Many Roads

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The Spanish monk Florentius made a humble appeal to posterity in 945: Start at the F at top center, and as long as your path works steadily either southeast or southwest you’ll spell out FLORENTIUM INDIGNUM MEMORARE, “Remember unworthy Florentius.”

His manuscript is now in the Biblioteca Nacional de España, so it appears he got his wish.

In a Word

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abscede
v. to move away or apart; to lose contact; to separate

anachorism
n. something located in an incongruous position

longinquity
n. greatness of distance; remoteness

aerumnous
adj. troubled; distressed

In 2007 Brazilian villagers were surprised to discover a 16-foot minke whale on a sandbank in the Tapajos River, 1,000 miles from the sea. Apparently it had got separated from its group in the Atlantic and swum up the Amazon.

After two days, rescuers managed to return it to the water. “What we can definitely say is that it lost its way,” biologist Fabia Luna told Globo television. “It entered the river, which on its own is unusual. But then to have travelled around 1,500 kilometers is both strange and adverse.”

Brazil’s environmental agency said the whale might have been in the region for two months before it was spotted. “It is outside of its normal habitat, in a strange situation, under stress, and far from the ocean,” said whale expert Katia Groch. “The probability of survival is low.”

The Alphabet Building

http://www.archdaily.com/137434/alphabet-building-mvrdv/241-alfabetgebouw-overzijde-n#_=_

Dutch architects MVRDV created a unique design for Amsterdam’s Alfabetgebouw, an office building for small and mid-size creative companies. On the building’s east side a series of dotted windows spell out the building’s street number, 52, and on the north side the shape of each window reflects the unit number of its tenant.

To make the alphabet fit on a 6 × 4 facade they had to omit two letters — but “the IQ is inside the building.”

Misc

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  • Dick Gregory gave his twin daughters the middle names Inte and Gration.
  • Trains were invented before bicycles.
  • CONSTRAINT = CANNOT STIR
  • “We must believe in free will — we have no choice.” — Isaac Bashevis Singer

“How Rumors Spread,” a palindrome by Fred Yannantuono:

“Idiot to idiot to idiot to idiot to idiot to idi …”

The Alphabet of Nature

https://books.google.com/books?id=a10KAAAAIAAJ

Philologist Alexander John Ellis wanted to describe the sounds made by every human speaker, and to record them as objectively as possible in a universal alphabet, so that anyone could accurately record speech in any language. He acknowledged that “it would be impossible to make the whole world pronounce alike,” but he thought that the system illustrated above could be a step toward “a just, philosophical, and natural analysis and arrangement of spoken sounds.”

The passage runs:

The third question that we had to consider was: is it possible or expedient to bring such an alphabet as this into common use? Alphabetical writing was certainly intended originally to be a guide to the sound of words, and that only; whether at first sufficient attention was paid to this point, whether the first alphabet was perfect, does not now admit of satisfactory investigation; but it would seem at any rate that the vowel department was much disregarded, and perhaps not even all the consonants were properly discriminated. …

Beyond its practical value, Ellis seemed to hope that recording language phonetically would reduce its cultural connotations, resulting in a more just world. “Ellis believes that his ‘alphabet of nature’ would in fact free letters from implying a particular world view, a theory supremely indicative of a nineteenth-century faith in objective science,” writes Laurence de Looze in The Letter & the Cosmos. “The utopian drive of universal communication peeks through the modern, scientific program.”

Pleased to Meet You

Unusual personal names collected by onomasticist Elsdon C. Smith for his Treasury of Name Lore, 1967:

  • Dr. Pacifico D. Quitiquit
  • Lala Legattee Wiggins
  • Stanley Toogood
  • Effie Bowleg
  • Polycarp Pridgen
  • Merriweather Trivelpiece
  • Aspidia Snitch
  • Tabaca Blacksheep
  • Iva Headache
  • Marietta Avenue Jeeter
  • Vaseline Malaria
  • Soda Water
  • Ten Million
  • St. Elmo Bug
  • Fice Mook
  • Trammer W. Splown
  • Gulley Cowsert
  • Buckshot Magonicle
  • Teemer Furr
  • Sepnoress Gorce
  • Heathcliff Heimerdinger
  • Honeysuckle Ginsberg
  • Ephraim Very Ott
  • Gladys Whysoglad
  • Park A. Carr
  • Creekmore Fath
  • May June July
  • Melody Tunes
  • Ann Ant
  • Fairy Duck
  • Vito d’Incognito
  • Napoleon N. Waterloo
  • Tressanela Noosepickle
  • Osbel Irizarry
  • Athelstan Spilhaus
  • Weikko Tinklepaugh
  • Twilladeen Hubkapiller

According to the Veterans Administration, Love’n Kisses Love is a deceased sailor formerly of Bremerton, Washington. Walt Disney employed an animator named T. Hee. Outerbridge Horsey VI was named ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1963. (“I am the sixth Outerbridge Horsey and my unhappy son is the seventh. In fact, the only trouble with any new post is explaining the name to people.”) Gisella Werberzerck Piffl was a character actress in Australia in 1948. Two police officers who worked together in Long Beach, California, in 1953 were named Goforth and Ketchum. Jack Benny’s wife said that the firm Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (now BBDO) “sounds like a trunk falling down stairs.”

And “When Mrs. Rum of Chicago divorced her husband she was allowed to resume her maiden name of Cork.”

See Local Color, Roll Call, Pink Labels, Roll Call, Roll Call, and Bent Handles.

More Theatrical Codes

https://pixabay.com/p-1982718

Last year I mentioned Sullivan & Considine’s Theatrical Cipher Code of 1905, a telegraphic code for “everyone connected in any way with the theatrical business.” The idea is that performers, managers, and exhibitors could save money on telegrams by replacing common phrases with short code words:

Filacer – An opera company
Filament – Are they willing to appear in tights
Filander – Are you willing to appear in tights
Filiation – Chorus girls who are shapely and good looking
Filibuster – Chorus girls who are shapely, good looking, and can sing

At the time I lamented that I had only one page. Well, a reader just sent me the whole book, and it is glorious:

Abbacom – Carry elaborate scenery and beautiful costumes
Abbalot – Fairly bristles with hits
Abditarum – This attraction will hurt our business
Addice – Why have not reported for rehearsal
Admorsal – If you do not admit at once will have to bring suit of attachment
Behag – Not the fault of play or people
Bordaglia – Do not advance him any money
Boskop – Understand our agent is drinking; if this is true wire at once
Bosom – Understand you are drinking
Bosphorum – Understand you are drinking and not capable to transact business
Bosser – We are up against it here
Bottle – You must sober up
Bouback – Your press notices are poor
Deskwork – A versatile and thoroughly experienced actress
Despair – Absolute sobriety at all times essential
Detour – Actress for emotional leads
Devilry – Actress with child preferred
Dextral – An actor with fine reputation and proven cleverness
Dishful – Comedian, Swedish dialect
Disorb – Do not want drunkards
Dispassion – Do you object to going on road
Distal – Good dresser(s) both on and off stage
Dormillon – Lady for piano
Drastic – Must be shapely and good looking
Druism – Not afraid of work
Eden – Strong heavy man
Election – What are their complexions
Epic – Does he impress you as being reliable and a hustler
Exclaimer – Are they bright, clever and healthy children
Eyestone – Can you recommend him as an experienced and competent electrician
Faro – A B♭ cornetist
Flippant – Must understand calcium lights
Fluid – Is right up-to-date and understands his business from A to Z
Forester – Acts that are not first class and as represented, will be closed after first performance
Foxhunt – Can deliver the goods
Gultab – The people will not stand for such high prices
Hilbert – State the very lowest salary for which she will work, by return wire
Jansenist – Fireproof theatre
Jinglers – How did the weather affect house
Jolly – Temperature is 15° above zero

There’s also an appendix for the vaudeville circuit:

Kajuit – Trick cottage
Kakour – Grotesque acrobats
Kalekut – Sparring and bag punching act
Kernwort – Troupe of dogs, cats and monkeys
Kluefock – Upside down cartoonist
Koegras – Imitator of birds, etc.
Letabor – Act is poorly staged and arranged
Litterat – The asbestos curtain has not arrived yet
Mallius – How many chairs do you need in the balcony
Meleto – Is the opposition putting on stronger shows than we

The single word “Lechuzo” stands for “Make special effort to mail your report on acts Monday night so as to enable us to determine your opinion of the same, as in many instances yours will be the first house that said act has performed in, and again by receiving your report early it enables us to correct in time any error that may be made regarding performer, salary and efficiency.”

(Thanks, Peter.)

For Short

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

According to Elsdon Smith’s 1967 Treasury of Name Lore, Gwendolyn Kuuleikailialohaopiilaniwailaukekoaulumahiehiekealaoonoaonaopiikea Kekino had a birth certificate to prove her name. Her family called her Piikea.

Albert K. Kahalekula of Wailuku, Hawaii, was a private in the Army in 1957. The K stood for Kahekilikuiikalewaokamehameha. Until Albert’s 29-letter middle name was registered, his brothers had the longest middle names in U.S. military service — each was 22 letters long.

In 1955, restaurant owner George Pappavlahodimitrakopoulous had the longest name in the Lansing, Mich., telephone directory. He made a standing offer of a free meal to anyone who could pronounce the name correctly on the first try (PDF).

Lambros A. Pappatoriantafillospoulous of Chicopee, Mass., joined the Army in 1953, where he was called Mr. Alphabet.

According to Smith, a native policeman in Fiji, British Polynesia, had the name Marika Tuimudremudrenicagitokalauna-tobakonatewaenagaunakalakivolaikoyakinakotamanaenaiivolanikawabualenavalenivolavolaniyasanamaisomosomo, 130 letters long. “The name is said to tell that, with the aid of a northerly wind, Marika’s father sailed from Natewa, on Vanua Levu, to the provincial office at Somosomo, Taveuni, to register the birth of the child.”

The longest name on the Social Security rolls in 1938 was Xenogianokopoulos.

Smith also says that a Fiji Island cricket player bore the 56-letter name Talebulamaineiilikenamainavaleniveivakabulaimakulalakeba.

The oldest Buddhist university in Thailand is Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University.

Above: In 1921 Laurence J. Daly, editor of the Webster Times, proposed lengthening the name of Lake Chaubunagungamaug to Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg, which arguably makes it the longest place name in the United States.

Many locals just call it Webster Lake.

Initial Velocity

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In 2008, University of Michigan psychologist Jesse Chandler and his colleagues examined donations to disaster relief after seven major hurricanes and found that a disproportionately large number of donations came from people who shared an initial with the hurricane (e.g., people named Kate and Kevin after Hurricane Katrina).

It’s not clear why this is. It’s known that generally people attend to information with unusual care if it’s somehow relevant to themselves; in the case of a hurricane this may mean that they’re more likely to remember concrete information about victims and thus be more likely to donate.

Possibly they also feel more intense negative feelings (or a greater sense of responsibility) when the storm shares their initial. In that case, “Exposure to a same-initial hurricane makes people feel worse, and the most salient way to repair this feeling is the opportunity to donate money to Katrina.”

(Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen, “In the ‘I’ of the Storm: Shared Initials Increase Disaster Donations,” Judgment and Decision Making 3:5 [June 2008], 404–410.)