’20 A to Z Challenge – W

 

 

 

I recently told a reader that I spoke/wrote all my Scottish Gaelic in English.  I told another that I did the same thing with the Spanish that he contributed.  It seems so simple, yet it’s harder than it seems, because there is no English language.  Every word in the language came from somewhere – everywhere – else.

The English language imports words from other languages wholesale, and then claims them as its own.  Some words are ‘naturalized’ – accepted and commonly used – more, and more quickly than others.  Then there are words that only pretentious wordnuts (with the accent on Nuts) like me, are even aware of, much less occasionally use.  This brings us to today’s (and yesteryear’s) social-commentary word

WEISSNICHTWO

wise-nicked-woe

Its meaning in the original German was, not clear where.  It came into English with the more substantial, definitive meaning of know not where.  In almost two-hundred years, I’m sure it must have been used a few times.  It was dragged, kicking and screaming, into English in 1833 by the British writer, Thomas Carlyle.  It was made famous – or infamous – by its use in his Latin-titled book, Sartor Resartus.

Even back then, he used it to describe a First-World problem.  World cities, especially those in Europe, were losing their visual culture, and were becoming homogeneous, indistinguishable, one from another.  There were Jews in Belgrade, Arabs in Marseilles, and Irish in London.  If you roused from a drunken stupor and wandered into the streets, you wouldn’t know where you were, until you fell into the Thames, or the Seine, or the Moscow River – and with the state, or lack of, municipal sanitation, even not then.

He used the word Weissnichtwo as the name of an indefinite, unknown, or imaginary place, like Utopia, Brigadoon, or Shangri-La.  The problem situation has only got worse over the years.  With the ubiquitous McDonalds, Domino’s, and Starbucks, and rampant, often war-driven immigration, a traveler might be anywhere.

I imagine that you’re just over there, shaking your head at this word.  You could be much closer to my next post soon, if you pop back in a couple of days.  I promise not to use any of those big, foreign words.  Might even offer up a few chuckles.   😀

WOW #68

I once knew a man named Isbister.
Thank you for your concern and condolences.

He pronounced it izz-biss-tur.  His first name was Murray – a good Scottish name.  It’s where the word ‘Mondegreen’ comes from.

They’ve killed the Earl o’ Murray,
And laid ‘im on the green.

His last name might have been Czechoslovakian for all I knew.  There was a Scottish housewife in town, with a brogue as thick as a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, married to a Polack named Mackowski.

I recently heard spoken references to another Isbister, this one clearly a Scottish citizen, referred to by another Scot.  This time, the pronunciation was eyes-biss-tur.  The family name is locational, coming from a village named Isbister.

The speaker also referred to another village named Fladdabister.  The Scots do have a way with language and pronunciation.  I kid (Sure I do) that the Irish are hard drinkers.  With names like that, maybe my lot were giving them lessons.  I mean, Scotch whiskey didn’t just happen.

Two towns with the word

BISTER

in their names – what could it mean??

Bister is a pigment obtained by burning (waste) wool.  It is/was used in paint and ink.  Apparently the simultaneous oxidation of lanolin and keratin, produced a deep, permanent black, similar to India ink.  It is no surprise that it is linked to the sheep/wool industry.  Other than growing oats, raising James Bond, and stealing magic rocks back from the British Parliament, there’s not much else to do in Scotland.

Scotland the Brae!  It’s a great place to be from.  Now, don’t get your kilts in a knot.  😉

Flash Fiction #242

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

SOMETHING’S FISHY

Fish – The only animal that grows to twice its size, between being caught, and being described.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he’ll sit in a boat all day and throw beer cans in the lake.

A Scottish fisherman was on his way home after a disappointing day, where he’d had, perhaps, a few wee shots of antifreeze.  Spotting a scarecrow in a field, he shouted, “Yerr a damned liar!”

Tranquility is knowing the difference between ‘fishing,’ and ‘catching.’

Think there’s something fishy about today’s philosophy episode??  Me too!

***

Wanna join the fun??  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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

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.   😆

There Be Atheist Monsters Here

Loch Ness Monster

The atheist and the Loch Ness monster

An atheist was rowing at the lake, when suddenly the Loch Ness monster attacked and grabbed him from his boat. He panicked and shouted “God help me!”, and suddenly, the monster and everything around him just stopped.

A voice from the heavens boomed “You say you don’t believe in me, but now you are asking for my help?”
The atheist looked up and said: Well, ten seconds ago I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster either!

***

Atheists and light bulb

How many atheists does it take to change a light bulb? Two. One to actually change the bulb, and the other to videotape the job so fundamentalists won’t claim that God did it.

***

Rowing in the lake

A Jew, A Catholic, and an atheist are rowing in Lake Erie when their boat springs a huge leak. The Jew looks skyward, and says “Oh, Adonai, if you save me, I promise I’ll sail to Israel and spend the rest of my days trying to reclaim the land you gave us.” The Catholic looks skyward, and says, “Oh, Jesus, if you save me, I promise I’ll fly to the Vatican and spend the rest of my days singing your praises.” The atheist says, “Oh, guys, if you pass me that one life preserver, I promise I’ll swim to Cleveland.” “And how will you spend the rest of your days?” the Jew and the Catholic ask. “Well,” says the atheist, “I’m not sure, but I can tell you one thing: I’ll never go rowing with other atheists.”

***

Martinis before lunch

A minister, a priest, a rabbi, and an atheist meet in a bar at 10:00 a.m. The bartender asks the minister what he’ll have, and the minister orders a martini. The priest also orders a martini, as does the rabbi. When the bartender asks the atheist what he wants, the atheist says he’d like a cup of coffee. “Why aren’t you having a martini like those guys?” asks the bartender. “Oh,” says the atheist, “I don’t believe in martinis before lunch.”

***

Because he does not bother me!

A very religious man lived right next door to an atheist. While the religious one prayed day in, day out, and was constantly on his knees in communion with his Lord, the atheist never even looked twice at a church. However, the atheist’s life was good, he had a well-paying job and a beautiful wife, and his children were healthy and good-natured, whereas the pious man’s job was strenuous and his wages were low, his wife was getting fatter every day and his kids wouldn’t give him the time of the day. So one day, deep in prayer as usual, he raised his eyes towards heaven and asked: “Oh God, I honour you every day, I ask your advice for every problem and confess to you my every sin. Yet my neighbour, who doesn’t even believe in you and certainly never prays, seems blessed with every happiness, while I go poor and suffer many an indignity. Why is this?“  And a great voice was heard from above: “BECAUSE HE DOESN’T BOTHER ME ALL THE TIME!”

***

Doctor, Doctor…

Two doctors and an HMO manager die and line up together at the Pearly Gates. One doctor steps forward and tells St. Peter,
“As a pediatric surgeon, I saved hundreds of children.” St. Peter lets him enter.

The next doctor says, “As a psychiatrist, I helped thousands of people live better lives.” St. Peter tells him to go ahead.

The last man says, “I was an HMO manager. I got countless families cost-effective health care.”

St. Peter replies, “You may enter. But,” he adds, “You can only stay for three days. After that, you can go to hell.”

***

One Of The Differences Between Christians And Atheists

The Christian wakes up, and says, Good Morning God!
The Atheist wakes up, and says, Good God, Morning??

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One

Love English

Words! Words! Words!

Round and round and round they goes. Where they comes from, nobody knows.

Then they impinge on my consciousness, sometimes from what I read, sometimes just from the depths of my own mind.

Looking for a word or two to spice up a novel, an essay, a report, or just a blog-post?? Here are a few that have run across in front of my attention span, like startled squirrels.

Battledore – noun

Also called battledore and shuttlecock. a game from which badminton was developed, played since ancient times in India and other Asian countries.
a light racket for striking the shuttlecock in this game.
a 17th- and 18th-century hornbook of wood or cardboard, used as a child’s primer.
verb (used with or without object), bat·tle·dored, bat·tle·dor·ing.
to toss or fly back and forth:

Bivouac – a military encampment made with tents or improvised shelters, usually without shelter or protection from enemy fire.
The place used for such an encampment.
To rest or assemble in such an area; encamp.

Broch (brock)- a circular stone tower built around the beginning of the Christian era, having an inner and an outer wall, found on the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, the Hebrides, and the mainland of Scotland.
A variant spelling of burgh, or borough – German-influenced Scottish for “independent town”

Calumet – a long-stemmed, ornamented tobacco pipe used by North American Indians on ceremonial occasions, especially in token of peace. – A peace pipe

There used to be a Calumet baking powder, but another of my childhood memories has disappeared under an avalanche of corporate mergers and acquisitions.

Chary – cautious or careful; wary, shy, timid, fastidious, choosy, sparing (often followed by of):
cognate with Old Saxon karag, Old High German karag (German karg scanty, paltry)

Coxcomb – a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop. – the cap, resembling a cockscomb, formerly worn by professional fools.

Dragoon – Noun – (especially formerly) a European cavalryman of a heavily armed troop.
Verb – to force by oppressive measures; coerce

Dumbledore – (for the Harry Potter fans) a bumblebee

Grok – to understand thoroughly and intuitively, to communicate sympathetically. Coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)

Plagal – (of a cadence) progressing from the subdominant to the tonic chord, as in the Amen of a hymn
(of a mode) commencing upon the dominant of an authentic mode, but sharing the same final as the authentic mode. Plagal modes are designated by the prefix Hypo- before the name of their authentic counterparts the Hypodorian mode

Pseud (sood) – A person of fatuously earnest intellectual, artistic, or social pretensions

Scalawag, (scallawag,scallywag )– a scamp, a rascal, a minor rogue

Stolid – not easily stirred or moved mentally; unemotional; impassive.

Thewless – weak, meek, timid (first recorded 1300-50)– from thews, muscle, sinew, physical strength
He was a quiet, thewless, conforming man, who caused no-one any trouble.

Tommyrot – nonsense, utter foolishness

Truculent – fierce; cruel; savagely brutal.
brutally harsh; vitriolic; scathing:
aggressively hostile; belligerent.

 

THAT GETS MY GOAT

Goat

Two guys are walking through the woods and come across this big deep hole. 

“Wow…that looks deep.” “Sure does… toss a few pebbles in there and see how deep it is.” 

They pick up a few pebbles and throw them in and wait… no noise. 

“Jeeez. That is REALLY deep… here.. throw one of these great big rocks down there. Those should make a noise.” 

They pick up a couple of football-sized rocks and toss them into the hole and wait… and wait. Nothing. 

They look at each other in amazement. One gets a determined look on his face and says, “Hey…over here in the weeds, there’s a railroad tie. Help me carry it over here. When we toss THAT sucker in, it’s GOTTA make some noise.” 

The two drag the heavy tie over to the hole and heave it in. Not a sound comes from the hole. 

Suddenly, out of the nearby woods, a goat appears, running like the wind. It rushes toward the two men, then right past them, running as fast as its legs will carry it. Suddenly it leaps in the air and into the hole. 

The two men are astonished with what they’ve just seen… 

Then, out of the woods comes a farmer who spots the men and ambles over. 

“Hey… you two guys seen my goat out here?” 

“You bet we did! Craziest thing I ever seen! It came running like crazy and just jumped into this hole!” 

“Nah”, says the farmer, “That couldn’t have been MY goat. My goat was chained to a railroad tie.”

***

Scottish Flag

A Scotsman walks into a Glasgow library and says to the chief librarian,

‘Excuse me Miss, dey ye hae ony books on suicide?’

To which she stops doing her tasks, looks at him over the top of her glasses and says, ‘Bugger off, ye’ll no bring it back!’

***

A thoughtful Scottish husband was putting his coat and hat on to make his way down to the local pub.

He turned to his wee wife before leaving and said, “Maggie — put your hat and coat on, lassie.”

She replied, “Aw, Jock, that’s nice, are you taking me tae the pub with you?”

“Nae,” Jock replied. “I’m turning the heat off while I’m out.”

***

A clearly inebriated woman, stark naked, jumped into a taxi in New York City and lay down on the back seat.

The cab driver, an old Jewish gentleman, opened his eyes wide and stared at the woman. He made no attempt to start the cab.

The woman glared back at him and said, “What’s wrong with you, honey? – Haven’t you ever seen a naked woman before?”

The old Jewish driver answered, “Let me tell you sumsing, lady. I vasn’t staring at you like you tink; det vould not be proper vair I come from.”

The drunk woman giggled and responded, “Well,if you’re not staring at my boobs or ass, sweetie, what are you doing then?”

He paused a moment, then told her…”Vell, M’am, I am looking and I am looking, and I am tinking to myself, ’Vair in da hell is dis lady keeping de money to pay for dis ride?’

***

A boy was bagging groceries at a supermarket. One day the store installed a machine for squeezing fresh orange juice. Intrigued, the young man asked if he could be allowed to work the machine, but his request was denied.

Said the store manager, “Sorry, kid, but baggers can’t be juicers.”

—–

One caller to our answering service gave me his name, number and message and then said, “You know my name. What’s yours?”

“4136,” I replied, since we were allowed only to give our operator numbers.

Sounding disappointed, he said, “May I call you by your first digit, or would that be too personal?”

—–

As we stood in formation at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, our Flight Instructor said, “All right! All you dummies fall out.”

As the rest of the squad wandered away, I remained at attention.

The Instructor walked over until he was eye-to-eye with me, and then just raised a single eyebrow.

I smiled and said, “Sure was a lot of ’em, huh sir?”

—–

The chairman of the board of our company called me into his office to tell me the good news. I was being promoted to Vice President of Corporate Research and Planning.

Of course, I was excited, but that didn’t stop me from asking for my new title to be changed to Vice President of Corporate Planning and Research.

“Why?” asked the chairman.

“Because,” I said, “our organization uses abbreviated job titles, and I don’t want be known as VP of CRAP.”

***

 

Flash Fiction #153

Echo

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

LOCAL DIALECT

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

I have no idea. This place just seems to go on forever.  What’s the name of it – ‘Echo Emporium’??  It’s déjà vu all over again.  What do they do in there – make tape measures – package spaghetti – a bowling alley?  Oh look, another tower – just like the last one.

You kids aren’t watching ‘Groundhog Day’ back there are you?? I think we’re just driving in circles, nothing changes….

….When that pub owner suggested visiting the “Loch”, I thought he meant like Loch Ness. This is a canal ‘lock,’ and us with no boat.

***

You don’t have to go to Europe to have trouble with local dialects. A ‘Yankee’ had a retirement home built in Florida.  When it came time to install the driveway, the contractor asked him if he wanted poured concrete or shale.  Concrete seemed so common and blah.  He liked the idea of crushed grey stone, so he ordered shale.

When he went out to view the finished installation, it was this horrid, loose, dusty white….stuff. “I ordered shale!  That’s not shale!’

“Shore ‘tis. That there’s oyster shellshale.”

***

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

Sassin’ The Sassenach

Union Jack

The grandson, ‘Thorn Smith’, has finished his three-year welding apprentice course, and is now licensed to work anywhere in Canada.  He recently accompanied his fiancé to Ottawa, ON (545 Km – 340 Mi. – 5 ½ hour drive) so that she could attend university there.

Before they each take this big life-step, they decided that they should see a bit of the world first. He saved money from his placement employment, and she from her job as a Starbucks barista, and they flew to London, England for a week.

One of the big attractions was a chance to see the new Harry Potter play, ‘The Cursed Child.’ On the day that tickets were released, they crouched over their computer, waiting for the floodgates to open.  When it happened, they quickly found that the system would respond to PCs, but not to their Apple.  In the slightly less than an hour that it took them to physically move to where there was an available PC, ALL TICKETS for the entire run were sold out.

Still, money had been saved, and plane tickets had been bought, so off they went. A tiny, unexpected payment from a retirement fund allowed us to gift them with £100 in ten-pound notes, because vacations are always costly, and London is said to be expensive.

SDC10989

Aside from the missed play, they enjoyed all the touristy London things – London Bridge, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye Ferris Wheel, Curry In A Hurry, and fish and chips.

Even before the Brexit from the E.U. England had not accepted Euro notes or coins, especially after (relatively) recently having switched over to decimal coinage. The grandson brought me back a complete set of coins.  They descend from the bi-metal 2-Pound, to the single, round-Pound, heptagonal 50-pence and 20-pence, quarter-sized 10-pence, dime-sized 5-pence, 50-cent-sized copper 2-pence, and a copper penny.

Around the edge of the 2-Pound coin is inscribed, “On The Shoulders Of Giants”, a reference to Sir Isaac Newton. Around the 1-Pound coin’s edge is, “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit” the royal Stuart and a Scottish motto, meaning, “No-one attacks me with impunity.”

SDC11006

SDC11018

Not knowing that I had one, he also brought me back a 5-Pound note. Different from mine, I find that British notes are now not only color-coded, but size-coded, as well; the smaller the denomination, the smaller the bill.

SDC11011

SDC11014

I also have a Scottish 1-Pound note, and a British Armed Services 1-Pound Scrip bill not to be used anywhere but, or even removed from, Armed Forces bases. I have a surprising number of items like that, Russian Rubles and Kopeks, Cuban Pesos.

Ten pounds

There’s a lot of separation going on over there. Britain has left the E.U.  Scotland wants to separate from England, and may independently rejoin it.  They are allowed to print their own money.  Ireland wants little to do with either, and also prints up their own greenbacks.

When grandson and fiancé were first driven to Ottawa to take possession of their apartment, they found a Starbucks, literally visible from their front window. When they drove over for a caffeine-break, her mother got the first coffee, and stepped back to wait.

Perhaps recognising new customers, the female manager approached to welcome and ask how things were. The mother said that her daughter worked at a Starbucks in Kitchener, and would be looking for a position in Ottawa.

“She’s an experienced barista??! I’m short-handed and hiring.  Have her manager email me, and I’ll have a job for her as soon as she’s available.”  Going to class and working part-time will be busy, but they’ll have income until he finds a decent job.  I love it when a plan comes together.

[Hopefully, the grandson is reading this on his Smart-Phone. Thanx for all your past help.  We miss you already.  Good luck, and keep in touch.]   😀