Helpful Comparisons for the Confused—Simon Ile and Mattie Phore SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 2 Contents Inter-Lingual Personal Script—Daniel Swanson

Good Enough for Folk EtymologyPart XII

A. Pocryphal & Verity du Bius
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies

The SpecGram Archive Elves recently made another large collection of documents available to the XQK Directorate, leaving them on our doorstep in black plastic sacks in the middle of the night. In order to avoid any more unfortunate incidents involving a cucumber, a marmot, or the Director’s favorite coffee mug, we were given the task of cataloging these documents. Going through the collection, we have found again that, while apparently lacking provenance (which the Archive Elves still attribute to a bizarre set of circumstances obscurely alluded to in editorials passim), they shed unexpected light on the origin of several well known words and phrases. Note that some entries contradict others. Etymology is like that.

Here we publish the twelfth half of our collection of excerpts.

From Top Dog: Rise and Fall of a Great Dane:

Now that he had finally acquired the prestige and means not to have to walk everywhere, Jespersen insisted on being chauffeured in his luxurious “Otto-mobile”.

From Sacred and Profane Geometry:

One heretical cult of geometricians believed that the geometric forms described by Euclid were avatars and heralds of the Divine. While these zealots were widely dismissed (Saint Augustine famously denounced them as “obtuse”), their legacy survives in the use of the term “angel” (with some spelling variations) to denote geometric intersections.

From No Profanities, I Swear!:

The first known instance of a blend was when the actress who played Padmé Amidala stubbed her toe on set and quickly minced the oath that was already halfway out of her mouth. The resulting word was known as a “Portman toe”.

From The Pestillential Pacific:

The tropics are riddled with virulent diseases, but those found in the Phillipines will make a man iller than any others.

From e-Fish in Sea: The Concise Online Dictionary of Fish:

No one is sure about the derivation of ‘anchovy’ in English. In Italian, ‘acciuga’ comes from an incident where the first person to cure anchovies served them to his master, who turned out to be very allergic to them.

More from Top Dog: Rise and Fall of a Great Dane:

His rectorship at Copenhagen University was absolute. Otto’s crazy rule gave rise to the term “autocracy”. Jespersen’s “yes-persons” did nothing to stop him.

From Tracts etc:

It used to be the case that the world’s worst and most egotistical ideas were disposed of by having their originators write them on special paper, before someone with good sense tore them up and dropped them to the bottom of the outside toilet. This was deemed to be the gentlest and fairest way of ensuring that people knew better than to ask people for money for projects that had no discernible societal good or economic use. At the time, this process was called “facing WC fundamentals”, or “WC funding” for short.

As we all know, the line between W and V in most Indo-European language has always been slight and so, after the disasters of the early .com boom, the ritual process of sorting out which ideas were useful and which were not began to be called “VC funding”, with those achieving this dubious honour usually destined to crash and burn within a few years.

From Cetacean Sensations:

When a number of large cetaceans showed their intelligence by invading Llandudno, it was clear that they had breached Wales. Sadly, their escape plan left them stranded on a beach on the south coast, making them beached whales.

From Garden Languages:

... he was both the world’s most unfortunate gardener and possibly the most inept. So slow was he at hammering nails into the fence he was making that it was said that the small, shelled creatures advanced quicker than his work. They were therefore called “slow nails.” The “low” was later removed as language, but not his work, sped up.

Sadly, his girlfriend, Sheila, got sick of waiting years for him to complete the fence and cover it with a protective coating that she left him. As a memorial to their failed relationship, he named the substance he was using “Sheila lack”, a term that was itself shortened later.

From Mightier than the Sword:

Legend tells of an ancient tribe blessed with almost superhuman levels of strength and intelligence. Their success on the battlefield was paralleled only by their impeccable grammar. This proved to be their downfall when a ragtag band of misfits defeated them by shouting ungrammatical phrases at them. The “talk sick!” strategy proved to be more effective than poisoned arrows.

From Top Dog: Rise and Fall of a Great Dane yet again:

Jespersen demanded perfection. Students in the English department called his large, crooked walking stick “Otto-correct” because of the squiggly red lines it left behind. It’s unknown whether the Music department’s “Otto-tune” was the same stick, but it was quite effective in convincing the choir’s less talented singers to take up other pursuits.

More to come...

Helpful Comparisons for the ConfusedSimon Ile and Mattie Phore
Inter-Lingual Personal ScriptDaniel Swanson
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIX, No 2 Contents