Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rude Goblin

The editorial footnotes to THE RICHARD BURTON DIARIES are relentless and picayune. "Bangs: a hairstyle involving fringes across the forehead," one informs us. When Burton mentions Sammy Davis, Jr., the footnote says, "entertainer." But occasionally there's a useful one. Burton records a conversation about the origin of the word pumpernickel, which he claims has something to do with Napoleon's horse. The footnote contradicts him. "This story is not true: the name comes from the German words pumpern (to break wind) and Nickel (goblin)." So I guess all you brainiacs already knew that pumpernickel was named after a farting goblin - pardon my French! - but it was news to me.