Another international word tasting event was drawing to its conclusion. A few last lexical minutiae were being wrapped up; goodbyes and phone numbers were being exchanged. I was talking to Anne Wharton, of Buffalo.
“Next time I’m passing through, then,” I said, “I’ll give you a dingle.”
Ravi Ramakrishnan happened to be adjacent. “You will give her a wooded dell?” he said, leaning over from his conversation with Albert Denton. “The gift of geography! I know you Canadians have a surplus of it.”
Albert, who is from Sheffield, offered a correction. “A deep cleft between hills, rather, you mean.”
Ross Ewage’s ears are radars for opportunity, and he materialized instantly. “You two are fixated on the anatomy of the wrong sex,” he said. “A dingle is something only dudes have.” He looked at Anne. “He’s offering you a sex change.”
“I’m offering her a phone call,” I said, though of course all those present knew that already and were just being disingenuous.
“That’s a verb, lad,” Albert said. “Ding plus the frequentive suffix le.”
“There are plenty of verbs one may give a person,” I said. “Kick, slap, kiss, ring – of course those are all nouns too, but why shouldn’t dingle be allowed the same conversion?”
“And here I thaht you were affering me an Irish town,” Anne said.
“An Irish fort, perhaps,” said Ravi. “That Dingle is after all from the Irish Daingean Uí Chúis, ‘Ó Cúis’s fort.'” Ravi’s Irish was rather good – I made a mental note to ask him where he picked it up.
“Or you might well get some English characters,” Albert said. “The Dingles are a family in the popular British television series Emmerdale, set in West Yorkshire.”
“Emmerdale!” said Ross. “Well, we know what kind of place that must be, since the name looks like a blend of dale and emmerder, which is French for –”
Ravi cut him off. “We know what merde means in French, so we can work it out, thank you.”
“Maybe it should be Emmerdingle,” Anne said.
“Well,” Ross rejoined, “my point is that this farm seems like the kind of place they grow dingleberries.” He smirked.
Anne’s eyebrow raised. “They grow cranberries in Yorkshire?”
“That’s not the kind of dingleberries I think he has in mind,” Albert said. “These ones you might know as will-nots or clingons.”
“If you don’t mind,” Ravi said, “some of us intend to eat within the next twenty-four hours.”
“You will be relieved to know,” Ross said, “there’s yet another use for dingleberries, and in this case it’s for something that, among the group of us, only Anne has.”
“And so we return to anatomy,” I sighed. “Look, why don’t I just say that next time I’m in Buffalo I’ll look you up?” I glanced over at Ross and flinched slightly.
“In England,” Albert offered, “we’d say ‘I’ll knock you up.'”
Ross’s grin widened. I sighed, buried my face in my hand, and wished for a wooded valley I could go hide in.
Thanks to Jim Taylor for suggesting dingle.