Is that an angel on your shoulder or are you just unhappy to see me?
Queen Victoria was an amateur etymologist of persistent effort. But even she couldn’t have imagined what the presidential candidates’ names all mean.
BACKWARD: ‘Are vaccinations horribly unkosher?’ reader Shamayim Bialik asks. He could be a relative of poet Nachman “Vestibule” Bialik from whose nickname Hallmark cards took their logo.
BACKWARD: All the talk in the local shvitz lately has been about twerking — or as YIVO would have it: tverking.
If the cat got your tongue, which pet gets the brisket? For all your linguistic questions, it’s Phil O’Lologous.
When Phil o’lologous first started writing this weekly column, almost 115 years ago, Karl Marx was the Simon Cowell of the era — a loudmouth from Britain passing judgment on the working class.
‘Who put the condom in condominium?” asks avid reader Hugo Hefnerovich: more as an accusation than as a question. Despite the tone, the inquiry is worthy of further investigation, since the French inventor of the sheep gut prophylactic was a descendant of Rashi who had fled south from Troyes to the eponymous town of Condom near the Spanish border. The popular American brand, indeed, still carries the name of Rashi’s home town.
When people ask me who put the “sin in cinema,” I respond, “Kenneth Marcus of Englewood Heights, N.J.” Into their dropped jaws I explain that during the early days of American movies — when Englewood and environs were Hollywood and Broadway rolled into one — Mr. Marcus wanted to lend a sheen of sophistication to his tawdry fare.
When people ask me, “Who put the fun in fundamentalism?” I always answer that it was a little-known 14th-century Sufi Pir named Sayyid Jalal al-din Husayn Bukhari.