Monday, June 25, 2007

"SL" names doomed, a bit of dictionary research

So T. was all hopped up on Pu'erh tea yesterday, and chatty as hell. I was flipping through Vanity Fair (yes we have a subscription, long story) and saw a country western star featured with her two kids. One of whom is named Slade. T. popped off with a comment about how "SL" names are surely going to be inauspicious. "Think about SL words, they're all bad, at least slow.... slow, slovenly, sloth... not good, not good at all." This prompted pulling out our HUGE dictionary that sits in the front room. Sure enough he's right, there are precious few SL words that have a good connotation.

When you open up Websters new 20th century Unabridged, second edition, you find a long and seedy list of words in the SL category. You start with Slab -- kinda innocuous, until you read the obscure meanings, "thick; viscious, slimy." There we go with slimy, using a SL word to dam another SL word. Slabber, another way to say slobber. Then there's slobber itself, and slob. Slack, slag -- not super uplifting.

The poor boy's name itself starts good; slade, n. a little dell or valley (the part I'm sure the music star was referring to); also, a flat piece of low, moist ground. A second definition puts it as a noun meaning the sole of a plow.

So T. says in the least it pushes toward slow, wet, muddy, retrogressive in most of the SL word meanings.

Slam, not too bad. Slang -- a "low" twist on proper language. Slank, low land inundated when the water is high in an adjoining stream. Slap, slapdash, slash, slasher, slat (sharp blow) -- not so hot, from a name perspective. We get to slate next -- not bad, a hard, fine-grained rock. Then get to a verb transitive definition, "to punish severely, to abuse." Always that dark interior somewhere.

Don't get me started with Slave and all the words associated with that horror.

Sleave pops up, kinda neutral meaning but not inspired name material. Sleek -- not bad. Sleep -- again, slow and uninspired. Sleet, sleigh, sleuth -- not too bad. Slice, slick, slight, slip, slink, sliver, slish (a cut, a slit) -- gets kinda scary there or at least darkly ambiguous (slick was a positive vernacular for a long time, now it's denoting someone untrustworthy -- a slick car salesman).

Sloe was cool, berries from a small bitter blue black wild plum, Prunus spinosa, used to flavor Sloe Gin.

Sloop -- not a great sounding word but a low slung one masted warship. War in a boy's name tends to be popular.

Then we're back to slop, sloth, slosh, slouch, slough, slovenly, and slow. Not good not good.

Slub was an interesting one, "a roll of fiber, as of wool or cotton, twisted slightly for use in spinning." Named after a skein of fiber -- could be neutral maybe.

Slum, slur, sly, slut, slushy, slurry, slattern -- again not so hot.

Another favorite word discovered was slumgullion, "n. 1. the refuse draining from the cutting-up of a whale for its blubber; also, the offal of any fish. 2. a drink of weak tea or coffee; also, a meat stew with vegetables (Slang.). 3. a low, worthless fellow: used in derision." There must be ways to use such a versatile and interesting slam, and I will find them.

In the end, we wish the kid good health and happiness, but feel the choice of name was not well advised. We amused ourselves for nearly an hour over this issue.

As if Ms. Country Western star gives a hoot.

Bp

Ps: If you can think of names starting with SL that are obviously auspicious, please share in the comments.

2 comments:

CtheG said...

ok - you guys sound totally wired. reminds me of my high school days...spending many hours on a topic and having such a grand ole time with it all...so good that I forget to eat, sleep, shower, brush my teeth...all for the sake of the conversation...

Bpaul said...

Substance abuse (tea, especially hyper-caffienated Pu'erh) is no laughing matter.

*turns to camera*

Kids, please be aware that these are trained adults on a closed track, do not try these antics at home.