Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Apparently I'm out of the loop

These days, words seem to change faster even than technology. I was at Forbes trying to read Adam Ozimek amid all the flashy things on the screen. In the sidebar, Star Wars caught my eye:

Star Wars, and the bare arms below it:

How to make your side...

My side?

How to make your side hustle...

Hustle? I was expecting something like How to make your side pain go away...

Does my side hustle? Does my side not hustle enough? Who is on my side? Is this a Conservative/Liberal thing?

All this goes thru my mind before I get to the next word. When I read, I try to assemble the meaning as I go. I don't wait till I get to the end, then gather up the pieces and try to fit them together. I try to make sense of what I'm reading as I go.

Maybe not everybody does that.

How to make your side hustle your main hustle...


...from a woman who did it.

Oh! A "side hustle" is something you do. Okay. They mean like a business. How to make your side business into your main business. Yeah, that makes sense now.

What a lot of work this is, for nothing.

Did you see me pause there? Pause and say "yeah" and wait, and not try to guess what they were talking about? They forced me to wait to the end, then try to fit the pieces together in order to understand what they said.

It was "side hustle" that did it. It's a new word, new to me. I didn't get the meaning. Maybe if they flagged the term by putting it in quotes it would have been easier to figure the meaning. But hell no! That would ruin the effect. The effect is achieved by going with the flow, new term, new word, new phrase, run with it.

Run with it. Otherwise you're out of the loop ...

I can't even guess what the new speak might be, for "out of the loop".

They forced me to wait to the end, by using unfamiliar new terminology. Side hustle. Who knew? They could have put it in quotes. Or they could have made it into one word: sidehustle. Or side-ussle maybe, the way people would say it.

For sure, nobody has time for an "H" these days.

// here's the interesting part

So anyway our new word si'dussle comes from the English hustle. Google lists a few meanings for hustle, including:

1. to "force (someone) to move hurriedly", or
2. to "obtain by forceful action or persuasion."

The latter sense of the term is "North American informal" and includes three branches:

2a. to "coerce or pressure someone into doing or choosing something."
2b. to "sell aggressively."
2c. to "obtain by illicit action; swindle; cheat."

Coerce to action, sell aggressively, swindle and cheat. Given these related meanings, it is interesting to observe that the word "hustle" has come to mean "business".

That reminds me of the archaic meaning of invest: to "surround (a place) in order to besiege or blockade it." That's a good match to the current meaning: to "devote (one's time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result."

Yeah, by "a worthwhile result" they don't mean something like a hobby. They mean something like a takeover.

// on a related note

On a related note, our word business comes from the Old English busyness.

Busyness is to hustle as business is to sidussle.

Google shows similar usage patterns for "business" and "hustle". Increase since the latter 1800s, peak around the Great Depression, reaching bottom around 1970 or 1980, and then increase resumes:

I can't help thinking those patterns bear some relation to this one:

There are lags, of course. "Long and variable" lags.

When I read, I try to assemble the meaning as I go. When I write, I try to make it so you can do the same. I don't want you to have to stop and back up and try to work things out. It's my job as writer to do that part. When you read what I wrote, I want it to go down easy. In the struggle to convey information, that's half the battle.

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