Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shooting geezers

I've become addicted to the Naked Scientist podcast, and have been listening to it on my commutes, and learning all sorts of interesting things.

Yesterday morning was my very early start, so I was not feeling very alert when I started my commute. Near the beginning of the podcast, where they do a sort of roundup of the week's science news, I heard something about the Cassini spacecraft discovering things about a moon of Saturn called Enceladus, then I missed a few seconds as the train went over a noisy bit, and then the guy said something like,

"So there's this geezer shooting up from the surface..."

And then there was another noisy bit and the guy added something about the geezer ending up at the south pole of the moon.

I wondered whether I had in fact woken up at all. Was I dreaming this podcast? This was supposed to be a SCIENCE show, but was sounding like something my sleeping brain would make up. I looked around sharply, to see if anything else looked a bit off. There's generally something that gives things away when I'm dreaming. Everything seemed pretty normal, though.

So I went back a bit and listened again, and finally realized he was talking about a GEYSER.

When I got to work I wrote the word down on a bit of paper and went around the teachers' room telling people to pronounce it. The Americans pronounced it the way I do (guy-ser) and the Australian wasn't quite sure, but thought it was gay-ser. The English bloke, however, said, geezer. We all told laughed and told him he was wrong unless he was talking about himself. But then another English bloke arrived and confirmed his pronunciation, and just now I looked it up on Oxford, and sure enough, the British English pronunciation of geyser is geezer, and the American, guy-ser. The word comes from the Icelandic word Geysir.

How funny. Why do I pronounce it the American way? Have I been around Americans too long? Can any Kiwis out there tell me how I should be pronouncing it?

I was glad it turned out I wasn't dreaming, anyway. It would have been too annoying to have to get up early twice in one day. I've done it before. The time I did it before I got up, got ready, had breakfast, caught the train, walked up to the university, and was halfway through my first class before something alerted me to the fact that something funny was going on. At that point I catapulted out of bed and had to do the whole morning routine again, only without breakfast. That was no fun at all.


Radioactive Jam said...

So... a dream breakfast leaves you hungry? That's counterintuitive.

kenju said...

Funny! Both the dream and the word "geezer".

Lucy said...

after living in the US for a couple of years and having 2 iceland-obsessed english friends, I have no idea how I ought to be pronouncing the word, either.

BobCiz said...

Geezer, guy-ser, no matter how you say it, it is still an eruption.

The Editter said...

Generally we kiwis follow British rather than American pronunciation, but I can confirm that we do indeed say guy-za. Perhaps in this instance we are following the Icelandic pronunciation??

StyleyGeek said...

I'm a kiwi who says "guy-za" too. But I'm pretty sure the Icelandic word would be pronounced "gay-see-er" or possibly even "yay-see-er" (Disclaimer: I'm basing this entirely on my knowledge of Swedish, Danish and Old English!)

So I think in this case we might have to admit that we are following the Mericans, folks :S

tinyhands said...

You're spending too much time around Americans? Good heavens, NO!