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Post Announcing the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms
Created by John Eipper on 02/20/15 2:45 PM

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Announcing the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms (David Pike, France, 02/20/15 2:45 pm)

In my 85th year, feeling fit, but mindful of Schubert's chagrin over what he failed to finish, I have been working on a design for my unfinished projects. I would like to draw WAISdom's attention to my 25th book project, a multilingual dictionary of idioms. I began this project in 1968, and I add phrases to it from time to time. I always intended to keep this work for my retirement, which is still far down the road. But Man proposes, and God disposes. This number 25, last of my labors, is very much a pleasant relaxation, and at the time I began it I really thought the world could use it. But that was before Technology's great leap forward. Gone are the days when the Traveler needed a phrasebook, however well compiled.

Having said all that, would it not be a pleasant sport for WAISers to have the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms as a plaything? WAISers could add to it whenever they feel in the mood. The title limits itself to the six West European languages, but the collection actually includes some equivalents in Russian, so it might be good to make it seven in number, rather than six.

So I begin with three "emotions" taken more or less randomly from the pile: Failure, Fear, and Promise.

Imperfect is my name for it, and yet it provides us with a working model. Everything about it requires more refinement. "To fear" is not "to frighten," for a start. And while fear is a true emotion, failure is not.

But all such matters can be worked out. The Russian entries are by far the smallest in number; Russian was/is my seventh language. But one of my present assistants is Uzbek, and another is French-German bilingual, and when they get to work on the project I will have fewer gaps.

Meanwhile, my hope is that WAISers will find this a fun thing, especially if they are multilingual and face the same problem that I have, searching for the right term in my memory bucket. As you can see, what I have not done is go to dictionaries. Dictionaries used to be pretty poor on popular idiom, but I have great admiration for the new generation of dictionaries such as Collins in English-French and English-German. I'm sure there are others.

One matter still to be resolved, to choose between the infinitive or the finite verb. Collins goes for finite verbs, in short sentences that leave the meaning in no doubt. But these are the matters we can work out.

So we will proceed in a gentle rhythm proposed by JE: three items per fortnight, and the response to the first three will bring to mind either expressions of joy in seven languages, or expressions of despondency in the same number!

Pax, lux et veritas. And I know that Ronald Hilton bestows his blessing on our enterprise. He could have filled in the entire dictionary by himself, and without Google!

The languages are listed in this order:

1. English
2. French
3. German
4. Italian
5. Spanish
6. Portuguese
7. Russian

FAILURE:

See also REJECTION

1. TO COME TO GRIEF / TO WIND UP WITH NOTHING / TO BE AT A DEAD END / GO BELLY UP
2. Faire chou blanc / finir dans les choux / rater son coup / ramasser une pelle
3. In einer Sackgasse sein
4. Andare a vuoto
5. Quedarse a la luna de Valencia / quedarse con el dia y la noche
6. Acabar sem nada
7. xx

1. TO FLUNK AN EXAM
2. Être refusé à un examen / être recalé / être collé
3. Durch ein Examen durchfallen
4. xx
5. Cargar un examen / tumbar un examen / estar ponchado en un examen / llevar calabazas en un examen
6. xx
7. xx

1. THE SHOW WAS A FLOP / A BOMB
2. La pièce a fait un four
3. xx
4. xx
5. xx
6. O show foi um fracasso
7. xx

FEAR:

1. TO LOSE ONE'S NERVE / TO CHICKEN OUT
2. Se dégonfler
3. Die Nerven verlieren
4. Prendere una paura
5. Perder los ánimos / cagarse de miedo / subir a uno un repeluzno
6. Perder a coragem
7. xx

1.TO BE SCARED STIFF / TO BE SCARED TO DEATH / TO GET GOOSE PIMPLES
2. Avoir la venette / avoir une peur bleue / avoir la frousse / avoir une peur de tous les diables / avoir la chair de poule / avoir les foies / être plus mort que vif / ne pas en mener large / avoir des sueurs froides / devenir vert de peur / sentir le sang se figer (glacer) dans ses veines / suer à grosses gouttes
3. starr vor Angst sein / zu Tode erschrocken sein / vor Angst Gänsehaut bekommen / das Gesicht leichenbloss, kreideweiss, weiss wie die Wand werden / grun vor Angst werden /
4. Lasciarsi la pelle
5. Ponerse la carne de gallina / estar muerto de miedo / dar diente con diente / ponerse a uno el corazon en la garganta / bajar a uno el alma a los pies / sentir subir y bajar un escalofrio por la espalda / ponerse a uno la cara palida
6. Ficar com o coração na boca / o coração quase saindo pela boca / estar morto de medo
7. xx

1.TO FEEL ONE'S HAIR STAND ON END
2. Sentir ses cheveux se dresser sur sa tête
3. jemandem stehen die Haare zu Berge
4. Rizzare a qualcuno i capelli
5. Erizarse a uno el cabello / ponerse a uno los pelos de punta
6. Sentir os cabelos arrepiarem
7. xx

1.TO SHIVER AT THE MERE THOUGHT OF SOMETHING
2. Frémir, rien que d'y penser
3. xx
4. Venire a qualcuno i brividi soltanto a pensarci
5. xx
6. Tremer só de pensar em alguma coisa
7. xx

1. TO TAKE TO ONE'S HEELS / TO RUN FOR ONE'S LIFE
2.Se sauver à toutes jambes / s'enfuir comme à tire-d'aile / faire haut le pied / courir comme s'il avait le diable à ses trousses / filer / prendre ses jambes à son cou
3. Sich auf den Weg machen
4. Prenderla a gambe / mettere le gambe in spalla / darsi a la fuga / avere il diavolo in corpo
5. Huir como el diablo de la cruz / como alma que huye al diablo / darse el bote / apretar los talones / tomar las de Villadiego
6. Escapar em dois tempos
7. xx

1. TO FRIGHTEN THE LIFE OUT OF SOMEONE / TO SCARE THE PANTS OFF SOMEBODY
2. Donner la venette à quelqu'un / coller la frousse à quelqu'un / flanquer la frousse à quelqu'un
3. xx
4. Fare venire a qualcuno la pelle d'osa
5. Dar el susto de su vida / un susto de muerte
6. Dar um belo susto em alguém
7. xx

1. TO GET STAGEFRIGHT
2. Avoir le trac
3. xx
4. xx
5. xx
6. Ter medo de palco
7. xx

PROMISE:

1. TO PROMISE PIE IN THE SKY
2. Promettre monts et merveilles
3. xx
4. Promettere mari e monti
5. Prometer el cielo y las estrellas / prometer el oro y el moro
6. Prometer a lua e as estrelas / prometer mundos e fundos
7. Обещать звезды с неба

1. TO KEEP ONE'S WORD / TO BE TRUE TO ONE'S WORD / TO BE AS GOOD AS ONE'S WORD
2. Tenir la parole
3. Sein Wort halten / zu seinem Wort stehen
4. xx
5. Mantener la palabra
6. Cumprir com a palavra
7. Держать слово

1. TO BREAK ONE'S WORD
2. Manquer à sa parole
3. Sein Wort brechen
4. Venire meno alla propria parola / ritirare la parola data / fare il pulcinella
5. xx
6. Faltar com a palavra
7. xx

JE comments: Welcome, Dear WAISers, to the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms! I've been in the doldrums all day, as February 20th is the anniversary of Prof. Hilton's 2007 death, and the temperature in Michigan has been the coldest in modern memory (-26 F on my morning commute--that's negative 32 Celsius). The launch of this dictionary is a ray of sunshine, a breath of fresh (and warm) air, and an excellent way to fulfill Prof. Hilton's vision of what it means to be WAISly.

As David explains above, we will post three items each fortnight. To contribute, simply respond to me by identifying the idiom in English and its equivalent, by number, in one of the six other languages.  Here's an example:

TO GET STAGEFRIGHT.  5.  Tener pánico escénico

So I'll add this one to the pile.  Eventually we'll post the entire text as an interactive Wiki for WAISers to enrich directly.

Get lexicographing, WAISers!


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  • Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms (David A. Westbrook, USA 02/21/15 3:47 AM)
    I think this is marvelous. I love the idea of such a WAiSly plaything. To echo David Pike, mindful of Schiller's thought that when we play, we are at perhaps our most human, an opportunity to sparkle together should not be foregone.

    Let the idiom games begin!


    JE comments: Amen, Brother Bert. For those of you too frozen to catch yesterday's launch of the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms (PWDI), here's the link:


    http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=91592&objectTypeId=77011&topicId=133


    The responses are already pouring in--first from Joe Listo in São Paulo. Brazil is anything but frozen at present, but everyone must be home recovering from Carnaval.

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  • PWDI: Flunking an Exam (Joe Listo, Brazil 02/21/15 4:03 AM)

    Here is my inaugural contribution to the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms:



    TO FLUNK AN EXAM


    6. (Portuguese): Ser reprovado no exame.


    JE comments: Obrigado, Joe! Spanish also has the verb "reprobar," but students in Spain prefer to flunk with the slangier "catear."


    I note that David Pike had given the Spanish expression "cargar [to charge, load, carry] un examen."  I believe the word is supposed to be "cagar" [to shit].


    WAIS usually stays away from the profane, but this will not be possible with the PWDI.  Idioms cannot be squeamish!  Tim Brown (next in queue) makes this same point.

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  • Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms (Timothy Brown, USA 02/21/15 4:25 AM)
    Some of the PWDI entries might involve a bit of "slang and unconventional usage." And in Spanish alone these change from country and/or region to country/region. This also often involves some very colorful obscenities. So a question. Is it OK to say things like "me lo cagué" (I screwed it all up), "me jodió" (it screwed me), "hijo de puta" (son of a bitch), or "oye huevón" (hi, how are you in colloquial Costa Rican Spanish), to mention but a few?

    Or should we always be polite, not profane?


    JE comments: PWDI needs to be real. To be useful it must reflect common usage. So within tasteful limits, let the profanity begin.


    David, do you agree?


    Tim Brown brings up the very important question of regionalisms.  In Spanish, these are particularly varied.  My suggestion would be to attach a series of Country Codes--Arg, CR, PR, Mex, etc.  We also must consider regional variants for French and Portuguese, and to a lesser extent German and Italian.


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    • Let's Keep the "Pweedy" Colorful (David Pike, France 02/21/15 8:35 AM)
      I agree with John Eipper. We need PWDI (Pweedy) as a working tool, and that includes the colorful. But I'm not comfortable with obscenities. (How can you speak Spanish without obscenities? it will be asked, but we can still try.)

      Many of us will be trying out these phrases in real life, and wherever we have an unsure grip on a particular language we could throw out an idiom that causes unnecessary offense. Of course there are ways around this, with the warning prefix "(vulg.)"



      Having said that, let's just go ahead and see what develops.



      I thought about the problem of regional usage, especially in Spanish America. Then I thought of Italy, and Germany, and so on. It's endless. But if something in Napolitano is incomprehensible in Trieste, and vice versa, what good is it to us? I used to live in Milan, and I still can't understand canal-bank Milanese. Maybe we should keep such refinements to a later date! We will have plenty to work on as it is.



      In sum, I have no dogmatic positions. I will learn from the views of others. And my thanks to David Westbrook, Joe Listo, and Tim Brown to be the first to welcome the Games.


      JE comments: And our loyal colleague in Savona, Eugenio Battaglia, has already sent a post filling in many of the Italian gaps.


      So Pweedy it is! I was distressed about the ineffability of the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms acronym.  WAIS itself is an acronym, so Pweedy is therefore doubly so, like an island in a lake on an island.  A lustrum or so down the road when we think of publishing the PWDI, what should the cover look like?  I already have the answer:  tweedy.


      Can you speak Spanish without obscenities?  I've never heard it done, especially in Spain.

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      • Can You Speak Spanish without Obscenities? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 02/22/15 12:51 PM)
        In their latest posts about language, David Pike and John Eipper asked whether you can speak Spanish without obscenities.  John E answered in the negative: "I've never heard it done, especially in Spain."

        It seems to me this might be an overstatement. Of course that rude words, rude remarks and perhaps obscenities are common among the Spanish-speaking population, commonly in Spain, particularly low-educated people, or urban subcultures, and more often than necessary among even educated people.


        However, there is an interesting cultural issue about language, especially in Spain, where an apparent "rude" word is not considered to be rude but natural and socially accepted. For instance, the word "culo" (backside or asshole) is not considered to be rude or offensive, but in some other Spanish-speaking Latin-American countries it is very offensive. The word "coño," a very common expression for surprise, admiration or anger, may be impossible to translate into other languages, although it is also used to refer to the female genitals. Of course it is not considered to be an educated word, but it is likewise not considered to be "rude" or offensive, except when this is the speaker's intention.


        What I mean is that the cultural content and context of the words used, while apparently offensive, sometimes are not so. Other words, when literally translated to another language, might be interpreted as obscene and offensive, but often this is not the case.


        It is not surprising and customary in English among common people to call names, more frequently than necessary, such as the "f" word, "sh--" word, "b" word, "motherf---" word, and so on. They are a vulgar custom and nasty habits but they should not be considered offensive, except when they are purposely intended to be so.


        JE comments: My point about Spaniards is that several of their favorite "oaths" are considered extremely vulgar in Latin America. "Coño," as José Ignacio Soler points out, is a perfect example. This reminds me of an old joke. A linguist (I think he was German) was interviewing Spaniards for a study. He tells a guy in a bar: "The latest research has concluded that two out of every three words spoken by a Spaniard is a profanity." His informant responds with skepticism: "Coño, no jodas."


        Please forgive me if I've told this one before, joder.


        In the meantime, don't forget to get to work on Pweedy, the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms.  I've already received some excellent responses, including nearly all the Italian Failure, Fear, and Promise you can imagine, from Eugenio Battaglia.  Here, once again, is the link:




        https://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&l=en&objectType=post&o=91592&objectTypeId=77011&topicId=133


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        • Can You Speak Spanish without Obscenities? (Paul Preston, UK 02/23/15 3:06 AM)
          Following up on José Ignacio Soler (22 February), there is the problem of words meaning different things in different countries. The most obvious is "coger." Hence, when a Spanish tourist in Argentina asks a passer-by, "¿Dónde puedo coger un autobús?" the surprised Argentinian replies, "¿El tubo de escape?"

          JE comments: That would be the exhaust pipe.  Sounds risky.  (!)


          Two WAIS Effects in a row! Just last week I was discussing the verb "coger" in my conversation class. Coger--to grab or take in Spain, to copulate in most of Latin America--is the best example of why Latin Americans think Spaniards are linguistically "ordinarios" (vulgar).


          And then there is the "C"-word.  Stay tuned for John Heelan.


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        • The Spanish "C-word" (John Heelan, UK 02/23/15 6:13 AM)
          Re: "coño" (see José Ignacio Soler, 22 February). I have a cautionary tale. When I was learning Spanish many decades ago, I visited Madrid. Anxious to show off my very basic Spanish, I insisted to my Spanish friends that I would order the drinks. However I mistook "coño" for "caña" and ordered "tres coños de cerveza po fa"!

          The waiter did not blink and came back with the rejoinder, "You provide them, I will fill them!" By this time, my companions were rolling on the floor laughing!


          JE comments: That's a red-faced LOL! In the Hispanist world, sometimes we say "Coño Sur" instead of "Cono Sur" (Southern Cone) to lovingly refer to the subfield that focuses on Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile.  Of course this is only done en confianza.  And then there is the whole business of ice cream cones.


          (In a Spanish bar, a "caña" is a small glass of beer. This term does not exist elsewhere in the Hispanophone world.)

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          • And What About Seals? (Leo Goldberger, USA 02/23/15 12:14 PM)
            John Heelan's incident (23 February) brought back a lasting memory of my emigrant voyage from Denmark in the late 1940s on a Swedish trans-Atlantic luxury-liner headed for NY when, to the embarrassment of the large number of passengers on deck, a woman standing at the railing suddenly yelled "fok, fok, fok" while pointing towards the sea. This caused quite a stir among the American pasengers as you can imagine. A polyglot, sensing the cause of the woman's awkward predicament, quickly rushed to interrupt her. It seems that "fok" was the Polish word for "seal." The woman was not seen on deck again.

            JE comments: If I'm not mistaken, "fok" is the genitive plural form of the Polish "foka." Aldona, who teaches Spanish, always rejoices with the few words that line up in Polish and Spanish, "foca/foka" being one of them.  The greatest humor/mortification potential comes from the French:  phoque.

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            • In Defense of the Mild Oath (John Heelan, UK 02/24/15 11:26 AM)
              Words give us so much fun (see Leo Goldberger, 24 February), especially the f-word used innocently (or maybe not so innocently).

              An example of the first was when I was at a business school in France. One of our French professors lectured in passable English but had problem with the pronunciation of the "oh" sound, which usually came out as an "uh" sound, so "focus" was a problem for him and his favourite expression was "now we will focus on." It had more truth than he realised in his elaborating sometimes complex arguments.


              The second happened in Spain. My son and I were playing golf and were teamed up on the first tee with two elderly and seemingly genteel Swedish ladies. One of these ladies sliced her drive and said the f-word out loud, blushing in embarrassment. (As Randy Black will tell you, we have all done it but without the blushing!) A little later, the other lady messed up her putting and marched across the green muttering the f-word, sounding like a small outboard motor. So gentility and language sometimes do not go together in stressful situations.


              The wife of my one-time farming partner (both were strong Christians) would never swear, even when a half-ton cow stamped on her foot during milking, so she developed alternative phrases said loudly that expressed her feelings adequately. One I recall was "Great Brass Buckets!"


              JE comments: "Buckets" must be a milder version of "bollocks," a British profanity we Americans don't find dirty, just cute and Old-Worldly.  "Bloody" is in the same category.


              I had a professor at Dartmouth (a Spaniard) whose pronunciation of "focus" always sounded like a New Jerseyan cursing a large group of interlocutors.


              Buckets, indeed!


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          • In Defense of the Cornuto (Paul Preston, UK 02/23/15 12:48 PM)
            Years ago, when working in Rome, I and everyone else in the bar was tickled pink when an American student came in and ordered "Un caffè i un cornuto."

            The PWDI is straying into the realms of linguistic errors. On this subject, there is a very funny Spanish book called From Lost to the River. It is a compendium of Spanish sayings translated literally into English. "De perdidos al río" is "out of the frying pan into the fire."


            Then there are the wonderful translations that one comes across in restaurants. My favourite from Rome was "Osso buco con funghi," translated as "Bone hole with fungus." In Madrid, the establishment next door proudly offered "rape a la marinera" as "rape, sailor's way."


            JE comments: This is the third WAIS Effect of the day! In my Spanish lit class we are reading Tirso de Molina's "El burlador de Sevilla," which introduces the literary character of Don Juan. There are several references to "cornudos" (cuckolds). DJ makes a career out of creating them.


            I think we visited "rape, sailor's way" once before on WAIS, but translation screamers never go out of style.  My favorite "lost to the river" expression from Spanish is "hacer cola":  to make tail (it's to wait in line in American English).


            Finally, "rape" is translated as "monkfish," but I've never seen it anywhere but Spain.

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            • on Very Bad Words (Tor Guimaraes, USA 02/24/15 7:04 AM)
              Since everyone seems to be using this pristine, august Forum as an excuse to vent what my grandson would call "very bad words," I claim the right (right or wrong) for the benefit of the honorable Eugenio Battaglia tell a personal Italian related story.

              Everyone knows I grew up in Brazil in the midst of a very large extended family. My uncles and aunts marrying into the family were absolute wonderful people from many parts of the world. One of my favorites was a dentist who loved to exclaim the expression "tutti fututi infarinati." Being just a kid I thought it sounded really good, but I never took the time to investigate what it meant and no one would tell me its meaning.


              Twenty years later, after moving to the USA and becoming a world traveler, I never forgot the expression and finally had an opportunity to leisurely ask my Italian research partner and his beautiful Icelandic wife. The trigger was discussing her hobby of collecting "interesting Italian expressions" heard at soccer games, which she attended for that purpose alone, seriously.


              It suffices to say that when they heard the expression and my innocent request for translation to English, they found it extremely funny and she added it to her little book. Subsequently I told this story to some American friends, and they love to try pronouncing the expression in broken Italian.


              Perhaps my partner's wife has discovered a new art form?


              JE comments: Tutti fututi... this one goes over my head! I assume there's profanity involved. Posting this one from Tor Guimaraes makes me feel like a small child parroting back his uncle's dirty joke.


              "Infarinato" means "covered in flour/farina," but there must be more to this.


              It might be time to recall Little Richard's 1955 classic, "Tutti Frutti."  A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!

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              • Tutti Fottuti Explained (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 02/24/15 11:07 AM)
                The sentence Tor Guimaraes refers to is: "tutti fottuti ed infarinati" (all f----d up and covered with flour).  It refers to something ready to be fried, a very bad situation. This reminds me of the Italian geopolitical situation.

                My two Spanish expressions are "a lo hecho pecho," which I use as my motto, and the other is from Puná (Ecuador), "Hijo de una gran p... que te parió por el cu.. y no por el co.. como las demás mujeres."  It's too long but very strong.


                My worst linguistic episode was when as cadet on the passenger ship Saturnia I was melting in front of a beautiful Irish girl, red hair, white skin and freckles. So I wanted to tell her how beautiful she was with the freckles, but the right word did not come.  I said, "I love the prickles on your cheeks." The poor girl understood but I still wanted to die.


                My wife's worst experience was in Chicago. A client, a nice lovely Jewish lady, came to buy hand-painted fabrics. They were in the studio in the basement and the lady asked where the restroom was. My wife instead of saying upstairs said outside. Well after all, we had a park in front of us...


                JE comments:  I especially like the deep-fried part!  It's a very Italian thing.  Latin Americans everywhere credit the Milanese with inventing the breaded meat cutlet:  the "milanesa."


                As for English screamers, Aldona won't mind if I share one from her past:  instead of "whatever floats your boat" she said "whatever floats your butt."  I like that variant better.



                Sailors like Eugenio Battaglia are celebrated for their salty language.  Perhaps we should go back to the mild oath?  Shoot and dang, let's do that.  Stay tuned for John Heelan.


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          • The Spanish "C-Word"; Guillermo Alvarez Guedes (Francisco Wong-Diaz, USA 02/24/15 6:44 AM)
            Someone worth remembering when it comes to language, idioms and localisms in the Latin American scene is Guillermo Álvarez Guedes.

            Álvarez Guedes was an exiled Cuban comedian of international renown who elevated vulgarity to the level of social acceptance. He recorded among other things the almost 100 potential meanings and usages of "coño." It is hilarious to listen and so are his other forays into the use and meaning of "el choteo."


            All Latin Americanists ought to gain some exposure to people like him, whose sociopolitical influence is real but poorly understood or acknowledged. Refer to Wikipedia et al.


            JE comments: One of Latin America's virtuosos of stand-up, Guillermo Álvarez Guedes passed away in 2013. I found this television special on YouTube, probably from the early 1980s. I hope someone can steer us to GAG's "coño" routine.


            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvc9YG8Bqu4&list=PL3Y48TKrMG-nIvdox8pgF1OVYFaBlDrrF


            On the Cuban "choteo" (teasing or irreverent banter, although it cannot be translated exactly), see Francisco Wong-Díaz's post from February 2006.  Golly, that's nine years ago.  (Wait a minute:  Prof. Hilton wrote Fernando Wong-Díaz.  Francisco:  is that a mistake, or do you have a brother I don't know about?)




            http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=9065&objectTypeId=3315&topicId=1


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      • More on Pweedy (Clyde McMorrow, USA 02/22/15 1:22 PM)
        Let me suggest to the contributors to David Pike's Dictionary of Idioms an interesting collection from Bobby Chamberlain and Ronald Harmon, A Dictionary of Informal Brazilian Portuguese--all 700 pages. My copy was published in 1983, so there might be a lot of new material.

        My contribution to the world of Brazilian letters was "Mais frio do que a mama da bruxa," which has entered common usage at least in the better parts of Niteroi when the temperature plunges down into the 70s.


        Best of luck on this noble quest.


        JE comments:  Ah, the proverbial witch's breast.  Could anything be colder?  My answer:  Michigan over the last two weeks, and the next several days are not expected to improve.  What was that they said about Global Warming?


        So good to hear from you, Clyde.


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      • Thoughts on PWDI (Pweedy), Spanish (Richard Hancock, USA 02/23/15 1:49 AM)

        A multilingual dictionary of idioms is interesting but a huge project. I claim some capacity in Spanish, especially in Mexican idioms. Achieving a beginner's knowledge in Spanish is not too difficult, because the pronunciation and spelling are quite regular compared to many other languages. The more one studies Spanish, however, the more one finds that the language is difficult because it has its roots in folklore.



        The language of New Mexico and southern Colorado is a good example. (Please see The Folklore of Spain in the American Southwest by Stanford's Aurelio M. Espinosa, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.) Then there are two volumes by Rubén Cobos published by the Museum of New Mexico Press: A Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish, and Refranes, Southwestern Spanish Proverbs.


        The state of Chihuahua has three volumes published on this subject: Chihuahuismos by Jesús Vargas Váldez, Diccionario y Gramática Tarahumares by Zacarías Márquez Terrazas, and Gramática Diccionario: Expañol-Plattdüütsh (Low-German) y Plattdüütsh-Español by Hans-Peter Bertelsen. The Tarahumare Indians number between 50-70,000 people in Chihuahua and the Mennonites 40,000 people. I possess a 5,000-word dictionary of "Caló" by Jay B. Rosensweig, published by E.P. Dutton. Caló is the "Gutter Spanish" of Mexico.



        I also have the Vocabulario Campesino Nacional of Mexico by Leovilgildo Islas Escarcega. Moreover, the thesis for my 1954 MA at New Mexico State University was "A Selected Spanish-English Agricultural Vocabulary." This was after I had spent a year on The US-Mexican Foot and Mouth Commission in Mexico and three years as labor director for the Doña Ana County Farm Bureau, where I spent almost 100% of my time communicating with Mexican contract workers.



        I have been able to speak Spanish since I was 10 years old, because I was raised on a New Mexico ranch where all the workers were Hispanics and my parents were also fluent in Spanish. I could communicate in Spanish, but was embarrassed on several occasions because my "Sheepherder" Spanish caused me to use words that were not proper.



        I recall that I went to Chihuahua while I was at NMSU on a goodwill tour to the Instituto Científico and Literario in Ciudad Chihuahua. Here we got involved in a sort of a speaker's marathon. When we ran out of native-speaking students to respond to the Chihuahua speakers, our Spanish Professor, Dr. Carl Tyre, asked me if I could make the next response. I replied confidently that I could but, in his concern, he wrote me out a one-line speech to give: "Many thanks for your favors." For the term favors, he used the Spanish word "agasajos." I did not want to appear as a dummy, so I quickly memorized this line. The only problem was that I mispronounced the word "agasajos" as "agasados," which means "gassing." The Chihuahua students broke out in boisterous laughter, whereupon their teachers arose and "shusshed" them. I did not know what I had said until Dr. Tyre explained it to me.



        In Jalisco, the Commission supplied us with horses and a Dodge Power Wagon with a mule rack so that we could truck our horses to ranches that we needed to inspect. My supervisor was a large man and he talked me into trading my good-sized horse for his smaller, but well-formed horse. He neglected to tell me that this horse was difficult to load in the back of the Power Wagon.



        I was parked in front of a store in Ezatlan, Jalisco and I had a huge battle in loading this horse. When I entered the store, the manager was standing next to some young, high school-age girls. When he sympathized with my problem, I told him that my horse had behaved like a drunkard. The proper word in Spanish for drunkard is "borracho" but the word I had learned in New Mexico was "anda pedo," so I told him that my horse had behaved like a "fart" which is the real meaning of "pedo." He turned to the girls and said, "It is that the Señor does not speak Spanish correctly." After the girls left, he told me what I had said.



        I spent two years 1962-63 in El Salvador as Peace Corps director. USAID had 7 or 8 Hispanic New Mexicans who were technically competent but their Spanish caused them some problems because they used the familiar form almost exclusively as is common in New Mexico Spanish. They were all fluent, but I don't think any of them had ever taken a formal class in Spanish. When speaking to high Salvadorian officials, one does not use the familiar "tú" instead of the formal "Usted." The funny part is that I could have made this identical mistake and they would have felt no resentment. The Salvadorians did resent this use by other native Spanish speakers, because it showed them to be either uneducated or insulting.



        Incidentally, a resident of Mexico City is called a "chilango" by people in other parts of Mexico. I have not been able to find this word in any of my dictionaries. I would appreciate information on the background and meaning of this word.


        JE comments:  The WAIS Effect strikes again!  Just two weeks ago the word "agasajo" (praise, tender attention) came up in my literature class, while we were reading the disturbing 17th-century short story "La inocencia castigada" by María de Zayas y Sotomayor.  It's a word you rarely hear in today's Spanish.  I'll go with Richard's variant:  "agasado"--gassy!


        Prof. Hilton was a great admirer of both Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr and Jr--they were titans of Hispanism.  Espinosa Sr founded the journal Hispania, the publication that first brought RH and me together.  Here's a 2005 post.  (I don't know why I am listed as the author--it was Prof. H.) 


        Espinosa, Jr died in 2004, at the age of 97:


        http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=7689&objectTypeId=1939&topicId=1


        In a future post, I'll try my hand at "chilango."  It's one of those prickly identity terms you should never use unless you are one.


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  • Update from PWDI HQ (David Pike, France 03/01/15 5:28 AM)
    Three of us here in Paris at Base Pweedy met yesterday to discuss and refine the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms. I have the pleasure of introducing you to the Franco-Germanophone Hélène and the Russophone Fazolat. We currently lack the quintilingual Christina, whose five include her native Spanish.

    I made the case for dispensing with the infinitive, but that immediately ran into the problem in Russian, where the infinitive is indispensable for gender reasons. We settled on a compromise. Exceptions would be made for the imperative, and wherever the infinitive made no sense.


    We are sending you the entirety of Letter A, and suggest that you release it at once as a unit. ["A" will appear in separate post--JE.] You will notice that there are several blanks in the Romanic slots. I can only say that the entries have fallen by the wayside! But since WAISers are especially powerful in the Romanic languages I thought it a good idea to release the unit in its present shape: gaps, warts and all, because it will surely entice many a WAISer to fill in the blanks, as well as enlarge on the others.


    I think we are off to a good start, establishing the basics. I shall be delighted to hear suggestions from WAISers as to how ambitious and sophisticated the Dictionary could become, or whether we should limit ourselves to what are common colloquialisms in these seven languages.


    When I first discussed the project with Ronald Hilton a few decades ago in Paris, I called it a Glossary, but he enlightened me as to the difference in meaning between glossary and dictionary. So are we now heading toward a Dictionary or a Glossary?


    And it's not too early for WAIS to think about a book cover. Do we now have a logo, and have we chosen our academic colors?


    Pax et Lux, with a little Ignis et Oleum added to the phrases, David.


    JE comments: Book cover? We've got the entire volume! All we need to do is fill up the inside part.


    Pweedy must be Tweedy. It also gives a British sense of tradition and gravitas, very Hiltonian and Pike-ian.  (A special thanks here to Tetiana, our web designer in Ukraine.)






     

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    • Pweedy Updates; Idioms in Spanish (Enrique Torner, USA 03/01/15 10:07 AM)
      Here is a contribution to the Spanish translations in Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms:

      To come to grief...: llegar a un callejón sin salida, quedarse sin blanca (Spain)


      To flunk an exam: suspender un examen (Spain), catear un examen (Spain); darle a uno calabazas (no "recibir")


      The show was a flop: el espectáculo fue un fracaso/desastre


      To lose one's nerve: acobardarse, cagarse (Spain)


      To be scared stiff: cagarse de miedo; should be "ponérsele a uno la piel de gallina," not "carne" as in the original


      To feel one's hair stand on end: the expressions should go with "le": erizársele a uno el cabello, ponérsele a uno los pelos de punta


      To shiver at the mere thought of something: estremecerse al pensar en algo


      To get stage fright: tener miedo a hablar/cantar/actuar en público


      To break one's word: romper una promesa, faltar a su palabra


      By the way, regarding the common word "coño," it was introduced to the Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua by the Spanish writer Camilo José Cela (1916-2002), who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1989. Cela became even more famous after Franco died due to his use of vulgar speech. There is a funny anecdote about him that I still remember from a long time ago:


      Dormido o durmiendo


      Otra de las anécdotas más recordadas del Nobel de Literatura tuvo lugar en el Senado, en el que Camilo José Cela ocupaba un escaño por designación real. Corría el 19 de junio de 1977 y comenzaba la legislatura constituyente en la época de la Transición.


      En el curso de la sesión, el presidente de la Cámara, Antonio Fontán, se había dirigido un par de veces al escritor a quien había sorprendido descabezando un sueño. Ante sus llamadas de atención, Cela acaba por despertarse.

      El presidente de la Cámara Alta le afea en tono serio y autoritario:


      --El senador Cela estaba dormido...


      Le responde el aludido:


      --No, señor presidente, no estaba dormido sino durmiendo...


      El presidente Fontán pica el anzuelo:


      --¿Acaso no es lo mismo estar dormido que durmiendo?


      Y el Nobel le da una lección de lengua española:

      --No, señor Presidente, como tampoco lo es estar jodido que jodiendo.


      I hope speakers of Spanish will enjoy the anecdote.


      JE comments:  I know this one; it's an untranslatable classic I've shared with my students.  In a nutshell, Cela argued that he wasn't asleep in the Senate, but sleeping.  When told this is the same thing, he replied that it's not the same thing to be f--d as to be f--ing.


      I wonder if Enrique knows this interview which shows Cela's "enematic" side:


      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0d6K9x8CuA


      Thanks for the Pweedy content, Enrique!



       

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      • Cipotes Preconciliares: Another Cela Anecdote (Paul Preston, UK 03/02/15 6:51 AM)
        Following up on Enrique Torner's post of 1 March, how about this for a Cela anecdote:

        Cela contó, y que según la Sentencia reproducida más adelante quedó "probado (...) que el día 31 de octubre de 1971, en el cine (...) durante la representación de un espectáculo de cante flamenco, la procesada (...) masturbó a su novio (...) teniendo éste el órgano viril fuera del pantalón, lo que motivó que salpicara de semen (...) causando desperfectos en (...) ropas, pericialmente valoradas en 3500 ptas., y 1600 ptas. respectivamente; y puesto en conocimiento de la Policía Municipal lo ocurrido, los procesados fueron expulsados del local, con la consiguiente publicidad". El acontecimiento trascendió haciendo a Cela decir: "Bendito sea Dios Todopoderoso, que nos permite la contemporaneidad con estos cipotes preconciliares y sus riadas y aun cataratas fluyentes! Amén. íViva España! ¡Cuán grandes son los países en los que los canijos son procesados por causa de siniestro!"


        JE comments: This one will take some effort to translate:


        "Cela told the story that according to the sentence handed down, 'it was proven that on 31 October 1971, in a cinema during a performance of Flamenco music, the accused...masturbated her boyfriend, who had exposed his virile member outside his trousers...which resulted in a splattering of semen that caused damage to clothing [of other spectators], forensically determined to be valued at 3500 and 1600 pesetas, respectively. The Municipal Police, being informed of the event, expelled the accused from the venue, notifying the media of the offense.


        "This incident inspired Cela to say, 'Praise be to God All-Powerful, who allows us to co-exist with these pre-conciliar schlongs and their copious, waterfall-like effluvient! Amen. Long live Spain! How glorious are those countries where pipsqueaks are prosecuted for material damages!'"


        [JE again]: "Cipotes preconciliares" made me think long and hard. "Cipote" sounds a bit more playful than the harsh-sounding "schlong," but I chose it.  The runner-up was "Johnson."  "Preconciliar" must refer to the time before Vatican II.


        No one could combine the vulgar and the cultured better than Cela. A true "guarro erudito."

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        • Cipotes Preconciliares and... (Timothy Brown, USA 03/02/15 1:01 PM)
          In parts of Central America "cipote" is slang for little kid, and shlong is slang for the male organ. How meanings change from place to place!

          JE comments: And just a few minutes ago, Anthony Candil mentioned President Johnson!  Remember that his successor was named Dick.


          This is not high-brow WAISly inquiry, but it's WAISly all the same. Camilo José Cela has a way of doing that to people.  In his Diccionario secreto, he assembled an entire volume just on the penis:


          http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diccionario_Secreto


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          • Chingar and its Derivatives (Timothy Brown, USA 03/03/15 10:07 AM)

            To plagiarize a Mexican writer whose name I don't recall but whose words I've never forgotten:
            "Hace un chingo de años, Cuauhtémoc era el gran chingón, hasta que llegaron un chingo de gachupines
            que nos chingaron a todos!"


            Of course el chingo de cigarro is a cigar butt; if you're chingo you're naked; if someone
            says to you chinga tu madre, you have every right to get mad and call whoever said it a pig or, if you
            prefer, un puerco, chancho, cerdo, marrano or just dirty and in need of a bath.


            Not long after arriving in Mérida, Mexico from Vietnam, when asked how many children we had with us, I answered, to the total shock of
            everyone within earshot, "tengo cuatro guilas en casa," guila being Costa Rican slang for a "kid." In Mexico it's slang for a prostitute.
            I should have called them chamacos, chavalos, zipotes, or just plain hijos.


            I once published an article on the Nicaraguan highlands peasants conception of that country's history, entitled "Nahuas, Gachupines, Patriarchs y Piris--The Four Conquistadores de Nicaragua through Highland Peasant Eyes." Nahuas from the Puebla region of today's Mexico were Nicaragua's first conquistadores in the 900s; Gachupines were the Spanish conquistadores; Patriarchs are the past, present and future post-conquest upper class; Piris is from the Misquito Indian piricuaques, or rabid dogs, the highlander peasant's pejorative for Sandinista.


            The highlander peasants themselves are descendants of the region's earliest inhabitants, Chibchas from South America and consider all the others invaders. But, since they were 97% illiterate, they were never able to defend themselves
            in the world of the written word, even when the outside world mislabeled them Contras. Pablo Antonio Cuadra, one of Nicaragua's most distinguished historians, wrote a book entitled Los Dos Nicaraguas, one Nicaragua being the lowlands Pacific Nahua/Spanish, the other the highlander Chibchas.


            Each ethnic identity group perceives itself as "us" and members of other identity groups as "them." Advocates of multiculturalism ignore this at their
            peril. Whether this good or bad, right or wrong, real or reactionary is a matter of opinion. But that such feelings exist is not, and are ignored
            at one's peril. I know; I once tried.


            I was the Senior US Liaison Officer, or SLO, to the Nicaraguan Contras for four years, a resistance group the outside world was propagandized into seeing as one
            unified movement created, financed and commanded by the CIA, even though it was none of those. In fact what I found when I arrived
            in Honduras was that there were five Contra armies, not one. One, the FDN, was made up of highlander peasants of Chibcha origin; the Southern Front of lowlands peasants of Nahua origin; Yatama was Miskito Indian and largely Moravian; the Sumus de la Montaña were Sumu and Rama indian;
            the NCPS [Nicaraguan Creole People's Struggle] was English-speaking Caribbean blacks, many of them Rastaferians. And no matter how hard we tried, each refused to be led by any of the others. And every one of them had its own language, history, religious preferences and objectives.


            In our quest for slang words, are we really willing to get that far down in the weeds? If so, it 's going to be a long summer.


            JE comments:  Writing from within the season's umpteenth blizzard, I would certainly welcome a long, long summer!


            Any discussion of "chingar" and its derivatives must include Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz's seminal 1950 essay, "Los hijos de la Malinche."  For Paz, "chingar" is the central symbol of Mexican identity.  Here's the English version:


            http://www.lahc.edu/classes/socialscience/history/valadez/19/sonsofmalinche.pdf


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            • Piricuacos/Piricuaques; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/04/15 4:55 AM)


              JE: I received this response to Tim Brown (3 March) from reader Gary Moore, who introduced himself to WAISdom on February 28th:



              John, I was wondering when somebody was going to get to Octavio Paz,
              without whom the discussion of "chingar" is bleak. Also a minor thing on
              Timothy Brown's great discussion of Contra-era slang: It's "piricuaco,"
              not "piricuaque." And in Guatemala there's yet another word to add
              for "child or "kid"--"patojo/patoja." This is universal there, but not outside.


              I was held prisoner by the main Contras twice, and by their allies Misurasata
              once (I don't know where Timothy got that other name), as well as by the
              Sandinistas for videotaping burned villages in the forbidden Atlantic coast zone,
              where I knew a lot of the Miskitos. The sister-in-law of Brooklyn Rivera,
              the Miskito/Misurasata leader, told me gravely how a sukia wizard rescued
              her afflicted aunt by getting her to throw up live salamanders implanted in
              her digestive tract by a bad sukia wizard, to which I innocently asked
              what happened to the salamanders. Rivera's sister-in-law, with her college
              education, replied: "I saw one crawling across the floor and I tried to touch it,
              but it disappeared." Worlds are hidden in that salamander.


              I'd be interested to know what Timothy thought of Enrique Bermúdez,
              the ex-GN commander whom I met when he had a pet coatimundi in the mammoth
              "secret" Contra base, Las Vegas, that the CIA had helped build in jungled hills on the
              Honduran border. I think Bermúdez may have later been killed by a briefcase bomb in Costa Rica,
              though perhaps Timothy can correct me.


              Those were epic times in the history of political illusion and delusion--as perhaps
              all times are. So even the arguments and polemics are now elevated to the educational
              level of that pesky salamander.


              JE comments:  When I introduced Gary Moore, I mistakenly said he lives in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Gary has corrected me:  he's in Memphis.  (Perhaps I'm confusing him with Elvis--sorry about that, Gary!)


              Between Gary Moore and Tim Brown, I'm learning a lot of Central American slang.  C. A.  is the biggest hole in my personal dictionary of Spanish regionalisms.  Gary:  I hope you'll give us more details on your experiences as a Contra prisoner.


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              • Enrique Bermudez, Nicaraguan Contra (Timothy Brown, USA 03/05/15 3:38 PM)

                It's great to hear from Gary Moore (4 March) one of the few experienced observers of the Contras who tries to be objective rather than judgmental. All too often those
                that strongly believe they know who they were are unconsciously simply regurgitating hostile wartime propaganda.


                On Enrique Bermúdez, whose nom de guerre was Comandante 360, we became close friends during my years as SLO (Senior Liaison Officer).


                Bermúdez was assassinated in Managua on February 16, 1991, after returning there for the first time since the Sandinista Revolution. The weapon used was
                a two-barrel .22 cal. pistol that fired two counter-rotating bullets simultaneously. Made of a specialized plastic, it was designed specifically to be fired just once and thrown away. Bermúdez was sitting in the driver's seat of a car in the parking lot of a major hotel and opened his window to greet his assassin, who promptly fired both bullets directly into his brain, killing him instantly. Despite an extensive investigation by an independent
                panel, his assassin was never identified. His son later published an article in Soldier of Fortune in which he disclosed most of these details. Over the next several years, about 50% of the surviving
                FDN/ERN officers also died violent deaths, many also under suspicious circumstances.


                On Misurasata. As I mentioned, there were five Contra forces. Misurasata was an earlier name for the Miskito Indian force. It was later renamed
                YATAMA (Yapti Tasba Masraka Asla Takanka), its name during my years (1987-90). I also knew Brooklyn Rivera well.


                On Piricuaque, it's the singular of Piricuaco(s).


                The Las Vegas salient Mr. Moore mentions was, until the very last months of the war, the principal location of the largest Contra army. That army was actually an alliance of convenience between former
                Somoza Guardia and the original armed peasant resistance, the MILPAS (Milicias Populares Anti-Sandinistas). Fuerza Democrática Nicaragüense (FDN), later changed to Ejército de Resistencia Nicaragüense
                was the name of that alliance.


                On the Las Vegas salient, until fairly recent history, it was governed by Nicaragua and the object of a border dispute that, more recently, was awarded to Honduras.
                So most of the adult inhabitants of the salient were born Nicaraguan. The combined FDN forces were 97% Segovian highlander campesinos, or
                peasants, and many of the clans that provided its combatants had members on both sides of the border. About 3% of the force were former Guardia who, with a few exceptions,
                served as its headquarters staff.


                In light of his personal experiences with them, Mr. Moore might find my "The Real Contra War:  Highlander Peasant Resistance in Nicaragua" (Oklahoma 2000), my doctoral dissertation, interesting. Given the complexities of
                Contra forces (and inevitable dryness of a dissertation), I limited it to the FDN/ERN, but my chapters on the Geography of the Rebellion (ch. 11) and History of the Highlanders (ch. 12) may be of some interest.


                Given his experiences with the Miskito resistance, Mr. Moore might also be interested in the history of the Miskito Indian resistance movement as explained by the last military commander of YATAMA, Salomon Osorno Coleman---Comandante Blass--in "My People My War: Why I Fought Against the Sandinista Revolution" (ch. 10) in my book When the AK-47s Fall Silent (Hoover, 2001)


                Since about 6% of the Contras front-line combatants were females serving in mixed-gender combat units, some may even find my chapter, Women Comandos: Heroes, Combatants and Comarca Leaders (ch.10)
                intriguing.


                On the odd chance that he, or another WAISer, is in contact with a grad student interested in pursuing this subject further, the original records of the Contras are housed in the Hoover Archives at Stanford.


                JE comments:  I'm still confused on piricuacos.  On-line sources have the singular as piricuaco (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/piricuaco ).  


                There must be a gold mine of Contra material in the Hoover.  However, a young historian seeking entry into Academia might have to approach such a controversial topic with caution.  Bluntly stated, it would be difficult to land a job if you write something positive or "revisionist" about the Contras.

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                • Contra Archives at Hoover and Bill Ratliff (Edward Jajko, USA 03/06/15 4:48 AM)
                  That the Contra records are in the Hoover Institution Archives (see Tim Brown, 5 March) is due to the brilliant and untiring work and innumerable contacts, often built up in difficult circumstances, of the Hoover's late Americas' curator, my honored former colleague and WAIS's former president, Bill Ratliff. He used to regale us at Curators' Meetings with his latest adventures that often sounded as if they had been drawn from spy fiction.

                  JE comments: A day doesn't go by that I don't remember Bill Ratliff. Just yesterday at lunch Aldona and I talked about him. Hard to believe that on April 11th, it will already be a year since his passing.


                  The Hoover Archive's wealth of narratives had a rival in Bill himself. He was an unparalleled raconteur.

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                  • Piricuacos/Piricuaques; in Memory of Bill Ratliff (Timothy Brown, USA 03/07/15 4:01 AM)
                    A minor sidebar in response to Gary Moore (6 March). Whether "los Piris" were piricuaco (s) or piricuaque(s) is based on how one transliterates a Miskito word into Spanish, so you can take your pick, since transliterating one language into another is often problematic. My favorite is the name of the King of Thailand. Thai is monosyllabic and written in devaravati or pali script, so a given letter can be pronounced differently depending on whether it comes first or last.

                    An example: Google the King of Thailand and you will almost always find the King's name transliterated as Phumiphol Adulyadet. But, because it is written in pali, the letter loh ling is pronounced as an "l" if it comes first in a syllable, but as an "n" when it comes last.


                    Hence the correct transliteration of his name is Phumiphon Adunyadet. During my five years as a Marine Thai Intelligence Linguist, I had the honor of interpreting for His Majesty and learned to be very careful with anything that touched his person lest I accidentally commit lesse majeste, a potentially capital offense in Thailand.


                    Ed Jajko (6 March) mentions Bill Ratliff. He was one of my very best friends, and I couldn't agree more on how invaluable his help was in bringing Latin American collections, from the Contras archives to a trove of pre-1979 Sandinista front documents to Hoover, including several I've included in my books.


                    Bill and I traveled together in Central and South America many times, usually either to try to collect archives or interview key figures like Pres. Fujimori.


                    Another collection he helped me collect are the personal papers of the former leader of the Communist Party of Guerrero, Mexico. I've also placed some of my doctoral research there thanks to him.


                    JE comments: When we last met on March 12th (2014), Bill and I sketched out a couple of Latin American adventures together.  There were so many plans, and (we thought) so much time...


                    Thank you, Tim, for this tribute to a brilliant scholar, model WAISer, and excellent friend.


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                • Enrique Bermudez, Nicaraguan Contra; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/06/15 8:36 AM)
                  Gary Moore (Memphis, Tennessee) responds to Tim Brown's post of 5 March:

                  What great information from Timothy Brown. I had only heard through the grapevine about the details of Enrique Bermúdez's assassination, and suspected the facts might be a little different--but not that different. I had heard he was killed while walking across a parking lot in Costa Rica carrying a briefcase in which a bomb had been planted.


                  Now I see that only the parking lot part was authentic. This sounds like a classic rumor, fusing with the Eden Pastora bombing that did indeed happen in Costa Rica or near the border.


                  Those were such confused times, and as Tim suggests, ideological screens have closed over the complexities. What he's saying, also, about the Las Vegas salient being largely Nicaraguan by heritage also agrees with what I saw there, in terms of meeting farmers who seemed to be native but Nicaraguan.


                  I definitely need to get Tim's book(s). Today I had ironically just finished my riff on my captivity (or that is, one of my captivities) when I saw the WAIS post. I think what I've said fits right in with his comments, and will send soon.


                  As it turns out, he was indeed there after I was already gone (I left the scene in 1986), hence my ignorance of

                  what was apparently the subsequent name for the Miskito guerrillas. As an aside, there was also another name,

                  less formal, that the Miskitos in general applied to Sandinista attempts to co-opt them. I forget the Sandinistas' own name for the Miskito organization they attempted (I think it was MISATAN; perhaps Timothy recalls it) but the Miskito commentary rendered it into "Mi Satan Tara"--or "My Big Satan."


                  As to piricuaco-que, it dawns on me that I may never have heard it used in the singular (it was a war epithet like "Huns" or "Gooks"), but I share the quandary about a "que"-suffix singular in Spanish. There is doubtless abundant more ancient literature on how Nicaragua had always said "rabid dog."


                  I can't say how pleased I am for this chance at cutting through a long-standing curtain of ideological taboos and security reticence to find new puzzle pieces from those old riddles. As with your many global spotlights, here WAIS is providing a great service.


                  I'm also curious about the special aspects of the gun used to kill Bermúdez. Why plastic, double-barreled, tumbling? Does this imply that such weapons were indicative of a certain kind of backer?


                  Captivity story follows soon.


                  JE comments: Gary Moore has already sent his account of his experience(s) in Contra captivity. I'll post it later today or tomorrow first thing.  One more reason to visit WAIS often!


                  I hope Tim Brown can give us more information on the "disposable" .22 pistol. I don't understand the plastic part either.  If no security screening is involved, like at an airport, why not just get a cheap revolver and then destroy it?


                  Moreover, to my knowledge a functional all-plastic gun has never been manufactured, much less in 1991. Now it seems they can be "printed." See, for example, the $25 Lulz Liberator:


                  http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/156304-the-25-lulz-liberator-the-first-3d-printed-gun-with-a-rifled-barrel

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                  • Prisoner of the Contras; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 03/07/15 3:22 AM)
                    JE: As promised yesterday, Gary Moore (Memphis, Tennessee) sends this unforgettable story:

                    I'd like to thank John for his suggestion that I flesh out what amounts to Candide-Meets-The-Prisoner-of-Zenda-in-The-Cold-War. The suggested post (apologies that it's so short) is below:


                    After John Eipper's gracious suggestion that I recount my (mostly comic) captivity by the contras in the 1980s, I've tried to pinpoint some theme of Larger Meaning in all that chaos in the long-ago tropical fringes of the Cold War. Good luck. I found myself recalling that in Nicaragua I briefly met a sage, Chris Hedges of the New York Times (then suffering malaria as I later would be), who has come close to the Big Picture with the following statement: "War's simplicity and high [provide] the chance to exist for an intense and overpowering moment. Many of us, restless, unfulfilled, see no supreme worth in our lives. We want more out of life. And war, at least, gives a sense that we rise above our smallness and divisions." This was in Hedges's 2002 book, which should be a Bible for the study of war psychology, as seen just in its remarkable title: War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. To me this distorting siren call, not the partisan pleadings, should be the cautionary lesson.


                    So, envision: 1980s Reagan Rococo, Managua:



                    The Intercon Hotel, bizarre post-modern pyramid on the flank of an extinct volcano on whose peak, just above, is a dreaded State Security prison. But the languid hotel is swarmed by press-conference journalists and fellows hoping to rent out old cars to them for $100 a day, while block after block of never-rebuilt earthquake ruins spread majestically below the hotel, down to the sea-like brooding of Lake Managua, fringed by more volcanoes. This was the hotel where Howard Hughes took over an upper floor a decade prior under Somoza, as Hughes grew his fingernails long in lunatic seclusion, then fled the 1972 earthquake--which gave rise to the great moonscape roundabout, never rebuilt but termed Los Escombros. Formal mailing addresses in Nicaragua (on whose stability one need only ask a Costa Rican) were not street numbers but nostalgic vectors, written out longhand on postal envelopes, such as: "Two blocks up from the Lake and then one block toward where The Big Ceiba Tree Used To Be." The streets so designated, whispering around the hotel, were empty, with occasional horse carts or journalists renting old heaps, plus speeding Ladas or military vehicles. Hard to get gas.


                    So now into the sumptuous island of hothouse journalism that is the big hotel comes American cinema director Ron Maxwell (he later did a TV tour de force on the Civil War), who has gotten a chunk of money to sneak into Nicaragua and do, supposedly, the be-all and end-all of behind-the-scenes documentaries (which never got made, though he shot a lot of footage and then did extended expense-account editing in a real combat zone: Newport). But while camped at the Intercon, Ron needed a location arranger, a scout in the wild places, a jungle guide. And he was introduced to a fellow who had once walked the length of Nicaragua (and a little farther), which fellow was me.


                    I thought I had just the spot for Ron, out toward Chontales where the war was going on, so I went way out there in advance, hiking up into the hills beyond road's end, in a wilted Goretex poncho in the rain (I may not have taken the monstrous dinosaur video camera this trip). Stories of combat led me to a classic rural hamlet, where each thatched-roof farmhouse was far enough away from the next to sometimes be barely seen on the next slash-and-burn hilltop. Very muddy and wet, I managed to locate a locally fabled human-rights site, an isolated farmhouse where, people along the way kept saying, a military helicopter had fired rockets into a civilian residence, I think killing a child. Sure enough, the house existed, and the back part, where a rocket had come in through gap-toothed planks, was still a mess. But the family was there, recovering as best they could. The woman of the house told me how it was a Soviet military helicopter, used by local allies--a prime emblem of how here, even way out here, the world was in Cold War.


                    I asked her something lame like "How do you know it was a Soviet helicopter?"--and she replied, "Well, look"--as she directed my attention to a door prop in the shadows, a grimy metal tube, about shin-high. Sure enough, these people had saved the missile cartridge, left by some dynamic of partial demolition beyond my pay grade. Right on the metal was a large stenciled serial number--in Cyrillic script. I think I remember the square Russian delta symbol for "D," and the backwards N, etc.


                    Well, I was afire to take back this valuable piece of junk to the civilized Inter-Con, and the woman generously said that, since I represented posterity, I could have it. Under my blue poncho it went, and now I went slipping and sliding down the muddy trail from the hilltop home (still far from any vehicle road)--and I didn't get very far. Out of nowhere some young guys with guns appeared. They were Contras.


                    What was I doing in their territory without permission, they asked. In a logical world, it might have seemed they would welcome a stranger with proof of Soviet-backed abuses by their enemies, since they were the US-backed foes of the Soviet-backed-Marxist-Sandinista-Government (as the boilerplate said, all in one breath). But I repeatedly found, on both sides of such guerrilla conflicts, that the big concern seemed to be proving authority and turf, and regulating information. Journalists were not supposed to be out there without Contra high-command permission. "You'll have to come with us," they said, and they marched me off. My protests that I had to get back to a big Hollywood hotel meeting were as nothing. Marching for hours over miserable terrain, they finally took me to a dirt-floored safehouse owned by a family that collaborated with them (somewhat complicating the idea of civilian casualties in the rocket attack), and, blithely, they made it clear that my captivity might go on indefinitely, as they marched me hither and yon for days--or weeks--on whatever maneuvers might come up. This, of course, was not bad for insider learning, but I had another job to do, back at the hotel--plus there were quieter dangers. Both the Inter-Con and the jungles were laced with what skeptics called political tourists, idealistic and often young supporters of the Sandinistas in their bid for "a new man" (though old concept) against "the Yanqui, enemy of humankind," as the Sandinista anthem sang. The Contras had recently captured a forlorn Witness For Peace activist seeking in some way to make a jungle statement against imperialism, and, more germane to my predicament, they had held him for long weeks, until the sanitation plus the demoralization produced hepatitis. Even in hands not directly abusive, it's dangerous to be a captive forever. So after a night at the safehouse, as they marched me off next morning toward endless hepatitis opportunities, I plotted my escape.


                    Sadly, I realized that the first casualty of my conspiracy would have to be the missile tube, which I could no longer ridiculously lug around if I was running for my life. My captors hadn't been abusive so far, but I was about to directly defy their rules. Our long procession, single file, led through great mounds of bushes that forced it to snake back and forth. The plan I got seemed impossible even to me, but I had the Witness For Hepatitis example to think about, pushing me onward. Testing the waters, I began, ever so slightly, to slow my pace a bit. We were stumbling along a few yards apart, with an armed guard in front of me and one behind. I saw that my guess was indeed true, that if I lagged ever so slightly, pretty soon, in the snakings among the mounds of foliage, the guy in front would be just out of sight of me--which scarcely mattered to him, since the guy behind had me. But then, once he could no longer see me, I started speeding up again--ever so slightly--and sure enough, these geniuses let it happen. Before long, there were crucial points in the snakings when I was out of sight of both of them--and neither one knew it. The next part of the plan was delicate, and I rehearsed it in my head, thinking of all the ways they could make life unpleasant for me if I was caught. The important thing, I kept reminding myself, was not to run. If I simply tore off through the bushes they would immediately hear me and spot me, and I might run into any number of sentries. But the outback can be sheltering, if you don't mind getting dirty. At the big moment, I threw myself off the path and wormed under the bushes--far under--then simply stayed there, not moving a muscle, while all the stragglers cluelessly kept filing past. I couldn't believe it. They hadn't missed me.


                    As soon as there were no more sounds from stragglers, I jumped up and then ran like hell, back down the same path where we had come--because if I were ever to get out to a vehicle road I had to take some kind of established trail. Maybe, once they began asking each other who had me, the finger-pointing slowed them down. I never saw my captors again. But just as I felt saved, coming out to a gravel vehicle road with my lungs burning from running, a voice from the bushes suddenly cried, "Halt!" At the road they had left a peripheral sentry after all--and he pointed his AK at me, saying the magic words: "You'll have to come with me." I knew I couldn't afford to be marched back where my perfidy would be revealed, and I'd get no chances again--but I began to realize that this sentry had no way to know that I had been a captive at all. So, stupidly, I bluffed--and exploded at him: "What do you mean, impeding an important international journalist? Don't you know how your superiors will react to this?"


                    He was unmoved and kept motioning with the gun. So, doing my best to look irrationally angry and otherwise unconcerned, I turned my back on him, and on the gun, and kept walking, slowly, arrogantly, meanwhile spouting the angry words of an offended bigwig. I could almost feel the bullet between my shoulder blades--but it never came. As soon as he was out of sight and I was over the next hill, I dropped the arrogant bigwig act and started running again.


                    I could hardly wait to tell Ron and his cameraman and sound man of my big adventure, and what perfect local color I had found for them to shoot. It was over cantelopes and other dining goodies, as waiters hovered in the pleasant garden cafe of the hotel. I saw that my colleagues were hearing my zesty story of rocket attacks and captivity with particular solemnity. Then I finished. They all looked at one another, as if telepathic, though the cameraman seemed to be the most eager to speak, for all of them, as he said: "Not me man. I'm not going out in a war."


                    He had apparently been picked up in Miami on the way, and I'll never forget his next immortal words:

                    "I do commercials." Thus, by slow turns, came the important diversion of a great cinema effort at documenting the truth, into the real combat zone, at Newport.


                    JE comments:  This one is a classic for the WAIS ages.  Thank you, Gary!  There is something almost Keystone Cops about this depiction of Contra efficiency.  We could probably say the same thing about the Sandinistas.  And note that when it comes to ruthlessness, the average drug cartel in today's Latin America makes the Contras look like Boy Scouts.


                    Still, Gary's escape took a lot of chutzpah.  While I'm not totally chutzpah-free, I probably would have remained an obedient captive...and hoped for clemency.


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                  • Assassination and "Disposable" Firearms (Timothy Brown, USA 03/09/15 1:39 PM)

                    On the weapon used to assassinate Contra commander Enrique Bermúdez (see Gary Moore, 6 March), the difference between a fire-and-destroy pistol is the lands and grooves on bullets they fire.


                    Unless the pistol has never been fired before and will never be fired again, bullets it has fired can be used to identify the weapon used.
                    So, unless a particular weapon has only been used once, destroying it after it has been used to assassinate someone would not totally guarantee that it could not be identified and traced back to its user.


                    I was told by a dependable Costa Rican contact that similar one-use plastine pistols were used in Central America on two other occasions, once in El
                    Salvador and once in Costa Rica. Decades ago, during my senior year at University of Nevada-Reno, I wrote a paper that I entitled, as best I can remember, "Assassination: A Political Tradition in Latin America." My professor loved it.


                    JE comments:  Ballistics are not my forte, but aren't .22 caliber bullets especially prone to deformation, which makes them more difficult to trace than larger rounds?  Or is this just CSI stuff from TV?

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    • Tweedy Pweedy: an Update (David Pike, France 03/09/15 11:48 AM)
      I should like to thank all WAISers who have sent words of encouragement and advice on our "Pweedy" (Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms; PWDI) project, and special thanks to the fashion designer of our tweedy Pweedy cover. At this end you have an Englishman who never wore tweed but always appeared, in Bolivar House and since, in a suit, in keeping with the old tradition of French professors who never appeared in class except in a dark grey suit. Today they appear in whatever form makes them look like students, no doubt for self-protection.

      I plan to send letter B this coming week, and then one letter every forthnight, so that everything will be with you by the end of May. Let me know, John, if this is in tune with your own ideas.


      JE comments: Absolutely. I have the letter A in my files, which I'll post tomorrow. Henceforth, every other week will be Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday.  I am revelling in the playfulness!


      Did you somehow miss the February launch of Pweedy?  Here's the post that started it all:


      https://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&o=91592


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  • It's Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday...Two Days Late (John Eipper, USA 03/11/15 2:41 PM)

    Due to some last-minute revisions, we didn't make the Tuesday deadline for the "A" entries of David W. Pike's magnum opus, the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms (PWDI). I had originally proposed to David that we rename the launch "Tweedy Pweedy Wednesday," which maintains some of the alliteration, but life intervened and we missed that deadline, too. 


    David recommended we stick to the original plan and post one letter of the alphabet every other Tuesday.  So welcome, dear WAISers, to the first Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday, held on Thursday.


    Good things can still come of missed deadlines. Recall that Chicago's World Columbian Exposition observed the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage in...1893.


    Since the "A" entry is quite long, 17 pages in the original Word file, I attach it here as a PDF.  (NOTE: this link will not work through some subscribers' e-mail, so please visit this post on our homepage:  waisworld.org.  I will send the link to WAISers in a subsequent e-mail.)


    Here's the hierarchy of languages:


    1. English

    2. French

    3. German

    4. Italian

    5. Spanish

    6. Portuguese

    7. Russian


    My recommendation?  Print it up, fill in some blanks, and send me your corrections.  Admittedly this is low-tech, but IT guru Roman Zhovtulya is working on an "app" that will automate the whole process.


    Among other topics, today's "A" covers annoyance, anxiety, apology:  this is the stuff of daily life!

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    • Post Unpublished - please check back later


  • Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday! Letters B and C (John Eipper, USA 04/07/15 8:56 AM)
    JE: It's been two fortnights since our last "Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday," during which time WAISers collectively work on the celebrated Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms (PWDI). The letter A was posted on March 12th, which was actually a Thursday--but please work with me here.

    David Pike sent letters B and C a couple of weeks ago, but pressing matters, both WAIS and non-WAIS, intervened. With today's entry, I hope to get back on our two-week schedule. The PDF file can be accessed by clicking here . (NOTE: This document may not load properly from your e-mail. I will send the weblink in a follow-up mail.)


    Here is the hierarchy of languages:


    1. English

    2. French

    3. German

    4. Italian

    5. Spanish

    6. Portuguese

    7. Russian


    So WAISers, get Pweedying! (Godspweed?)  Send me your responses and contributions.

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    • Post Unpublished - please check back later


  • Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday! Letters D and E (David Pike, France 04/21/15 4:59 PM)

    JE:  Tempus fugit:  a fortnight has passed since the last TPT (Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday). Our steadfast WAIS patriarch in Paris, David W. Pike, sends letters D and E of the Pike-WAIS Dictionary of Idioms. David writes that this chapter has fewer lacunae than letters A-C, but the collective wisdom of WAISdom is still needed.


    Where have our Brazilian correspondents been lately?



    Here, as always, is the hierarchy of languages:


    1. English

    2. French

    3. German

    4. Italian

    5. Spanish

    6. Portuguese

    7. Russian


    So are you curious how to have a hangover in Italian, or to "go belly up" in German?  Click here , or better yet, access the full Tweedy Pweedy thread at:


    http://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&l=en&objectType=post&o=91592&objectTypeId=77011&topicId=133


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    • Post Unpublished - please check back later

    • Tweedy Pweedy...Friday? Letters F, G, H (David Pike, France 05/08/15 5:08 PM)

      JE:  "F" is for Friday, as well as for failure, fatigue, fear, frenzy.  Just a few days behind our Tuesday deadline, the time has come to post letters F, G, and H of the legendary Pike-WAIS Multilingual Dictionary of Idioms, also known as the Tweedy Pweedy.  PDF file is below.  As always, here's the hierarchy of languages:


      1. English

      2. French

      3. German

      4. Italian

      5. Spanish

      6. Portuguese

      7. Russian


      Click here, lexicographers, and enjoy!  David Pike and his international team have done most of our work for us, and FGH has the fewest lacunae yet, so perhaps we should view this installment as something to savor, port in hand, next to a cheerful fire.


      For the next installment, we'll try to get back on the Tuesday timeline.


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      • Post Unpublished - please check back later



  • Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday! Letters I and J (David Pike, France 05/19/15 6:16 PM)
    Herewith is the continuation of the WAIS-Pike Dictionary of Idioms (Pweedy), letters I J K. There are no entries for K.

    I am presently in Cannes. Hope to complete the Dictionary by end of June.


    All the best, David


    JE comments:  Please send a Cannes report, David!



    And we've met this Tweedy Pweedy Tuesday deadline, if barely. The PDF file can be accessed here . As always, the pecking order of languages is below. 


    BONUS:  how many of us Americans know the verb "to skive"?  Brownie points go to the first response.


    1. English

    2. French

    3. German

    4. Italian

    5. Spanish

    6. Portuguese

    7. Russian

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    • Post Unpublished - please check back later

    • Friends, Let Us Skive (Randy Black, USA 05/20/15 4:59 AM)
      To answer John E's Tweedy Pweedy question, "skiving" is cutting out from work early. Skiving out of the office before closing time. A skive or skiver is someone who is not a hard worker.

      JE comments: This one didn't faze WAISers for a minute. David Pike's gloss includes slacking and goofing off. Remember the WPA (We Piddle Around)?


      Our Chicago David, Mr Duggan, gives us the literal meaning of "to skive": to thin leather.


      Skiving and Skyping: two activities to shorten your work day!

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      • Let Us Skive...and Sloyd (Mike Bonnie, USA 05/20/15 8:17 AM)
        When commenting on yesterday's installment of the Tweedy Pweedy, John E asked about "skiving." I don't expect this to be the first response; in any case, I had to look up the word to refresh my memory.



        But I recall my Boy Scout days and visiting Tandy leather company to pick up bits of leather for making belts and wallets as holiday gifts for family and friends. One of the tools in my tool box was a "skive" knife, used to thin the leather at the creases of wallets, so the edges would line up for lacing together flat pieces that needed to be folded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skiving_%28leathercraft%29



        Thinking of tools that once were commonly carried by boys and men, an entire education system was built in Sweden around the Sloyd knife, although Sloyd education began earlier in Finland. "Educational sloyd as practiced in Sweden started with the use of the knife. The knife was controversial when sloyd was first introduced in the UK. Educators in London and the other cities of the UK could hardly imagine putting knives in the hands of the juveniles." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloyd

        As a side note, until 2013 Finland ranked at or near the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The fall in 2013 could partly be attributed to other nations altering school curriculum to better respond to test questions, teaching to the test. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-finland-fell-in-the-pisa-rankings-2013-12


        JE comments:  So skiving can be thinning leather--as well as your work day!  I consider myself worldly, but 24 hours ago I had never heard of skiving or sloyding.  Therein lies the educational power of WAIS.


        Isn't the Sloyd system more or less what we used to call "Shop"?  My clearest memory from woodworking class:  sand, sand, and sand some more.


        How many in WAISworld carry that universal tool of yore--the Swiss Army knife?  I suspect far fewer than before, because of air travel.

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        • Carrying Knives (John Heelan, UK 05/20/15 10:11 AM)
          To answer John E's question, I have always carried a penknife since boyhood. My current one is a Swiss Army knife with multiple usual blades, scissors, corkscrew, tweezers etc. But then I don't travel by air much these days!

          A friend at uni was an ex-sailor. We were travelling on a bus once that had a door that kept opening letting icy blasts into the cabin. I jocularly said to him: "All sailors are supposed to carry a knife and a bit of string or rope with them at all times!" He smiled and then produced a length of string and a penknife and proceeded to secure the door!


          JE comments: Who remembers the joke about the Swiss Navy knife? Now that I think about it, is there such a joke?

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          • The Swiss--and Andorran--Navies (Paul Preston, UK 05/20/15 12:14 PM)

            John:  With your reference to Swiss Navy knives (see John Heelan, 20 May), are you sure you are not thinking about the joke concerning the Andorran navy?



            There were two anarchists talking in a Francoist concentration camp:


            "I hear that the Minister for the Navy in Andorra has been dismissed."


            "Don't be ridiculous; Andorra doesn't have a navy. It's landlocked."


            "What's that got to do with anything? In Spain, we have a Ministry of Justice!"


            JE comments: We discussed landlocked navies a year or two back, and I think this joke came up. But it merits an encore.


            Presenting the Victorinox Skipper, also known as the Swiss Navy knife.  Does that mean it floats?  Cameron Sawyer or Eugenio Battaglia, can either of you seafarers explain?




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          • It's Risky to Carry Knives; ISIL/Daesh Seizes Ancient Palmyra (Enrique Torner, USA 05/21/15 3:22 AM)
            I had been carrying a "heavily loaded" Swiss army knife in my pocket for quite some time, until I started having itching and numb feelings on the thigh where I was carrying it. When I visited my doctor about it, he told me to empty my pocket from all the stuff I was carrying in it. He said that I had irritated a superficial nerve that's on the thigh, and diagnosed me with "meralgia paresthetica." I'm still having some trouble with it. I wonder what the WAIS doctors think?

            On a different subject, I am now concerned with ISIL having seized the famous ancient city of Palmyra, in Syria, which UNESCO designated as a World Heritage Site. Luckily, they were able to save hundreds of sculptures and other small pieces, but what's going to happen to all their magnificent architecture? The New York Times includes a great slide show of the city in their article. Check it out:


            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/world/middleeast/syria-isis-fighters-enter-ancient-city-of-palmyra.html?_r=1


            I am now finally on summer vacation! Now I'll be able to participate more on WAIS; this was a hard semester.


            JE comments: You need a man bag, Enrique!  I too am guilty of carrying too much junk in my pockets, although it was worse in the heydey of cargo pants.


            The IS presence in Palmyra puts our cultural patrimony in danger.  I fear we'll soon see dreadful videos of dynamiting, as Taliban did with the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

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    • Fiacca (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/20/15 5:12 AM)

      "Fiacca" in Italian and Fiaca in Argentina mean the same thing.


      Generally you have fiacca on a very hot and humid day when you are not in a good mood.


      JE comments: Argentines also use the diminutive: "¡Qué fiaquita!" means it's time for an afternoon nap.

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