Words

Vocabulary Lessons from Spam Comments

Writing posts in advance–it is a thing I am usually good at, but which I have utterly failed at this week. Lucky for me, when you’re pressed for time and need to write something, there’s always the handy contraption of spam comments to inspire and encourage you. In the past I’ve created spam comment-based poetry, but this time around when I was surveying my pickings, the first thing I noticed was how many of them featured words I didn’t know. Thus, today we’re going to have a lesson in vocabulary, inspired by my spam folder.

1. Casquette

Spam comment: “U.S. casquette Department of Defense…”

As the spelling implies, “casquette” is originally a French word, and might refer to a variety of hat or a type of trunk, but the far more interesting history is in its relationship to American colonialism. “Casquette girls” were a variety of French mail-order brides, collected from orphanages and convents, sent to French colonies in Louisiana in the early 1700s (including Mobile, Biloxi, and New Orleans) to marry settlers there. They differed from other varieties of mail-order brides at the time by being “virtuous,” a.k.a. virginal–most other imported brides were taken off the streets of Paris or out of correctional institutes, and usually had histories in prostitution and other such unsavory pastimes. The casquette girls were highly coveted, and many people now claim descent from them as a point of pride.

Relevance in spam comment: I don’t claim to know everything the DOD gets up to, but I don’t think early 1700s French orphan brides are part of their agenda. Gunna go with “irrelevant” here.

2. Accession

Spam comment: “I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.”

As it turns out, “accession” is quite a complex term with a whole slew of different meanings in different fields. Generally, it means “to acquire”, and most people associate it with property law, where it refers to property gains over time (ex: when receding water lines give you more land on your property, or when someone trespasses on your property and leaves something there, so it becomes part of your property as well). The term is also used in library and museum catalogs as well as biological research to mark and track new additions. Weirdly enough, the term can also mean “to join” in a few incredibly specific contexts: 1. succession to a throne (before coronation), 2. taking elected office, or inauguration, or 3. signing on to a treaty you did not help negotiate. Also it’s the title of an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Relevance in spam comment: …I mean, you can acquire capital via accession, but it has nothing to do with enjoying random articles posted for free on the internet, so I guess half points for trying?

3. Oligo Synthesizer

Spam comment: “There is no ‘Anbar Awakening, ‘ he said Afghan forces are on the group’s 12-channel oligosynthesizer and 3- and 4-channel thermal cyclers.”

The second I saw this word, I knew it would be something incredibly specific and utterly irrelevant to the rest of the spam comment, but I didn’t realize exactly how far-out it would be. “Oligo” is short for “oligonucleotide,” which is a short, single-strand DNA or RNA molecule made in a laboratory, used for a wide variety of genetics-related research and development. An “oglio synthesizer,” then, is a machine that makes oligonucleotides, like this one here. On a vaguely related note, I always find it strange to read about complicated, expensive and specific scientific instruments in a sales capacity, described as though they were a new vacuum or washing machine. Somebody ought to make an infomercial for this thing. I’d watch that.

Relevance in spam comment: Not even a little bit. You didn’t even try.

And finally, one word I found that is definitely not a word at all, but I liked it so I’m going to make up a definition for it:

Citize, v. – To learn new vocabulary by looking up words you don’t know that show up in spam comments.

Lexically yours,
M.M. Jordahl

“He is currently the third allegedly was arrested in North American citize!” -spam comment

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2 thoughts on “Vocabulary Lessons from Spam Comments”

  1. I actually knew about the casquette girls thing! But only because I watch The Originals (because sexy vampires), and it’s set in New Orleans, and they had a whole episode based around them (though they called it “Casket Girls” because puns).

    1. Historically relevant puns, though! They were called ‘casquette girls’ because of the trunks they brought with them, which were called casquettes. I wouldn’t be surprised if that word were either related to or a direct ancestor of the English “casket.”

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