Issue 182, page 4

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From Gintautas Kaminskas:

I don't have any references to prove it, but I believe the sorrow words are cognate to the Lithuanian sirgti, which means "to be ill" (sergu = "I am ill"). At word with similar phonetics, "worry", is apparently related to the Lithuanian vargas, which means "trouble", "toil" and all sorts of sad things. A vergas is a "serf", vargti means "to struggle", pavargti means "to get tired".

Yes, not hard to guess I'm Lithuanian

It could also be related, instead, to English sorry, which originally referred to physical pain in addition to mental pain.  Unfortunately our Lithuanian isn't very good and we don't have any sources on it, so we cannot confirm OR deny.  Regular TOWFI readers will recall that a gut feeling alone doesn't cut it in etymology.  It is interesting to see the Lithuanian words, nonetheless!  Thanks!

From Greg Umberson:

[The mailing list newsletter discussion of howdy do] reminds me of a time quite a few years ago in Dallas when I saw an Audi drive by with personalized plates "Audi Do".

From Steve Parkes:

And, as I'm sure you know, hi is short for hiya, which is short for how are you?  Back where I come from, how do has dwindled to ado, pronounced as in "Much ado* about nothing" but with a falling inflection. We doh orf talk funny up theer!

Oh, and for "goodbye" we say "Keep out th'oss road!"

For those who may not know, Steve Parkes lives in Staffordshire, England.

*Ado - It seems that this word is unfamiliar to some people...

From Steve Parkes (yep, the same one!):

I'm a bit slow responding to this week's TOWFI, but I've been away (in Wales, in fact). Did you know a mullet, or mollet, in heraldry is not a star at all, but the pointy bit of a spur? It sometimes has a hole in the centre. A star is an estoille, and has six points. So the "Stars and Stripes" is really the "Mullets and..." I'm not quite sure! I always thought they were bars, but bars have to be even in number. Well, it avoids confusion with the "Mullets and Saltire" - I mean the "Stars and Bars".

Love that heraldry!

From Laurence Howland:

With regard to the word villain - a French friend of mine used to refer to my boss (it's a long story!) as a vaurien meaning, presumably, "worthless person". It seems a short linguistic hop from vaurien to villain - could this be a possible derivation? 

Thanks for the mag, nice to read something intelligent on the Internet for a change!

Actually, vaurien, which means "worthless person", comes from French vaut, the third person singular of valoir "to be worth" + rien "nothing". It reminds us, in a way, of the 19th century term nincomnoodle, which was formed on the lines of nincompoop but was understood as a "no-income noodle".

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From Louis Nettles:

A mullet is also known as the "achy breaky mistakey" from the song by the mullet-coifed country singer.

Oh yeah, Billy Ray Cyrus.   He's not a doctor but he plays one on TV now!

From Erica Hruby:

The Romans slept in rooms called cubiculae from the Latin verb cubare "to lie down" (originally "to bend down"). This has given us several words including concubine, incubate and succubus (not to mention cubicle, the "office sleeping chamber").

I imagine the inclusion of cubicle was in jest; I always assumed it was related to the shape, cube.  Or is the shape in some way related to the verb cubare in the way that it lays flat so well?

No, cubicle's inclusion was intended.  (Perhaps we should highlight our witticisms in green to reduce the confusion.)

Seriously though, cubicle does derive from cubare and, yes, it originally referred to a bedroom.  It was applied to work areas in the 20th century.

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Last Updated 06/28/03 11:42 AM