From Donna Richardson:
I'm sure I have read (but where? WHERE?) that
boxty (the word) is derived from the box grater used to grate the potatoes (from which the boxty
itself is derived). A box grater is that familiar metal contraption with four different sized holes on its four sides. I make no claim for the
accuracy of this etymology, only that I read it some years ago (I believe in an article which included recipes for boxty and other potato dishes).
Thanks again for your always informative and entertaining 'zine.
Sounds like somebody (whoever
wrote what you read) was guessing at boxty's etymology! Guessing a
word's etymology, as our regular readers know, is fun but that's about it,
unless you're making an educated guess!
From Lewis Garnett:
My SoCal friends say their articalization of road numbers is simple
convenience, like contractions or acronyms. Just too many roads to do otherwise.
I guess if I was living on a fault line time bomb, I'd speak quickly, too.
Hmmm. Well, in Texas we say
"Take 635 to Marsh Lane". That's even shorter than "Take
the 635 to Marsh Lane", which one simply doesn't hear in Texas (except
possibly from SoCal transplants). Though there's no obvious explanation
for the SoCal (and elsewhere) convention, we like the suggestion that it's a
holdover from the days when all the freeways there had non-number names (the
Ventura Highway, etc.).
"The 5" is also used in western Washington State, and I always figured that
"the" was used to pay homage to the fact that Interstate 5 is the jugular of the west coast. This is because I have never heard anyone say "the 90"
referring to the other important Interstate in the area. People also say "I-5", but "the 5" sounds a bit more like slang, allowing those who use it
to forget that they are office workers or hot-tub salesmen and instead imagine that they are members of a wily street gang. Thank you for your
Could there be a large enclave of
former SoCal folks in Washington?
From Roger Whitehead:
Another stimulating issue, thanks. I admire the way you two keep up the
quality. A couple of thoughts stirred by this issue:
> reckless and wreck
You are possibly oversimplifying matters with your "Normans = Norsemen"
equation. It seems more likely to be "Normans = North men (cognate with Norsemen)". You might regard that as a quibble but I think the
difference is significant.
We didn't intend to suggest that
the word Norman derived directly from Norsemen; only that the
Normans were Norsemen.
> Old English
You rightly describe Middle English as a creole. It might be useful to
your readers to point out where a creole differs from a pidgin. Pidgins arise where two groups of people without a common language have
to communicate with each other. They are a simplification and reduction of one or both. Sometimes a pidgin takes its words from one language
and its structure from the other. Old English became pidginized as a result of the Viking invasions and the Norman conquest.
If a pidgin becomes the mother tongue of a group of people it then becomes a creole, as in Middle English. Afrikaans is another
Very good, thanks, Roger!
From Jim Schuler:
As much as I dislike the use of
tasked and conferenced (in) (as Guestmudgeon J. Jacobik
laments [Issue 156]) , my most despised noun turned verb is
impact. How will this impact that? Will so-and-so be impacted? Enough already! The only two things that can be impacted are teeth and bowels. So unless you're a dentist or gastroenterologist, please stop using
impact as a verb. Sheesh!
BTW, where I work, we have two other irritating words which are used as if they imparted the wisdom of the universe upon the listener. One is
cross-walk, which is somewhat akin to our previous transitioning to a new
methodology. Yuck! The other is push-back, which simply means
"feedback". Except push-back sounds much more aggressive and thus it's been blessed by the high and mighty of the organization.
(as Scott Adams of Dilbert fame calls it) is prolific when it
comes to badly inventing new words!
From Jack Worlton:
While the KJV [King James Version of the Bible]
was not written in Old English, its vocabulary is primarily of Old English derivation. The question is: what fraction of the words in the
KJV are from Old English? Somewhere in my notes is a figure and source that
says this number is in excess of 90 percent. Perhaps your readers can provide the source and the precise percentage.
We haven't seen those
statistics ourselves. We can tell you that about 50% of all modern
English words derive from Germanic roots. Readers?
From Risha Jorgensen:
I ran across a particular website that I thought you might find
interesting. The Jargon File (http://tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/index.html) claims to be "a
comprehensive compendium of hacker slang", and, in addition to a large lexicon, features essays on the history and construction of the slang.
Thanks for an always intriguing website.
read last week's issue to see what all of
these people are talking about!