In a Word

viator
n. a wayfarer; traveler

nocuous
adj. likely to cause harm or damage

fulminant
adj. exploding or detonating

aggerose
adj. in heaps

British director Cecil Hepworth made “How It Feels To Be Run Over” in 1900. The car is on the wrong side of the road. (The intertitle at the end, “Oh! Mother will be pleased,” may have been scratched directly into the celluloid.)

Hepworth followed it up with “Explosion of a Motor Car,” below, later the same year.

For What It’s Worth

In a 2009 survey, readers of Stuttgarter Nachrichten, the largest newspaper in Stuttgart, chose Muggeseggele as the most beautiful word in Swabian German.

Muggeseggele means “the scrotum of a housefly.” It’s used ironically to describe a very small length.

Counting Sheep

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gruban/3980674035
Image: Flickr

Shepherds in Northern England used to tally their flocks using a base-20 numbering system. They’d count a score of sheep using the words:

Yan, tan, tether, mether, pip,
Azer, sayzer, acka, konta, dick,
Yanna-dick, tanna-dick, tethera-dick, methera-dick, bumfit,
Yanna-bum, tanna-bum, tethera-bum, methera-bum, jigget

… and then denote the completion of a group by taking up a stone or marking the ground before commencing the next count.

These systems vary by region — Wikipedia has them laid out in pleasing tables.

(Thanks, Brieuc.)

In Pain

When I feel a pain in my leg, what do I mean by in? It might seem that I’m referring to spatial location: The pain resides within the tissues of my leg. But philosopher Ned Block points out that then this argument should be valid:

The pain is in my fingertip.
The fingertip is in my mouth.
Therefore, the pain is in my mouth.

“The conclusion obviously does not follow, so we must conclude that ‘in’ is not used in the spatial enclosure sense in all three statements. It certainly seems plausible that ‘in’ as applied in locating pains differs in meaning systematically from the standard spatial enclosure sense.”

(Ned Block, “Mental Pictures and Cognitive Science,” Philosophical Review 92:4 [1983], 499-541.)

Misc

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:T_31_Turnier-Zweikampf.JPG

  • The state sport of Maryland is jousting.
  • North and South Dakota were established together, in 1889.
  • NEAT TAILOR makes ALTERATION.
  • Percentages are reversible: 25% of 16 is 16% of 25.
  • “Success in research needs four Gs: Glück, Geduld, Geschick, und Geld [luck, patience, skill, and money].” — Paul Ehrlich

Disharmony

Dutch writer Gerard Nolst Trenité’s 1920 poem “The Chaos” is a polemic on the senselessness of English pronunciation:

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.

Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Saysaid, paypaid, laid but plaid.

The full text is here.

Wooden Words

https://www.katieholten.com/public-realm/#/new-york-city-tree-alphabet/

Artist Katie Holten has created a New York City Tree Alphabet, a Latin alphabet in which each letter is assigned a drawing of an existing city tree or one that will be planted as a result of the changing climate. There’s a free font that you can play with here and download here.

Holten had planned to plant messages around the city using real trees last spring, and invited people to make suggestions, though I don’t know which were ultimately chosen. “Right now, we’re leaving it completely wide open, so we’ve no idea what messages we’ll be planting,” she told Fast Company in March. “I’m excited to see what people send us. People have been suggesting words like ‘Dream,’ ‘Hope,’ and ‘Peace.’ But we’re also receiving longer messages, love letters, poems, and short stories. We’re curious to see how we could translate a long text into a grove of planted trees. It’s an exciting challenge and we can make up the rules as we go along, so anything could happen.”

(Via MetaFilter.)