The Jet and the Iceberg

“What about things that end in B-E-R-G?” C.J. asked. “Does that mean the same as B-U-R-G?”

A Lear Jet streaked overhead. It was emblazoned with letters as tall as Uncle Sam on stilts spelling out the name of Amira Khan’s boss lady. You couldn’t channel surf lately without smacking into the boss lady’s flapping gob, especially as you clicked through the cable channels she owned. She was going on about how the two major party candidates lacked the temperament to be president. Was she going to throw her hat in the ring as a third party candidate, or was she a stalking horse for someone else?

Was C.J. blushing?

“Sorry, what? Oh, yeah –berg. You mean like iceberg?” I asked, fingering the lettuce on my hamburger.

“Uh-huh, and names of places like Heidelberg and people like Heisenberg, Rosenberg and –”

“Right. Berg means ‘mountain’ or ‘hill’ in various Germanic languages. Dutch, German, Danish and Swedish all have words similar to iceberg, meaning a mountain of ice, not a walled city of ice, although that is an interesting image.English probably got the word from Dutch. Did you know the word barrow —

“Listen!” said C.J., grabbing my wrist. A red gash appeared on the back of his hand as the lipstick I was about to reapply slipped from my grasp. “Listen.” He lowered his voice. “I need you to report every etymology requested by Amira Khan or any other agent of Mrs. Big,” he said, nodding in the direction of her jet’s path.

“What’s it worth to you?” I asked as I restored the Jungle Red to my lips.

Laura as Lexie by J.B. Herman; Lipstick/hand using Flickr upload bot
Iceberg west of Ilulissat inlet, Greenland Photo: Uta Wollf, Rodebay (With permission)
This entry was posted in English language, etymology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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