Shampoo, Uxbridge English, skiing and Montenvers

Last night, suddenly, I thought what a funny/peculiar word shampoo is; like you do . (It is possibly even funnier in French – shampooing.) So I decided to see what its origin is. Well, it turns out to originate from the Hindi word champi, the imperative form of champna meaning to press. According to one source ( the word first appeared in English print in 1762 in the sentence “Had I not seen several China merchants shampooed before me, I should have been apprehensive of danger.”  This rather strange sentence can be readily understood when one realises that a “shampoo” was originally a full, forceful, all-body massage that ended with a hair wash. It appears that by the 1860s the word shampoo had come to be associated only with hair washing.

I then thought that shampoo would be a good word for the Uxbridge English Dictionary. This is a game from the radio programme “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue”, where new definitions are applied to words. Hence

Shampoo – A spurious imitation turd

Other examples that I found recently are :-

  •  aerobic – a chocolate biro
  • senile – something to do in Egypt
  • already – to suffer from really bad sunburn
  • analogy – something you react to badly that makes you itchy and sneezy
  • animate – to be much too fond of your pets
  • chinchilla – an air-conditioned beard
  • brouhaha – a jolly cup of tea
  • arsenic – to steal buttocks
  • frugal – an internet search engine for fruit

Enough already! Today was another glorious sunny day. Mrs D and I went fairly early to Les Houches. The snow was in good nick until around lunch time when the slush took over and we called it a day. On Friday I had an enjoyable morning skiing at Grands Montets; more busy than recently but still good snow to be found. The Lavancher off piste was particularly good at the top.

Then I joined Mrs D for a train ride from Chamonix to Montenvers.

The Montenvers station stands at 1913m and overlooks the Mer de Glace. The rack and adhesion railway was completed in 1909, and was powered by steam engines until 1953. It is now electric. From the station, we watched people like ants, finishing the Vallee Blanche and then climbing the 400 steps up to the station. When first built, there were probably no steps needed to get up from the glacier to the station. This just shows how much the glacier has shrunk since then. The current rate of shrinkage is an average of 5m depth per year. Every year they must need to add another 20 or so steps. 

In my view.  the Vallee Blanche is just becoming too popular and not being treated with sufficient respect by skiers and snowboarders. Recently a father and son fell into a crevasse and had to phone home to get someone to phone the emergency services to get them out. Obviously they were not being guided. They had a lucky escape because a few days ago a Canadian mountain guide skied over a snow bridge which collapsed, and he died after falling into a crevasse. He probably suffocated in the powder snow at the bottom of the crevasse. A helicopter winched out his body. For those that do not know, the Vallee Blanche is an unpisted ski run of between 17 and 20km long, estimates vary, with a descent of over 2500m. It is very popular, with as many as 2500 people per day doing the run. Most people stop skiing at Montenvers and take the train down to Chamonix. But it is possible to ski to Chamonix, although this is mostly on a walking track so is a bit of an anticlimax after the wide expanse of the Mer de Glace. Also at this time of year there will be no snow cover on much of the track so a longish walk will be needed.

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4 Responses to Shampoo, Uxbridge English, skiing and Montenvers

  1. Mrs D. says:

    I wonder how much shampoo lotion is needed to create the head-full sported by the chap above. And I wonder if, when his lather was at its maximum, a wind machine was switched on behind the bath. The wonders of modern photography…

  2. It’s truly amazing how many English words originate in Hindi, and how many Standard American English words are derived from indigenous American languages. Although we often think about the Germanic, French and Latin influences on the language, much of our language is derived from the age of Empire. Quite a fun post!

    • seclectic says:

      Thanks for your comments. I try to always have something fun in my posts. The origins of words can be quite fascinating I think.

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