Archive for the ‘Narratophilia’ Category

Lilo & Stitch

March 23, 2019

Today’s morning name. I really have no idea why. I haven’t even seen the movie and was only vaguely aware of its theme. Maybe the sound-symbolic values of the names, the contrast between the /l/s of Lilo, voiced liquids, symbolically flowing; and the /s t č/ of Stitch, all voiceless obstruents, symbolically spiky and aggressive. And the /aj/ of Lilo, long and with a low nuclear F2; versus the /ɪ/ of Stitch, quite short and with a very high F2. Lilo is female, human, and family-oriented; Stitch is male, alien, and destructive.

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More Black Friday etymythology

November 28, 2014

On the 26th I posted an etymythology for the expression to pass for/as, as in a black person passing for white. And from Bonnie Taylor-Blake on ADS-L the same day:

I see that a recently offered explanation for where the “Black” in “Black Friday” comes from has become quite popular, at least on Twitter and Facebook.

This version holds that “Black Friday” stems from the selling of (black) slaves the day after Thanksgiving.

David Mikkelson, of snopes.com, addressed this last year when it first arrived to his inbox.

This piece of etymythology seems to have gained considerable traction this year (at least on Twitter and Facebook), its credibility perhaps aided by outrage toward recent grand-jury findings in Ferguson, Missouri.

It’s been interesting to read conversations on Twitter where someone repeats this particular explanation and is corrected, so to speak, by someone offering the (also false) “red ink to black ink” accounting origin story.

Bonnie is the go-to person on the formula Black Friday; she did the meticulous research discounting the “red ink to black ink” story — retold in detail by Ben Zimmer in his Word Routes column on 11/25/11. I’m going to reproduce Ben’s column in full here, because so many readers have found Bonnie’s story unconvincing: people love stories — this is narratophilia — but they like etymological stories (like the black-ink story) that give a sense of deep explanation, while Bonnie’s account, despite the considerable, detailed evidence for it, seems too pedestrian and, well, fortuitous, having its roots in a local phrasing (in Philadelphia) used by a small number of people (police officers) at one moment in time (the early 1960s).

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