Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

So sue me

I, too, want to get a word into the dictionary in 2006. And that word is krob (n), meaning “load of crumbling bollocks energetically scraped from the bottom of a long disused barrel.” Conveniently, it already means “crunchy” in Thai, but let’s see if we can get it working in English too. All together now: krob.

It’s instantly pronounceable and enormously versatile. You can use it as a verb: to “krob” someone is to swizzle them out of the price of an advertorial book, very swiftly and genially. And the adjectival form is of course “krobby,” as in, “watch out for that krobby geezer in the sharp suit, he’s an adman, you know.”

What do you reckon?

I should warn you, we already have a bit of competition in the new word stakes: living legend Kevin "K Rob" Roberts himself, who has come up with a real doozy. Are you ready for it?


I can hear you all murmuring it out loud, right this minute. And you know what? None of you is saying it the same way:




Seesommo (to the tune of Fee-ga-ro).


So sue me.

Great candidate for a new word, there – instantly and easily pronounced at first sight by a five year old, same in every major language, except, er, not.

And it works – or doesn’t work – in the other direction, too. Say it out loud to a friend and ask them to spell it for you. Chances are they’ll start with S-Y-S.... bzzzzt. Wrong.

OK, but maybe we can figure out its pronunciation from its derivation. You’ve all got a spot of Latin or Greek, maybe some Spanish or Japanese. According to the inventor of this lexical curiosity, it is a neologism composed of syllables from the key concepts Sight, Sound, and Motion. (He’s clearly been lunching with Gwen “Love.Angel.Music.Baby” Stefani, or reading Japanese lunchboxes).

But the derivation sort of helps. So it’s Sigh-sour-mow, sorta thing? I may be getting the hang of it. And yet I wonder if those syllables might have worked better in another order. Any other order.

Mosiso. Somosi. Sosimo. Simoso. Sesame. Semisi. Salami. Sashimi. Samosa. Missoni. Mossimo. Moroni. Mussolini...

Mo’ saussies, anyone? With tomato sauce?

Ooooh, my brain is practically fizzing. Now I see how this creative ad biz brainstorming thing works... we’ll get there, sooner or later, and the clock is ticking the whole way, in hundred dollar increments.

Not that it’s all about the money, of course. No no no! This is lexicographical humanitarianism, this is. The planet has a desperate need for a new noun to describe the integration of sight, sound, and motion, a conjunction that has never before happened in human history.

Not since the Greeks invented drama several millennia back, or movies morphed into talkies and then back into movies over the last century, or the multimedia revolution of the last two decades, or the age of virtual reality, have we encountered radical new syntheses of the senses to surround us and entertain us.

Oh my god! Sensurround. I’d forgotten that one. Remember, when the whole movie theatre would shake and rumble around you? Sensurround. True, it has a whiff of male cologne and Miami Device about it, but maybe we could bring it back out of retirement to do whatever job it is that “multimedia” apparently isn’t doing, and that “sisomo” will frankly never get around to doing.

Sisomo, eh? No disrespect to K Rob (he’s an adman, I’m a smartarse with a PhD in literature, so really we’re sisters under the skin), but a lovemark it’s not. Not even a love-nibble. It’s just too... krobby. Not even hard-core krobby either, just a tad krobbly.

Krob. Nah, that’ll never catch on, either. Too crisp; too true.


This just in: Jen from Christchurch pointed me to an official linguistic take on why "sisomo" will never sis, or o, or mo, at Language Log. I rest my case... and tip of the hat to the writer, who coins the very useful "hyper-hyper" in the course of dismantling sisomo.


In other news, lots of great feedback on the preggy-brain/baby-name post. It turns out that preggy brain is, scientifically speaking, a myth. If anything, what we have is oversensitivity to normal lapses of concentration characteristic of people with a lot on their minds. I suggest we rename the whole phenomenon “project brain” instead, and lose the stigma.

Caroline writes that she had a friend who did a study on it. However, due to a severe case of, er, project-brain herself, she was unable to remember the details, beyond the fact that the study showed no major differences in memory function between women who were never pregnant, now pregnant, or pregnant a long time ago. You just think about different stuff, apparently.

Tze Ming backed me up on the absence of research supporting a theory of preggy brain. In fact, she went one better, and found a study that pretty much rules it out. In fact, the study found that:

... pregnant women did as well as the other women on the memory and concentration tasks. But they "felt strongly" that their memories were worse than they would have been, had they not been pregnant.

Tze Ming adds:

Makes a lot more sense from an evolutionary perspective, n'est-ce pas? It doesn't seem very practical to turn into a blithering morons just at the most important point for ensuring the survival of the species. Then again, the birth canal doesn't seem very practical either.

(Which reminds me, a note to the ladies: when sizing up a possible future father of your children, might I suggest that a quick tape measure round the head is eminently more useful in the long run than the old “inside leg,” if you see what I mean. I say this as the wife and mother of two of the largest-headed people outside of the Peanuts comic strip).

On the question of names, Tamsin wrote to remind me of the Ngaios and Ngaires out there in the expat pool, a fascinating renaissance of the 1930s vogue for indigenous names and designs. Aidan wrote in to hotly defend the honour of his ancient and eminent name, which is the proud progenitor of all subsequent –aydens and –aidans (or rather, they are its many bastard offspring). He is right, and has a decent saint to show for it as well.

Wendy suggested having a risible name on hand to deliver with an absolutely straight face in order to deflect inquiries. Ichabod was her pick. Be warned with this tactic though – at least one person you meet will go pale and say “But that’s MY baby name!” She also writes:

We also toyed with the idea of 'Exit' in case s/he was destined to be on the stage, in which case s/he would have his/her name up in lights in every theatre in the world.

I like it. Exit Exit, pursued by a bear.