The pointless flash-mob

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 4 01:38:49 UTC 2011

I'll take a crack combining what I can recognize with a little

 /Flitsmeute/ is an equivalent (calque) of /flash mob/. Of course, these are
> well-formed compounds, but we wonder whether there is an alternative way to express more
> clearly what a "flash mob" is.

Caveat--it seems somewhat doubtful that this is from 2002, especially since
GB has a double volume. The original compound that led to the first
"flash-mob" performance was "smart mob" and only /after/ the event did they
start referring to it as "flash mob". Or so Wiki says.

The Australian connection is not trivial. Apparently it was a derivative
from the "flash dialect" of female convicts in Australia and Tasmania, so
there "spontaneous" protests were being referred to as "flash mob"--other
than that there is no apparent connection. The site linked to from Wiki has
moved, but it's redirected. There is a lot of information, but no original
language that I found--just comments on it.

Most of the interesting information is under Smart Mob (except on Australian
use), including the Howard Rheingold book reference from 2002. Flash Mob
claims that the term did not appear until people started blogging about the
original event.

My [limited] understanding is that the Dutch use "flash mob" rather than the
native "flitsmeute". Another word I found both in Flemish and in Dutch is
"Popkoor"=="pop choir", although the people involved do no actual singing
(not sure if "koor" is used in wider sense). It could be a Flemish/Dutch
difference--I have no idea.

The Dutch publication you mentioned is the equivalent of MLA
publications--but I am sure you already knew that from "taal" in the title.
I can check with my Dutch friends for more details, but this is as far as I
can get with the information available.


On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 7:22 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> Ah yes, I remember the event now.  So it is 2003.  Unless someone
> wants to tackle the following, allegedly from 2002:
> FLASH MOB flitsmeute al gebruikt als equivalent van flash mob. Dit
> zijn uiteraard welgevormde samenstellingen, maar wij vragen ons af of
> er een alternatief te bedenken is dat duidelijker uitdrukt wat een
> flash mob precies is. ...
>  From Onze taal: maandblad van het Genootschap Onze Taal: Volumes
> 71-72.  Genootschap Onze Taal (Netherlands) - 2002 - Snippet
> view.  [Journal; unconfirmed.]

The American Dialect Society -

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