Tuesday, November 13, 2018

English Spelling

          English spelling is atrochüss
                           Howard Richler

Some writers have shown a hyperbolic penchant, if not ourtright chauvinism, in their advocacy of  the English language. Typical of these comments, is the following encomium by British novelist Michael Arlen: “English is the great Wurlitzer of language, the most perfect all-purpose instrument.” On this side of the Atlantic, language writer Richard Lederer wrote in The Miracle of Language that “English is easy to learn because it has a familiar look to speakers of other languages” due to its myriad borrowings from other languages.

English may be relatively easy to learn but its spelling is irrational and a bane to people learning it as a second language. In his 1982 book, The REALReason Why Johnny Still Can’t Read, Stanley L.Sharp related “there are at least 50 million adults in the United States who do not spell well.”

Why is English spelling such tuff stough?

Many factors account for our largely non-phonetic orthography. Between the seventh and eleventh centuries, England was invaded repeatedly by sea-faring marauders who brought with them diverse spelling practices. To complicate matters, when English spelling was evolving in the seventh century, there were four distinct dialects in England and they often developed different spelling for the same word. For example, heaven could be rendered as heofon,  heofen or heofne.

Because the ruling class of England was dominated for centuries by the monolingual Norman French, there was even a tendency to Frenchify some words. Hence the word cwén (the Old English form of queen) was spelled in the Middle English period  quene  and hús turned into house. By the beginning of the 15th century, English spelling was a mixture of two systems, Old English and French.

Until writers such as Shakespeare proved that English could be as lyrical as any language, many an Englishman believed his mother tongue to be second rate. When Thomas More wrote Utopia in 1516, he wrote not in English, but in Latin. This tendency to regard Latin as superior extended into the realm of spelling as many felt that Latin’s fixed spelling was an improvement over the instability of English orthography. For example, the OED shows for the word  “never” in  the Middle English twenty-three spelling variations; even  the name Shakespeare was rendered in at least twenty different manners. And still today, logic doesn’t always prevail in spelling. For example, the sh sound has nineteen spellings, including the ce in ocean, ch in chute, sc in crescendo, ss in issue and a single t in negotiate.

Many an idiosyncratic English spelling bears a Latin imprimatur. The word debt” was originally spelled phonetically (dett or dette) until the 16th century when it was replaced by the spelling debt” because it was influenced by the Latin spelling debere to owe.”  Also, receite was replaced  by receipt” influenced by the Latin  recepta, the feminine past participle of the verb recipere.  At least in these instances, we retain the original phonetic pronunciation; in other cases we have acquired a new pronunciation, such as the word “cors” which decayed into “corpse.”

The disparagement of English led to other false etymologies. In his book, Spelling Dearest, Niall McLeod Waldman informs us that word “island” was originally spelled phonetically as iland or yland.  In the 16th century, however, scholars incorrectly interpreted it as deriving from the Latin word insula and therefore inserted an “s,” making “island” the standard form by 1700. Similarly, the Middle English delit was rendered as delight in the mistaken belief that the word was connected to “light.”

Another factor that affected spelling was the Great Vowel Shift. When it commenced in the 15th century, English speakers started to alter the way vowels were pronounced and this sound change was heightened by inconsistencies. Although they have the same oo- spelling, “flood” and “blood” are not pronounced in a similar fashion to “food,” which itself is pronounced differently than “good.”  Waldman relates that during the Great Vowel Shift, “our spelling not only moved away from the sounds of words, as often was the case in the past, but the sounds of words also moved away from our spelling.”

Around the same time as the Great Vowel Shift, William Caxton introduced the printing press to England. Before printing, spelling tended to be more phonetic, was meant to be read aloud and was not standardized. Everyone spelled words in the manner they deemed they should be pronounced. Caxton and fellow printers, seeking some regular manner of spelling words decided on a fairly standardized way of spelling which corresponded to the sound system of Middle English, not Modern English.

By contrast, spelling in most other European languages tends to be more phonetic. In these languages, there were not large sound changes between the medieval and modern versions, possibly because language academies were established that were able to monitor this process.  The English language, on the other hand, has never had any such monitoring body. And although some language, such as German and Russian, reformed their spelling in the 20th century, and there are many people who’d like to see English spellling reformed, this is unlikely to happen. Those who have mastered traditional spelling would be unwilling to learn a new system. Also, there is no agreement among advocates of spelling reform about any optimun system.

Richler’s latest book is Wordplay : Arranged and Deranged Wit.

Thursday, October 18, 2018



2201-Discern      glow-computer-pin     rep-motel-app   film-nation-night
2202-Split Definitives Billingsgate(12)    (g) Montana doorway)    (l) These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.              
2203-Anagram emotional shocks in Indonesia
2204-Discern     timer-dye-blue    melange-mixed-fork   cherry-diet-penis
2205-Split Definitives Curious dog debts  (7)   (i)              
2206-Anagram satisfying large creatures
2207-Discern      mock-flop-talk    mock-actor-cured    mock-supreme-run
2208-Split Definitives   depressing fighter pilot   (7) (g)            
2209-Anagram demanded neatness
2210-Discern    paint-per-pie   pickled-sea-sandwich        press-breath-pickle
2211-Split Definitives spawn alien (7)  (h)  hatch These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.              
2212-Commonality    India- villa -spiel   
2213-Discern fever-imaging-pea      take-push-draft     head-coerce-car
2214- Split Definitives man;long thin fish  (7)   (g)     genteel These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.              
2215-Mystery Word Name a 6 letter word where the first half of the word is in the present tense and the second half in the past.
2216-Discern     doctor-wash-candy    knit-field-second     card-inter-off
2217-Split Definitives   bury phrasing (12)   (d)    
2218-Anagram Exterior direction 
 2219-Discern     god-white-grass   yard-love-thunder    game-pit-robin
2220-Split Definitives I depend (6)   (r)                 
2221-Anagram Remains of married newbies   
2222-Discern      tease-dinner-bruised    split-genius-dead   less-awn-blue
2223-Split Definitives  increases acid (7)  (u)                    
2224-Commonality     juggernaut-jubilee-charisma   
2225-Discern     bed-head-coconut    nut-garden-belly    sleeve-stain-sap
2226- Split Definitives televised beer  (8)  (a)    
2227-Commonality    blockbuster-cohort-loophole      
2228-Discern      nap-omega-paddle    gym-playboy-beach    pea-apple-slip
2229-Split Definitives  position free   (6)  (p) These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.              
2231-Discern stone-swimming-ice     down-head-cocktail   bed-bypass-under
2232-Split Definitives      carries out family(7) (d)                 
2233-Commonality     perpetrate-artistic-porch 
2234-Discern print-south-manhandle    minute-brake-long     tattoo-egg-buck
2235-Split Definitives steam up a monarch (9)   (k)             
2236-Anagram Lower world’s bosses         
 2237-Discern      amount-gut-bob    blue-duck-lac       as-bit-in
2238- Split Definitives in favor of heathen prosecutor    (10)  (d) These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.              
2239-Anagram    Detective fraud       
2240-Discern boat-bonus-train    tea-ale-biscuit     authority-sea-bow
2241-Split Definitives spot frock (7)  (a)    address
2242-Anagram  Not advisable contests on a glacier 
2243-Discern grass-complain-by    grass-star-snow    grass-plains-by
2244-Split Definitives What the cop asked the arson suspect  (6)   (l)
2245-Commonality  section-molar-trace
2246-Discern    catcher-holy-puncher    bush-glory-town       she-skin-tolerate
2247-Split Definitives     gang doom   (11)     (c)
2248-Anagram   most balanced agreement
2249-Discern  drums-up-led     thread-computer-hole    glory-wild-ground
2250-Split Definitives   fired (11)  (a)
 These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and Deranged Wit.              
2251-Commonality      manna-conned-relent
2252-Discern  bra-good-brake     horn-room-ate    china-funny-weary
2253-Split Definitives      a guy’s unreasoning fear (8) (p)
2254-Anagram     In addition, a Southeast Asian country
2255-Discern     guild-man-woman    milk-golden-bran     safe-barrel-nut
2256-Split Definitives   age positive    (7)  (e)              
2257-Anagram   Certain German cars in Mideast
2258- Discern   red-parrot-half       board-over-fold      span-red-it
2259-Split Definitives   anthropormorhic duck   (8)  (d)              
2260- Anagram   best dekes   
2261-Discern    bone-oat-man   fly-gun-ice      well-locust-wine
2262- Split Definitives    Emitted CO2 isn’t a major contributor to global warming  or vaccination causes autism. (10) (s)
2263- Anagram     More arenaceous fish
2264-Discern    game-dead-buck     clip-big-rag      rock-game-save
2265-Split Definitives      demise unpaid    (8)   (e)              
2266-Anagram   Reveal the aura of a European city  
2267-Discern      inky-lens-rice    white-red-brass     wood-bar-clog
2268-Split Definitives   former custom  (11)   (t)
2269-Commonality    shingle-himself-Belgian
2270-Discern    skirt-dinner-knife     dog-powder-oil     blue-tooth-man
2271-Split Definitives     surface debts (9)  (f)
2272-Anagram     Gambling hub compensations      
2273-Discern    freeze-pin-bird      shop-room-a    calf-out-bound
2274-Split Definitives     decline unpaid    (9) (f)            
2275-Anagram    Start spree 
2276-Discern  bus-dog-racing   rider-ground-bush    thistle-discord-belly
2277-Split Definitives   stomach muscles extent of territory (8)  (t)
2278-Commonality   compost-ministries-internet  
2279-Discern   foot-riot-galore    ding-sausage-wild       poison-gym-her
2280-Split Definitives     be authorized to turn in and sew down  (6)  (h)            
2281-Anagram Purplish-pink important business person 
2282-Discern   counter-rabbit-out    counter-coffee-old          health-pine-case
2283-Split Definitives   affix in advance   (8)   (p)                    
2284-Commonality     serendipity-balaclava-jersey        
2285-Discern   fish-big-guard    leaf-light-horn    flat-tolerate-upset  
2286-Split Definitives   still exists   (5) (i)           
2287-Anagram     Actually renounced 
2288-Discern sea-shooter-cock     hoe-honey-hot     dud-man-money
2289- Split Definitives      vacation bye-way  (8)   (t)  These “split definitives” are now featured in my most recent book Wordplay:Arranged and attractive Deranged Wit.              
2290-Anagram     More peaceful  solution  
2291-Discern    pox-around-shine      stroke-effect-monarch   worker-season-ping
2292-Split Definitives   alien bombastic leader   (7)    (e)               
2293-Anagram    Diacritical mark shared by two people
2294-Discern  be-blossoms-twist      ball-sweet-spot   spring-ring-dip
2295-Split Definitives   nudge family   (7)   (b)            
2296-Commonality      relive-ponies-gnome
2297-Discern     mad-on-ability   pith-safety-tin          tails-black-sweat
2298-Split Definitives   gaudy jewelry for a hobo   (8)  .              
2299-Commonality        begin-ghost-almost
2300-Discern     prick-print-puppet    rest-up-lock    a-up-bad

Monday, September 17, 2018

Talking turkey & cranberry sauce and morphemes

                                    Talking turkey & cranberry sauce and morphemes
                                                  Howard Richler

In 1621, Plymouth Massachusetts colonists and Wampanoag natives collaborated in an autumn harvest that nowadays is recognized as one of the first Thanksgiving Day celebrations in the New World. It was only in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated each November.
No Donald Trump, it isn’t fake news, but the origin of Canadian Thanksgiving predates this. For in 1578, explorer Martin Frobisher held a thanksgiving feast that consisted of salt beef and mushy peas. This took place in Newfoundland during Frobisher’s quest to find the Northwest Passage.  In Canada, Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1879 and this year falls on October 8th.
We do, however, enjoy more details as to the contents of the inaugural American Thanksgiving feast. Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in a journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission and that  the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deers. Historians suggest that the dishes were prepared using traditional indigenous spices  and because the Pilgrims  had no oven and very little sugar the meal didn’t feature the pies, cakes and other desserts which we associate with modern Thanksgiving feasts.
Winslow’s account mentions wild fowl but there is no explicit mention of turkey; the bird in question just as likely may have been duck or goose. But as Governor Bradford had mentioned in his writings that the colonists hunted wild turkeys in 1621, it gained traction as the Thanksgiving meal of choice when Lincoln entrenched the holiday in 1863.
But why is it called turkey and what is the relation of this ungainly bird to an Islamic country that has never celebrated Thanksgiving or American football?   And was the bird’s namer geographically-challenged.? Actually, geographical designations were rather imprecise in the 16th century.  For example, In Britain, at the time Persian rugs were called “Turkey rugs” and Indian flour, “Turkey flour.” The bird, whose technical name is Meleagris gallopavo was first domesticated by the Mayas and Aztecs who dwelled in Mexico and Central America. When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, they began to export this bird back to Europe and Asia. At approximately the same time in the early 16th century, Portuguese traders in the New World exported this fowl to their Goa colony in India. From the beginning the New World fowl was confused with Meleagris numida, a bird commonly found in Africa (and particularly Guinea) that had been known to Mediterranean peoples as the “guinea fowl” or “turkey-cock.”   The word turkey’s first OED citation is in 1577 in Conrad Heresbach’s Foure books of Husbadry:  “Here I keepe..Geese, Duckes, Peacocks, Turkicocks and other poultry.”
While the English language made Turkey a stand-in for Asia, other languages have regarded India as the quintessence of the continent.  For example, observe the French dinde (of India) and the Hebrew hodu (India).  The words for “turkey” in Russia and Poland are indyushka and inyczka respectively (from India); Italians sometimes refer to the bird as pollo d’India and, most interestingly, the name of the bird in Turkey itself is hindi (the language of India).   Catalan and Basque also name the bird after India and some languages are even more specific and name it after the Indian city of Calicut such as Danish, kalkun, Dutch and Afrikaans, kalkoen, and Finnish kalkkuna.
Meanwhile in Portugal, the country that spawned the discussion, the designation of peru for “turkey” makes sense, since the country is actually geographically closer to the Central American origin of the fowl.  Speakers of Portuguese designated the Spanish Americas as Peru, and as the bird emanated from there, it was known in Portuguese as “peru.”  Further confusion occurs as some dialects of Hindi, probably influenced by Portuguese, use the term peru pakshi (Peru bird) to refer to a turkey.
And if you prefer garnishing your Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce, be aware that while the original Thanksgiving revellers may have enjoyed turkey, they definitely weren’t able to flavour the bird with cranberry sauce. While cranberries were probably available to the Pilgrims, they would not have been able to create cranberry sauce due to the lack of sugar. In any case, it would appear that cranberry sauce was only invented sometime in the 1660s as this is the first reference to it in a journal of a Brit travelling in Massachusetts. Also,  cranberry sauce only enjoys its first OED citation in 1767.
At this point you might be asking, what exactly is a cran?  The answer is “nothing really.” While other languages such as German and Swedish have similar terms such as kranichbeere and tranbar respectively, the kranich and tran add-ons also don’t have specific meanings. In fact,  the cranberry has the honour of designating  this type of  linguistic term. A “cranberry morpheme” describes a part of a word that doesn’t have an independent meaning or grammatical function but distinguishes one word from another. Other examples of this phenomenon are the “kempt” in unkempt, the “twi” in twilight, the “luke” in lukewarm and the “ept” in inept.
Don’t let the mistake in naming turkey and the unknowable cran element in cranberry prevent you from enjoying your next Thanksgiving feast.
Richler’s latest book is Wordplay: Arranged and Deranged Wit. (It isn’t a turkey)

Friday, August 31, 2018


         The Summum of Dictionaries
                  Howard Richler
What’s four score and ten yet stronger, healthier and possesses a greater vocabulary than ever? I speak, of course, about the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).  The OED is the summum of dictionaries, not only because it is the biggest, the best, and the supreme authority.What elevates into a league of one is its breadth. It is rapacious and devours every word that has ever existed in English and this makes it the ideal archive of our language. No other language can boast about having such a complete tome.

The compilation of the First Edition of the OED began in the 

1850s and was completed in 1928. Its naïve editors  estimated then that the project would be finished in approximately ten years, but alas after  fifteen years when editor James Murray and his colleagues had only reached as far as the word ‘ant’, they realized it was time to revise their schedule. It was not surprising that the project was taking longer than anticipated. Not only are the complexities of the English language daunting, but like a virus, it never stops evolving. The lexicographic team had to keep track of new words and new meanings of existing words at the same time that they were trying to examine the previous eight centuries of the language’s development.

But finally, the first volume of the OED was completed in 1928 

with the final section, (called a fascicle in lexicology-speak) 

comprising words from Wise to Wyzen.  The original plan in the 

1850s called for approximately 6,400 pages in four volumes, but the completion of the First Edition contained over 400,000 

words and phrases in ten volumes.

In 1989, a complete Second Edition was published, consisting 

of the original OED amalgamated with the supplementary 

volumes, and together with 5,000 completely new entries. In 

1993 and 1997, three volumes of Additions to the Second 

Edition were published
In 2000 the OED Online was launched  and the computer-based resources available to the staff who work on the OED  has facilitated the data collection and in particular to record words from some of the “other” Englishes such as  Japanese, Indian and  Singapore English.
The original estimate had the Third Edition being completed in 2010 and containing approximately 40 volumes but this timetable proved to be woefully wrong. By 2014, the new estimate for completion was 2034 and chief editor Michael Proffitt said that is was running late due to “information overload” as a plethora of data kept pouring in from computer sources.
Newly revised entries are published online every three months, giving the OED a modern, relevant tone that represents the myriad flavours of English available on the planet.
Thus does the OED proceed judiciously, amassing,modifying, defining, and it proceeds truly at a snail’s-pace – a phrase first employed in the fifteenth century. But I assure you that over the last eighteen years there has been dramatic changes and additions to our language.  The OED provides endless proof of how the “other Englishes,” the “newer Englishes” are changing and enhancing the language. Truth be told, there are now far more people who speak English as a second language than as their first one and therefore the vocabulary growth comes largely from the exotic locales where second language speakers dwell.
The increase in data is mind-boggling. In 1989,the OED lexicographic team was able to add approximately 80 new words a month but by 2014 the amount of new words was reduced to no more than 60 due to the much larger amount of information available, notwithstanding the advances information technology has provided.

To give readers a sense of the new words inundating our language, I have made a list of words with accompanied definitions from A to Z that the OED has added since it went online in 2000. For each letter, I have included one word from what might be thought of as “traditional English” (American, Canadian, Australian, United Kingdom & Ireland) and one from the “new Englishes”(Malaysian, Caribbean, South African Englishes, etc.) I have also indicated in brackets when the word was added to our lexicon:

App(2001)-A piece of software designed to perform specific functions. (Shortened form of application).
Angmoh( 2016)-In Singapore English, a term for light-skinned people.
Bogart(2005)-Especially, among Afro-American usage, to force, coerce or bully.
Barangay(2015)-In Philippines English, a village or suburb.
Cissexual(2015)-Designates a  person whose sense of personal identification and gender corresponds to his or hers at birth.
Cosplay(2008)-Originally in Japan it referred to dressing up in costume as character from anime and manga; now extended to characters from video games.
Digerati(2003)-Refers to people with proficient involvement or exceptional knowledge of information technology.
Dai pai dong( 2016)-In Hong Kong, a traditional licensed street stall selling cooked food at low prices.

Enviropig(2015)-A genetically modified variety of pig that is able to digest phytic acid, producing manure with a reduced phosphorus content and hence less environmental impact.

Eve-teasing(2005)-In India, sexual harassment of a woman, verbal or physical, by a man in a public place. 
Femcee(2012)-Female master of ceremonies.
Funana(2017)-In Cape Verde Islands, dance music accompanied with an accordion and ferrinho.
Gaydar(2003)-Ability attributed especially to gay people to identify homosexual people.

Ghagra(2006)-In parts of India, especially Rajasthan: a long full skirt or petticoat with a drawstring waist and often ornamented with bells.

Hoser(2006)-In Canadian English, a stupid, unsophisticated loutish person.
Hongbao(2016)-A traditional Chinese good luck gift of money.
Iron woman(2013)-A woman who is hardy, robust, or capable of great endurance; now specifically a powerful female athlete, especially one who excels in endurance events.

Inukshuk(2015)-A structure of rough stones stacked in the form of a human figure,traditionally used by the Inuit as a landmark or commemorative sign, or to drive caribou toward hunters.

Junkball(2016)-In baseball, a pitch that relies on movement rather than speed, such as a breaking ball or knuckleball.

Juku(2004)-In Japan, an educational system based on a European and U.S. model of progressive education, which works within the framework of private schools and provides a variety of practical and vocational skills taught in addition to a Western-style core curriculum.

Krump(2016)-In hip hop: extremely energized while dancing.
Khimar(2010)-A head covering or veil worn in public by some Muslim women, specifically one of a type covering the head, neck, and shoulders.

Listicle(2006)-A journalistic article or other piece of writing, presented wholly or partly in the form of a lists. This term is often used in a pejorative manner.

Lepak(2016)-In Malaysian and Singapore English, to loiter aimlessly or idly; to loaf, relax, hang out.

Moobs(2006)-Unusually prominent breasts on a man.

Matutu(2001)-In Kenya, an unlicensed taxi or minibus.
Nobbins(2003)-British slang for money.

Nam Prik(2003)-A paste or sauce made with chilli and shrimp, widely used in Thai cookery as a condiment or dipping sauce.

Oxycontin(2005)-Proprietary name of  the analgesic drug oxycodone.

 Oyakata(2005)-In Japan: a master, a boss;  and in sumo wrestling, it refers to the master of a wrestling stable.

Phat(2001)-Especially among Afro-Americans, it refers to a woman who is sexy and attractive and in music it denotes excellence.
Prepone(2001)-In Indian English, to bring forward to an earlier time; the opposite of postpone.
Queer nation(2007)-A community of people united by homosexuality, lesbianism, or by a shared belief in gay rights.
Qawwali(2002)-A style of Muslim devotional music, now associated particularly with Sufis in Pakistan, characterized by a fervent, often improvisatory vocal delivery, accompanied on drums and harmonium.

Retweet(2015)-OnTwitter, an act or instance of posting a message, image, link, etc., originally posted by another user. (Tweet, {not the bird sense} was added in 2013.)

Roko(2010)-In India, a protest in which road or rail traffic is disrupted by a large group of demonstrators.

Sext(2015)-A sexually explicit or suggestive message or image sent electronically, typically using a mobile phone.(Not to be confused this the nicer sext: One of the daily offices, or canonical hours of prayer and worship, of the Western Church, traditionally said (or chanted) at the sixth hour of the day (about midday).

Sabo(2016)-In Singapore English, to harm, inconvenience, make trouble. Shortened form of sabotage.
Twerk(2015)-A sexually provocative dance involving thrusting movement of the butt and hips in a low squatting position.
Teh tarik(2016)-In Malaysian English and Singapore English, sweet tea with milk, prepared by pouring the liquid back and forth repeatedly between two containers so as to produce a thick foam on top.

Unsub(2016)-In law enforcement: a person of unknown identity who is the subject of a criminal investigation.

Udyog(2017)- In Indian English, a company or commercial enterprise, especially one involved in manufacturing.

Vaping(2015)-The action or practice of inhaling and exhaling the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

Videshi(2007)-In India: foreign; coming from a country other than India.

Weblog(2003)-A file containing a detailed record of each request received by a web server, frequently recording data that allows a variety of different aspects of the web traffic reaching that server to be analysed. Before long, this term was shortened to blog.

Wakizashi(2007)-A type of samurai  sword.

Xeriscape(2008)-To landscape an area in such a way as to minimize its need for irrigation, especially by using plants and features suited to a dry climate.

Xoloitzcuintli(2012)-The Mexican hairless dog. (Often shortened to xolo).
Yada yada(2006)-Indicating, usually dismissively, that further details are predictable or evident from what has preceded.

Yumcha(2016)-In Chinese contexts: a meal eaten in the morning or early afternoon, typically consisting of dim sum and hot tea.

Zeppelining(2014)-Moving in a manner of a Zeppelin(type of airship); to soar.

Zama zama(2015)-In South Africa, a person who works illegally in abandoned mine-shafts in order to retrieve metals, minerals, etc.

Happy 90th OED.

Richler’s latest book is Wordplay: Arranged and Deranged Wit.