Word Buzz Wednesday: diamond ring effect, Zaltair hoax, 99


Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for the most interesting words of the week. The latest: shining bright like a diamond; an Apple prank up for grabs; soft serve with a flaky twist. 

diamond ring effect

“Together with the corona circling the disk, the burst of light creates what’s known as the diamond ring effect.”

Andrew Fazekas, “Amazing Sights You Can Only See During a Solar Eclipse,” National Geographic, August 17, 2017

The diamond ring effect, says National Geographic, occurs “about 15 seconds before the moon completely covers the sun.” At this time, “only a tiny crescent of sunshine is left and the sun’s faint upper atmosphere, or corona, begins to come into view,” at which point “the sliver of bright sunlight transitions into a stunning burst of radiance concentrated in one region along the sun’s edge.”


“Queen says this is an example of ‘metapragmatics,’ or speakers understanding how to use their speech.”

Adam Rogers, “What a Border Collie Taught a Linguist about Language,” Wired, August 18, 2017

The example Wired refers to is between handlers and their border collies. When the handlers’ “commands have to come faster or more urgently,” they “simplify and remove the parts of the shared language that they don’t need.”

Zaltair hoax

“Last but not least, the lot comes with a copy of a flyer from what’s known as the Zaltair hoax.”

Caroline Cakebread, “Apple fans prepare yourselves: One of the original Apple I computers is going up for auction in September,” SFGate, August 18, 2017

The Zaltair hoax was perpetrated by Apple co-founder and prank-lover Steve Wozniak. Back in 1977, says SFGate, he “printed up a couple thousand brochures advertising a non-existent ‘Zaltair’ computer that was supposed to be cheaper and better than any other on the market.” Zaltair is a play on the Altair computer.


“The company is pushing what it calls the ‘bothie’ as the next evolution of the selfie.”

Samuel Gibbs, “Nokia 8 hopes to beat Apple and Samsung with ‘bothie’, a new version of the selfie,” The Guardian, August 16, 2017

Not to be confused with an ussie or youie, a bothie, at least according to Nokia, is a photo or video in which both the subject and the photo- or video-taker are present.


“In Britain, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa, many ice cream vendors sell what’s called a ‘99,’ which is a cone of soft serve ice cream with a Cadbury Flake bar stuck into it.”

You Can Thank A Flat Tire For Soft Ice Cream,” South Florida Reporter, August 19, 2017

The 99, or ninety-nine, has been around since at least the 1930s, says the Oxford English Dictionary. It first referred to “an ice-cream wafer sandwich containing a similar stick of chocolate” or “a wafer cone or chocolate stick for an ice cream.”

The origin of the name is unknown. While Cadbury produced a candy bar called ‘99’ Flake, that might have come from the ice cream, and “the suggestion that something really special or first class was known as ‘99’ in allusion to an elite guard of ninety-nine soldiers in the service of the King of Italy appears to be without foundation.”