I thought we might need another page for ideas that don’t quite relate to the collaboration process, so have added ‘The Losers’ Table’. (I did think of the punning ‘Dubious Stains,’ but I’m sure some visitors would have found it in dubious taste.) Here’s where we can list the more hare-brained stuff (but do also look under the category ‘Dubious’). There are, for instance, a large number of T-Shirt designs we’ve still to finalise.
As a first posting I thought I’d report my copy of Hobson-Jobson arrived today. I take great pleasure in reading dictionaries, and this grand old Anglo-Indian dictionary was recommended by Arjun as a source of much delight — so indeed it is proving.
From ABADA (‘A word used by old Spanish and Portuguese writers for a rhinoceros’ — of courseros!) to ZUMBOORUCK (‘a small gun or swivel usually carried on a camel, and mounted on a saddle’ the name also applied to a cross-bow, ‘Quatremere thinks the name was given from the twang of the cross-bow at the moment of discharge’ — does he indeed?), it is JADOO (magic)!
Today’s favourite word from Hobson-Jobson is MANGO-FISH:
‘The familiar name of an excellent fish…, in flavour somewhat resembling the smelt, but, according to Dr. Mason, nearly related to the mullets.’
Aren’t we all, ultimately, ‘nearly related to the mullets’ — inventors of that extraordinary hairstyle.
‘It appears in the Calcutta market early in the hot season, and is much prized, especially when in roe. The Hindu name is tapsi or tapassi, ‘an ascetic’ or ‘penitent,’ but we do not know the rationale of the name. Buchanan says that it is owing to the long fibres (or free rays), proceeding from near the head, which lead the natives to associate it with penitents who are forbidden to shave.’
As ever, why couldn’t they just ask someone?
Time for another H-J-ism, in fact time to start working our way through the alphabet.
The word for today is BALACHONG:
‘The characteristic condiment of the Indo-Chinese and Malayan races, composed of prawns, sardines, and other small fish, allowed to ferment in a heap, and then mashed up with salt. [Mr Skeat says that it is often, if not always, trodden out like grapes.] Marsden calls it ‘a species of caviare,’ which is hardly fair to caviare. It is the ngapi of the Burmese, and trasi of the Javanese, and it probably, as Crawfurd says, the Roman garum. One of us, who has witnessed the process of preparing ngapi on the island of Negrais, is almost disposed to agree with the Venetian Gasparo Balbi (1583), who says, “he would rather smell a dead dog, to say nothing of eating it.” But when this experience is absent it may be more tolerable.’
Ah, that ‘One of us…’ smells pretty high itself…
I have to add this definition, which gets itself into a highly-appropriate twist straight away by referring to a book which it (or the edition I have) then fails to identify:
‘MUDDLE… This word is only known to us from the clever -perhaps too clever – little book. The word does not seem to be known, and was probably a misapprehension of budlee. [Even Mr Brandt and Mrs Wyatt are unable to explain this word. The former does not remember hearing it. Both doubt its connection with budlee. Mrs Wyatt suggests with hesitation Tamil muder, “boiled rice,” mudei-palli, “the cookhouse.”]’
About as muddled as a definition can get. Does anyone know the ‘clever little book’?