Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for the most interesting words of the week. The latest: an all-purpose word from Hawaii; stealing beauty; a Scandinavian untranslatable.
“Hawaii’s ‘da kine’ is not only an all-purpose noun, capable of standing in for objects, events, and people: it’s also a verb, an adjective, an adverb, and a symbol of Hawaiian people and the unique way they speak.”
Dan Nosowitz, “‘Da Kine,’ Hawaii’s Fantastically Flexible All-Purpose Noun,” Atlas Obscura, March 2, 2017
Da kine, says Atlas Obscura, comes from Hawaiian Pidgin, which, despite its name, is not a pidgin language but a creole, which, unlike pidgin, is spoken as a first or native language.
The phrase da kine comes from the English “the kind,” as in “kind of” or “type of.” It’s often used to mean something like “whatchamacallit” but with the added understanding that the listener knows you well enough to know what you mean.
It may also have negative connotations. For example, “She’s so da kine,” could mean, in the right context, “She’s mean” or “She talks too much.” It can also act as a stand-in for something the speaker doesn’t want to say: “Don’t get sloppy with me, before I da kine you.”
“When weather is warm and wet, as it has been recently and is in the forecasts for next week, hundreds to thousands of the animals migrate at once, in what’s called a ‘big night.’”
Joanna Klein, “Spring Amphibians, on the Move, Could Use Some Crossing Guards,” The New York Times, March 3, 2017
More than 300 volunteers in Hudson Valley are helping amphibians on their big night. According to New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, the volunteers will document where migrations cross roads; identify and count the migrating salamanders, frogs, and toads (which could be as many as 8,500); and help them safely cross roads.
“Kalettes overtook broccolini in 2016 to become the Frankenfood enemy of every child who won’t eat greens.”
Callan Boys, “A field dictionary for dining out in 2017,” Good Food, March 9, 2017
Kalettes are a cross between kale and Brussel sprouts. This portmanteau of a vegetable is also known as BrusselKale, Lollipop Kale, and Flower Sprout.
“Alas, today, criminals indulging in what’s known as ‘brick rustling’ steal and sell bricks freed by demolitions.”
Harry Levins, “Book collects ‘hidden’ history of downtown St. Louis,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 10, 2017
In 1821, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a third of the houses in St. Louis were made of brick. By 1875, that number had risen to 90 percent, presumably due to an ordinance that was passed after an 1849 fire devastated much of the city. According to The New York Times, the ordinance required “all new buildings to be made of noncombustible material.” Namely: brick.
In recent years, fires have been deliberately set to vacant buildings in the city, with brick thieves “often to blame, deliberately torching buildings to quicken their harvest of St. Louis brick, prized by developers throughout the South for its distinctive character.”
“A Finnish term for drinking by yourself at home in your underwear with no intention of going out: truly, the definition of YOLO.”
Morwenna Ferrier, “Fancy a beer outside? There’s a Scandi word for that – and so much else,” The Guardian, March 10, 2017
Other useful “Scandi” or Scandinavian words include the Finnish sisu, strength, determination, guts; the Norwegian drittsekk, a jerk or dirtbag; and curla, a Swedish term for “making life unrealistically easy for your children.”
[Image via Just Beer]