Archive for the ‘Ethnonyms and demonyms’ Category

Reader, Writer, Arithmeticker

April 20, 2021

The 3/24 One Big Happy, in which Ruthie’s brother Joe (rebelling against school, after his discovery of appalling “chapter books” — all words, no pictures!) goes on a spree of –er words:

The extremely versatile N-forming derivational suffix –er, with N bases like arithmetic and V bases like read (including, in the last panel, the problematic base tidy up, a V of the form V + Prt)



July 28, 2020

My morning name for 7/26: the name of a species of penguin:

(#1) From NOAD: noun gentoo (also gentoo penguin): a tall penguin with a white triangular patch above the eye, breeding on subantarctic islands. Pygoscelis papua, family Spheniscidae.

But the name, the name: where does it come from? It sounds a bit like gentile, but then seat-of-the-pants etymologizing is almost always way off the mark, however entertaining the stories might be. But this one might possiby be so, although that’s far from a sure thing; NOAD‘s note:

ORIGIN mid 19th century: perhaps from Anglo-Indian Gentoo ‘a Hindu’, from Portuguese gentio ‘gentile’.

The connection between Portuguese gentio ‘gentile’ (< Latin gentilis ‘of a family or nation, of the same clan’) and Anglo-Indian Gentoo ‘a Hindu’ is firm, however remarkable it might seem to you. What is still unclear is how to get from Hindus to penguins, so other sources for gentoo have been proposed, but, apparently, none with solid evidence.


Nationality: the case of Albert Einstein

December 18, 2018

Einstein was born in Germany and lived there as a child. By the time he died, he’d renounced his German citizenship and acquired two other citizenships, first Swiss and then American, which he kept throughout his life. So it’s not at all easy to describe his nationality. (I’m on this case because of the Swiss part of the story, of course.)


The Swiss diaspora: Steinlen in Montmartre

December 18, 2018

From Wikipedia:

(#1) Steinlen poster of 1896 advertising the Montmartre cabaret Le Chat Noir

Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (November 10, 1859 – December 13, 1923), was a Swiss-born French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker. Born in Lausanne [in Canton Vaud in Francophone Switzerland], Steinlen studied at the University of Lausanne before taking a job as a designer trainee at a textile mill in Mulhouse in eastern France.

He then found his spot, the place that suited him in life: the Montmartre district of Paris.

And became Swiss French (in the narrow sense): a French person who emigrated from Switzerland. Narrowly Swiss French, in the way that distinguished 19th-century scientist Louis Agassiz was narrowly Swiss American: from my 2/7/13 posting “Swiss American”:

Agassiz was Swiss American in the narrow sense; he emigrated from Neuchâtel (in Francophone Switzerland) to Boston and took American citizenship.


Another fusirrito

May 10, 2018

… as in fusion burrito. Oh, stuff it! In a burrito, in a burrito.

From my 4/28/18 posting “Another portmanrito”:

Into a world that already has the Whopperrito, the Sushirrito, and the turkerito there now bursts the Protein Bar-rito (from the Protein Bar & Kitchen). Where will this end?

Well, you can have fusion food without a portmanteau name. The Whopperrito is a Burger King fusirrito, the Sushirrito a Japanese fusirrito, the turkerito a Thanksgiving fusirrito, and the Protein Bar-rito an organic / natural fusirrito. Then there’s a desi fusirrito, the tikka masala burrito available at a number of  Bay Area restaurants, including two with outposts in Palo Alto.


Pennsylvania Dutch country

August 30, 2017

Sorting through cookbooks to reduce many hundreds to a small set that I can fit into my Ramona St. condo, I came across an old paperback copy of Ruth Hutchison’s The New Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book — fallen into several pieces, the pages now brown and brittle, clearly not salvageable. But the volume had some sentimental value for me, so I checked the web. And found a copy of the 1958 hardbound edition (the first edition was in 1948), on sale for very little money. It has now arrived, and it’s in excellent condition. Lacks the colorful cover of the paperback, but has endpapers with a map of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.

Turns out others have somewhat different ideas of where the borders of PaDuC are, but the core seems to consist of (parts of) six counties:

Lehigh (with the city of Allentown), Berks (with the city of Reading), Lebanon, eastern Dauphin (with the town of Hershey), Lancaster, York

As usual, region names are subject to different criteria, having to do with history, cultural practices, geography, and economic life. The core areas are historically regions of early settlement from German-speaking areas of Europe, especially the Palatinate of the Rhine, many of the settlers being religious outsiders in their homelands, almost all of them farm people, who came to share various cultural practices, including their language, but also food, dress, and crafts. The original settlements were in the rolling hills of southeastern Pennsylvania, on land suitable for farming.


Three names

August 2, 2017

The names for yesterday: Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden. The Urkantonen, or original cantons, of Switzerland:


Yesterday, August 1st, was Swiss National Day.


I sing the body elastic

July 26, 2017

(Men’s underwear, sexy song lyrics, nicknames, half-rhymes, and more. Some of it raunchy enough to have been banned in Malaysia, but then we’re not in Malaysia, are we?)


His name is Mikey Bustos, he’s (self-described) Canadian Filipino, and he rap-sings of skimpy Speedos —

My goods are protected like an armadillo
When I’m in the ocean I feel good emotion
Because all the sand causes some real exfoliation.

and prances in them like a pro.