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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri May 20, 2005 10:30 pm

• rigmarole •

Pronunciation: rig-mê-'rol or ri-gê-mê-'rol • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Double talk, rambling, disconnected speech. 2. Red tape, a complicated and confusing process.

Notes: The original pronunciation of today's jolly word had only one [a] but most dictionaries have given up the fight to keep the second one out. If you like to speak 'original' English, resist the temptation to insert an extra [a] in today's word. However, you are in good company if you don't. The noun expressing the quality of rigmarole is rigmarolery and you have your choice of two adjectives: rigmarolish or rigmarolic.

In Play: If you think this word sounds a bit slangy, remember that Lord Byron thought it a word of learned speakers. In Don Juan (1818) he wrote, "His speech was a fine sample, on the whole, [o]f rhetoric, which the learn'd call 'rigmarole'." Today, of course, it is fair game for speakers of all educational levels: "The registration rigmarole for a marriage license was so dismaying, we decided to call off the wedding and remain just friends."

Word History: Today's word is an alteration of obsolete Ragman Roll from the name of a set of scrolls given to King Edward I in 1291 by Scottish noblemen, who signed deeds of loyalty to which the King also affixed his seal. All the deeds were eventually joined together to produce the 12-meter long Ragman Roll, found now in the Public Records Office in London—a pretty long piece of red tape. Ragman comes from an old Scandinavian word referring to the Devil, a meaning the word bore in English until the 14th century. This version of ragman could be a reduction of ragged man, where ragged refers to the shagginess of animals, to which the Devil is often compared. (We are happy that Dr. Lyn Laboriel found the rigmarole here not so great as to prevent her from suggesting today's Good Word to us.)
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M. Henri Day
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Postby M. Henri Day » Sat May 21, 2005 2:03 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote:...

Ragman comes from an old Scandinavian word referring to the Devil, a meaning the word bore in English until the 14th century....
More details on this «old Scandinavian word», please ! I'm tired of having my vocabulary restricted to such pedestrian terms of approval as «djävul», «Satan», and «Fan»....


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Postby anders » Sun May 22, 2005 11:00 am

I can think of two possibilites.

One Sw word is raggen, the shaggy/coarse/dishevelled one, from an OSw ragher, a coward, a wicked man. This is (was) my intuitive choice.

Another possibility is rackare. Nowadays, the only use is, normally rather affectionately, for "rascal, scoundrel". (You li'l rascal you!) It used to refer to persons skinning horses, cleaning sewers, executioner's assistants and similar detested persons.

Indirectly arguing for the second word is the very oldfashioned bövel, like in "för böveln". It probably went out of use in the very early 20th C. This word is often supposed to be derived from the Devil, djävulen (the definite form of djävul, but comes from "hangman, executioner" bödel.

Another outdated name is hin håle, originally pronounced with a very thick "l". That's an old rendering of "the hard (one)". Sometimes it was even shortened to just hin [hi:n]!

A slightly softer Sw way of invoking the fiery potentate is jäklar!. Obviously plural, and j-, not dj-, not to take his real name in vain.

When not resorting to the increasingly popular sh**t, Henri's three names are still current in Sweden. (I know, lousy grammar, but I won't change it.) They´re an interesting mix: The Devil is Greek (the accuser/slanderer), Satan is Semitic (BH sâtân 'the enemy, adversary', Ar shaitan 'the opposer'), and Fan probably belongs to a Germanic family including OE fandian "seek, tempt".

Adding a common Gmc diminutive to Fan, he becomes the almost decent fanken. (Han blir nästan salongsfähig.)
Irren ist männlich

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