A Fastened Rate.

From Violet Blue’s Engadget piece on the new (or at any rate threatened) corporate vileness of implanting their employees with RFID microchips for security purposes:

“As well as restricting access to controlled areas,” The Telegraph said, “microchips can be used by staff to speed up their daily routines. For instance, they could be used to quickly buy food from the canteen, enter the building or access printers at a fastened rate.”

As Jonathan Morse, who sent me the link, said:

“Fasten” in the sense of “speed up”? You (or anyway I) saw it here first. But I think I remember reading about a trick question that used to be asked as part of the plebe ritual at Annapolis: “What is the fastest ship in the Navy?” This turned out to be a Spanish-American War vessel that had been moored fast to its dock for decades.

Actually, it must have been so used before, given people’s linguistic creativeness (or, if you like, sloppiness), but I don’t remember seeing it, and I certainly don’t care for it. Jon adds:

If “fasten” is acquiring a new sense meaning “speed up,” isn’t it also acquiring a new pronunciation, with the T no longer silent?

That seems likely, but I leave it to the Varied Reader to weigh in on these matters.


  1. Festinate lently, I always say.

  2. The Case of the Missing Copyeditor. Not one of the most interesting plot devices. Maybe the author was thinking of “heightened”, and maybe not. The rest of the article does not qualify her as a prose wizard.

    But how could a chip enable someone to get faster access to a printer ? There is only one way compatible with the laws of physics – when it stands in the corridor next to your office door.

  3. Fasten? I’m furious.

  4. It would have to be enfasten to be just as cromulent as embiggen.

  5. David Marjanović says

    …I had always assumed that fasten went with listen in dropping the /t/ from the /stn/ cluster…

    German: fest “firm(ly)”, dialectal fest rennen “run with a lot of effort”.

  6. Stu Clayton says

    Non-dialectal festrennen 1. “pile up” , 2. “get bogged down”.

    1. Das Flußeis hat sich in grossen Massen festgerannt
    2. Sie hat sich in der Sache festgerannt, sie weiß nicht, was jetzt tun

  7. The rest of the article does not qualify her as a prose wizard.

    The quote was from the Torygraph, so she’s not responsible for it.

  8. David Marjanović says

    fest rennen and festrennen are a beautiful minimal pair for stress!

    1. Das Flußeis hat sich in grossen Massen festgerannt

    Flusseis, großen

  9. Stu Clayton says

    I reject the spelling reforms, and claim idemnity on many of their currently proclaimed “errors”. I still write bißchen, for example, ’cause I’m older than 1996.

    Do you write aufwändig ?

  10. Stu Clayton says

    In principal I’m not agin’ spelling reforms, especially for English. The problem is that there are more Prinzipienreiter (dogmaniacs) than reasonable people, so I hesitate to go down any of the garden paths offered. I once fondly believed that the common enemy is the people who produce expressions such as “access to fastened printers”, but even that is disputed.

    There is no balm in Gilead, after the discovery that it had been tested on animals.

  11. David Marjanović says

    I reject the spelling reforms

    But you’re not in Switzerland, so it’s großen both before and after the reform.

    Do you write aufwändig ?

    I don’t actually think I’ve ever needed to write that word, interestingly enough. But pretty much everywhere where the reform officially leaves a choice, I stick with the older form. For instance, Auto fahren goes against a long trend, so I’m agin’ it.

  12. Stu Clayton says

    But you’re not in Switzerland, so it’s großen both before and after the reform.

    I don’t read spelling reform documents. I do read texts by German, Swiss and Austrian writers on more interesting topics. I learned my orthography from the texts I read, yet to some extent I accomodate it to the people I correspond with on a daily basis. It’s hard to know what to do, so I do as I see fit from one moment to the next. As most everyone else does, apart from those who enjoy prolonged fits of being right.

    As I see it in the pond, the German spelling reforms have only muddied the waters, giving more peevers opportunities to fish. Nobody is ever satisfied, and more so now. The only serious implications are for grading in schools.

    I don’t get upset when followers of fashion and decrees write “dass” and “aufwändig”. I merely indulge in an inward smirk.

    I’ll try to remember große, except when I’m in Switzerland.

    I think I have only one long-term peeve, although it’s one I don’t go on about: beinhalten. I just don’t use it, ever.

  13. Stu Clayton says

    GT renders “access to printers at a fastened rate” as Zugriff auf Drucker zu einem festgelegten Preis. Pretty good for a bunch of algorithms !

  14. Stu Clayton says

    More surprises ! Trying just now to assess a FB claim that Marco Polo “discovered” risotto (in China?), I learned in the WiPe that risotto is traditionally a side dish to osso buco. This is made from Kalbshachse. Pressing the link gives:

    # Die Kalbshachse (süddeutsch Kalbshaxe) #

    Never ever have I seen “Hachse”. I’ll survive it, but WTF ?

  15. Trying to look that up, I noticed havariert ‘damaged.’ An odd word; it’s apparently from Italian avaria, so where did that h- come from?

  16. David Marjanović says

    The transition period was 1998–2005, and I was still in school in early 2000, so I was taught the reform quite explicitly.

    I agree on the confusion, though. Reasons I can see:

    – The reformers tried to have a few more things implemented, and then backpedalled to also allow the old forms at the last minute before the reform was implemented (like, in 1997, if not 1998).
    – Just about everyone was so confused about ß vs. ss (in part because the old rule seems never to have been taught as such – I’ve talked about this before), so hardly anyone expected things could be made any simpler.
    – Add the complete lack of democratic input, and the reform was unpopular enough that a few large newspapers that had switched to the reformed spelling around 1998 switched back later in the transition period, shortly before noticing that everyone else had switched and that ignoring the reform just made them look silly.

    Never ever have I seen “Hachse”. I’ll survive it, but WTF ?

    I’ve seen it about once, and it makes etymological sense… but…

  17. David Marjanović says

    Wiktionary teaches me that Havarie is stressed à la française; knowing the word only from reading, I had imagined it in a more Latinate shape (second-syllable stress, separate -e)…

    Mitte des 16. Jahrhunderts vermittelt von niederländisch averij → nl und niederdeutsch haverye vom französischen avarie → fr entlehnt, das über italienisch avaria → it auf arabisch ʿawārīya „durch Meerwasser beschädigte Ware“ zurückgeht; heutige Form statt älterem Haverey in Anlehnung ans Französische seit dem 19. Jahrhundert[1]

    “Borrowed, through mediation of Dutch averij and Low German haverye, from French avarie, which goes back, via Italian avaria, to Arabic ʿawārīya “goods damaged by seawater”; current form instead of older Haverey modeled on French since the 19th century”

    So, the H is made up, perhaps as a hypercorrectivism for the H-dropping of West Flemish; and this is one of the reborrowed words that had a diphthongization undone, like ParadeisParadies.

    The modern meaning is “grave accident, usually at sea”. One of the worst possible names for a ship, seen in a Clever & Smart (Mortadelo y Filemón) comic, is Havaria II.

  18. Christian Weisgerber says

    The blame for the initial h in Havarie goes to the Dutch who mixed avarij from French with their haven because the word was used in seafaring contexts. This form then made its way into Low German and German.

    If you are looking for the etymology of a German word and can read German, may I point you to DWDS.de, where most word entries also have an etymology section taken from Pfeifer.

  19. Stu Clayton says

    statt älterem Haverey. Duden posits a rule to wave this through. Can you guess what it is ? I’ll stick with statt des älteren. One less codicil to cope with.

  20. David Marjanović says

    Thanks – as usual, the Wiktionary article links to the DWDS entry; I should have clicked through.

    Duden posits a rule to wave this through. Can you guess what it is ?

    I have the dative with statt natively, so I didn’t notice. In this case, however, there’s an additional complication: if you want to keep the article-less form (in this… what used to be called telegraphic style), the genitive would be älteres, and that would look like the neuter accusative, inviting interpretation as an incomplete sentence where a verb that requires the accusative (nehmen, sehen…?) is missing before people would even consider the genitive.

    This is also why some nouns are denied their dative singular forms in newspaper headlines: words with a dat. sg. in -en (Soldat for instance) also form the entire plural in -en, and in the absence of an article (dem/einem exclusively dat. sg.) misunderstandings are bound to occur.

  21. Now look up the etymology of average.

  22. Stu Clayton says

    # “Few words have received more etymological investigation” [OED]. #

    Just the ticket for a comment thread languishing on a spong.

  23. About “älteres”: For me, the article-less genitive form would be not “älteres” but either “statt älteren {feminine noun goes here}s” (neutral gender, because we’re not talking about the thing but about the word for the thing) or, if you were to allow the word’s femininity to spread to the meta level, “statt älterer {feminine noun goes here}”. (I think article-less style uses the same forms as are used for uncountable mass nouns, such as “aufgrund älteren Wassers” or “aufgrund älterer Milch”, but never “aufgrund älteres {noun}”.) The first of these two gives “Havereys”, inviting problems because readers of the dictionary users would be prone to mistake the genitive -s for a part of the word itself, especially if typography does not clearly set the two apart from each other.

  24. I initially misparsed “threatened” in “the new (or at any rate threatened) corporate vileness” to mean the same as in “threatened species”.
    Festrennen, without context, sounds like festive running to me, think Großes Festrennen der Nikoläuse (und Nikoläusinnen?).

  25. “Fasten” in the sense of “speed up”?

    Doesn’t this just show that the derivation is still active in English?

  26. Trune: No, any more than the existence of Vaxen, boxen, Emacsen shows that the n-declension, already moribund in Old English, is still productive today.

  27. David Marjanović says

    Now look up the etymology of average.

    Would not have occurred to me, thanks!

    festive running

    Yes – that would be the fest- of Latin origin instead of the native one… Bonus points for Nikoläusinnen.

  28. Sorry, “readers of the dictionary users” should read “readers of the dictionary”.
    Also, “statt älterem” escaped me as well, because I accept all genderscases.

  29. Stu Clayton, what is there to peeve about with beinhalten, or with the way people use it, as long as bein- is not pronounced with a diphthong? Is it how forms like Das beinhaltet … defy the umlaut (er hält) of related verbs?

  30. David Marjanović says

    Perhaps just that it’s a Mongolian-style verb > noun > verb derivation (halten “hold” > Inhalt “contents” > beinhalten “contain, include”) when the much simpler enthalten would do nicely.

  31. Ah, thanks. I had briefly considered that possibility (I didn’t know this is Mongolian; I think Korean has also ceased production of verb stems), but enthalten, beinhalten and einschließen all have nicely different meanings, justifying having separate words for them.

  32. Stu Clayton says

    That’s it, David. Plus “beinhalten” always conjures the incongruous image of a dog propping a leg against a wall.

    Nothing of value or substance is lost by rejecting the word.

  33. David Marjanović says

    all have nicely different meanings

    The meanings overlap enough that I can’t come up with an example where only beinhalten would work right now.

    I brought up Mongolian because it’s famous for making long words by deriving back & forth between nouns and verbs several times. I don’t know much more than that about Mongolian, and have no idea about Korean.

  34. I see.

    The meanings overlap enough that I can’t come up with an example where only beinhalten would work right now.

    Yes. I think what I wrote is wrong. I think you could always replace it with either enthalten, umfassen(,) or einschließen, but I think beinhalten is so entrenched that there are cases where it is the most obvious choice. For example, I think beinhalten is much more often used with dass than einschließen.
    SC: I see, thanks.

  35. The /t/ is gradually returning to “often”, but I have heard the t in “soften” only once, from a Scot.

  36. There’s an older Jewish gentleman on the ‘Net yarning (wrote yearning!) a long anecdote with the word ‘penis’ in it that is, actually, expressed with a word than may have been Yiddish. He never moved a muscle in his face. He had me cracked up and rolling in the aisles, I tell ya.

    Anybody comes up with the clip, send it my way, will ya?

Speak Your Mind