Word Dissection: Flangiprop

Thanks to Daily Prompt for the idea!

WordPress has become so popular in the last few years that it now has its own dictionary to rival the great Oxford English Dictionary, but there was an unusual entry hidden among the internet slang; flangiprop.

So what does it mean?

Looking at the word from an amateur etymologist’s point of view it seems in a rather germanic way 3 seperate words have been put together; flan-, gi- and prop-.

Flan: We all know this is a form of tart, probably from the old germanic word flado meaning offering cake or the dutch word vla meaning baked custard. However, it also used to be an uncommon word for an arrow, and although its origins are unknown it is believed the original word had a meaning similar to ‘splinter’, and until around 5 Centuries ago in Scottland it meant an arrow-like marking on a map.

Gi-: Obviously this isn’t a word but could refer to the word gib, which was the name for a kind of 16th Century iron hook and in the 19th Century meant a piece of wood/metal etc which held something else in position. Though it is more likely it refers in this case to the word gibe, an unusual spelling of jibe, meaning agree/fit, and speculation suggests itstems from different pronounciation of the word chime in the sense that it means to be in harmony with something.

Prop: An object used in a performance originated as a shortened version of properties in around the 1400’s. Yet it also has an alternative definition of support, possibly from the german verb pfropfen which nowadays carries the sense of to plug, graft or cork.

After all of that, the best definition of flangiprop would be an agreement to support, and therefore more abstractly encourage, the eating of flans and other cake, or more simply, someone who is against healthy eating.

Basically, the definition of a flangiprop is….

homer_simpson

…Homer Simpson of course!

Cable Car Ride

cable car

At 200 feet, the car edged along the once new cables. Rivers of rust flowed unbroken through the chipped red paint of the exterior.

Inside, sheltered from the elements, a lone boy shifted his wait from foot to foot in anticipation.

300 feet. The battered car let out a low moan as it continued to shuffle skywards. The laboured cables crackled sharply in response.

The boy’s eyes scanned the interior. They hooked onto a sign, reading, “Maximum 25 persons.” His eyes swept through the cramped space in a frantic attempt to count the bodies.

As the boy continue to count, and then recount, hoping to prove himself wrong, the battered vehicle came to a halt. A light breeze, as if sensing a new target, picked up its steady rhythm, leaving the car swaying from side to side.

30. The boy had finished counting. His heart rate accelerated as he felt the nauseating sensation of the sway. With his head spinning, he tried to choke out a warning, but the words wouldn’t come.

The engines back at base, far below, began to cough and moan as they restarted the cars unsteady assent to the peak.

Back inside, there was a variety of people. A young couple were with their son, an older man with a pipe leaning against the window, a little girl dressed in pink bouncing on her father’s knee. All those people had one thing in common. They were oblivious to what could happen. All accept one. The boy.

The engines were strained, and with a final cry of defeat they faltered once more. Then nothing. Deafening Silence. The car was on its own now.

The boy realized something was going to happen. Good or bad; he’d have to wait and see. He searched the confined compartment, seeking a glimmer of hope, of rescue. A rope. It was curled up like a sleeping snake on the floor, opposite him. And he had an idea.

Outside the first of three, seemingly sturdy cables began to unravel itself, as if it believed the car was a monster and it couldn’t get away fast enough.

The people inside felt their stomachs lurch uneasily as the car fell. Realising the implications of their situation, one by one they froze, like a game of musical statues. As the car slowly steadied itself, the boy began to scream at them. They stared back with blank faces, a dullness in their eyes. Fear. There were no screams, but an eerie silence, louder than thunder, descended like a thick fog on the passengers.

A few broke themselves free from their zombie-like trance, panic stricken, they quickly followed the instructions the boy was yelling at them.

His idea was simple. There were two long ropes which would end three or four feet off the ground. Objectives: Slide down, Jump, run.

The emergency exit door groaned in protest as it was hitched open. The rope was dragged across the metal floor and dropped. They had to hurry before it was too late. Just don’t look down…

350feet to the snowy wasteland beneath. The second cable began to retreat into itself, buckling. Individual fibres snapped, one at a time.

15…18…20. The boy was helping organize the safe descent of his comrades. He was no longer afraid, as he felt optimism and sheer focus on what he was doing. His duty.

The second cable gave way. The car lurched forward, dropping once more.

21…23…25. 5 more civilians left to go. Those already down, against all odds, began their marathon run for shelter.

The car began to sway violently. It lurched forward, backwards. Again and again. There were only 3 people left: The boy and the father clutching his little girl.

They were pushed about by invisible forces as the boy helped the pair to descend. He knew at that moment, when a sharp snapping sound reached his ears, that he may be too late. Before their feet could reach the ground, he leaped after them. Panic seeped steadily, like a lion cautiously stalking its prey, through every bone in his body.

The last cable detached itself swiftly from the car with an ear splitting snarl. It quickly gained speed as it prepared for its collision with the solid earth.

The boy had hit down hard on the surface. He bent over, aiming to catch his breath. Before he could look up and see his fate coming towards him at 100 miles per hour, his instincts made him dive forward. With his last burst of strength he turned himself around and pushed back, just in time to see the car crumple on the ground, inches from where his foot had just been. The deafening sound of the sudden impact roared through the valley, up to the highest mountain peaks.

Slowly, the boy regained control of himself. He looked dead ahead. Just two more inches and… He banished that thought from his now weary mind. He had help the others flee.

He had survived.

Today.

The Warehouse

The abandoned warehouse has not been used in years. The small city windows are all boarded up. As you stare through the open door, the shadows seem to dnace menacingly, creeping ever closer towards you. As you step cautiously inside, you are hit with the smell of rotting flesh. The sound of dripping draws you down one dull, damp corridor after another. The old rusty doors on either side of you refuse to open. They feel cold and slimy. You come across a grand hall, stacked to the ceiling with cardboard boxes. Bubble wrap and other packaging is scattered around carelessly. Someone was looking for something. As you walk towards some steep steps leading to the next floor, you feel as though you are being watched. A cold breeze blows towards you, willingly you to turn back. You can hear footsteps around the corner. As you walk towards the noise, you see what seems to be red paint scattered on the floor. Turning the corner into an office, you see papers in disorganised heaps on the floor. The light bulb above you begins to crackle and flicker in anticiption. You walk down a passageway into a small room. A beam of light, seemingly from nowhere, shines onto an old, dusty book. As you open it intrigued, you discover what it is; a diary of a young girl. The last page is not finished, it end in a long line going across the page and  you notice there are scratch marks on a neaby box. You can smell smoke, as if someone has lit a fire next to you. In the adjoinging room, there is a small fireplace with a raging fire burning inside. Heat and light leads you towards the discovery of shelf upon shelf of plants in black, plastic pots, as if someone had turned the wall had been turned into an indoor greenhouse. Perplexed, you move on. The last room upstairs is completely empty except for a single bloodstained cloth. You go back down to the ground floor by a creaky lift. Just as you are about to leave, you hear the sound of smashing glass. A hole in the wall takes you to an unlit room you missed before, with a sturdy iron door. In the corner you see what seems to be a life-size doll, but as you come closer you realise it is a young girl, about 13, lying motionless on the floor. The pieces of the puzzle finally piece themselves together in your mind. You run for the door but it slowly closes in front of you. You realise where you are, and why no one dares to come here. It is the place for a murderer and his victims.

English-French Idioms

German is not the only language with some idioms that sound ridiculous when translated into English! Here is a selection of my favourite french idioms 🙂

C’est pas tes oignons

What does this phrase mean? None of your onions! Err, I mean business. And I know some of you, like me with only GCSE-level French, will be wondering why there is no ‘ne’, but I can assure you that it is apparently common in informal French (and hence why you probably weren’t taught it in your formal French lessons!)

Avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre:

Literally it means ‘to have the butter and the money from the butter’ and so the corresponding English phrase is obviously ‘to have one’s cake and eat it’. It’s actually quite a new phrase with its origin unknown, but ‘beurre’ did used to be slang for money, rather like the English equivalent of ‘dough’!

Mettre sa langue dans sa poche

Whether anyone really has the physical capabilities required to carry out the instruction of putting their tongue in their pocket is beyond me – although I suppose it is no less silly than the literal meaning of to hold one’s tongue!

Quand les poules auront des dents

This phrase should probably be made redundant due to a study in 2006 that found that although rare, there are some mutant chickens born each year with teeth, and with advancements in gene therapies it probably is quite possible to engineer chickens with teeth, whereas I am pretty certain pigs that can fly are still a way off!

 

Raconter des salades

At first glance it seems, to me atleast, quite confusing as to why the french version of to tell lies/to spin yarns translates literally as to tell salads, but Laura K. Lawless from about.com expained the reasoning well; ”..it offers a great image. Start with a bed of lettuce background, add some tomato and carrots for color, flesh it out with a bit of ham or chicken, and dress it up with vinaigrette for a delicious and believable story. ”

Vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué

The French join sides with the Germans with this idiom, as it once again comes from a hunter’s point of view, and means to not sell the bear skin before killing the bear, compared to our farmer’s equivalent of not counting the chickens before they’ve hatched.

Passer comme une lettre à la poste

I’m not sure what the french postal service is like, but I don’t think a phrase comparing the Roayl Mail to everything going smoothly would work as well in this country!

English-German Idioms

English is ram-packed full of idiomatic phrases, and although you can on occasion translate them directly into another language, most of the time the translation will be complete nonsense! So here’s a list of 10 commonly used English idioms with their equally idiomatic German equivalents 🙂

Idiom: to be on cloud nine

Transaltion: auf Wolke sieben schweben/sich im siebenten Himmel befinden

This literally translates as to hover over cloud seven or to find oneself in the seventh sky/heaven

 

Idiom: to give someone a taste of their own medicine

Translation: es jdm. mit gleicher Münze heimzahlen

Literally this means to pay someone back with the same coin.

 

Idiom: That’ll be the day

Translation: das möchte ich einmal erleben

Possibly not as good for sarcasm as the English version, it translates as ‘I’d like to experience that one day’

Idiom: Get lost! Beat it!

Translation: Mach ‘ne Fliege!

Although there is a wide range of ways to translate this phrase, this has to be my favourite because of how absurd the direct translation sounds; ‘Do a fly!’

 

Idiom: Beggars can’t be choosers

Translation: In der Not schmeckt jedes Brot.

In my opinion the German version is much more polite, and it means ‘In adversity all bread tastes good’

Idiom: Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched

Translation: Man soll das Fell des Bären nicht verteilen, bevor man ihn erlegt hat.

Hunting is referenced in this saying, with the meaning being; ‘Don’t divide the bear skin before you’ve killed the bear’

Idiom: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Translation: Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr/Alte Bäume soll man nicht verpflanzen/ Der Mensch ist ein Gewohnheitstier.

These three phrases literally mean ‘What little Hans doesn’t learn, will old Hans never learn’, ‘Old trees shouldn’t be replanted’ and ‘Man is a creature of habit’.

 

Idiom: To be in the doghouse

Translation: der Haussegen hängt schief

This translates as ‘Domestic bliss is hanging askew’. Be careful when you use it though, as it takes bei plus the dative personal pronoun e.g. to say ‘I’m in the doghouse’ is the translation ‘Bei mir hängt der Haussegen schief’

 

Idiom: Good things come to those who wait

Translation: Geduld bringt Rosen

A sweet saying meaning ‘patience brings roses’

Idiom: the middle of nowhere

Translation: wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen

Literally it means ‘where the fox and hare say good night’

Word Dissection: Chemistry

Although some words in chemistry are obvious at a glance as to why they are what they are e.g. hydrocarbons are called hydrocarbons because they contain simply carbon and hydrogen, where do we get the chemical words with a less obvious meaning from?

 

Monomer: the simplest repaet unit.      

Mono means one and the Greek meros means part.

 

Atmosphere: The gases surrouding a planet.

From the Greek where Atmos, meaning Steam/vapor, and spharia meaning spherical.

 

Aldehyde: an oxidised primary alcohol, it contains the -CHO group.

Abbreviation of modern Latin name alcohol dehydrogenatum.

 

Ester: the product of the reaction between carboxylic acids and alcohols.

Possibly an abbreviation of the german word Essigäther (ethyl acetate), where Essig means vinegar and Äther means ether.

 

Titration: a method of chemical analysis

From the french titrer meaning title or standard.

 

Alkali: a water-soluble base

From the Arabic al-qaliy meaning ashes

 

Elements: the different types of atom

From the latin elementum which means a matter in its most basic form           .

 

Equation: a formula which equates the reactants in a reaction with the products.

From the latin aequationem which means a community or equal distribution.

 

Oxygen:

A combination of the greek oxys, meaning sharp or acid, and genes, meaning formation or creation. French chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier invented the name oxygène as at the time it was thought that oxygen was vital when it came to forming acids.

The Story of Modou – Chapter 3 – Slaves for Sale!

The monster we were on finally reached the other side of the river bank exactly 8 weeks and 3 days after it had started. I knew this as I had scratched a line on the wooden pole in front of me with my chains with every day that passed. I heard the captain shout Land Ahoy, but I don’t know what that meant. I also heard him say that this good here ship Solomon had landed safely in the West Indies, or to be exact, Jamaica. The ship then sailed north to the south of North America. The crew at the sight of land started jumping up and down, and shouting and singing strange songs to celebrate. I felt so nervous as I didn’t know what was going to happen next, yet I felt a small sensation of relief Here, though we were brutally pushed off the ship and had to walk through the water to reach dry land. The coldness of the water eventually numbed the pain in my ankles, as I had got used to the horrifying wash. We were still whipped to keep us moving all the way. There was no chance of escape as the white men were clearly holding guns. As much as I wanted the pain to be over, dying now wouldn’t be the right thing to do. We were then pushed into huge cages about a mile in land. My sister and aunt were next door, and through the bars of wood I talked to them. We kept each other going. We were kept there for three days. Then the captain took us out of the cage one by one. I was first. They dragged me over to the captain who was standing by what was called a table. They first washed off the remaining dirt I had on me. I tried to struggle free but I soon learnt there was no point as they had total control over me. They then got an oily mixture and pasted it over my wound, all the little cuts I had got. It was extraordinarily painful and it hurt the most on the biggest cut I had which I could feel was on my lower back. I screeched out in agony, and I could see the shocked faces of those that were about to have the same treatment done to them. They were scared and sad, and jumped back when I screamed out loud.  The captain then inspected me, and told one of the men helping carry out this task to put some tree tar over my wound to cover it up. He said I needed to be in an almost perfect condition to fetch his high price at auction. Now, as the man put that tar on me, if you thought that the oil seemed bad enough, the tar was much, much worse. They then forced open my mouth with their hands and checked my teeth. They said they were good. I was then given a drink, but I refused, so my mouth was once again forced open and the vile liquid was pored down my throat. Two guards by my cage then dragged me back into the cage and took another person out. I just collapsed on the floor right in front of my sister and aunt. We were then taken to an auction the next day. We were all chained together and had to march into a nearby town. Here we were all kept in cages, in groups of say five to ten. I could no longer see my family. All day we were inspected from outside the cage by potential buyers, who were looking for a hard worker, and also a girl who could give them more. After midday it was time for the sale. A man was standing higher up than the crowd of rich white people. Two guards opened the door to my cage and took me out, and dragged me onto the stage. Then lots of white people came and looked at me, really close. I was so scared yet I just felt like killing them all, but all my strength had been drained. The man selling me said I was in prime condition and would be the perfect worker on their plantations. He then started to do this weird chant, and some of the men put their hand up when he said certain words. After a few minutes of this, well that’s how long it seemed anyway, the seller said sold to Alexander Bluebell for one hundred and seventy pounds. I didn’t know how much that was, but I knew it must have been a lot. I was then dragged off stage and tied to a pole nearby where I was told to wait. I saw everyone sold. Including my aunt. She was sold to George Hooper for seventy pounds. Then it was my sister’s time to be sold. I hoped and prayed for her to be sold to whoever bought me, because no matter how much I hated all these people, if we had to go through it, I wanted to be with my sister. She was like my best friend. The person who bought me put in a few offers, but it was not enough. She was sold to Roswell King, and he said he’d enjoy her lots. I felt disgusted at what he had said, but there as nothing I could do about it. After everyone had been sold, the person who had bought me went up to the seller and told him to do something. The next thing I knew I was being held down by one of the guards, while another use a blunter knife to scrape off the tar and remove the puss from the cut on my lower back. The pain was immense, and I just kept on screaming at the top of my voice. My new owner then came up to me and asked me if I was o.k. I said yes, as I had be learning English from what I was hearing all the time, as I was a great learner, but I wasn’t really o.k. He said, wow, you know a little English then do you, well I think I’ll call you James. So what’s your name then, he asked me. I said my name Modou but now James.  He said well you do know English then. Now you better forget your old name. You are not Modou anymore. You are now James. You understand me? I said yes. He then untied me from the post, and took off my feet chains. He said he thinks he could trust me, and that he was one of the nicest slave owners around. He said he would look after me and be nice, if I showed respect back. He seemed quite nice compared to the over white men, but I was still cautious, encase he was like them really.. Well I wasn’t exactly going to run away just yet was I?  He took me over to his carriage which had a cart behind it. He sat me down on it, and told me to stay there. He then got on to his seat far in front of me and got his driver to make the two animals that looked like skinny buffalos that I found out were horses, pull the cart. It was a long journey to my new home. It took at least a good few hours. When we arrived, I was given some clothes to wear. But I was told to stick out my leg. A hot iron was placed on it. It felt so hurtful, but I didn’t make to much noise. It wasn’t to bad, not as bad as the things that happened on the slave ship monster. I didn’t want to make a bad impression on my new owner.

My dad would want me to fight. But I’m not afraid any more. They can’t do any more damage than they already have. I just accept it. I can’t help it. I’m just that rare sort of person. I don’t really mind the branding now, they need to know who I belong to, and if it means being scarred for life, to save me from a more violent owner I’m happy. I would have rather it had been something else, less painful, but it’s over now isn’t it. I was then taken to all the other slaves and introduced. I didn’t understand half the things they were saying, but for the first few days, they helped me learn, and some new arrivals spoke Mandinka to me which helped me learn quite fast. They helped me build my house out of wood. I was quite proud of it. I was then taken to see Master Alexander. He said I had to start work in the sugar fields. I had to cut down the canes, and then give them to other workers so they could carry them back. In return I would get lots of food and water, a place to live and clothes. I was a bit disappointed as I wouldn’t get any money, but at least I would survive. My first day of work was really hard. I was in the fields for 16 hours, cutting down canes. It was hard work, but I managed it. Overseers watched us and threatened us with their whip if we were slacking, but it was a more relaxed atmosphere than I expected. This happened every day for a month, but us slaves are allowed Sundays off to rest and have fun. The first Sunday I had off, there was a big party. There was singing and dancing, and I was happy to join in. I asked one of the girls I liked to dance with me and she said yes. 6 weeks later we were getting married. We weren’t allowed a proper ceremony, so one of the older villagers did it for us. We had to jump over the broom to make us together. It was great and there was another big party afterwards. By this time I was pretty fluent in English, and I felt like this village of slaves was like a huge family, and our master was really nice. 9 months later Shelly gave birth to twins. A bay girl and a baby boy. We named my girl Amie and my boy Toby. Master was very lenient in work as we had to look after them. I am so happy. Now I see them all grown up at the age of 16, about to start their own family. Amie is expecting her first child soon. I can’t believe how fast this has all happened. Master likes me and thinks I am a good worker. I am now his driver. I get to see lots of places others can only dream of. I tell my children and grand children about them and about Africa as well. Me and shelly want the memories of our beautiful homeland passed on. Master told me to drive to a local plantation. He told me it was owned by Roswell King, and that they are brothers, and when one of them dies the other gets his plantation. Roswell was very sick and about to die. I told master that my sister was sold to him, and I asked if I could have a quick look to see if I could find her. When we got there, he said I could go for ten minutes to try to find her. I asked one of the elders if they knew what Sirrah’s new name was. He told me It was Sarah-may. I called out that name, and one girl stepped forward. I told it was Modou, her brother, and my new name was James. She said, is that really you? She ran up to me and gave me a hug. I took her to my master and introduced her. As I was now earning money by growing goods and selling them at markets when I drove to one, I asked if I could buy her freedom, so she could live with me. Sarah had been told she must pay 40 pounds for her freedom. I had 100. I gave it to her, and she managed to get her freedom and her husbands too. She was expecting children too, but her owner didn’t know that. My master said they could live with my family in my house if they wanted to, and they did. Sarah gave birth to a little girl who she named Jennifer. It was a happy ending all round. I never thought of running away. I knew it would all turn out fine in the end. As I am getting older, I have been given lighter work. A rebellion would ruin everyone’s lives and what would be the point. I am happy working on the plantation even if I am a slave. I don’t care. My life is great the way it is. Now my time has nearly come, and even though I still vividly remember what happened, the nightmares have almost stopped. So this is my life story, and may this be a message that although most slavery is dreadful, sometimes it can be something really good.

James, or Modou as he was known in Africa, died on the 4th of July, happy at home, laughing until the very end, surrounded by all his family and close friends in 1805 at the age of 53, and his legacy shall live on forever more.