[Ads-l] "Gizmo" 1938

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Sun Dec 20 15:41:34 EST 2020


Jon,


Very interesting.  Two questions now:

  1.  Who specifically put forth this  Maltese suggestion? He/she deserves credit.
  2.  In the Maltese Arabic alphabet (which I don't pretend to be expert in),

the letter x  is pronounced like the "sh" in English "sheep."  So why isn't
"gizmo" pronounced "shizmo"?
(Btw, in the Maltese Arabic alphabet, the letter "j" is pronounced like English "y" in "yes".)

GC

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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2020 4:06 PM
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Subject: Re: "Gizmo" 1938

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Finally an etymology that makes some sense (from Reddit):

Maltese *x'jismu*  'what's his name?'

As Stephen's 1938 ex. shows (and HDAS confirms) the word in early
(recorded) naval use also referred to an unknown or odd person.

Valetta, Malta, seems to have been a frequent port of call for U.S. naval
as well as merchant ships since the 19th century - though there's no reason
to believe the English word is that old.

JL

On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 7:17 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> Leatherneck, October 1938 p.28 col.2 (via ProQuest)
>
> "DOG" COMPANY DOPE
>
> by "Gizmo"
>
>
>
> Stephen Goranson
>
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
>
>
>
>
> Previously reported on ads-l (May 4, 2015), from 1939:
>
> Leatherneck, May, 1939, page 35 col. 2, Motor Transport, by Looey
> [[brackets added]], from image via ProQuest:
>
>
> "Butch Nyden has returned to us [[to Quantico, Va.]] from Shanghai, where
> he found out that Gin Rickey's aint those two wheel gismos you ride in out
> there."
>
>
> Stephen Goranson
>
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/<http://people.duke.edu/%7Egoranson/>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


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