I asked you five questions about some odd words or names I’ve come across recently. Here come the answers!
- Which famous British TV pair are known as Curly Foo and Peanut in China?
Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson, as portrayed—marvellously—by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Apparently the show has millions of fans in Asia. After a break last Christmas and New Year (boo), the duo are back with new adventures this festive season (hooray!).
- “Nlvnav” means “pyjamas” in what language?
Klingon. The language was first devised for Star Trek: The Motion Picture in the late 1970s by James Doohan (who played Scotty in the original series and the first half-dozen films) but was then developed into a fully-fledged artificial language in the mid-1980s. It’s an odd word, though, as it’s hard to imagine Klingons wearing pyjamas…
- What is a sally port?
It’s a secure door or gate in a fortified wall that enables the defenders inside to launch a surprise assault on their attackers. Sally ports were frequent features on ancient and mediaeval castles and forts. One appears on the coat of arms of Malta.
- Which nonsense word, popularised in Blackadder Goes Forth, actually entered the lexicon in Victorian times?
Wibble. Captain Blackadder uses it when showing his batman Baldrick how he intends to feign madness to have himself discharged from the army. But it originated as one half of the phrase “wibble-wobble” in the 19th century.
- And finally, here’s a word which I had need of recently but it wasn’t then in my vocabulary: jentacular. Any idea what it means?
Pertaining to breakfast—specifically, breakfast eaten immediately on getting up or very soon afterwards. It appeared in James Stormonth’s Etymological and Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language in 1879, but doesn’t seem to have caught on!
How did you get on? Why not let us know?