Linguist, lexicographer, radio host, public speaker


She sent me an e-mail thanking me for something, and she put “thank you” in a number of different languages. One of them said “shenoragalem.” I sent her a message back saying, No problem, but what the hell language is “shenoragalem”? In the meantime, I hit the Internet trying to figure it out. I find out that it’s Armenian, so I send her another message that says happy holidays and happy new year in Armenian. Before she got this message, though, she sent me one with a “clue” to the meaning of “shenoragalem.” It says something like “has to do with Flemming.” What? “Flemming”? I couldn’t find squat out about it. I think I spent an hour trying to figure out what the hell “Flemming” meant. Now, remember that I had already figured out “shenoragalem” without the so-called clue. Lois’s secretary speaks some Armenian (which is where Lois got the “shenoragalem” from in the first place), so when my reply was translated, Lois was extremely impressed that 1) I figured it out and 2) that I sent back something else in that language. Meantime, when I complained about the “Flemming” clue she said it’s a solid clue. I told her “horseshit,” cause by that time, even though I figured out what language “shenoragalem” was, I was frustrated that I couldn’t connect her clue to the right answer. She sent me another clue: “007/Goldfinger”. Of course I went nuts. That’s not how you spell Ian Fleming’s name! Everybody knows he created James Bond! You said the clue was solid! You spelled his name with two “M”s! That’s not a solid clue! And what in God’s name does he have to do with Armenia or Armenians? She said: “Ian. You know, lots of Armenian names end in -ian” No kidding. Yossarian from Catch-22. Benjamin Bagdikian, the media critic, etc. That’s the lamest clue I ever heard in my life. She said I was upset ’cause I didn’t figure it out, and I guess that’s mostly right. Stupid clue, though.

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Grant Barrett