Category:
Languages

Andor vs. And/Or

February 1953: The Georgia House of Representatives voted to make "andor" a legal word and directed that it should henceforth be used in place of the phrase "and/or." The House defined "andor" to mean, "either, or, both, and, and or or, and and or."

However, the Georgia Senate voted against the bill.

More info: NY Times (Feb 21, 1953)

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Feb 28, 1953



The East Liverpool (Ohio) Evening Review - Feb 26, 1953


Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 18, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Languages, Law

Vile and Filthy Morse Code

January 1945: Residents of Halifax complained to the police that people were driving around at night and using their horns to signal "vile and filthy language" in morse code.

So it wasn't the honking, per se, that bothered the residents, but what the honks meant. Guess it was a different time, when a significant number of people actually understood morse.

Ottawa Journal - Jan 18, 1945

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 09, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Languages, 1940s

Let’s Say It Right

In October 1969, the U.S. Command in Vietnam issued a directive titled "Let's Say it Right" to the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN). The directive forbid military press officers from using certain terms and provided a list of acceptable terms in their place.

For instance, instead of referring to "free firing zones" in which anything that moved was considered enemy and could be fired at, officers were supposed to say "pre-cleared firing zones." And instead of "lull" they were supposed to refer to "light and scattered action."

A military spokesman said that the directive was actually just a "style sheet" whose purpose was to "get everyone using similar words."

Some more of the "no-no" words (as AFVN officers described them) were listed in this NY Times piece:

New York Times - Jan 11, 1970



GI Press Service - April 1971

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 04, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Languages, Military, 1960s

1960’s Beatnik Glossary

Contributed by "hotsauce269".

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 28, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Languages, Slang, 1960s

Proper storage of warheads

A classic example of "officialese," which came to light in 1951. Text from a Royal Navy instruction manual on the proper storage of torpedo warheads:

It is necessary for technical reasons that these warheads should be stored with the top at the bottom, and the bottom at the top. In order that there may be no doubt as to which is the bottom and which is the top for storage purposes, it will be seen that the bottom of each warhead has been labeled with the word TOP.

The Decatur Herald - Aug 30, 1951



Green Bay Press-Gazette - Apr 22, 1962

Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 27, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Government, Regulations, Languages

The Royal Handbag Code


While on a lecture tour of the United States in 1990, Raymond Fullager, an expert on the British royal family, revealed the existence of a royal handbag code. According to him, the Queen of England used her purse to communicate secret signals to her staff.

Fullager claimed to have identified 23 different signals she used. For instance, if she moved her purse from her right to her left arm it meant that she was bored and needed to be rescued. A lady-in-waiting would then approach and say, "I'm afraid, ma'am, that you are running 10 minutes behind schedule."

If the handbag was securely gripped on her left arm, it meant that all was well.

Fullager refused to reveal all 23 signals, insisting that they needed to be kept a royal secret. But he did share some of the Queen's other body-language code. For instance, if she rubbed the middle finger on her left hand, it meant that a spectator was getting too close.

However, other royal experts were skeptical of Fullager's handbag-code theory. Gossip columnist Nigel Dempster declared that the code theory was "silly" and "just rubbish."

Andrew Morton said, "Frankly, you've got to wonder if anyone can actually do 23 different things with a handbag."

More info: Philly.com (Sep 14, 1990)

LA Times - Aug 8, 1990

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 23, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Languages, Royalty

Jackety Jack



Your language lesson for the day.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 25, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Languages, Music, 1950s

The Flower Language Ebito

Dr. Akiki K. Nyabongo was an East African prince who lived in Brooklyn and had an ambition to write a book about Ebito, or flower language, which was "a symbolic method of communication among his compatriots, involving the use of flowers, leaves, grass, seeds, twigs, clay, beads, animal hair, and stones." (New Yorker - Jan 26, 1952).

I don't think his book was ever published. However, he did author a short article (below) about the Flower Language, which ran in the journal Folklore (Dec 1938).

According to this article, if you give someone a piece of Asparagus puberulus it means:

Wali Kaisabisabi kahamuhanda kakwata embogo zabagenzi, nanyowe ndikwata engonzi zawe.

Translation:

You are the Puberulus that grows at the side of the road and grasps the barkcloth of every passer by, and I will grasp at your love.



Posted By: Alex - Sat May 14, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages

Where Weird Comes From

All you ever wanted to know about the history of the word 'weird.'

Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 24, 2016 - Comments (3)
Category: Languages

Official Language of the State of Illinois

June 19, 1923: The State of Illinois passed an act declaring "American" (as opposed to "English") to be the state's official language.

The act was proposed by Senator Frank J. Ryan of Chicago who was "fed up" with American being called English. Ryan, in turn, got the idea from Montana Congressman Washington McCormick, who had tried, but failed, to get American designated as the national language.

In 1969 the Illinois legislature revised the statute to make English, not American, the official state language.

More info: languagepolicy.net

The Bend Bulletin (Bend, Oregon) - Jan 31, 1923

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 14, 2016 - Comments (20)
Category: Languages, 1920s

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