Monday, 23 March 2009


I serendipitously came across mojo on Sylv's blog, who wrote today: My MOJO is soooooooooooooooo definitely back!!

There are basically two meanings. One comes from the Marine Corps world: Originally a concoction of hard liquors designed for the sole purpose of getting drunk. Also used to mean a swaggering approach or smooth talking individual, as in "He's got his MOJO goin'..

I have the slight feeling Sylv does not mean that but personal magnetism or charm.

The term has an interesting etymology:
from Fula
This word originated in Cameroon

If your mojo is working, you lead a charmed life. That's because mojo, in its original sense, is a charm, kept in a cloth bag. Depending on which conjure doctor you go to, the charm can be roots, rats, snakes, lizards, pumpkin seeds, dirt, clay, or steel wool. Those were ingredients mentioned in North Carolina in 1962. Back in the late 1930s, in Memphis, Tennessee, to make a mojo one expert said you would sew a red flannel bag with these ingredients: High John de Conker (a plant known also as Solomon's seal), black lodestone, Adam and Eve root, and violet incense powders. A 1946 account from New Orleans said that the mojo was "the leg bone of a black cat that's been killed in a graveyard at midnight."

If your mojo is working, you have sex appeal. But if someone else touches or even sees your mojo, it can lose its power. That's the explanation of the lyrics in the 1928 blues song: "My rider's got a mojo and she won't let me see.... She's got to fool her daddy, she's got to keep that mojo hid; but papa's got something for to find that mojo with." Written evidence for the word goes back to 1926 in the song title, "My Daddy's Got the Mojo, But I Got The Say-So." Nowadays the word is widely used, often with no reference to a magical cloth bag but simply meaning power, influence, or advantage.

The word is African American. Its origin is uncertain, but it seems probable that mojo ultimately came from Africa. If it did, a good candidate for the source is moco'o, meaning a conjure doctor or person who works magic. That word is from the Fula or Fulfulde language, a member of the Fulani branch of the Niger-Congo language family. Fula is spoken as a native language by two-thirds of a million people in Cameroon, and by four million more in Cameroon as a second language. One other English word that may possibly come from Fula (if not from Mandingo) is yam (1657).


I serendipitously came across scrummy when enjoying a comment by Mickle in NZ on my post on Bresaola Chiavennasca.

Etymology 1: blend of scrumptious and yummy

Adjective scrummy (comparative scrummier, superlative scrummiest): Childish term for delicious

Etymology 2: blend of school-run and mummy

Noun scrummy (plural scrummies): (UK, pejorative) (slang) a woman who causes traffic congestion by driving her offspring to and from school.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Toño talks with his boss in Castilian (Spanish), or sometimes he just thinks he is, such as when he has used the Mexican word tiradero when the proper term for mess would have been desorden.


I serendipitously came across bespoke when Toño asked me what it means. Toño was reading a feature in Fantastic Man about Antonio Bracciani.

Antonio Bracciani can always buy ready-to-wear. He does not need bespoke clothes. Unlike the resto of us, Antonio Bracciani is the perfect meridian. Since 14 years he maintains his perfectly 'normal' shape. He is a fit model on which designers test whether their clothes fit an M.

Friday, 20 March 2009


Pedro Almodóvar's new drama Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) has the Spanish past participle roto in its title. The infinitive form of this irregular verb is romper (to break).

Más información sobre esta película

I was wondering whether the Mexican drink Rompope has it's roots in this verb, since you have to break eggs to make it. But according to Wikipedia, the term Rompope is derived from the beverage rum (read about).

Thursday, 19 March 2009


I knew later can be used as comparative of late. However, only a few years back, when I started to read Ryan's posts on Boys Are Ugly But So Cute, I learned that it could also be used informally to express goodbye or farewell.

Nevertheless, I had been quite flabbergasted* when I opened André Aciman's novel Call Me By Your Name.

Call Me By Your Name

The opening reads:

"Later!" The word, the voice, the attitude.
    I'd never heard anyone use "later" to say goodbye before. It sounded harsh, curt, and dismissive, spoken with the veiled indifference of people who may not care to see or hear from you again.
    It is the first thing I remember about him, and I can hear it still today. Later!
    I shut my eyes, say the word, and I'm back in Italy, so many years ago, walking down the tree-lined driveway, watching him step out of the cab, billowy blue shirt, wide-open collar, sunglasses, straw hat, skin everywhere. suddenly he's shaking my hand, handing me his backpack, removing his suitcase from the trunk of the cab, asking if my father is home.
    This summer's houseguest. Another bore.
    Then, almost without thinking, and with his back already turned to the car, he waves the back of his free hand and utters a careless Later! to another passenger in the car who probably split the fare from the station. No name added, no jest to smooth out the ruffled leave-taking, nothing. His one-word send-off: brisk, bold, and blunted — take your pick, he couldn't be bothered which.
    You watch, I thought, this is how he'll say goodbye to us when time comes. With a gruff, slapdash Later!
    Meanwhile, we'd have to put up with him for six long weeks.
    I was thoroughly intimidated. The unapproachable sort.
    I could grow to like him, though. From rounded chin to rounded heel. Then within days, I would learn to hate him.
    This, the very person whose photo on the application form months earlier had leapt out with promises of instant affinities.

* A word I was taught by Mr.Mac.


Actually a single pubic hair, however, consider it something worse, if a Mexican refers to you as pendejo.

I serendipitously came across this word watching The Daily Show.


I serendipitously came across this word on Incomprendido Social's blog Open your Mind in the post Homofóbia:

Prima: oie adrian! no sabía que tenías esas mañas!
Yo: cuales mañas?
Prima: esas que vi en tu facebook, de que andabas con un hombre :S
Yo: ashh, eso que?

maña f. (plural mañas)
1. Skill or ability
2. bad habit, mania