Add these words to your vocabulary

The new volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English is out, and here are some good words that need to be adopted by the rest of the country (as chosen by Kevin Lamarque at Reuters):

1. whoopensocker (n.), Wisconsin You know when something’s wonderfully unique, but the words “wonderful” and “unique” don’t quite cut it? That’s why the Wisconsinites invented whoopensocker, which can refer to anything extraordinary of its kind—from a sweet dance move to a knee-melting kiss.

2. snirt (n.), Upper Midwest A gem of a portmanteau, this word means exactly what it sounds like: a mixture of windblown snow and dirt. Also, for your linguistic pleasure, try out the adjective version: snirty.

3. slug (n. or v.), Washington, D.C. In addition to describing that shell-less snail-looking creature, a “slug” describes a traveler who hitches a ride with someone who needs passengers in order to use a High Occupancy Vehicle lane. The verb form, “to slug,” refers to the act of commuting in that manner. In New Hampshire, to gee-buck means something similar: to hitch a ride on the back of someone else’s sleigh.

4. wapatuli, (n.), Wisconsin Nearly everyone who has been to college in America has either concocted, or been an unfortunate victim of, wapatuli: a homemade alcoholic drink with any combination of hard liquors or other beverages—Mountain Dew, white wine and vodka, anyone? A wapatuli can also refer to the occasion at which that jungle juice is consumed.

In Kentucky, the (perhaps more onomatopoeically correct) word for terrible liquor is splo, while in the mid-Atlantic, whiskey—especially the moonshine variety—is ratgut.

5. arsle (v.), Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Arkansas Depending on the state, this word can mean a few things—to fidget, to back out of a place or situation, or to loaf around restlessly—pretty much all of which describe my activities on an average Sunday afternoon. (In Maine, instead of arsling, I might putty around, and in Vermont, I’d pestle around, but either way, it still means not a whole lot is getting done.)

6. jabble (v.), Virginia You know when you’re standing at your front door rifling through your purse for fifteen minutes because you can’t find your keys again? That’s because all the stuff in your purse got all jabbled up. This fantastic little word means “to shake up or mix,” but it can also be used less literally, meaning “to confuse or to befuddle.”

7. sneetered (v.), Kentucky If you’ve ever been hoodwinked, duped, swindled, fleeced or scammed, you done been sneetered. The noun version, sniter, refers to that treacherous person responsible for your unfortunate sneetering. Also see snollygoster, a shameless, unscrupulous person, especially a politician.

8. slatchy (adj.), Nantucket This lovely little word describes the sky during a fleeting moment of sunshine or blue sky in the middle of a storm. The noun version, slatch, refers to that moment itself.

9. snoopy (adj.), Maryland, Pennsylvania A more interesting way of saying someone’s picky, especially with regards to food.

10. arky (adj.), Virginia This word refers to Noah’s Ark, not to Arkansas, so if someone calls your style arky—old-fashioned, or out of style—you can accuse them of being an anti-antediluvianite. (Which, full disclosure, is not technically a word, but should you ever actually employ such a comeback, you will win like a million gold stars in Nerdland.)

11. faunch (v.), South Midlands, West Meaning to rant, rave or rage, this fairly well describes what many Americans have been doing while watching cable news. (Also, try out the phrase, faunching angry, when describing the guy whose parking spot you just snaked.)

12. chinchy (adj.), South, South Midlands Not as direct as “cheap,” and less erudite than “parsimonious,” this useful word perfectly describes your stingy friend who never chips in for gas.

13. larruping (adv.), Oklahoma, South Midlands You know when food tastes so freakin’ delicious, but “yummy,” “scrumptious” and “tasty” just don’t do it justice? That’d be a good time to break out this fabulous word, used most often in the phrase “larruping good.”

14. mizzle-witted (adj.), South This satisfyingly Dickensian word means “mentally dull,” but depending on where you are in the country, mizzle can also be used as a verb meaning “to confuse,” “to depart in haste” or “to abscond,” or as a noun meaning, “a very fine or misty rain.“ So, if you were a mizzle-witted burglar, you might break into a house, get mizzled, trip the alarm, and then mizzle with your loot into the mizzle. Sans raincoat.

15. burk (v.), Georgia, South More fun than the word “vomit” and more polite than the word “fart,” this utilitarian verb describes both activities. Just be happy that if you’re in West Virginia, you don’t get the skitters—an Appalachian version of Montezuma’s revenge.

16. snuggy (n.) Iowa, Midlands Those of us who grew up with older brothers are intimately familiar with what it is to suffer from a snuggy—a friendlier word for a wedgie.

17. jasm (n.), Connecticut Meaning “intense energy or vitality,” the sentence provided in the dictionary was so good, I wanted to share it with you all, too: “If you’ll take thunder and lightening, and a steamboat and a buzz-saw, and mix ‘em up, and out ‘em into a woman, that’s jasm.”

18. mug-up (n.), Alaska When Alaskans take a break from work, grab a pastry or a cup of joe, and gaze out at Russia, they’re enjoying a “mug-up”—their version of a coffee break.

19. bufflehead (n.), Pennsylvania (mountains) You would have to be a real bufflehead if you didn’t think this word, meaning a fool or idiot, is not an awesome insult. Also, for your consideration, the related adjective buffle-brained.

HT:  Bror Erickson
What are some other good words from regional dialects, slang, or other sources that fit some “semantic space” that needs naming?

Reform conservatives vs. Rejectionist conservatives

Michael Gerson says that there are currently two kinds of conservatives:

On one side there are Rejectionist Conservatives, who come in a variety of forms. There are libertarians who view federal taxation, except to fund a few night-watchman roles, as theft. There are tea party activists who believe that any federal power must be specifically enumerated in the Constitution — and then interpret the Constitution as if it were the Articles of Confederation. And then there is Ron Paul, who seeks to overturn the Lincoln and Hamilton revolutions.

But Obama’s overreach has also produced another conservative reaction — a Reform Conservatism. The key figure here is Paul Ryan, the main author of two House Republican budgets. The movement’s intellectual headquarters is National Affairs, a journal of small but potent distribution. Its brain trust includes thinkers such as Yuval Levin, James Capretta and Peter Wehner.

The reform movement — being prone to long, self-reflective policy articles — is not hard to summarize.

First, it asserts that America’s massive fiscal crisis is a result of public-sector inefficiency. So it looks for ways to achieve the ends of the welfare state both through more private means and more efficient public means.

Second, it asserts that America’s economic challenge is also a function of public-sector inefficiency and seeks above all to encourage growth — by streamlining the tax code, reducing burdens on competitiveness and showing confidence in market mechanisms and consumer pressure.

Third, Reform Conservatism argues that America’s social problem is largely a function of the collapse of social capital among the poor and seeks to transform the safety net — encouraging responsibility and providing training toward integration in the broader stream of American life.

Reform Conservatism is less ideologically ambitious than Rejectionist Conservatism. It would replace Obamacare, for example, rather than simply abolish it. Similarly, it focuses on education reform — school accountability, parental empowerment and teacher quality — rather than on the demolition of the Education Department. Reform Conservatism tends to be politically pragmatic. In exchange for serious Medicare reform, for example, it would certainly accept a higher portion of gross domestic product taken in taxes to ease cuts in discretionary spending — if those taxes are designed in a way that doesn’t undermine economic growth.

via The GOP’s conservative reformers win out – The Washington Post.

OK, but I thought Paul Ryan was a hero of the “rejectionist” Tea partiers.  And are any conservatives really committed to achieving the ends of the welfare state?   But still, perhaps there is something to this.  Clearly different Republicans have different priorities.  Then again, Is “reform conservative” just another name for “moderate”?  Are the “rejectionists” so extreme that they cannot anything done, as Mr. Gerson suggests?  Are there any other ways forward?  At any rate, according to Mr. Gerson’s taxonomy, Mitt Romney is of the reform party.

A college football playoff is in the works

The BCS conferences have reportedly agreed to devise a four-team playoff for the college football championship:

College football is on the verge of finally having a playoff, its own version of the final four.

For the first time, all the power brokers who run the highest level of the sport are comfortable with the idea of deciding a championship the way it’s done from pee-wees to pros. And the way fans have been hoping they would for years.

“Yes, we’ve agreed to use the P word,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Thursday.

They want to limit it to four teams. That’s for sure. Now they have to figure out how to pick the teams, where and when to play the games and how the bowls do or do not fit in. The new postseason format would go into effect for the 2014 season.

As for the 14-year-old Bowl Championship Series, it’s on life support. Any chance that it survives past the next two seasons? “I hope not,” said Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, who pitched a four-team playoff four years ago but was shot down at this same hotel beachside hotel.

“This is a seismic change for college football,” BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock said after the 11 conference commissioners and Notre Dame’s athletic director wrapped up three days of meetings in south Florida.

That Hancock actually used the word playoff when describing what was being considered alone signaled a shift in thinking for the BCS. In a memo leading up to these meetings, the term “four-team event” was used to describe creating two national semifinals and a championship game.

via Finally? BCS on verge of becoming 4-team college playoff, though plenty of details to workout – The Washington Post.

OK, but the little question of how to arrive at the four playoff teams has got to be resolved, given that there are 11 conferences at the table.  It sounds like BCS will just do their polls/computer thing to arrive at the final four, just as they have been doing to decide the bowl match ups and the championship, so that the controversies will continue.  Still, a four-game tournament would be exciting and an improvement.

Does anyone have any ideas about how else to determine the top four contenders?  How about just have the conference winners of the Big 12, the Big 10, the Pac-12, and the SEC play each other and be done with it?

These technical difficulties

No sooner had I trumpeted the return of this blog than the whole thing went down again. We were online for about an hour. Now we seem to be back. I’ll put up some posts and we can pretend this blog week never happened. (If the problems continue, at least you’ll know of the server woes.)

This is the problem with post-humanist cyborg mystics who have the dream of downloading everyone’s consciousness into the internet so that we can dispense with the human body and live forever. When the servers crash, there won’t be anybody to fix them!

We’re back online!

Finally! Long time no see. This blog went down on May 1 and just came up again the night of May 3. According to our hosting people, the server went down and then they had trouble moving everything over to a new one. I don’t understand why it took so long to zap some electronic files from one place to another.In that time I could have loaded all of my possessions into a moving van, driven halfway across the country, and moved everything into a new house.

At any rate, we’re back. I think. Sorry for the inconvenience. I appreciated hearing from some of you who were worried and whose loyalty to this blog is so great that when you couldn’t get to it your whole day was thrown off.

Thanks to Todd for hassling with the hosting company for me, and thanks to the tech people there who finally got things working.

And now, plant rights

Philosopher Michael Marder, with a platform in the New York Times, takes the next step, after summarizing some research as to how peas “communicate” their condition to other peas:

The research findings of the team at the Blaustein Institute form yet another building block in the growing fields of plant intelligence studies and neurobotany that, at the very least, ought to prompt us to rethink our relation to plants. Is it morally permissible to submit to total instrumentalization living beings that, though they do not have a central nervous system, are capable of basic learning and communication? Should their swift response to stress leave us coldly indifferent, while animal suffering provokes intense feelings of pity and compassion?

Evidently, empathy might not be the most appropriate ground for an ethics of vegetal life. But the novel indications concerning the responsiveness of plants, their interactions with the environment and with one another, are sufficient to undermine all simple, axiomatic solutions to eating in good conscience. When it comes to a plant, it turns out to be not only a what but also a who — an agent in its milieu, with its own intrinsic value or version of the good. Inquiring into justifications for consuming vegetal beings thus reconceived, we reach one of the final frontiers of dietary ethics.

Recent findings in cellular and molecular botany mean that eating preferences, too, must practically differentiate between vegetal what-ness and who-ness, while striving to keep the latter intact. The work of such differentiation is incredibly difficult because the subjectivity of plants is not centered in a single organ or function but is dispersed throughout their bodies, from the roots to the leaves and shoots. Nevertheless, this dispersion of vitality holds out a promise of its own: the plasticity of plants and their wondrous capacity for regeneration, their growth by increments, quantitative additions or reiterations of already existing parts does little to change the form of living beings that are neither parts nor wholes because they are not hierarchically structured organisms. The “renewable” aspects of perennial plants may be accepted by humans as a gift of vegetal being and integrated into their diets.

But it would be harder to justify the cultivation of peas and other annual plants, the entire being of which humans devote to externally imposed ends. In other words, ethically inspired decisions cannot postulate the abstract conceptual unity of all plants; they must, rather, take into account the singularity of each species.

via If Peas Can Talk, Should We Eat Them? – NYTimes.com.

With no God, there is no Image of God.  And so nothing qualitatively to differentiate human beings from animals.  And once we have arrived at that point, there is really little to distinguish animal life from plant life.

Also at work is a squeamishness at the necessity of sacrifice, that all life depends on the sacrifice of other life to sustain it.  This is a physical fact as well as a spiritual fact.

And yet, I see some hope in this earnestly scrupulous moralizing.  Not a single member of the cat family or the dog family feels the slightest qualm about killing and eating meat.  And it would never occur to cattle and other plant-eaters to feel guilty about grazing on vegetation.  Professor Marder is demonstrating that, for better and for worse, human beings are different after all.

 

HT:  Wesley J. Smith


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