[Ads-l] "Gizmo" 1938

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Dec 21 11:17:31 EST 2020


So far, neither the Spanish nor the Maltese proposal seem strong to me, though I've written to a friend at U. Malta.

I can pass along a proposed French etymology. Doug Yanega is a Professor of Entomology--yes Entomology--at UC Riverside who helps officially name bugs--so also an etymologist! He credits his teacher at U Kansas, the late Dr. George W. Byers.

Briefly, though more to follow from me--or contact him: from French gisement. Involved in aiming WWI (and reused in WWII) artillery pieces, a device that was attached  but detached before firing, supposedly carried in an American-named "gizmo box." That last bit, the box, is unattested, at least in a quick search.

Stephen Goranson,
who looked at OED for gadget today and find that they now use my 1868 antedate but have some doubt about my proposed French etymology.


________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2020 4:29 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Re: "Gizmo" 1938

Jerry, the author goes by the moniker "subpleiades," and he or she posted
the suggestion seven years ago:

https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/1fzty2/where_does_the_word_gizmo_come_from/__;!!OToaGQ!80ofe1J9FlFyMGxNKGt8fM-24mWabQAKcIdFEzhtywb4MV2EGCRnc2CeQZ6VIi5O$

They added an alternative: "Spanish *gisma*, obsolete or dialectal variant
of *chisme*: trifle, jigger; ultimately from Latin *cimex*: a bug."

This might also be plausible - if we knew just how real, obsolete, and
dialectal "gisma" was. Somebody does.

JL

On Sun, Dec 20, 2020 at 3:41 PM Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu>
wrote:

> 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
>
> ________________________________
> 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
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: "Gizmo" 1938
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Gizmo" 1938
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> 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/>
> >
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