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AWADmail Issue 44Aug 26, 2001
A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages
From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Pronunciation of steganography, the word from last week, had shifted a bit during shipping. It should have emphasis on the third syllable instead of the second. And if you were trying to figure out the title (Tijguz cvtjoftt) of the article from the Economist from where we took the example sentence, it decodes to "Shifty business."
If you respond to a mailing, please do not include it with your message. I already have it. Thanks.
From: Marcos Bogan (invboganATracsa.co.cr)
I have been enjoying your wonderful column for a while now, and just got hit between the eyes by a Sealed-Bean headlight (figuratively speaking). Dr. Richter's comment in AWADmail Issue 43 rang a bell. Here in Costa Rica we have innumerable Hobson-Jobsons, the headlight, whose origin I never thought of is called a silvín - Sealed-Beam, of course. If you would allow me, I would like to share some others with you (and your readers) Canfín -- for kerosene -- taken from the grade "Candle Fine", we love eating "queque" (pronounced kay-kay) -- "cake" for dessert, while in Colombia they have a delicious cake called "ponqué" -- Pound Cake And in Puerto Rico many people use 55 gallon drums as garbage cans, they are called a "safacón" -- a "safety can". In general, Spanish is rife with this type of adoption, we really do enjoy a "cultural interchange" with English, which has adopted so many words from Spanish. Please keep up the good work.
From: M. Constanza Pedraza (cpedrazaATcol1.telecom.com.co)
I am writing to you from Bogotá, Colombia. About Hobson-Jobson. This is a really serious topic. The Real Academia (royal academy), which attempts to regulate the Spanish language, has a lot of difficulty with English words which have been adopted into Spanish by the common people. A few years ago they finally accepted sweater and sandwich. Only, for the sake of maintaining the phonetic rules of Spanish (which make spoken and written Spanish a closer match than spoken and written English) they changed the spellings to "sueter' and "sanduche" respectively. All kinds of relatives of Hobson Jobson can be found within a block of my apartment. English, especially American English is fashionable. So anything that resembles English is fashionable. Surreal abuse of apostrophes can be found everywhere, for instance, the name of a nearby hair salon is "S'nob."
From: Mesut Onen (onenmaATegenet.com.tr)
The English officers posted to NATO postings in Turkey have developed the following hobson jobson:
"Horses and geldings" for Turkish "hosh gel-dinn-is" which means welcome.
From: Joseph E. Johnson (jjohnsonATtriad.rr.com)
Recently I have been irritated by the adaptation of language by not one but two of the country's leading business schools, or at least some professors. Professors at Duke use the word incent as in to incent someone or group to some action. When this was used in conversation I asked where it came from and was rather rudely told form several classes and professors. Much to my surprise when I attended a seminar at the Harvard Business School one of the professors used the phrase that the manager had not been incented to perform.
Unfortunately as long term professor in a business school I am afraid that the impression that the remainder of the campus has of us as arrogant and poorly educated is only reinforced by such casual and careless perversion of the language. Added to the substitution of business school courses such as Business Communication and Organizational Behavior for typical English Composition and Psychology 101 it is no wonder that graduates speak and even think at the lowest common denominator level.
The most frequent complaint of my students over thirty five years was "uses too many big words." This was true even in classes where I was teaching contracts. I can assure you that aside from the technical terms the language was no more difficult than that found in this note.
From: Kenneth Carlstedt (kcarlstedtATkpmg.com)
Speaking of vowels, we have a word in Italian where all the five vowels are present and actually pronounced. It is aiuole (flower-beds).
From: Alan Winson (alan_winsonATyahoo.com)
Bob Ctvrtlik (pronounced on t.v. as "st(e)-VIRT-lik").
Perhaps you've heard of him. Champion American volleyball player. Appeared in Olympics. His name last name appeared on the back of his jersey. Maybe you'll do a week on people with interesting names some time.
Also, remember Kent Hrbek? Someone once brought a sign to the ballpark that said "Hrbek, buy a vowel."
From: Deepa Duraiswamy (ddswamyATsofthome.net)
My grandmom's favourite scolding is "O plus" For a very very long time, since my childhood I've wondered what she could possibly mean by calling the milkman or the vegetable vendor or one of us, when we've been naughty, O+. Till I realized, she actually meant -- hopeless!
From: Mary Perdue (mrperdueATcecomet.net)
I was surprised that no one mentioned an example of my pet peeves of epenthesis. Perhaps a two-word error is not acceptable as an epenthesis, but anyway it amuses and sometimes irritates me when people say Notary Republic when the mean Notary Public. To cure this, think of the person as a being a Public Notary and not the other way around. The other phrase is Safe Deposit Box. So many call them Safety Deposit Boxes. The ones who make these mistakes think we are guilty of elision when actually they are guilty of epenthesis, right? For the past 50 years I have had a box in the bank where I formerly worked and they have billed me every year for Safe Deposit Box rent so that is what my bank calls them.
From: Tony Boudreau (tabnoxATmac.com)
One of my favorite Hobson-Jobsons involved the welding crew of an offshore construction barge on which I once worked. When the oxygen and acetylene cylinders used for cutting torches were depleted, the crew members, who spoke various languages would simply scribble with chalk the letters "MT" on them.
From: Susie Gilson (sgilsonATccgvp.com)
I knew I'd been in Texas too long when my 5 year old started pronouncing the names of long time friends with 2 syllables: A-yann, and Phee-ill. It's nice to know there's a name for that!
From: Ken Lucke (kluckeATpacifier.com)
>From: Neal A Adolf (naadolfATbpa.gov)
> A pet peeve among long-time residents of Oregon, is the way in which the
name of their state is pronounced by outsiders. Natives and long-time
residents pronounce the name "OR-gun", much like the work organ. They
bristle when hearing it epenthesized and pronounced OR-ee-gone.
As a SNOB (Society of Native Oregonian Born), living from one end of the state to the other over 42 years, *I* have to bristle at this writer's comment, teaching others bad habits. I have never, once, heard "Oregon" pronounced the way he claims. Rather, Oregonians pronounce it "OR-ee-gun", ... _not_ "OR-gun". In fact, we have bumper stickers in the state that say "OrYgun" on them. He is correct, however, about the antipathy felt when hearing "OR-ee-gone", "or-EE-gone", or similar.
From: Javier Estrada (jestradaATpeinc.com)
How do you call a company that follows in the footsteps of others?
From: Steve Benko (steve.benkoATgecapital.com)
What would you call somebody with a dual specialty in reading palms and cracking backs? A chiromancerpractor?
From: Lisa Iorio (missi_baldwinAThotmail.com)
I have written previously to you on how I was going to use your words with my 7th and 9th graders and award them points for using them correctly in class. I also know that sometimes when ideas sound good to teachers the kids are not so quick to warm up to said ideas. You can imagine my delight when on the first day of class I mentioned this "word plan" for the year and the kids were more excited than me. I actually disappointed them because we are not starting with our word until tomorrow. Thank you for making my students so happy and for making me happy as well!
Words form the thread on which we string our experiences. -Aldous Huxley, writer and critic (1894-1963)