Pasta monster gets academic attention - Science-

David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Tue Nov 20 14:01:00 UTC 2007

From:    Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>

> Did anyone else notice the word "gnarl" in that article?

> "In one, the image of the carbohydrate creator is seen in a gnarl of dug-up
> tree roots."

> I'd never encountered the noun before. OED has two noun entries for it:
> gnarl1. A contorted knotty protuberance, esp. on a tree.
> gnarl2. A snarl. (rare) [The citation is a dog's snarl, not a snarl in e.g.
> a person's hair.]

I grew up[1] with the term, and I was familiar enough with it that I
always thought the term "gnarly"[2] was derived from it--knowing that it
was Californian (was it really?), it therefore must have been surfer
slang, and so was probably originally used in describing the condition
of a wave. (Same logic beneath my reasoning on where "tubular" came from.)

No idea if my teenage folk etymologizing was anywhere near correct, but
these are the sorts of things that occur when your primary linguistic
contact with California are Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Zappa's
Valley Girl.

[1] b. 1970, grew up in Southern Maryland.
[2] Yes, i came of age in the 80s.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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