This week’s DA had a whole host of peculiar and exciting words to delight. First cab off the rank, Sandinista.
Like many a youth, my late teens were about sticking it up to the man, and few people have ever stuck up to the man like Sandino and his revolutionary offspring, the FSLN, otherwise known as Sandinistas.
I won’t bore you with politics, but I will tell you this: the Sandinistas brought together some deaf kids in special learning schools when they took power, and these kids invented their own sign language that was completely distinct from what their teachers, untrained in teaching language to deaf children, were teaching them.
What the deaf Nicaraguan kids had done was invent a completely new language from scratch, and if the Sandinistas and sticking it to the man aren’t your bag, the story of these kids undoubtedly is.
Surprisingly enough, I knew of the existence of these wrinkly canines, although I didn’t remember their name, because I had watched a sappy human-interest story on A Current Affair many, many years ago.
A child with too much skin had been born to two loving parents, and the poor thing ended up looking a helluva lot like a human Shar Pei, so A Current Affair stepped in and ran with a story that told of the child’s trials and tribulations. It made me laugh, it made me cry, but more importantly it gave me hope: it was conjectured in the story that this wrinkly child would grow into his skin just like Shar Peis do.
And here’s another reason why Wikipedia might indeed be the world’s greatest monument to unrealised potential at work: George W Bush liked writing with Sharpie markers so much, he often refused to write with anything else.
I do so very much love it when people naturally use an something’s unofficial name in common parlance. El Prado is actually Museo del Prado, or Museum of the Lawn. It’s name comes from the public garden and green lawns that the museum is situated within and which no one is allowed to step on (why is it prohibited to walk on so many lawns throughout Europe?)
I assumed panjandrum was another of those great words from India that reveal some rather ugly power relationships: sahib, pariah, coolie, brahmin, sudra.
But no, panjandrum was an inspired invention by one Samuel Foote, who deflated the ego of an actor claiming he could memorise anything he had read only once.
The greatest piece of linguistic trivia from this week’s DA comes from Hooke’s law, a law that was first expressed in Latin in anagrammatic form as ceiiinosssttuv in order to hide this piece of scientific brilliance: ut tensio, sic vis, or as the tension, so the force. Hooke was by no means crazy, though: he did this to lay claim to his discovery as soon as possible, which was before he was ready to publish his experimental results, while still keeping his law under wraps. All of this was actually quite common in the 17th century, and something even Galileo did.
And if it’s good enough for Newton, it’s good enough for me too to stand on the shoulders of giants and contribute to science thusly: eevvinosstuvvcnmmu.