Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 377

337A is the other exciting new thing from the 2017-18 seedlings, along with 392A Subjunctive. It's similar to Subjunctive but not quite the same:

Basically the same coloration, but where Subjunctive is magenta, 377A is light pink. I personally like this one slightly better, on the grounds that I think the yellow and pink harmonize a little better with one another than the yellow and magenta, but obviously they're both nice. I shouldn't be trying to pick favorites.

Anyway. The name candidates this time are so weird that only one of them makes any kind of sense on the surface, and one of them doesn't even make sense after you find out where it came from. We have: 52-Hertz Whale, Butterchange My Stranger, Neatrup, and Nesh.

Two of those are from the dialect dictionary.

Neatrup is the spelling I like best out of the four given. The definition given by the book, with some formatting changes:
netop, neatrup, eat-up, meet-up, n. A friend. Cf. "Folk Ety."1

1829-30 Mass. netop = friend, crony. Indian wd. Dunglison Glossary.
1850 e.Mass meet-ups, pl.
1932 & before s.w.Conn. Danbury 'They are great eat-ups (or neatrups).' Said of 2 persons having a sudden violent affection for each other. Used in one family, esp. by a 93-year-old woman.
1934 netop. Algonquian wd. Used in salutation to an Indian by Amer. colonists. Web.

I mean, I don't know how strongly the seedling feels about me, but "violent affection" isn't far from how I feel about it. So it kind of works.

For what it's worth, I did poke around a little bit on-line to see if I could find out what the original Algonquian word was, but failed.

Nesh is a bit simpler:
nesh, adj. Dainty, fragile.
1826-1900 N.Y.C. Educated. A. P. Terhune in N. Am. Rev. May, 1931.
1934 Obs. exc. dial.
The flower itself is no more dainty or fragile than any of the others, but I'd argue that the coloration is a little more delicate than the loud, blaring oranges we usually get. So it kind of works.

Butterchange My Stranger is the one that's not going to make sense even after I explain it: it's a Markov chain result2 that I find appealing for reasons I don't entirely understand: I put the list of potential names I'd already come up with into this site, and Butterchange My Stranger was one of the options that got spit back out at me. I think the origin is from BUTTERCream Frosting + CHANGE MY STRide + the unintentional inclusion of Bible verses in the input data that included the word "stranger," presumably either Leviticus 19:333 or Zechariah 7:10.4, 5

I tried pretty hard to invent a way to make Butterchange My Stranger mean something, anything, but the best I could come up with was a very specific and weird situation in which two people, let's call them Alice and Bob, are in a diner, and two people neither of them know come in and order their food, which comes with pats of butter. Somehow in the course of talking, Alice and Bob wind up assigning each other strangers so they agree that one is Alice's stranger and one is Bob's stranger, and then Alice and Bob make a bet about who can replace their stranger's butter with margarine, or garlic butter, or some other butterlike substance which is not the original pat of butter. (I am coining the verb "to butterchange" here, meaning "to replace butter with some other butter.") So if you're Alice or Bob, you're thinking of your objective as being to now Butterchange My Stranger.


Which is at minimum very, very weird. But, I don't know, something about the sound of it -- specifically, I think, the rhyme between "change" and "strange" -- appeals to me. And it doesn't hurt that we've got kind of a buttery light yellow in the flower. So . . . *shrug* . . . let's throw it into the list of options and see how it does. Why not. Worst that could happen is I wind up with a nonsensical name that requires explanation, and it's not as if that's never happened before.

Finally, the 52-Hertz Whale is a whale of unknown species that calls at the frequency of 52 hertz (52 cycles per second), a very low G-sharp or A-flat (Wikipedia says 52 Hz is just higher than the lowest note reachable by a tuba, if that gives you any idea of the note.). This is much higher in pitch than the calls of blue whales (10-39 Hz) or fin whales (20 Hz), and as far as anyone can tell, it is the only whale in the entire world which calls at this pitch. It was first recorded in 1989, in the Pacific, and its call has since deepened in pitch to 49 Hz, from G-sharp to G; researchers presume that this reflects the whale's growth.

The 52-Hertz whale moves at times, and for distances, suggesting that it may be a blue whale, though it doesn't seem to be moving as part of a group of blue whales; it might also be a blue/fin hybrid, a deaf blue whale, a group of whales, or the last survivor of some nearly-extinct whale species.

People have sort of latched on to the 52-Hertz whale's existence as a metaphor or whatever; there are a lot of articles out there referring to it as "the loneliest whale in the world,"6 and anthropomorphizing it, and . . . I mean, I get the appeal; surely most of us have felt at one time or another like we were not quite speaking the same language as everyone else. But we don't actually know that the 52-hertz whale is lonely: we're not even positive that it's singular. Maybe it's fine. One must imagine the 52-Hertz whale happy.

Anyway. 52-Hertz Whale could work as a name. It at least emphasizes the uniqueness of the color. There could be other seedlings that look like this down the road, but it's the only one we've seen in four years of doing this, so it's probably not a coloration we'll see a lot.

So. Where to even start. I guess I'll drop Nesh. It would work; I think the word and meaning even fit one another well.7 But whenever I imagine how I'd feel in the future, having chosen each of the four options, Nesh is somehow the most disappointing. And I like the meaning of Neatrup, but in that case I feel like the word and idea really don't match one another particularly well.

So we're left with Butterchange My Stranger or 52-Hertz Whale. 52-Hertz Whale has more of an explanation, is one syllable and ten characters shorter, is a bit more melancholy, and is probably less likely to age badly. (I worry that Butterchange My Stranger will appeal a lot less after the novelty has worn off.)

But I don't know. I'm feeling really drawn to Butterchange My Stranger. Maybe I will regret it later, maybe you'll all judge me, maybe six months from now competitive butterchanging of strangers will go viral and no one's butter will be safe anymore and it will be all my fault. Dumber things have happened, and I won't be able to say that I didn't see viral butterchanging coming. I suppose if I need to I can switch the name to 52-Hertz Whale. But at least for right now, this one's 377A Butterchange My Stranger; God have mercy on us all.


1 Meaning "folk etymology;" this is the process by which an unfamiliar or difficult word gets modified into something more familiar or easier to say, generally mangling the original word beyond recognition and sometimes resulting in a misunderstanding of what part of the original word is the base word and what part is a prefix or suffix. Sometimes it's a deliberate mispronunciation for humorous effect (in which case it's probably more proper to call it a pun), but the book gives the impression that it's normally the result of people hearing a new word, especially one from a foreign language, and then breaking it down into words they already know unintentionally, like when English borrowed cucaracha from Spanish and reformed it into two existing English words, cock (rooster) and roach (originally a kind of fish).
"Eggcorns" are not quite the same thing, though I admit to being a little fuzzy on the difference between eggcorns and folk etymologies.
A few examples given by the book: sankfield used in place of cinquefoil; summer-stop for thermostat; brown-kitties for bronchitis; sparrowgrass for asparagus.
My favorite historical example is probably centipede becoming sandy Pete.
2 Markov chaining is explained in the post for Anthurium seedling 0696 "Jessica Wild." Possibly not explained well, but I tried.
3 When a STRANGER sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. (English Standard Version)
4 ' . . . and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the STRANGER or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.' (New American Standard Bible)
5 (In some cases, I remind myself what the possible name refers to by putting something in parentheses with it; I neglected to strip out the parenthetical bits before plugging the name options into the Markov chaining program.)
6 Example 1, Example 2. Plus Wikipedia.
7 Not so much in "Don't touch that! It's nesh!" as in "Oh my god Becky you have to buy it, it's soooo nesh."

1 comment:

Pattock said...

In British English dialect "nesh" is used of someone who feels the cold much more than others. For example, all the people I share an office with are nesh, they insist on the window closed and heating on most of the year.

Or the insult "ye nesh suthin bastid", implying southerners are more prone to getting chilled than hardy northerners.

The archaic use was more often for organs of the body or emotions becoming softened. More recently it may be applied to a young and tender lettuce, a mild mannered person, a lazy coward, mild or gentle treatment, easily tempted to lust or not violent.

The phrase "for nesh or hard" or "in nesh and hard" means "in any circumstances".