Category:
Languages

Augmented Roman

Augmented Roman was one of the periodic attempts to improve and rationalize the English alphabet. Introduced in the 1960s by Sir James Pitman, the idea was to expand the alphabet from 26 letters to 43, and to have each letter represent a single, distinct sound. Unlike the current alphabet in which letters can have different sounds depending on context.

Proponents of Augmented Roman imagined teaching children to read using this improved alphabet, and then having the kids switch over to the standard alphabet later. And that's where the plan ran aground, because most people figured that if kids have to learn the standard alphabet anyway, just teach them that from the beginning.

image source: omnivorenz



Tampa Bay Times - Sep 2, 1962



Tampa Bay Times - Sep 2, 1962

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 25, 2019 - Comments (7)
Category: Education, Languages, 1960s

Flapper Dictionary

As defined by Wikipedia, "Flappers were a generation of young Western women in the 1920s who wore skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, smoking cigarettes, driving automobiles, treating sex in a casual manner, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms."

A "Flapper Dictionary" appeared in various newspapers and magazines in 1922. Selections below. Even more flapper terms can be found at Book Flaps and Click Americana.











New Castle Herald - Apr 1922


Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 08, 2019 - Comments (4)
Category: Languages, Slang, Subcultures, 1920s

The Adequate Wiring Bureau

Nowadays, to describe something as 'adequate' sounds like it's damning with faint praise. It doesn't come across a ringing endorsement. It's like getting a 'B' on a homework assignment instead of an 'A'. It's merely adequate, not great.

But evidently the word once had a much stronger positive association in general usage, as seen in the existence of the National Adequate Wiring Bureau. Many states also had their own Bureaus of Adequate Wiring. Their goal was to encourage homes to have proper, code-compliant electrical wiring.

As far as I can tell, the National Adequate Wiring Bureau came into existence as early as the 1890s, but there is no such thing today. By the 1970s, Adequate Wiring Bureaus had quietly begun to change their names, dropping the word 'adequate'.

It reminds me of the "Miss Typical" awards that used to be bestowed on young women. In today's culture, being typical or adequate no longer sounds like a compliment.

Brandon Times - Mar 12, 1953



I like this 1974 ad from the Adequate Wiring Bureau of Western New York, which used the idea of the sun suddenly going out, and the Earth being plunged into a freezing-cold apocalypse, as a way to promote the need for adequate wiring.

Wellsville Daily Reporter - Feb 13, 1974

Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 28, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages, Odd Names, Public Utilities, Power Generation

Spanish for the California farmer

First published in 1981. It included translations for phrases a farmer might need to communicate with his workers, such as, “Clean up your camp. You live like a f**king pig.”

One of the authors noted: “This is a practical book. This is not a grammar book. If you want to have beautiful Spanish, you can get your grammar books and go to school. If you want to be practical in a farm case, you have to know the slang. People use the language.”

The book is available on Amazon, though listed as “Out of Print — Limited Availability.”


Wilmington Morning News - Jan 9, 1983

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 28, 2019 - Comments (7)
Category: Languages, Books, 1980s

Follies of the Madmen #398



Usage of this product enables user to read the mystical language of flowers.

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Nov 29, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Business, Advertising, Hygiene, Body Fluids, Languages, Nature, 1950s

You Know Scholarship

From Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay: Practical Advice For The Grammatically Challenged by Richard Lederer and Richard Dowis

The vacuous expression you know has been spreading (in speech, though not, thank heaven, in writing) like the most virulent cancer for decades… But it was left to Barney Oldfield, an eighty-seven-year-old retired air force colonel, to launch a vigorous campaign against you know. In 1997 Colonel Oldfield, a Nebraskan, offered a $1,000 scholarship to the Nebraska student who submitted a tape recording of a radio or television broadcast with the most you knows in fifteen minutes.
The first year’s winner was thirteen-year-old Dalton Hartman, who submitted a tape with forty-one you knows in four minutes, thirty-eight seconds. The next year, a fifth grader named Jason Rich took the prize. His tape, a twelve-minute interview with a basketball coach, had sixty-four you knows...
Colonel Oldfield has made arrangement in his estate for continuation of the contest.

Oldfield died in 2003. I can't find any evidence that the scholarship did continue after his death. This LA Times article has more info about his somewhat eccentric philanthropy.

Des Moines Register - Feb 16, 1997

Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 10, 2018 - Comments (3)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests, Languages

Prisencolinensinainciusol

From npr.org:

In November 1972, Italian pop star Adriano Celentano released a song that hit No. 1 in his home country, despite the fact it wasn't performed in Italian. It also wasn't performed in English. In fact, it wasn't performed in any language at all. The song, called "Prisencolinensinainciusol," was written to mimic the way English sounds to non-English speakers...
"Prisencolinensinainciusol" is so nonsensical that Celentano didn't even write down the lyrics, but instead improvised them over a looped beat.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 11, 2018 - Comments (6)
Category: Languages, Music, 1970s

Magma’s Invented Language




Vander invented a constructed language, Kobaïan, in which most lyrics are sung. In a 1977 interview with Vander and long-time Magma vocalist Klaus Blasquiz, Blasquiz said that Kobaïan is a "phonetic language made by elements of the Slavonic and Germanic languages to be able to express some things musically. The language has of course a content, but not word by word."[1] Vander himself has said that, "When I wrote, the sounds [of Kobaïan] came naturally with it—I didn’t intellectualise the process by saying 'Ok, now I’m going to write some words in a particular language', it was really sounds that were coming at the same time as the music."[2] Later albums tell different stories set in more ancient times; however, the Kobaïan language remains an integral part of the music.


Their Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Feb 27, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages, Music, 1970s, Europe, Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

Underworld Lingo



Source: page 51 of this magazine.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 12, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Crime, Languages, 1930s

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