And they call the wind Mariah

No, really, who is the Santa, and who are the critters? And what are they taking turns at?

(And is this one of those “It would be perfectly clear to you if you just had the first clue about popular culture” cases?)

Yes, this appeared on Christmas Sunday. Yes, I know there is a performer named Mariah Carey. Is this what she looks like?


  1. I know people who say “ROW-bit”. As for the original pronunciation, my dad was fluent in Czech and I seem to recall him saying it was more like “rah-BOT” in the original. He passed in 2006, alas, but I’ve written to some friends of his in Prague who will know, if their email addresses are still valid.

  2. The American-English word “robot” traces ancestry to the Czech word “robot” but is not the same word and thus does not necessarily have the same pronunciation for English speakers. We’re Americans, we take words from other languages and make them our own. Once they’re our words, they’re OUR words.

  3. James: Certainly. Good point, obvious to those of us whose parents were linguists, but not to everyone I’m sure!

  4. Once they’re our words, they’re OUR words.

    Very true. But I still try not to say “chaze lounge”.

  5. “English doesn’t borrow from other languages. It follows them down dark alleys and takes what it wants.”

  6. Well, if we’re going to bring up J. D. Nicoll’s saying, I insist on a near version (not sure if the exact one would cause a problem with the filter):

    The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse [lady of the evening]. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.

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