Sunday, 26 June 2011

Chris Port Blog #286. Gull Etymology: Martyrs, Fools, and Exploding Shit (Gull's Guano)

© Chris Port, 26th June 2011

The dustbin-knocking gull has been mewling in steely Atlantic skies recently. After mugging a Staten Island pigeon for a chip*, he was asked to leave a deposit.

Many thanks to Support for publishing the first Gull's Guano

The booby’s face has been carefully edited to protect his identity.

(*Note for Americans: chip = french fry, or ‘cheese-eating surrender monkey’** fry).

(** Apologies to Francophiles for this shameless slice of rosbif teasing. If it’s any consolation, you’ve got Paris. I’d take a bit of teasing in return for “La Ville-Lumière”).

I had a few articles published yesterday (under the nom de mouette of Marty Gull) in an e-zine called Support Atheism is an international non-profit organization, based in the United States, with the following mission statement:

We created Support because we care about you. We care that becoming and being an atheist is horribly difficult in many families and communities. We care that young atheists (already suffering the hardships that come with growing up) are struggling with difficult celestial/existential questions, and this skepticism might not be popular with friends. We care whether the people and leaders within this world base their beliefs upon what can be determined most true and useful.”

My articles were published collectively under the sobriquet of “Gull’s Guano” (in the hope that further articles may become as regular as bowel movements).

As well as being a stroppy Laridae, “gull” is also a term for a “credulous person”.

It derives from the verb form, meaning “to dupe or cheat”, as in “to swallow”, as in “throat or gullet” (as in “someone who will swallow anything thrown at them”).

“Guano” is Spanish for “dung” from the South American “wanu”. Seagull shit used to be an important source of nitrates for gunpowder.

“Marty” (here) is just an abbreviated form of “martyr”.

So, in summary, “Marty Gull” (or Gull’s Guano”) is all about martyrs, fools, and exploding shit.

Marty is also a bit of a booby (from the Spanish “bobo”, meaning “stupid person, slow or ungainly bird”, probably originating from the Latin “balbus”, meaning “stammering”).

“Booby” can also be used in relation to worthless prizes given to losers (“booby prize”), and also schoolboy pranks (“booby trap”). It developed a more lethal connotation during the First World War (back to explosives again…)

The more pleasant “boobs” or “boobies” (breasts) have a completely different etymology. You can look this up for yourselves...

See also: Gull's Guano #2 - A Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mice 

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