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Words, Aug. 28 

Yngle all the way:

The Olympics are good for teaching us new words. It was during a Winter Olympics some years back that America learned about the luge. And it changed the way we live.

Poring over the results of the current competition, I saw that a British team had won the gold medal in “Women's Yngling.” Surely a misprint, I thought, but then I looked it up.

Random House says that Yngling is from Scandinavian mythology and refers to a member of a royal family of Sweden and Norway. But the Olympics wouldn't have an event just for the members of one family, would they? Especially if the family wasn't real.

For all its shortcomings, Wikipedia can handle questions like this:

“An Yngling (pronounced ‘ING-ling') is a type of sailing boat that the International Yngling Association calls an ‘agreeable cross between a planing dinghy and a keelboat.' … It was designed in 1967 by Jan Herman Linge … Linge wanted to build a keelboat for his young son, and thus named it Yngling, the Norwegian word for ‘youngster'; the name is unrelated to the House of Yngling.”

 

“Barack Obama accused John McCain of waging a ‘cynical' campaign, attempting to ‘distract voters from the real issues' with commercials comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and accusations that Obama is playing the race card.”

The race card has become a key element of the presidential contest, as both sides have been accused of playing it. Doing so is considered unsportsmanlike if not downright dishonest, evidently. To play the race card is to bring the issue of race or racism into a contest. A person who exploits racial prejudice to his own advantage plays the race card, and so does a person who falsely alleges that his opponent is using racial prejudice against him. Race card is derived from orange card, used in British politics of the 19th century. When a British official played the orange card, he roused Irish Protestants, who were pro-British, against Irish Catholics, who were not. The Protestants were called Orangemen “because of their adhesion to William III of the House of Orange.”  

 

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