March 30, 2014

Junta, migwm, articulation, knoke, golonka, nudillo, nocca, boğum, zglob, lankstas...

It's lankstas for gangstas in Lithuania... according to the European word translator, into which I chose to enter the word "knuckle," because I'd just spent the previous hour thinking about knuckles.

I got to that first link through Metafilter, where many people are reporting on whatever word it was that they thought of seeing in lots of European languages.

I was fascinated to see that "junta" as a translation of "knuckle" (in Portugal, but not Spain). Thinking about the English word "junta" — influenced by all that thinking about knuckles in a physical attack — I picture a punch, but the English word "junta" relates to government by a committee. A committee? What is the connection between committees and knuckles?

It's right there in the word "junta." Look at it.

The word is joint. People join together to form a committee and a knuckle is where bones join — a joint.

So why did marijuana cigarettes ever get called "joints"? One guess is "the notion of something often smoked in common." It's a joint cigarette, a shared cigarette. To smoke one, you form a committee, or "choom gang." But it might be connected to the use of the word to refer to "a complete hypodermic outfit consisting of syringe and needles" (used in 1935  by A. J. Pollock in "Underworld Speaks").

Also from that last link, there's the slang use of joint to refer to a place, "especially one where persons meet for shady activities... perhaps on the notion of a side-room, one 'joined' to a main room." Hmm. If people meet there, they join together there. It seems to me like an obvious leap from a verb to a noun. We join'd at the joint. The (unlinkable) OED has many helpful quotations for understanding this meaning of "joint." Here are a few:
1821   Real Life in Ireland xvii. 199,   I had my education at the boarding-school of Phelim Firebrass..; and when I slipt the joint, and fang'd the arm, he strengthened the sinews.

1904   Sun (N.Y.) 6 Mar. 7/4   Of course, there are no saloons in Kansas; no one would dream of calling them by that name. They are all ‘joints’, whether the drinks are passed over a polished counter by a white aproned attendant, or shoved through a hole in the wall by a dirty fist.

a1922   T. S. Eliot Waste Land Drafts (1971) 59 line 50   So the men..thought Of home, and dollars, and the pleasant violin At Marm Brown's joint, and the girls and gin.

1934   P. G. Wodehouse Right ho, Jeeves xiv. 167   Hanging out in a joint called Kingham Manor.

5 comments:

Meade said...

The joint is jumpin’
It’s really somethin’
The beat is pumpin’
My heart is thumpin’
Spent my money on you honey
My limbs are shakin’
My heart is breakin’

chrisnavin.com said...

As an American with some Lithuanian genetic ancestry, I give you Litvak Charles Bronson engaging in some sweet vigilante subway justice:

betamax3000 said...

Crazy Street Corner Guy Off His Meds Says:

There is a joint by 45th where one of the bartenders gives me a shot and a beer for sweeping the floors in the morning, a shot and a beer and I don't mind sweeping, the rhythm is soothing, and the drinks calm the bad magnets in my head, at least for awhile. Between the sweeping and the drinks the bartender lets me bum a cigarette and I smoke it out front where some college kid comes up and asks me for a cigarette, like I have things that I can just give away and I don't like him, I don't like him at all. He is dressed in clean clothes, his clothes are new and clean and I want to put out my cigarette in his eyeball but I don't, I don't want to get the bartender in trouble. I hope someone cuts open his stomach and lets the rabbits out.

kcom said...

The Spanish word for "together" is juntos. And knuckles do spend a whole lot of time together, I would imagine.

Paul Zrimsek said...

A Spike Lee Junta.