Each team in the Philippine Basketball Association is owned by a corporation. This makes for some colorful team names:
- The Powerade Tigers
- The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters
- The Shopinas.com Clickers
- The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters
- The Alaska Aces
- The Barangay Ginebra Kings
- The Barako Bull Energy
- The B-Meg Llamados
- The Meralco Bolts
- The Petron Blaze Boosters
Defunct teams include the Toyota Super Corollas, the Sta. Lucia Realtors, the Shell Turbo Chargers, the Pop Cola Panthers, and the Great Taste Coffee Makers. Between 1980 and 1986, the national team was called Northern Consolidated Cement.
One also can’t help mentioning in this context the nineteenth century American novelist who inspired irreverent punsters to announce that they were going to Helen Hunt Jackson’s grave. Typical of the Helen Hunt anecdotes in oral circulation is the one about Mrs. Jackson who, while still Hunt, is said to have once found a money purse in a church pew after the morning’s service. The preacher, when she informed him of it, advised her to hold on to it and that he’d announce it at the evening’s service. That night, he addressed the congregation to the effect that a money purse had been found in the church and that the owner can go to Helen Hunt for it. The preacher, we are told, was met with a tittering response from his congregation.
– Robert M. Rennick, “Obscene Names and Naming in Folk Tradition,” in Names and Their Varieties, 1986
n. one who is fond of the forest
n. a toll for passage through a forest
- Dorothy Parker named her dog Cliche.
- 27639 = 27 × 63 – 9
- Tikitiki cures beriberi.
- Can an object move itself?
- “The best way out is always through.” — Robert Frost
A lady who deftly crocheted,
A terrible temper displeted,
On finding when through
That a dropped stitch or twough
Had spoiled the contrivance she’d meted.
A newspaper man on the Isthmus
Said, “Colonel, now what about thisthmus?”
The Colonel said, “Write
That it looks like a fite,
But I think ’twill be over by Christhmus.”
Once a Frenchman who’d promptly said “Oui”
To some ladies who’d ask him if houi
Cared to drink, threw a fit
Upon finding that it
Was a tipple no stronger than toui.
Young Brewster wed Adeline Worcester,
But nobody knew what indorcester
In writing her name
To spell it the same
And make it read Adeline Brorcester.
There was a young man from Mont.
Who slipped on a peel of ban.
He fell on his head,
And what he then said
Was quite the reverse of “Hos.”
Punctuation’s abhorrent to Thos.,
And he loathes semicolons and cos.
He is such a bad boy
That a wave of great joy
Would arise were the kid taken fros.
– Stanton Vaughn, ed., Limerick Lyrics, 1904
Fors oar in shaving ear she goes, awful fodders broad fart hunter dish consonant hay noon action, corn sieved inebriety and addict hated tutor preposition dot omen or crated inkwell.
Non wiring caged integrate cymbal wart, tasting wither damnation, our runny gnashing, socking seed end sod defecated ken logging door. Worm head honor grape batter veal doff fat whore. Wave counter defecator potion audit felled azure vinyl roasting piece fort hose hoe hair gater wives tit tat gnashing mike leaf. Assault her gutter footing in pepper dot weigh shoe duties.
Budding awl archer since, weaken opt defecate, weekend not concentrate, working ought hello disk round. Depravement, livid indeed, hue straggle deer, heft cancer traded hit, pharaoh buff harp burp hours tatter distract. Twirled wheel ladle node orlon ram umber wad wheeze hay year, buttock an if veer fork add catered hairdo done finest walk witch day hoof otter heft dust floor show nobody at fenced. I doze rudder forest tubing hair debtor catered tuba grape tusk rim onion beef harass — dot form tease own whored did, wheat aching greased dim notion tutor cows far wish dig rave do lustful miss shore add dive ocean; dewy her holly dissolve daddies dad shell nut heft tiding feign; end it grubby men, other pimple, brother pimple, father pimple, shell nut pair rich fern dirt.
– “Labour Ham Winking” (Jim Anderson, Jeffrey Brown, and John Spencer), quoted in Willard R. Espy, The Best of an Almanac of Words at Play, 1999
Mr. Smith returns to his office to find a message asking him to call Mr. Wryquick. He doesn’t know a Wryquick, so he does nothing. The next day his attorney, Dawcy, Esq., arrives in a snit and asks why Smith didn’t return the call. What’s going on?
In leaving the message, Dawcy had spelled his name “D as in double-u, A as in are, W as in why, C as in cue, Y as in you, E as in eye, S as in sea, Q as in quay.”
That’s from Benjamin L. Schwartz, in Word Ways, August 1972. In Verbatim, Summer 1985, Anna and Taffy Holland point out that a woman named Sue Washhouse, if provoked, might spell her name “S as in see, U as in queue, E as in are, W as in ewe, A as in pea, S as in sea, H as in oh, H as in why, O as in you, U as in eau, S as in see, E as in yew.”
A dinner host in the 17th century might have wished for a usage manual — a different term was used for carving each dish, and, according to Samuel Orchart Beeton, “for a person to use wrong terms in relation to carving was an unpardonable affront to etiquette.” One might:
- allay a pheasant
- barb a lobster
- break a hare
- chine a salmon
- culpon a trout
- disfigure a peacock
- dismember a hen
- display a quail
- fin a chevin
- fract a chicken
- frush a chub
- gobbet a trout
- lift a swan
- mince a plover
- rear a goose
- sauce a capon
- scull a tench
- side a haddock
- splat a pike
- splay a bream
- spoil a hen
- string a lamprey
- tarne a crab
- thigh a pigeon
- thigh a woodcock
- transon an eel
- trench a sturgeon
- tusk a barbel
- unbrace a mallard
- unjoint a bittern
- unlace a coney
- unlatch a curlew
- wing a partridge
“Carving was a science that carried with it as much pedantry as the business of school-teaching does in the present day,” Beeton observed in 1875. By that time, happily, such lists were already considered “too long and too ridiculous to repeat.”
n. one who hates the smell of tobacco smoke
When used as verbs, BEST and WORST have the same meaning.
BOOKKEEPER has three consecutive pairs of like letters. SUBBOOKKEEPER has four.
What’s the limit? Honolulu English teacher Joel D. Gaines proposed BALLOONNOONNOOKKEEPPOOBAH, “an agent who sits on balloons at noon in a corner, in order to earn his keep.” It has 10 consecutive pairs.
In 1836 James Daniel Royster began a curious family tradition — he named all his children after states.
He named his sons Iowa Michigan Royster, Arkansas Delaware Royster, Wisconsin Illinois Royster, Vermont Connecticut Royster, and Oregon Minnesota Royster.
The daughters were named Virginia Carolina Royster and Indiana Georgia Royster.
The practice came to a wider knowledge a century later — Royster’s great-grandson, Vermont Connecticut Royster, won two Pulitzer Prizes as editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal.
In gathering material for The American Language, H.L. Mencken collected unusual girls’ names from printed sources in the 1930s and 1940s, mainly in the Southwest. Here’s a sampling. “Though some of them may seem almost impossible, all are typical”:
- Glary Ann
- Leafy Ella
Of the stranger specimens, Mencken says, “It is as if the ambitious mother of a newly-hatched darling wrote all the elements of all the ancient girls’ names upon slips of paper, added slips bearing syllables filched from the terminology of all the arts and sciences, heaved the whole into an electric salad-tosser, and then arranged the seethed contents two by two or three by three.”
adj. capable of being cut easily with a knife
The following ‘True Copy of a Jury taken before Judge Doddridge, at the Assizes holden at Huntingdon A.D. 1619,’ may amuse our readers. The Judge had in the preceding circuit censured the Sheriff for impannelling men not qualified by rank for serving on the Grand Jury, and the Sheriff being a humourist, resolved to fit the Judge with sounds at least. On calling over the following names and pausing emphatically at the end of the christian, instead of the surname, his lordship began to think he had indeed a jury of quality.
The Judge, it is said, was highly pleased with this practical joke, and commended the Sheriff for his ingenuity. The descendants of some of these illustrious Jurors still reside in the County, and bear the same names; in particular, a Maximilian King we are informed still presides over Toseland.
– The News Magazine, August 1864
Why do we say “The United States is” rather than “The United States are”? The founding fathers tended to use are — in 1783 John Adams wrote, “The United States are another object of debate,” and the 13th Amendment declares that slavery shall not exist “within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
The standard answer is that the Civil War established the country as a unified nation in the modern consciousness. In 1887 a writer in the Washington Post declared that the war had “settled forever the question of grammar. … The surrender of Mr. Davis and Gen. Lee meant a transition from the plural to the singular.” “Since the civil war the tendency has been toward such use,” confirmed John W. Foster in the New York Times in 1901.
It’s not quite so simple, of course — authoritative writers can be found who used is before the war or are afterward. William Cullen Bryant banned the singular use from the New York Post in 1870, and Ambrose Bierce was pressing for the plural as late as 1909. (In 1881 New Englander C.H.J. Douglas proposed “The United State of America,” but he got nowhere.)
But the standard answer is essentially true. “The rebellion made the State rights and State sovereignty idea very obnoxious to loyal people, and gave corresponding prominence and popularity to the idea of nationality,” observed the New York Times in 1895. “The United States is, not are,” concluded Carl Sandburg in 1958. “The Civil War was fought over a verb.”
Read the first letter of each sentence of the preface of Transport Phenomena, a 1960 chemical engineering textbook by Robert Bird, Warren Stewart, and Edwin Lightfoot, and you’ll discover the message THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO O.A. HOUGEN.
In the second edition, the initial letters of successive paragraphs spell the word WELCOME.
In the afterword, they spell ON WISCONSIN.
A bookworm in Kennebunk, Me.,
Found pleasure in reading Monte.,
He also liked Poe
And Daniel Defoe,
But the telephone book caused him pe.
There’s a girl out in Ann Arbor, Mich.,
To meet whom I never would wich.
She’d gobble ice cream
Till with colic she’d scream,
Then order another big dich.
As he filled up the order book pp.,
He said, “I should get higher ww.”
So he struck for more pay,
But alas, now, they say,
He is sweeping out elephants’ cc.
n. basking in the sun
n. a helper of the blind
I was recently told the following story of a piece of silverware now existing in the plate-room at Marlborough House. One day the Prince of Wales, on alighting from his carriage at the door of a house where he was about to pay a visit, saw a blind man and his dog vainly trying to effect a passage across the thoroughfare in the midst of a throng of carriages. With characteristic good-nature the Prince came to the rescue, and successfully piloted the pair to the other side of the street. A short time afterwards he received a massive silver inkstand with the following inscription:– ‘To the Prince of Wales. From one who saw him conduct a blind beggar across the street. In memory of a kind and Christian action.’ Neither note nor card accompanied the offering, and the name of the donor has never been discovered. But I think that this anonymous gift is not the least prized of the many articles in the Prince’s treasure chamber. I can vouch for the authenticity of this anecdote, as it came to me direct from a young English lady who, by the kindness of a member of the Prince of Wales’ household, was shown through Marlborough House during the absence of its owners, and the inkstand in question was pointed out to her by her conductor.
– Unsigned article, The Australian Journal, January 1893
Surprisingly natural palindromes:
- Lepers repel.
- Step on no pets.
- Never odd or even.
- Stella won no wallets.
- No lemons, no melon.
- Now, sir, a war is won.
- Ma is as selfless as I am.
- Draw pupil’s lip upward.
- Won’t lovers revolt now?
- Nurse, I spy gypsies. Run!
- Oh, who was it I saw, oh who?
- No, it is open on one position.
- Some men interpret nine memos.
E.L. Fletcher proposed a telephone conversation:
“No! … Too bad! … Ah! I was never, ever, even tired! … Now, is Eire very sordid? … Oh! Won’t I? … Did I? … Was I not up, spot on? … I saw no shell! … I saw it! … I did! I? … Fired? … No wonder! … It saw dad was well left … I sat, rapt! … I did? … Won’t i? … No! … Red? … No! … Prevent it? … Never! … Ponder on it now! … Did it part as it fell? … Lew saw dad was tired … No wonder, if i did it! … I was ill, eh, son? … Was i? … No tops put on, I saw … I did it? … No? … Who did? … Rosy reveries? I wonder! … It never, ever, even saw I had a boot on! …”
Willard Fiske in the Chess Monthly, 1857:
Cherished chess! The charms of thy checkered chambers chain me changelessly. Chaplains have chanted thy charming choiceness; chieftains have changed the chariot and the chase for the chaster chivalry of the chess-board, and the cheerier charge of the chess-knights. Chaste-eyed Caissa! For thee are the chaplets of chainless charity and the chalice of childlike cheerfulness. No chilling churl, no cheating chafferer, no chattering changeling, no chanting charlatan, can be thy champion; the chivalrous, the charitable, and the cheerful, are the chosen ones thou cherishest. Chance cannot change thee: from the cradle of childhood to the charnel-house, from our first childish chirpings to the chills of the church-yard, thou art our cheery, changeless chieftainess. Chastener of the churlish, chider of the changeable, cherisher of the chagrined, the chapter of thy chiliad of charms should be chanted by cherubic chimes, and chiseled on chalcedon in cherubic chirography.
In 1974, Judge H. Sol Clark of the Georgia Court of Appeals rendered judgment thus in Banks vs. State:
“Literary license allows an avid alliterationist authority to postulate parenthetically that the predominating principles presented here may be summarized thusly: Preventing public pollution permits promiscuous perusal of personality but persistent perspicacious patron persuasively provided pertinent perdurable preponderating presumption precedent preventing prison.”
An English broadside from C. Hindley’s Curiosities of Street Literature (1871):
n. lustfulness when one is away from home