The pointless flash-mob

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 4 02:45:20 UTC 2011

A couple of additional points. There is an entry for "Flashmob" on Dutch
Wiki--their "origin" information is the same as English, dating it back to
2003. There is /no/ entry at all for "flitsmeute". "Popkoor" has no separate
entry, but does show up in a number of places, but that's to be expected for
a fairly ordinary word--it might have an idiomatic meaning that I don't
recognize (maybe "pop-troupe" for any sort of pop performance, including
dance). Again, this is something I just don't know.

The Dutch and the Japanese seem to be most fascinated with flash mobs--I
found the earliest Dutch one in 2004, less than a year from the initial
flashmob in NYC and there have been quite a few since. The rest are all over
the map. Perhaps it had something to do with the use of Macs and iPhones ;-)


On Tue, May 3, 2011 at 9:38 PM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> I'll take a crack combining what I can recognize with a little
> GoogleTranslate:
>  /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.
> VS-)
> 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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