Thursday, February 10, 2005

Gurn and Snark

Two words imported from England.

For gurning see Blogging in Paris. Claude has posted some recent gurning champions from a competition that dates back to 1266. When children gurn we warn them: "your face might freeze that way." Let them gurn; it could be an unusual but rewarding career path. I know a champion hog caller and she's very happy.

As for the bloggers' omnipresent adjective snarky, this newbie wondered if it came from the Hunting of the Snark (right), or maybe was a combination of snide and sarcastic. I actually lifted my butt out of the chair and looked in Webster's Unabridged (that's right, the big heavy one with thin pages made out of real paper) to find that snark and snork both mean "snore and/or snort" and are related to the German words snorken and snarchen and the old Swedish snarka.

Maven's Word of the Day says "The adjective snarky is first recorded in 1906. It is from dialectal British snark, meaning to nag or find fault with." Maven suggests the connection with snork/snark is "the derisive snorting sound of someone who is always finding fault."

At, Emma Garman wrote:
So, while I think that entertainingly informing readers is snark's raison d'etre, I also believe that the boldly negative critique may be the only weapon available for stemming the tide of mediocre writing offered by the corrupt book publishing industry and its shadowy ally, the creative writing program.
Dorothy Parker, my hero Omar G. at Television Without Pity and the boys at Sigmund, Carl and Alfred should be studied by bloggers who, already self-designated "weird," "off-beat," "zany," etc., also aspire to the heady title of "snarky." Unrelatedly, I humbly ask that these aspirants also learn to spell.

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At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief, Mel! Study US?

A study in self flegellation, don't you think?

At 9:07 PM, Blogger karma said...

hey, thanks for making the effort of finding out ... and sharing with us :))


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