lungs to produce a gruffy and other sounds.

Did you know that newborn babies have no need for a uvula??  When we are first born, our throats actually have two separate tubes – one to the lungs, and one to the stomach.  This is why babies can constantly nurse, yet continue breathing.  Only later does throat tissue shrivel to produce one, somewhat dangerous passage.

I’ve got to add that to the (rather large) list of things to mention to the next “Intelligent Design” idiot that I debate.  One of the most famous of them, over the course of a couple of years, gave a number of speeches and produced a few videos, using the banana to “Prove” the existence of God.

‘See how they just fit the curve of the hand, and are just the right size for our mouths, and they’re so nutritious and good for us – GOD must have designed them with us in mind.’

He recently ceased this silliness when an Atheist icon pointed out that the modern banana has only been in existence for several hundred years, and came into its current form through genetic manipulation by human beings.  😳

’18 A To Z Challenge – K – PART #2

 

Challenge '18
Letter K

KNOCKER-UPPERS

Now that we’ve all had our tween-aged boy snicker, we’re going to speak British.

The daughter, my primary research assistant, sent me a link to a YouTube video about a now-extinct job.  In the heyday of the Industrial Revolution, many men in the cities of the UK, worked in the factories and mills.  They were expected to be at work ungodly early, by 5:00, 5:30 or 6:00 AM.  Alarm clocks had not been invented, and the sun was not up.  How were they to get to work on time?

Alarm Clock

Who wakes up the bugler who plays Reveille, to wake everyone else at a military base?  The answer to that question is the reason that it’s now recorded, and played automatically.  This task fell to certain people, who would come around to your house, and tap on a window to rouse the worker.  These were usually the neighborhood night watchmen, who were paid to stay up all night, and keep an eye open for fires.

Since bedrooms were usually on the second or third floors, they carried a long wooden rod, often bamboo, with a metal hook or knob on the end.  Why not just stand outside and shout??  Because not every house had a mill-worker, and even the ones that did, had wives and children who could benefit from another couple of hours sleep.

It was an interesting human answer to one of the first technological problems.  I have in the past, and I do now, stay up (almost) all night.  I’ve roused my children, to go to school, and day jobs.  I don’t tap on other bloggers’ windows, but I do publish in the middle of my night.  It’s sometimes interesting to see who I wake.

Feel free to stop back in a couple of days when we’re all awake, to see if I’m successful this week with a 100-word Flash Fiction, or if I have to tap into my cache, and publish a WOW.  I’m setting my alarm.   😆

‘18 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge '18 Letter C

Druid

My Scottish ancestors were doing just fine, until the Christians came along with fire and sword.

Caim – (n.) Sanctuary. An invisible circle of protection drawn around the body with the hand, to remind one of being safe and loved even in the darkest times.  The index finger of the right hand was to be extended and pointed at the ground to do this.  It was to be drawn clockwise, as God has made the sun and moon rise and set.

The Irish and my Scottish Celtic ancestors lived a naturalistic existence, close to the earth, the plants and the wildlife.  Then along came the Christians.  They would have none of this mystical hand-waving.  They wanted their own brand of mystical hand-waving.

First, the spelling and pronunciation was slurred to ‘Cain.’  In their mythology, Cain was the first murderer, and an evil person, a servant of Satan.  No-one was allowed to be saved or protected by such an evil spirit.  Union rules said that all such work went to Jesus.  The word ‘Caim’ still exists in the Scottish language, but it now describes a Christian prayer for protection.

The Celts were already well aware of the motions of the sun and the moon, but the Christian ‘God’ even creeps into the historical definition, by making them do so.  I noted that the definition is Northern-centric.  In the Northern hemisphere, the apparent movements of the sun and moon are clockwise, from left to right.

When this word was born, the Christians had not yet invaded the Southern Hemisphere, where the counter-clockwise, widdershins, motion of the Heavenly bodies was obvious, and correct.  I wonder what the Christians would think of that??  (Oops, I used the words ‘think’ and ‘Christian’ in the same sentence.)  😯

Click here http://branawen.blogspot.ca/2011/09/celtic-symbolism-casting-ring-of.html caim, if you’d like to have a look at the research for this.

I’ll have a little bit of lighter humor in a week.  Hope to see you there.