Sunday, December 30, 2012


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bocksing Day

Today is Bocksing Day, and thank goodness it is almost over. Being myself rather evenly gruntled, I am so tired of fighting the disgruntled crowds who are returning disliked Christmas gifts.

Bocksing Day, named after a revered Chinese rail worker whose descendents settled far from Promentory,  began in rural Montana in 1939, the custom quickly spreading like the plague up into Canada. Canada quickly accepted it as their third national holiday. Eh?

As most of you know - all of you who observe it, at least - Bocksing Day takes place 6 days before the first day of any new year, and was REALLY so-named because it was customary for people in rural Montana to visit churches and place small coins (called "bocks") in the slot of the metal poor bockses located outside churches. While similar, this practice should not be confused with the summer custom of folding single dollar bills (called "bucks") and placing them under diner tables, using chewing gum (called spoggytwag) in medium-sized cities in Wisconsin, which custom is much older than Bocksing Day.

In western Canada, most particularly in the well-to-do Alberta regions of Pincher Creek and Cardston, where most people have several household employees and servants, the tradition was known as "Bacziating Day" (from the Swedish "to put one on the right horse") and entailed putting their servants in bockses (though spelled "baczies") and allowing the household children to beat the sides of said bockses in an apparent attempt to "humble" the servants. This origin is rather obscure, even by Canadian standards. Nonetheless, it was practiced 6 days before the new year in the greater Pincher Creek Valley, losing popularity in the bocksing season of 1942-1943 when one chambermaid was permanently deafened.

Bocksing Day is not really a known holiday outside the U.S. and (temporarily) in that one small Swedish community in western Canada.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

NOT a helter skelter, then?

Just when I thought I might have had this Britishspeak thing  conquered, I ran across another bunch of words last night, printed in the Mail online back in 2011 - The Mail is that most reputable and accurate of sources, you'll remember. Even the Brits are not likely to get any/many of these, though, because they are local words and phrases. And American readers? Forget about it! Even when you have the answers, you won't know what THAT word means. ;)

As mentioned above, these words are regional and even local, not UK-wide. I don't know any of them. I don't even know many of the local areas mentioned. For example...

Black Country

No matter. Be that as it may, unless you are from the area where the following words are used, you won't know what they mean. Worse than Geordie? It's true. You'll be happy to know the British Library is collecting, investigating, and carefully cataloguing these words. A good use of tax dollars, if you ask me. But then, I like to collect words too.

baffies (East Coast of Scotland)
bishybarnabee (Norfolk)
bobowler (Birmingham)
brash (South Wales)
brozzen (Swalesdale)
coopers ducks (Black Country)
deff (Birmingham)
dimpsy (Somerset)
dodderman (Norfolk/Suffolk)
dreckly (I think that one is a joke. Gottabe. Cornwall)
gambol (No, not what you think. Birmingham)
ginnel (West Riding of Yorkshire)
gopping (Manchester)
guddle (Northumberland/Scotland environs)
gurtlush (Bristol)
gully stottle (Ashington/Northumberland)
kets (Darlington)
ladgin (York)
nesh (Nottingham)
on the box (Black Country)
on the huh (Norfolk)
pitch (not soccer grass. West Country)
spoggy (Grimsby) (Assume Greater)
ronking (Black Country
tittermatorter (Norfolk)
tiss up (Leicester)
tranklements (Black Country)
twag (East Riding, Yorkshire)
twitchell (Nottingham)
while (Yorkshire)

There's BIG MONEY** in it for the reader of this blog who can give all the answers to the above words correctly without checking the Mailonline at

**Definition of "big money" varies.
Did you know you are paying the salary for the person who fills the position of "curator of sociolinguistics"? Bet you are proud.

Some of the comments were harsh:

"Kardashian means a semi-famous entity that acts as a life support system for a failing newspaper."


"We use 'Simples' as a collective noun for people who buy the DM."


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A hero passes

A hero to me, at least.

Senator Inouye passed away this past Monday.

As President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Inouye was third in line to the U.S. Presidency, behind the  President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. He was the longest-serving Senator in U.S. history, save one. He represented his home state of Hawaii, first as a Congressman, then as a Senator, since Hawaii became a state in 1959.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, his government declared that American citizens who looked like him were enemy aliens. Like many Japanese-American boys, he responded by joining the U.S. Army to fight for his country. Not allowed to fight in the Pacific Theater, they were sent to Europe to fight the Nazis. America has never been graced with more patriotic or loyal soldiers than these "Nisei" boys and men. They were segregated and fought under constant suspicion and prejudice.

Daniel Inouye, and so many others like him, loved his country more than his country loved him.

For extraordinary valor in combat, Lt. Inouye (later captain) was awarded his country's highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Desperately wounded, he still tore a hand grenade from the lifeless fingers of his shredded right arm and threw it left-handed as best he could at the Germans. It was on target. He survived. He lost his right arm but he made it home. He became a lawyer. Then he went to Washington to represent our newest state in Congress. The rest is history. His passing leaves a giant hole in the U.S. Senate. He was so quiet, most of the younger generation has never heard of him.

Richard Nixon certainly remembered him until the day he died.

As I write this, Senator Inouye lies in state in the rotunda of our Capitol. Not everyone gets that honor. Rosa Parks was the second African-American and first woman. Daniel Inouye is the first Asian-American. He rests on the same catafalque as Abraham Lincoln did in 1865.

It just occurred to me that that's a long way from being labeled an "enemy alien."


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