January 9, 2018 by libroshombre
Long ago when I ran the public library in Corsicana, Texas, I investigated starting a company to manufacture women’s days of the week underwear. Long before then, when my wife and I were courting, I’d presented with a set but when none could be located while in Corsicana, I explored starting a company named the Corsicana Panty King, with labels featuring a leering, well-fed monarch with a small crown perched jauntily on his gleaming noggin, to export them from China. Sadly, running libraries is time-consuming and no time remained for even such promising start-ups.
I still like saying “Corsicana Panty King,” enjoying the way it trips off the tongue, but the name might not fly with our trading partners, according to “In China, Your Company’s Name Can’t Be A mouthful,” a NYTimes.com article by Ailin Tang. The newly implemented rules “say new companies cannot register names thatare paragraphs of long sentences.” For example, the government forbade using “A Group of Youths in Baoji Holding a Cherished Dream that Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu They will Create the Miracle of Life Network Technology Company, Ltd.” This institution’s owner, “Niu Xiaolu, a.k.a. Uncle Niu, whose company makes condoms, said he would try to keep them name.”
“Names that discriminate against gender, race, or ethnicity are now prohibited, as are references to terrorism, separatism, and extremism. Religious terms, the names of national leaders, illegal organizations, and reactionaries are also banned. And companies can’t use their names to imply they are nonprofit.”
Sometimes a single word can be a mouthful. For instance, “otorhinolaryngology,” the study of diseases of the ear, nose, and throat,” takes some practice. So does Krocodilopolis, the Greek name for an ancient Egyptiancity in the middle of that long land that the natives then called Shedet and refer to today as Faiyum. I learned about the place in Joann Fletcher’s readable book, “The Story of Egypt.” A lot of crocodiles resided thereabouts, and it was a favorite hunting waters of pharaohs, but I like “Krocodilopolis” because it’s a delight to pronounce, unlike “otorhinolaryngology.”
Another new term, “obreptitious, done or obtained by trickery or concealing the truth,” was encountered in Rex Stout’s mystery novel, “Too Many Women,” when it was used by Nero Wolfe, his erudite, well-read sleuth. Readers of this column sometimes mention that its contents can be a bit tenebrous, or murky and obscure. Chalk that up to inadequate communication at this end, but if there’s blame to be laid, look no father than out library. That’s where I’ve crossed trails with so many strange and wonderful aspects of human existence, for, as Herbert Samuel wrote, “A library is thought in cold storage,” and there’s millions of lifetimes of thought stored in ours.
Input from readers often provide valuable fodder for future columns, if I can reign in my desire to share more than space permits or from tackling confusing topics. But while we’re on the subject, “input” used to mean “to put on, or impose” back in the 1300s, but by 1753 it meant “a sum put in, a sharing, contribution.” And since 1948, of course, it’s meant “data fed into a machine.” I’ll take all the interesting data I can get, like the limerick a pal sent me last week: “How I’d love to fill the world’s crania/ With more than sports, sex, and extranea./ To sharpen their wits,/ In their veins I would spritz/ Megadoses of bibliomania!”
This line of thought reminds me of a friend who recently commented about why he likes the word “pedantic, “a narrow, often ostentatious concern for academic knowledge and formal rules,” because, he said, “You can’t use it without being it.” For example, it might be considered pedantic for me to mention that “octic: relating to the ear,” comes from the Indo-European root word “ous-,” from whence sprang our terms “ear,” “aural,” “scout,” and, of course “otorhinolaryngology.”