Category Archives: About Language


Mocteroof [English]: Term of obscure origin used in the mid-1800s for the craft of ‘frubbishing’ or dressing up damaged fruits and vegetables, used by produce ‘kramers’ or peddlers . Noun.

Beeswax, for example, was applied to chestnuts by shaking the two together in a box. Some other nineteenth-century tricks of the trade used by a shady London costermonger:

“I’ve boiled lots of oranges,” chuckled one man, “and sold ’em to Irish hawkers  as wasn’t wide awake, for stunning big uns. The boiling swells the oranges and so makes ’em look finer ones, but it spoils them, for it takes out the juice. People can’t find that out though until it’s too late. I boiled the oranges only a few minutes, and three or four dozen at a time.” Oranges thus prepared will not keep, and any Irishwoman, tricked as were my informant’s customers, is astonisged to find her stock of oranges turn dark-colouered and worthless in forty-eight hours.

A seventeenth-century mangonist was a market-person who “tricked up” various types of inferior goods, such as fruit and vegetables. This term was inspired by a sinister verb, to mangonize, or to pamper slaves with extra food and rest to make them appear stronger and healthier in preparation for their sale.

– Forgotten EnglishJeffrey Kacirk. (p. 113-14)



Tartle [Scottish]: To hesitate in recognising a person or thing. Verb.

We have all found ourselves, at least once, in the embarrassing position of talking to somebody who has been introduce before but whose name temporarily escapes all attempts at recall. If you recover quickly enough to avoid terminal embarrassment and remember the name of your fellow partygoer or business acquaintence, you have committed an act common enough for the Scottish people to have coined a word for it: They would say that you tartled (TAR-tul).

– They Have a Word For It: A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslateable Words and PhrasesHoward Rheingold. (p. 39)

READING: What is Morphology? Chapter One Notes

Occasionally I like to pick up books on subjects I don’t know much about, but am interested in. For example, while visiting my cousins, I’ve picked up a linguistics textbook: What is Morphology? by Mark Aronoff and Kirsten Fudeman. As I like learning, I assume some of y’all might also. After the jump, a summary of what I learned in the first chapter…

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