Monday, March 3, 2008

What Up?

My pottery class got canceled tonight due to what my teacher called an "administrative cock-up." So, I have some found time to write about some new vocabulary words.

This week's word is dongle. This isn't a new word, or apparently uniquely British. In fact, my in-depth Wikipedia research suggests I HAVE been under a rock for 10 years or so. But I first heard "dongle" last week when I went over to help a work colleague set up her home wireless network. Please, don't all call me to set up your home wireless networks. Such activities usually lead to frustration which can, if I am involved, result in broken objects. I was successful with the colleague's network because I performed the highly technical maneuver of Plugging Everything In In The Right Order.

Anyway, we got the main router working, then I asked if we needed to set up the USB wireless gizmo on her computer upstairs. She says, "No, that's OK -- I think I can handle setting up the dongle." I just assumed she meant the gizmo, whatchamacallit, thingamabob, etc. Then, the very next day, I was having my 500th conversation with a friend about computers and cell phones (or, since we're talking vocab words, mobiles (that's pronounced moh-bile)), and he says he can connect to the internet using his mobile -- he doesn't need the dongle.

So, has "dongle" suddenly been thrust into common usage in the U.S.? And does everyone use it with caution because it might have another meaning, like cock up?

Another word I've recently learned is moreish. I heard it first at the butchers, when I went to get our favorite minty lamb chops. "How many?" he asks. "Four," I say. "Yeah, they are a bit Moorish, aren't they?" he asks in the rhetorically British way. Luckily for me, the proper response to rhetorical British questions is a flat, "Mmmm."

Meanwhile, though, I was trying to figure out what he meant. Of or relating to the Moors? Perhaps particularly spicy? I suppose mint is used in Moroccan cooking, but I'm not sure I'd call it Moorish.

Sure enough, within days, I was reading a food review in our local paper, which JT will probably write about someday because he can't believe the rubbish they publish. Like book club members who don't read the book, the Cambridge Evening News proves that you can review restaurants without actually eating (much of) the food. Anyway, I think this particular review involved going to a restaurant for a glass of wine and dessert (why bother with entrees?), and the cheesecake was described as "moreish." Sure enough, a quick Google definition will tell you it describes something that's so good, you guessed it, you want more.

I'm sure you find this post moreish, but I'll stop for now. Somewhere, perhaps buried on my desk, is a list of uniquely British words we started a long time ago. I'll spread those out in future posts, to delay as long as possible having to find blog fodder in eating weird food such as hot dogs from a can and oxtail lunchmeat. But really, you only read this for the food, right? :)


lynneguist said...

You might be interested in my post on 'moreish', which includes a link to a clip from Peep Show that uses the word in an amusing way... (There's also a follow-up here, in which I miss a Moorish-moreish pun, similar to your misunderstanding.)

(Self-promotion is an ugly thing...and oh so American!)

KTinDC said...

Oh, that's hardly self-promotion -- thanks so much for the links! Love the Peep Show clip, too!

Thanks for stopping by. :)