Tag Archives: terminology


Earnings Before Interest in Taxes

Informant is an Accounting Major.

[So what does that (EBIT) mean?] It basically measures a company’s profitability and its calculated as the revenue minus the expenses but it does not include taxes or interest, it’s also known as operating profit. [What’s your relationship to this, this EBIT that you speak of?] (laughter) I am an accounting major, so therefor I have to look at a company’s EBIT and occasionally have to calculate it. It’s unfortunate, really. [Where did you first hear this, was it in a class-?] Yeah it was in my accounting class, BU8380 financial accounting I do NOT recommend anyone take that class, or any other accounting class (laughter). [Will it be that you’ll type it out or see it on a document-] I’ll see it, sometimes when people are talking about it, when it does come up, sometimes it’ll come up when you’re talking about companies profitability, yeah, that’s when it’ll come up. [Is this a term that is used more exclusively by accountants, or if you’re a business major and you hear EBIT you’ll know what someone’s talking about] Business majors should know [should know?] if they payed attention in class (laughter).

-Interview with Informant

The shortening of words is a longstanding practice. Humans are lazy by nature and so as time passes they will say and do things the easiest way they can. Often the way a person says a word changes as the vowel sound becomes the one easiest to make after the previous one in a word. For example the word for is often pronounced as “fer” in modern day, where as fifty years ago no one would have pronounced it that way. “Fer” is easier to say and more convenient than the defined “for”, so that’s how its said. Accountants are no exception to this. All of the different professions also have jargon, and whereas someone who is a Dornsife students probably would have no idea what EBIT was or even what it means once the words are said, a Vertibi student, or at least one that has taken an accounting course, would. The informant voiced a general dislike of their chosen study, which gives insight into the almost mandatory or inevitable nature of folklore. Despite their deep dislike of accounting, the informant cannot help but know the terms used frequently by accountants. Minor forms of folklore are often picked up without realizing or making a conscious effort to do so. When one frequently interacts with something or some group, they are bound to pick up the relevant lore.

“Way Nuff”: Rowing Slang

Main piece: There are a lot of terms in rowing that are kind of – I wouldn’t say “outdated” but they are kind of outdated, and they don’t really make sense – um, especially in a modern context, and with the technology we’re using now. Because a lot of the terms we use come from shipping and sailing and stuff like that, which obviously isn’t very relevant now, but it’s kind of stuck around. So like, instead of saying “stop” when we want the rowers to stop rowing, we say “weigh enough” (how much you weigh and then enough), so people will say that like “way nuff” or “way off” and that just kind of like dialect and where you are in the country. Because what terms you use sometimes differs from what country you’re in and [in the United States] what part of the country you’re in. So for example, I say “way nuff” because I’m from the East Coast, but a lot of people from Ohio will say “way noff” like that’s enough. 

I think it’s cause it’s just pretentious. Cause rowings’ pretentious. It’s kind of like traditionally a rich white sport, rowing isn’t accessible to many people cause you need to be by water, you need to be able to afford boats which are tens of thousands of dollars, literally. And then oars are expensive. The coxswain technology, like speakers and microphones, those are also very expensive. So it’s very expensive to start rowing. And then there are membership fees and stuff. So the whole thing is very classist. So I think that’s why a lot of the language is still outdated. And there’s a part of “if you know, you know” so like rowers will be talking about these different terms and terminologies in stories and things and unless you’ve rowed you won’t know what they’re saying and it’s kind of like a club. 

Background: KP is a sophomore coxswain for The Ohio State University rowing team. After coxing competitively in Maryland clubs for four years, she was recruited to cox at Ohio, which she has now done for two years. KP is a Korean-American woman, who would not describe her financial situation as affluent. 

Context: When asking KP about different rowing traditions, she dropped multiple slang terms, such as “unis” and boating terms such as “port” and “starboard”. When she finished recounting the story, I asked her about different terms she uses as a coxswain. She then prefaced her explanation of “way nuff” with the clarification that these things are often outdated. I then asked her why she and other rowers would use outdated terminology. 

Analysis: KP seems to believe that using this kind of terminology is for the purposes of exclusion, to isolate non-rowers as a part of its classist history. Even as rowing as a sport has largely moved away from those origins (especially on the non-competitive collegiate level, where anyone can participate), she finds that in the competitive rowing world, those kinds of terms are still used. However, this slang, as she says with “it’s kind of like a club”, also serves to bond the rowers who are in the know closer together, as they are able to tell stories and use slang terms without taking the time to explain themselves. Additionally, these slang terms can also be taught to new rowers or those who are entering the sport, and serve to cement those who are members, as they are then able to use the terms. Or, as KP said, “if you know, you know”. 


Main piece:


Transliteration in Italian: omarello, omino, ometto

Transliteration in English: little man

Translation: old man who is retired 

M.P.: This is a typical Bolognese expression, which indicates those old men who are like retired and spend their time looking at construction sites. In the common imaginary they are portrayed in their typical pose, with crossed hands behind their backs.

[gets up laughing and mimics the physical pose]

And yes, this word actually entered the slang of the city because it is sometimes used also as a…a sort of joking insult. Like if someone…I don’t know…If someone acts like an old man, or stops in front of building sites, or repeatedly walks with his hand crossed behind his back, friends will make fun of him saying things like “Do not act like an ummarell”. 


My informant is a 23 years old girl who was born in Bologna, Italy, and who is now getting her master degree in archaeology and Egyptology at the city’s university, and who got her bachelor degree in anthropology and oriental studies 2 years ago always at Bologna’s Alma Mater Studiorum. She does’t recall the exact place and time in which she learnt this word, and neither she remember the first source from which she heard this term, she just knows it is a fundamental part of her “folk-culture”, as she herself defined it.


I myself use a lot this word and my informant mentioned this piece while we were chatting at a restaurant in the city center of Bologna.


Something I have always found quite intriguing is the great amount of dialects present in the Italian peninsula. Every region has its own peculiar and proper dialectal speech, and while in some places, especially small towns, they are still spoken -particularly by the older generations-, in bigger cities, dialects have been transformed into slang and adapted to the official language, that is, Italian. In fact, every main city of every Italian region -there are 20 regions in Italy- has words that are typical to that city -or the surrounding area- only. In the majority of cases, these words are not used or even understood by people who do not belong to that community. 

Furthermore, these words tend to evolve from generation to generation, so it happens that only peer groups understand what is being said or meant through that term. 

In these ways, they can be said to perfectly reflect folklore’s definition of “multiplicity and variation”.

Ummarell, precisely, is one of these folk-terms as, deriving from the Emilian dialect, it’s used by people inside the colloquial lingo to represent not only the old retired men who stop at every building site they encounter -as the original meaning implies-, but also all those people who act in this way. 

It becomes an informal way of making fun of a person who act as an old man, or that has the same behavior of old retired man. In this way, a sort of generational division is created, as the youth makes fun of peers pejoratively associating it with the elderly. 

Additionally, it is also used to indicate those who are nosy and who, not having much to do in their spare-time, do useless stuff like watching construction sites and giving unrequested advices to the ones who are working.

Ultimate Frisbee Lingo

Main Piece:

J is a member of USC’s ultimate frisbee team. In Ultimate Frisbee there are many terms that are used during a game to talk about strategy, they are:

“Laying Out” is when you jump forward and go parallel to the ground to catch the disk

A “Bid” is when someone jumps to get a disk

A “Blade” is a frisbee that’s thrown really vertically

“Bookends” are when you block the disc from being caught by the other team, then you catch it to score a point

“Cutter” is the catcher, “handler” is the thrower

“Chilly” is what you say when you want someone to calm down and not just throw the disc immediately.


J is a sophomore at USC and a member of USC’s Ultimate Frisbee club team. He has competed on this team for two years and enjoys the sport very much. This was taken from a text chat with him discussing ultimate frisbee.


While at USC I had played with the Ultimate team for one semester before quitting to focus on other things. One thing I hadn’t learned are the terms above. I find that they would definitely be confusing to any new fan or player that has not heard of them before. The only term I knew from J’s list is “Chilly”. During one of the games I played in my one semester on the team, I remember people saying “Chilly” right people got the disc, and I was unfamiliar with what it mean. However, since it sounds similar to “chill” like “chill out” I understood that it meant to calm down. Other terms don’t make much sense to a new player like a “Bookend” for instance. How would one know that it is a term for blocking a disc? I think that this language reflects the culture of Ultimate Frisbee and its uniqueness as a sport as a whole.