Sunday, January 28, 2007

Decider, revisited

The New York Times has a nice widget (anything on the origin of that word?) that allows you to search for specific words in Bush's State of the Union Addresses and that represents the numbers and hits visually. It also shows you the words in context.

It looks like this -- well, the red dots marking the search term may not be very visible in this screenshot.

For a decider, Bush surely doesn't use the verb decide very often. It occurs exactly once, and he puts the burden of the decision on the nation's shoulders: "Today, having come far in our historical journey, we must decide: Will we turn back, or finish well?" (2006, Paragraph 69/72)


Joe said...

Cool -- I played with that widget but it never occurred to me to check for 'decider'!

'Widget' looks obscure historically. OED suggests that it's possibly a variant of 'gadget' but that too looks obscure, an old sailor's term. Of course with a word like that, you get lots of fun speculation. In a couple minutes I found:

< which it (presumably for 'widget')
< 'window gadget'
< 'wifflow-gadget'

Stumblerette said...

I just looked up the first documented source (American Speech, 1931, p. 259) -- in an article on "American indefinite names". There are some other nice words on that list: diddledyflop, fumadiddle, hoofenpoofer, snivvie, dudelheimer [aside: sounds like pure Loriot, you know, the German humorist], and also gadget, whatsit, whoozit, . The article says that "gadget" was an importation from England and it seems to be the leading word. I really only use it for dudelheimers with some tech-appeal.