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AWADmail Issue 528

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Dispatches from Scandinavia - part 2

This is the second in a series (1, 3, 4) of vignettes from my recent travels.

A Concert in Oslo

22/7 may not mean anything to you, but all Norwegians have that infamous date imprinted on their minds. On that day in 2011, a right-wing gunman killed 77 and injured hundreds, most of them children.

In Oslo they had organized a memorial concert on the first anniversary of the massacre. I was in the city that day and attended the open-air concert in the harbor behind the City Hall.

While waiting for the concert to begin, I chatted with a group of three lanky high-school seniors who had come from the nearby town of Askim to attend the event.

They were very interested in the US presidential elections and shared their opinions of the two major candidates. I asked them about elections in their country. I learned that in Norway political (and religious!) television advertising is prohibited.

Marcus, Vega, and Dietrich each held a red rose.
"Do you know what it means?" Dietrich, a 12th grader, asked me.
"It's a symbol of the Arbeiderpartiet [Labor Party]," he explained.

What about the pink, white, and other roses that other people had? I asked him. It doesn't matter, he said. The tragedy had the opposite effect of what the shooter had intended. It brought people together, no matter what they looked like and where they came from.

The program showed many major bands and artists from Norway and Sweden. Marcus, another 12th grader, who played the guitar and hoped to go to Los Angeles some day, told me there were rumors that Bruce Springsteen was going to appear. Sure enough, halfway through the concert the MC introduced Bruce Springsteen to wild cheers from the audience. Bruce sang a heart-felt rendition of "We Shall Overcome" on a guitar and harmonica.

It rained most of the time during the open-air concert, but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the audience. There were many moist eyes there, though.

I didn't understand the language, but "demokrati og humanitet" are universal ideas. Also, the three Norwegians translated important bits for me, such as some from Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's speech.

There was an Indian-Norwegian rapper, Chirag Patel, among the performers. A Norwegian man of Indian origin performing a song with roots in African music... Did someone have a problem with people who are different?

Read more: part 1, 3, 4

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Tribe Revives Language on Verge of Extinction
The New York Times

The Point of Exclamation
The New York Times

From: Kim Meyer (kim email.cs.nsw.gov.au)
Subject: chop-chop
Def: Quickly.

Chop-chop is also the name given to unprocessed tobacco sold illegally (in NSW) at bargain prices, often under-the-counter by tobacconists who obtain it directly from growers, as opposed to the usual tobacco companies. It was identified about a decade ago as the culprit in several deaths in Sydney (arising from moulds in the tobacco infecting the lungs).

Consequently, from being just another term of drug slang -- with a shelf life possibly as short as that of the mouldy leaves themselves -- chop-chop has gained "official" government status by being identified separately from legal tobacco as a public health risk. Hence one of my duties as a health professional in the drug and alcohol sector is to ensure that the chop-chop box on the data-collection forms we use is ticked when applicable!

Kim Meyer, Sydney, Australia

From: Ted Raymond (tedraymond77 hotmail.com)
Subject: Chichi
Def: adjective: Affectedly elegant. noun: Showy stylishness.

In Mexican Spanish, chichis are a term for breasts. Female endowment so to speak. Not a term casually thrown about in front of women.

Ted Raymond, Denver, Colorado

From: Clancy Byrd (clancbrd hotmail.com)
Subject: chichi

Chichi was also one of the islands in the Bonin Islands. I was privileged while in the Navy to serve on Chichi and was there for the "Reversion Ceremony", when we gave the island back to Japan.

Clancy Byrd, Uniontown, Pennsylvania

From: Jim Tang (mauijt aol.com)
Subject: Chichi

In Hawaii many locals say SHEE-shee as a socially acceptable term for urination, especially when asking their children if they need to go.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

From: Bruce Adgate (rossgate gmail.com)
Subject: chin-chin
Def: noun: A chat. verb intr.: To chat. interjection: Used as a toast, greeting, or farewell.

I recently left Laos after living there for almost three years. My wife and I made many friends there, among them, many Japanese couples. At our going away party I raised my glass and toasted 'Chin-Chin'. All our male Japanese friends began to laugh while their wives turned red and looked away. I asked, "OK, so what does this mean in Japanese?" "Male genitalia-male genitalia," they told me, and laughed even more. Now I am safely back home in Italy where one can toast "cin-cin" with impunity.

Bruce Adgate, Spoleto, Italy

From: Patricia Littlefield (palquilts yahoo.com)
Subject: reduplication

Wiki-wiki in Hawaiian means the same as chop-chop in pidgin Chinese. The bus that takes passengers to the different air terminals at the Honolulu Airport is known as the Wiki-Wiki Bus.

Patricia Littlefield, Newcastle, California

From: Mikhail Horowitz (horowitz bard.edu)
Subject: yada yada
Def: adverb: And so on. noun: Uninteresting, long-winded talk.

You cite 1967 as the earliest documented use of yada yada. Yet Lenny Bruce, who died in 1966, used the phrase in one of his satiric routines (video), although admittedly in a different sense from "and so on". The routine concerns a jailhouse riot, which is instigated by prisoners banging on their plates in the mess hall and yelling 'yada-yada-yada! Yada-yada-yada!" Bruce was apparently trying to simulate the angry muttering of inmates in an old James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson movie? Don't know the exact source.

Mikhail Horowitz, Saugerties, New York

From: Bartlett (via Wordsmith Talk forum)
Subject Reduplicative World Tour

When I retire (someday) I have long planned to take a world tour of places with two names the same! Walla-Walla as you noted in the introduction to this week's theme, and also: Baden Baden, Bora Bora, Pago Pago, Ubu Ubu, Paw Paw, New York, New York, Bella Bella, and Wagga Wagga, just to name a few.

Itinerary suggestions gladly accepted!

From: Eleanor Jackson (elej mindspring.com)
Subject: reduplication

A children's book, Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements, is a hilarious read replete with irrepressible and rhythmic reduplication throughout. I used to read it to my grandchildren amid uncontrollable giggling from all of us. Highly recommended fun for adults and kids!

And on another note, when I was a sorority pledge many years ago, we were required to memorize all the chapters and their locations. The easiest one of all was Gamma Gamma chapter in Walla Walla (Whitman College).

Eleanor Jackson, Gainesville, Georgia

Email of the Week -- (Brought to you by One Up! -- 122% faster than Scrabble)

From: Avis O. Gachet (agachet earthlink.net)
Subject: Reduplicatives

Learning of reduplicatives today was positively thrilling. In 1955, in my first year of teaching 9th graders, I used the word "mumbo-jumbo", and the class practically fell apart. They loved the sound of the word, particularly when they learned what it meant. I used others as time went on.

I thought that such constructions should have a name, but only found out today what it was and that there were three kinds -- repetitive, alliterative, and rhyming.

How I would have loved to have known that all those years ago and had the class come up with the ones that they knew -- and to classify them. To think -- it has only taken me 57 years to learn the name of such constructions!

Avis O. Gachet, Hickory, North Carolina

From: Chuck Domitrovich (chuck dtwdesigns.com)
Subject: reduplications

In addition to Walla Walla, Washington state also has Hamma Hamma and Tumtum.

Chuck Domitrovich, Seattle, Washington

From: Tony Adams (pamandtony bigpond.com)
Subject: reduplicatives

In NSW, Australia, we have a town called Wagga Wagga. In the local language Wagga means crows so the town name is many crows. In many Pacific islands there is often a word repetition but it does not mean a plural, eg salusalu, a necklace of flowers etc in Fijian.

Tony Adams, Hobart, Australia

From: Gene Oubre (ejoubre aep.com)
Subject: Luego Luego

Luego in Spanish means later (hasta luego meaning until later), but when it is reduplicated, it takes on a different meaning of later, meaning more immediately, meaning "right away" or "just after".

Gene Oubre, Texarkana, Texas

From: David Amdal (amdal.david gmail.com)
Subject: plurals by reduplication

The Indonesian language uses reduplication to indicate plurals. So one fish is ikan, two or more fish are ikan ikan. Usually printed ikan2 in newspapers, etc.

David Amdal, Seattle, Washington

From: Mark Stephens (markthesewords sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Reduplication

Just the other night I was channel surfing and came across the following scene from a movie that I had not been watching. A man and a woman sitting at a restaurant table. The woman, portraying the stereotypical dumb blonde, orders mahi-mahi, but adds, "But could I have just one mahi on the plate, please, since I'm not very hungry." I was disappointed that the waiter did not respond, "Okey dokey."

Mark Stephens, Hayward, California

Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. -Richard C. Trench, poet (1807-1886)

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