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Postal code for Saxony (Sachsen in German), one of the sixteen states (Länder) of the German Federal Republic (FRG). [Like most of the country information in this glossary, Germany's is at the domain code .de.]

Its area is 18,413 sq. km. I admit this is not a very interesting fact, but it's a datum that doesn't change as fast as the population, so there's less updating for me to do. Just for historical interest, the population of Saxony was estimated at 4,538,000 for 1997. The capital of the state, through various forms of government, has been and continues to be Dresden.

The names Saxony and Sachsen (and Anglo-Saxon, for that matter) come from the German people called Saxons, whose name is supposed to be derived from the Old German sahsa, `dagger,' the weapon they favored in battle. (In contrast with Germanni, I guess, who favored the gari, `spear.') The Finnish name for German is Saksa, from Saxon.

In Latin, German was Germanus. It was a pun on germanus, which meant `sibling.' (The word apparently evolved from germen, `seed, germ.') Just like English, Latin has distinct words for sibling, brother (frater, a cognate) and sister (soror). I guess a co-ed frat should be a germanity. In fact, there was a Latin word germanitas, which we would render as ``germanity,'' and which had a meaning like that. Germanitas was synonymous with fraternitas, and these words had the sense of our word fraternity in the abstract rather than the ``Greek'' sense.

Like English and Latin, German also has a distinct word for sibling (Geschwister) in addition to Bruder and Schwester. The situation in Latin is not quite parallel to that in these Germanic languages, however. Latin nouns have grammatical gender, as German does. However, gender in Latin typically (as in this instance) is systematically related to (and frequently identifiable from) an interchangeable morphology of suffixes. The history of grammatical gender, or more generally noun classes, is quite involved. Old High German (the highland German that became modern German) and Old English (Anglo-uh, Saxon, evolved from lowland or ``Low German'' languages) had more extensive gender, with inflections marking the nouns as well as their modifiers. None of that is left in English, and very little in German. In Latin, however, the system was sufficiently visible in the morphology that it was easy to preserve a distinction between natural gender (like, male in the case of brother, understand?) and grammatical gender (the ship, she is ready for Mr. sea). Now the Romans weren't silly about this, and with a few traditional exceptions, nouns with a natural gender had the same grammatical gender. Frater, for example, was male. Siblings, on the other hand, come in at least two flavors. As it happens, the Latin sibling word is grammatically male. (The corresponding German word Geschwister is female.)

But there's more. When a word functions as an adjective, it must assume a gender consistent with that of the noun. It must ``agree'' with the noun. (From the linguistic point of view, it is the requirement of agreement that defines noun classes in the usual sense.) In a word like germanus (or Germanus), the male and female forms are distinguished. Thus, the male adjective form (identical with the noun) occurs in one Latin translation of brotherly love: germanus amor because amor is male. (I'm not going to try to make the argument that this is an instance of of natural gender, but it can be related to the fact that the personification of Eros or Amor is male.) On the other hand, a female noun like caritas (`expensiveness'; it evolved to have the usual sense of `dearness') demands a female form: germana caritas for `brotherly high price' or something. Caritas is the origin of our word charity (Middle English charite, from the Old French word used in the sense of `Christian love'; charity is caridad in Spanish). And they say that money is the root of all evil. They should be poor and they'll know better. Another female example is malignitas, so germana malignitas would be `brotherly spite' or `brotherly stinginess.' Gee, those Romans took a very practical approach to affections. (I mean ``practical'' here in the subcontinent sense, as explained at the efectivo entry.) I'm not going to go on like this endlessly. I'm not even going to inflict so much as a pocket dictionary of nouns, but I will mention that there's a neuter form (e.g., germanum odium -- more `brotherly spite,' just to be fair and balanced).

I know, I know: you're sorry you asked. But take heart -- the end of the entry is scrolling into view! The point of introducing the differently gendered (in a non-modern sense) forms of germanus was to show that there was of necessity a female form germana parallel to it. So the Romans put that to good use as a substantive (i.e what we call noun, q.v.) as well as an adjective. But they already had a word for sister. Instead, germana came to mean `own sister,' and then, of course, germanus had to mean `own brother,' and germanum `own palm-pilot.'

That's the order in which it happened. I know because I was there at the time. You can find most of the meanings in a dictionary, or even a glossary. Then again there's disagreement. Etymology, shmetymology. It turns out that the affective sense of caritas (and its etymon carus) may well have been the principal sense before the pecuniary sense. The word has an identifiable root in Proto-Indo-European: *ka (earlier *ke). That's supposed to have meant `love.' Sounds a bit curt to me. Not mellifluous enough. Other cognates include (through a circuitous route through Old Norse) the English word whore. Okay, even setting aside phonology, maybe that's not the best example. It still seems to have a, dare I say it, meretricious element. Okay, better example: Sanskrit kama, as in the title of the work Kama Sutra (vide cama). Here kama definitely means `love,' or, er, maybe just `desire.' Hmmm. All I can say is, LOVE STINKS! Love stinks -- yeah, yeah! Come to think of it, I can probably say other things.

The history of germanus is not uncontroversial either. In addition to the meanings given above, the adjective was widely used with the meaning of `genuine.' Most references I've consulted regard that as a transferred sense, although it's not obvious how. Corominas y Pascual takes the position that `genuine' was the original meaning, and that the meaning `brother' arose from expressions like frater germanus. That halps explain the connection between the different senses of germanus, but leaves germen out in the cold.

If this were an entry for germanus, rather than for the Saxony postal code, I would probably at least mention the Spanish word hermano, and Herman, and the Hermits. Hermano and hermana are the Spanish words for `brother' and `sister,' derived from the ablative forms of germanus.

Herman is a Germanic given name (so maybe I should call it a Vorname). Judging from the fact that Herr Mann means `Mr. Man' in modern German, and her man means whatever it means in English, I'd would have to say that Herman (and related names like Hermann in German and Ermanno in Italian) means `He-man.' But I would be wrong. Not that I'd be alone in error. Back in the nineteenth century, the names Herman and Hermann had a spurt of popularity in the US, UK, and Germany. This seems to have had to do with the belief that the name was an alternate form of Armin, called Arminius by Tacitus. Armin (d. 21 CE) led the Cherusci to a tremendous victory against Roman armies at Teutoburgerwald (`German fortress forest'?) in 9 CE, after which Rome pretty much abandoned efforts to establish control east of the Rhine. A Dictionary of First Names (Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, 1990) has somewhat contradictory claims about the Armin-Hermann connection (at the Hermann and Armin entries). I'm going to assert firmly that they're not closely related, because such a vague claim, within the uncertain field of etymology, is virtually impossible to falsify. There is wide agreement, for whatever that might be worth, that Hermann is derived from the Germanic roots hari (`army') and man (`man'). That sort of brings us back to the beginning of the entry. (Remember sahsa?)

Well, as long as I've mentioned Armin, I should mention Arnim (clean your glasses). Lady von Arnim was a good friend of Goethe, and her son was one of the last visitors to his deathbed. I recall this from Eckerman's book (no, I didn't give bibliographical information on the book earlier in this entry; you should simply be familiar with the book; see the SAH entry). Arn occurs in Yiddish as a shortened form of Aaron, and if the plural were formed in Hebrew it would be Arnim. This is most likely just a coincidence, but since I don't know the actual etymology of Arnim, you're stuck. (There's also an English Arn -- like Arnie, short for Arnold -- but I don't know how to stick im in there.) Okay, okay! Enough about Saxony, already!


(Domain code for) Sénégal. Here's a list of (other) servers from Telecom-Plus.

{Sequence | Serial} Number.

S/N, S-N
Signal-to-Noise. Vide SNR.

Stannum. This is the Late Latin name for tin, atomic number 50. Before the sixth century, stannum referred to an alloy of silver and lead. (It's not exactly a naturally occurring alloy, but it's natural the term should arise: silver was extracted as an impurity from galena, a lead sulfide.)

You might wonder what tin was called in Latin before it was called stannum. Bronze (a copper-tin alloy) was very important in ancient times (and it was not abandoned when the Iron Age succeeded the Bronze Age), so you might think the Romans might have a distinctive name for it (just as the Greeks did: kassiteros). In fact, the Romans called it plumbum candidum (`white lead'). The elemental metal we call lead was plumbum nigrum (`black lead'). (They also used the term plumbago, in the sense of `lead ore,' for a range of similar-appearing minerals. Some of these minerals, like graphite, are not lead ores.)

(Just to make the color-based naming more complicated: the two tin allotropes that are stable around room temperature are gray tin (stable below 13.2°C) and white tin (stable above).

The Late Latin root stannum is used in forming the distinctive ionic names stannous and stannic, which by current IUPAC rules are to be written tin (II) and tin (IV). You can learn more about tin at its entry in WebElements and its entry at Chemicool.

SuperNova[e]. Plural also written SNe. The conventional way of designating SNe was SN<yyyy><sl>, where <yyyy> was the year during which the event began to be observed, and <sl> was a single letter, letters being assigned serially in alphabetical order by time of report over the course of the year. The best-known example is SN1987A -- evidently the first supernova reported observed in 1987. Since 1987, the one-letter system has not been sufficient, and SNe after the twenty-sixth (Z) have been labelled with two letters according to the positional scheme described in the last paragraph of the AA entry. There is a tendency to switch from upper-case single letters to lower-case letter pairs, but this practice is not uniformly followed.

Not all SN reports turn out to be true. In 1987, twenty were reported (SN1987A to SN1987T), but only seventeen were confirmed.

Supertwisted Nematic (liquid crystal phase).

Switching Network.

Somali National Alliance. Led by Mohammed Farah Aideed until he was killed in the summer of 1996, and contending with the bad guy SSA over which will liberate Somalia.

Systems Network Architecture. An IBM computer-communication architecture.

snack food
In the preface to Snack Food Technology (a book quoted in scattered places in this glossary), author Samuel A. Matz, Ph.D., writes
     One dictionary defines a snack as ``a slight, hasty repast,'' while another says it is ``a mere bite or morsel of food, as contrasted with a regular meal; a light or incidental repast.'' Possibly, neither of these definitions satisfactorily represents current usage. I have not found ``snack food'' in any dictionary [his prayers are answered], but it is likely that most people would recognize a snack food as being something consumed primarily for pleasure rather than for social or nutritive purposes and not ordinarily used in a regular meal. Some foods are used both as snacks and as meal components, pizza being an obvious example. ...

For further discussion of what is and is not snack food, go to the SFA entry.

The second edition of Matz's book was published in 1984. There was also a Japanese edition. The third edition (from which I quote) was published in 1993 (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold).

Matz is deliciously opinionated. At pp. 174-5 he lashes out at bagel chips:

    Bagels that have been sliced into thin chips, then toasted and flavored, have appeared on the market during the last few years. They have achieved a certain amount of market penetration, though it is hard to see where their appeal lies, as opposed, say, to the thin toast slices that have been around for years. Fresh bagels have no intrinsic flavor superiority, their acceptance relying on the usual ethnic connotation, their peculiar glossy crust, and their firm texture, the last two points not being apparent when they are in the toast form. Probably their novelty is the main selling point driving this market. ...

Fool! The attraction is that it's a diet food: it's priced so dear that you can't afford to overeat. (Also the strength-of-materials aspect of mouthfeel.)

Systems Network Architecture (SNA) Distribution Services.

SDSC NSSN Advisory Group (to ANSI).

Situation Normal -- All F_ _ _ed Up. [WWII military slang. Pron.: rhymes with taboo.]

A backronymic expansion I saw in the context of the ongoing Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis was ``Supra National And Fiscal Union.'' It was used in a 13 December 2011 comment in The Telegraph by Boris Johnson to describe the proposed, not-yet-clearly-defined closer fiscal union of EU countries rejected by British PM David Cameron the previous week. (German Chancellor Angela Merkel is saying she likes to call it a ``stability union.'') I suppose the Snafu (in British acronym capitalization style) expansion is Johnson's own.

Back in 1979 or so, I attended a talk by an outside speaker at Princeton University's Psychology Department. The talk had something to do with how a certain kind of ``snafu situation'' (yes, an aap pleonasm) arose frequently. It didn't seem to me that she understood that SNAFU is an acronym, let alone knew its obscene expansion.

snake eyes
A two in craps. Snake eyes on the first roll means craps: the house wins. There's a bit of elementary detail at the boxcars entry.

Interestingly, this is a poor metaphor because snakes may have more than two eyes. Rattlesnakes and other ``pit vipers'' have two obvious eyes sensitive to light in the optical spectrum. These look to the sides, however, and predator species tend to have eyes directed forward. The rattlesnake does indeed have such forward-pointing eyes, called pit organs. These are easy to miss: they look through tiny slits. They are sensitive in the infrared, and so can detect the snake's prey at night through the animals' body heat. Ugh. It's disgusting. Anyway, even snakes without an extra pair of eyes are reptiles, and so have a cranial opening that is called the ``reptilian third eye.'' As it happens, however, house also wins on trey.

Some snakes' pit organs can detect temperature differences as small as 0.01 degree.

Soluble NSF Attachment Protein. (NSF is N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive fusion protein.)

Student Nurses' Association of Pennsylvania. Their Internet domain is <snap-online.org>. I imagine that for anyone who remembers the sexy Snap-on® tools wall calendars that were hung in the auto shops and similar virtually all-male workshops of my youth, and to some others besides, this must seem unseemly (unseemlyly?) suggestive.

SNAP, Snap
Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power. Name for power devices used by NASA, almost all of them RTG's. Singular ``system for nuclear auxiliary power'' may seem a more natural expansion for an individual device, but the official expansion uses the plural.

SubNetwork Access Protocol.

SNAP REceptor. v-SNARE is vesicle SNARE; t-SNARE is target membrane SNARE.

Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible. Published in 1976. Based on the Rotherham Bible.

Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges. French name of the Belgian National Railway `National Organization for Belgian railRoads.' Flemish name is Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegena (NMBS).

Judith Viorst's It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty And Other Tragedies of Married Life (1968) is a book of ``blank verse,'' which means that it's bad prose with a ragged right margin. One of the sublime unheralded breakthroughs of hypertext is that it makes bad prose easier to set than blank verse. Here's the second paragraph of the poem ``In Deauville'':

In Deauville
Everyone but us
Is playing chemin de fer
The way my mother plays in the Tuesday gin club,
And buying horses
The way my father buys a good cigar
And telling the waiter the champagne smells of cork
With the assurance of those
Who have never saved trading stamps
Or attended a swim club cook-out.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Pronounced ``snick'' by familiars.

In February 1960, four black students went to a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their action is often described as a sit-in, but all they did was sit at the counter and wait to be served. It wasn't their fault if that took a very long time. Around the country, other students tried this experiment. Afterwards, things, including the SNCC, became more complicated. There doesn't seem to be a <http://www.sncc.org/>.

Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français. `National Organization for French railRoads.' A looser but sounder translation: `French National Railroad Company.'

Scottish National Dictionary. Available from the SNDA.

Scottish National Dictionary Association.

From April 21 to July 21 of 2002, at least:

``Unfortunately this website is only supported by Netscape Navigator version 6 or Internet Explorer Versions 5+. A text only website will be available soon.

Sorry for the inconvenience.''

But plain text is so difficult!

Student National Dental Association. The student organization associated with the NDA.

Sustainable Net Domestic Product.

SuperNovaE. Plural of supernova (vide SN supra).

A class of footwear that used to be easy to define when it was less various. Generally, a sneaker is a rubber-soled shoe; hence the name, which implies that sneakers enable one to walk quietly. With the wrong kind of rubber on a smooth, recently-waxed floor, though, it might be better called squeaker.

Back in the day, we wore sneakers that had simple cloth uppers and some thin foam on a flat base (no arch support). They breathed very well, especially after they began to fray. They came in two styles: high-top and not high-top. When they wore out, it wasn't because the batteries died or the air valve started to leak. And they were cheap.

Modern and post-modern sneakers are available high-tech and high-fashion. These shoes are way over my head (which is not where I expected them to be, now that power and phone lines run mostly under ground). When a new model is released, it's an event. Visit this informative site for up-to-date release event and availability information. The site uses expert technical language like ``grey cement colorway'' that will just knock your socks off.

One nonexpert thought on arch support, however: if you're 5'9" and weigh 350 pounds, you're probably not using the modern-day descendant of the once-humble sneaker as a ``running shoe'' or as any other species of ``athletic shoe.'' At best it's just a well-intentioned, much-put-upon loafer, supporting your sorry flat foot. The shoe that would provide better arch support for you is the shoe beneath the you that has lost weight (and misplaced it where you won't find it again). If you can't find that shoe, with or without a mirror, then Crusher, just forget it and save your money for that hip replacement operation.

Sneakers are not only available in high fashion for the well-heeled, but also in low fashion for the down-at-the-heels. That would be the velcro version.

Yes, yes, the relevant connections to the Beatles and others will be elucidated as time permits. (By ``others'' I mean rappers; I didn't want to defile the previous sentence by identifying them there.)

A versatile, padded data transport protocol for a LAN connecting computers that are not connected. Data is typically carried in 1.4 MB packets.

You shouldn't laugh -- sneakernet can be quite efficient. Pocket-size USB ``hard drives'' (really flash PROM's, like RFD's, but not resident) are available (as of August 2002) in 512 MB modules (and in halvings of that size down to 16 MB).

The name associated with eye-chart measures of visual acuity (VA), reported as 20/20, 20/40, or in general 20/x, where x is called the ``Snellen denominator.'' The numbers of this form (20/20, 20/40, etc.) are usually called ``Snellen fractions'' (occasionally ``Snellen acuity fractions'') if a name is needed, and the visual acuity they represent is called ``Snellen acuity.'' Basically, anything you can think of, slap a ``Snellen'' on the front and you can sound as professional as a driver's-license bureaucrat. There's even a ``Snellen's garden'' eye chart (sorry, I meant ``Snellen chart'' of course) of letters E oriented in different directions, for testing the VA of young children and other illiterates.

``Normal'' vision is defined as the ability to distinguish features subtending one minute of arc at a distance of 20 feet. A word like ``feature'' might be vague in principle, but in practice it is very precisely defined: the eye chart contains rows of successively smaller sans-serif ``Snellen letters.'' The row that must be readable by someone with ``normal vision'' has square letters that (at 20 feet) are five arc-minutes high and wide, with strokes one arc-minute wide (that is, 0.349 inches high, with strokes 0.070 inches wide).

A Snellen acuity of 20/40 is something like half the normal resolution. Typically, someone with 20/40 vision is described as being able to read only at 20 feet what someone with normal vision can read at 40 feet. Operationally, of course, it really means that the person can only distinguish letters at twenty feet if they are twice as large (``features'' that are two arc-minutes wide). The loose conventional statement would equivalent if there were no difference in the ability to focus at 20 feet and at 40 feet. Practically speaking, the difference is slight and the definitions are substantially equivalent. (Changing focus from 20 to 40 feet, or from 20 feet to infinity, requires a lens with a strength of 1/12 or 1/6 diopter, respectively.)

In general, a Snellen acuity of 20/x implies that someone can read letters at 20 feet only if the features subtend an angle equal to 20/x minutes (here ``20/x'' is to be understood simply as a fraction). There is a superscript notation to represent intermediate visual acuity, or partial success: a Snellen acuity of 20/30-2 represents the ability to to read all but 2 of the letters in the 20/30 row of a Snellen eye chart. This is somewhat useful, particularly as there is no row between those for 20/30 and 20/40 vision in the standard chart. (Then again, it wouldn't be so hard to draw another line on the floor or something.)

In the UK and Canada, at least, the 20 feet have been converted to 6 meters (the difference is about the length of a cigarette: 20 ft. = 6.096 m), hence 6/6 for 20/20, 6/9 for 20/30, etc. In the technical literature, I've also seen the term ``Snellen decimal fractions'' and 0.5 for 20/40, etc.

Herman Snellen, who created his popular eye chart in 1854, was a Dutch ophthalmologist who spent his entire career in the Netherlands. I rather suspect that he did not define ``Snellen acuities'' in terms of traditional English feet.

Short-range Nuclear Forces.

Skilled Nursing Facility. The US government offers an official definition in 32 CFR 199.6.

This SNF would be of limited utility in the event this other kind of SNF is used.

[Football icon]

Sunday Night Football. A single Sunday-night game each week of the regular season, showcased and broadcast on ESPN.

Sequoia Natural History Association. A member of the APPL.

(IBM) SNA Network Interconnect.

A technical term referring to cooked food crumbs left in roasting pot, usually moist, often fatty. Construed plural; singular form uncertainly attested. Neologism of an SBFer's mother, from long before `sniglets.' Synonymous with loose sense of the Polish word skwarka. Cf. crackling and cracklings.

SNIF, .snif
Standard Nasal Information Format. This doesn't happen to exist yet, but it's not too soon to coin an appropriate acronym and filename extension. After the pattern of GIF and GIF89, the SNIF standard (AAP pleonasm alert) will be extended to include ``transparent'' smells that can't be directly detected by olfaction, but which are apparent by the fact that they allow other odors to be smelled ``through'' them.

Standard Nasal Information File Format. After the pattern of TIFF. An alternative to SNIF.

An individual who shoots from concealment. The name derives from the snipe, a long-billed marsh bird typically hunted from a blind. To snipe was to hunt snipe...

Supplemental Corporation Net Income Tax. An Indiana state tax that used to be assessed on a corporation's net income derived from sources in Indiana. This tax was repealed in 2003. The basic Indiana corporate income tax is now AGIT, q.v.

French Syndicat national des journalistes (`National Journalists' Union').

Saturday Night Live. A show that has died, but which is still broadcast live. The newsgroup rec.arts.tv.sat-night-live has a number of faq's.

Static Noise Margin.

Simple Network Management Protocol. A protocol (in two versions -- standards are wonderful, let's have more) for management systems on IP-based networks.

Sustainable Net National Expenditure.

Stuttgart Neuronal Network Simulator.

StriNg-Oriented symBOlic Language. Provides run-time typing, garbage collection, user data types, on-the-fly compilation. Old-style language (first created in 1962) -- apparently no structured-programming constructs in any updated version. Simple syntax compared to Perl, but that's not really saying much, is it? Has been described by actual enthusiasts as a string-oriented version of COBOL. It's not a complimentary comparison. (However, the languages are unrelated. Hence, this enthusiasts' claim is false as well as defamatory. That's why I claim at the COBOL entry that COBOL has been calumniated.) SPITBOL is related.

Michael Neumann's extensive list of sample short programs in different programming languages includes three simple SNOBOL4 programs.

A toilet-bowl cleaner that is basically hydrochloric acid (to dissolve rust) with a few aryl and alkyl ammonium chlorides (which ought to act as detergents, or at least as surfactants). Presumably the name SNO BOL® is chosen to suggest a snowy-white toilet bowl.

StriNg-Oriented symBOlic Language, version 4. Last major revision of SNOBOL, in 1969.

Scanning Near-field Optical Microscopy. (Also NFOM).

Systematized NOmenclature of MEDicine.

Sleep apNea Online Resource for Education.

Cf. snorkel.

English term is derived from German Schnorchel, meaning `air intake, snorkel' as extensions of its original and still valid meaning `snort.' Schnorchel in turn is a diminutive (the -el ending) noun formed from the verb schnorchen, a cognate of English snore (the standard form in German is now schnarchen).


Another instance of the -el diminutive ending that is well-known in English is the Yiddish (like Middle High German) shtetl (< shtet + -el, cf. Ger. Stadt, noting that initial ``st'' in German has a pronunciation that would be written ``sht'' in English). The normative form form in modern German uses the -chen diminutive ending: Städtchen. (The the stem-changed vowel ä is close in sound to the e in shtetl, but Yiddish and German vowels seem to coincide largely by coincidence.)

Scanning Near-Field Optical Spectroscopy.

snow blowers
People who need a snow blower eventually mount it prominently on an open trailer for its final mission and head south. When somebody asks what that thang is mounted on their trailer, they know they've reached the promised land.

There are whole retirement villages in Venezuela, founded by North Dakotans who raced through west Texas and didn't understand Spanish.

One Stammtisch member who has not risked living in Venezuela remembers the cover of a Saturday Evening Post, from around 1939 -- before he discovered the New Yorker -- which showed a model T being heaved out of the snow and off the road by a monster snow plow. There's more information on the model T at the Barbie Doll entry.

Scottish National Parliament.

Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism.

Simple Nomenclator Query Protocol.

Signal-to-Noise Ratio. ``Ess en arr'' and ``sine arr'' pronunciations are both common. All devices have noise at some level, even with no signal in. Roughly speaking, a voltage amplifier has zero-current voltage fluctuations (noise in the absence of signal), resistance fluctuations (a source of linear noise) and nonlinear noise. Thus, SNR is generally not constant. Cf. SINAD. Oh wait, that's supra, just a couple o'hundred entries back... you probably already read it. Sorry.

SuperNova Remnant.

Secondary Network Server.

Shomron News Service. It began as ``SNS Service,'' which may, for all know have been an official AAP pleonasm. It then became in turn the Shomron News Service, IINS (Israel Internet News Service), IsraelWire, and most recently that I am aware of, INN, whose expansion I can guess but don't know. It appears to be defunct. It was a non-profit, probably one-reporter organization that provided news about Israel in English. There appear to be a few other news organizations that are willing to pick up some of the slack.

Spanish for Native Speakers. A designation for Spanish-language programs in US schools (at least) that target students with non-school background in Spanish (typically students from immigrant families). According to the report ``Foreign Language Enrollments in Public Secondary Schools, Fall 2000,'' written by Jamie B. Draper and June H. Hicks for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 68.7% of foreign-language enrollments in public secondary schools in the US were enrolled in [ordinary] Spanish programs, and 2.1% were enrolled in SNS programs.

Doubtless the proficiency of SNS students varies greatly (see this other SNS entry), but I think these programs could be very useful. They didn't exist at my junior high school 30+ years ago. I took 9th-grade (i.e., third year) Spanish when I was in I was in 8th grade, against the resistance of the school administration. (They thought I would be unprepared, as I had had no previous formal Spanish instruction since kindergarten in Argentina.) The course was a poor fit. I did learn a few new words, and I gained the ability to name some of the grammatical categories I had always used naturally, but my time could have been better spent.

In the class as we were originally arranged, ``Elena'' sat behind me. On one early test, she got a grade of F with the notation ``you haven't learned this yet.'' The seating was rearranged.

Spanish Native Speaker[s]. Native speaker[s] of Spanish. The US has many, but a lot of them learned it poorly at home in the US. You hear many of these on Spanish-language US TV news interviews and they have obvious fluency, yet they sound like gringos.

Spanish for Native Speakers. Programs and materials for the teaching of Spanish to some of the speakers described in the previous entry.

Steak'N'Shake. Open all night in Mishawaka, IN.

Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer.

Maybe what you heard was ``FNSM''

Super NTSC.

Solar Neutrino Units.

Students for the New Urbanism. The Cub Scout or Brownie version of the CNU.

Significant New Use Rule. A rule concerning standards for the use of substances deemed safe within a particular context, but not in general.

SuperNova observed in 1987. The first one that year, hence ``A.'' Observed beginning on Feb. 23, 1987. Only twelve million light years away, it was the most spectacular and scientifically useful one in years.

Service Office.

Shift Out. ASCII 0E hex (CTRL-N). Cf. SI.

Shut-Outs. (Soccer statistic.)

Incorrectly used as a synonym for very. It has some correct usages as well.

Significant Other. Medium- to long-term companion who is a MOTAS.

[TSSOP image from http://www.nsc.com/pkg/gifs/tssop.gif]

Small Outline (package). Similar to a miniature plastic flat pack, but with gull-wing lead forms primarily or wholly constructed for surface mounting. Typical lead spacing is 0.05 inch.

National Semiconductor illustrates. Their illustration of a TSSOP is at right.

(Domain code for) Somalia. The official form of government is anarchy, subdivided into warring factions.

SomeOne. Dictionary-entry abbreviation.


Spin-orbit (interaction).

Split-Off (electronic band). In typical semiconductors, the valence band consists of heavy and light hole bands (i.e., hole bands with energies varying slowly and quickly with crystal momentum), and an SO band. At zero crystal momentum, symmetry considerations make the light and heavy hole bands degenerate, but the SO band has an energy lowered by the spin-orbit coupling.

Safe Operating Area.

Scottish Optoelectronics Association. The SOA is a founding member of the UKCPO and the ICOIA.

Semiconductor Optical Amplifier. Signals transmited along optical cable have to be reamplified every few (say 100) km.

Service Order Administration.

Service-Oriented Architecture.

Slow Outdiffuser Approximation.

Society of Authors. ``... the leading association for writers of fiction and non-fiction in the United Kingdom. Its members also include artists, illustrators, playwrights, and scriptwriters (for both radio and television).''

Southern Association of Colleges and Employers. An affiliate of NACE.

Spontaneous OtoAcoustic Emission[s] (OAE).

Raison d'être of hotel room service. See our saponification entry, or our 99.44 entry.

Snakes On A Plane. A silly and tolerably scary movie with no trailers, no critic previews, a title that honestly announces: ``this is a silly and tolerably scary movie,'' and a year of the kind of free web publicity that only truth-in-labeling can buy. Samuel L. Jackson plays an FBI agent trying to protect a witness from a menagerie of somewhat realistic computer-generated dangerous snakes. A movie that was ``made'' by the Internet in more ways than one. In response to Internet buzz and expectations, new dialogue and scenes (a gratuitous sex scene and more gore) were added before the premiere on August 17, 2006. Could this be the Rocky Horror Picture Show of the 21st century? Will Samuel L. Jackson become Tim Curry?

Searchable Online Archive of Recipes.

Smalltalk On A RISC.

Shortness Of Breath. Dyspnea. Hard of breathing. This is a singularly difficult symptom to bear with equanimity.

Son Of a Bitch. A puppy!

SOuth Bend. Amtrak abbreviation.

System On Board. On circuitboard, that is. Contrasted with SOC, q.v.

so bloody literal-minded?, Why must you be
remember my earlier lies?, Why must you

SOuthBOund Train. An Israeli jazz group. They have been first-prize winners at the St. Petersburg Blues Festival. The members are Assaf Ganzman and Daniel Kriman, and a variable set of others, making a quartet or trio. As of May 2003, they were a trio with Eli ``Fish'' Gundman. Do I have this entry here because of the mishpoche? Because cousin Alex visited the St. Petersburg family when he was a student in Finland? Nah -- it's just the coincidence that Daniel is part of ``Southbound'' and I am in South Bend. (My original middle name was Daniel. I changed it later.)

Assaf Ganzman met Daniel Kriman at ``Mike's Place'' in Jerusalem. Assaf and his brother Gil bought it from founder Mike Vigoda in 1995. In 2000 they opened a Tel Aviv ``Mike's Place'' on Herbert Samuel street, on a walkway along the Tel Aviv beach. It's in the Russian Compound in the city, and close to the US Embassy. It's the main club for the city's small Blues scene. Mike's Place and Strudel are the two bars in the city that cater to a mostly English-speaking clientele. Teens and kids in their twenties. (To me that's ``kids,'' okay? Don't gimme this YA-YA BuSiness.)

About 1 AM on April 30, 2003, with the club in Tel Aviv full of kids dancing to the live music, a couple of British citizens were denied entry. Only one of them was able to set off his bomb belt. The other ran off and was later found drowned in the Mediterranean. One waitress and two musicians were killed, dozens were injured.

Silicon On Ceramic.

Span Of Control. The number of subordinates reporting to a supervisor.

System On a Chip. Contrasted with SOB. Of course, the system that's all on a chip is still on a chip that's usually on a circuitboard, just like the system that's ``on [a] board.'' The advantages of not leaving the chip package are lower power, higher speed, better integration and lower costs, for all the obvious reasons. The ``system'' referred to may be a subsystem doing only part of the data processing in a product (it might be a graphics engine, say).

The earliest solid-state electronic calculators each used several thousand transistors and diodes. The first LSI-based calculator was made around 1970 by a joint Rockwell-Sharp project and used four LSI chips. Nowadays pocket calculators use a single chip for all calculation and display signal generation.

Standard Oil of California. One of the companies formed from the antitrust breakup of Standard Oil (Esso ... Exxon).

This word in English carries a skeptical connotation -- the speaker or writer using this word is expressing doubt about the truthfulness of claims implied by the naming. [E.g.: The emperor's new so-called `clothes' (but see FRS).]

The corresponding German word sogenannte, and similar words in some other languages, lack this connotation. Speakers of one of these languages, who seek a similar construction in English that is `unmarked' (i.e., has `no' connotation) might use ``so named'' or ``so called'' in postposition, but only in restricted situations:

``Some papers were designated as `invited'; the articles so named were published in volume 1.''

SOciety of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of CANada. (Société canadienne des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique.)

AsSOCiation football.

soccer mom
Esteemed female voter. The basic difference between a retro ``stay-at-home mom'' and a ``soccer mom'' is that the retro matriarch drives a station wagon, while the modern association-football female parent drives a superminivan. (Or did. The Democratic soccer mom now drives a Prius. Her mom drove a Volvo station wagon. Republican soccer moms drive domestic pick-ups.)

Oh no! In 2003, a new target group called ``NASCAR Dads'' was discovered. According to CNN (July 9), they are white, working-class men inclined to support Republicans but capable of backing a Democrat if they agree on the issues. Senator Bob Graham of Florida, then running for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, was targeting them by sponsoring the ``NASCAR Craftsman Truck'' (an F-150; if you don't know that that's a Ford pick-up, you probably ain't saved neither). Small problem: NASCAR fans have very low election participation (never mind Democratic primaries). No one who reads will be offended if I say ``duh.'' CNN again: ``Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor, said Graham will see more of a benefit from the publicity surrounding his deal than from fans who watched the race live or on television.'' Either way, he didn't survive the Iowa caucuses.

On NPR earlier in July 2003, I heard a report about Mexican congressional candidates campaigning among expats (let's not look too carefully at those documents ¿okey señor?) living in Southern California. Mexico does not allow absentee voting, and the candidates don't expect these Mexican citizens to return home to vote. The theory seems to be that the nonvoters glad-handed in Upper California will button-hole their relatives back home by phone.

social insect
Everyone's heard of a social butterfly. I used to call myself a social moth. Just now I found `social wasp' as the translation of caba in a Portuguese dictionary. Oh, I get it!

Society and Culture
Sign over the Borders magazine rack that holds Playboy and similar magazines.

A coin termed by Comte. That's all, probably.

Sock it to me.
In Saturday Review in 1968, it was pointed out (I think by John Ciardi) that the phrase ``Sock it to 'em'' was used in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

In Steinbeck, the phrase ``sock it to 'em'' was used by the used-car dealer to mean both ``apply ultimate sales pressure'' and ``screw them.'' In context, there was no occasion to disambiguate. When Aretha Franklin covered Otis Redding's ``Respect'' in her hit 1967 album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You,'' the repeated ``sock-it-to-me'' lyrics she added were also unambiguous -- they were understood as a sexual reference.

The reason for the interest in these phrases in 1968 was a then-current TV humor show that was popularizing the phrase ``Sock it to me.'' The show, ``Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In'' was an unhip, insipid and wildly popular thing that provided a transition from nothing, or maybe from some stand-up comedy on Ed Sullivan, to the vastly superior early ``Saturday Night Live.'' In addition to sock-it-to-me, they introduced such putative witticisms as ``You bet your bippy,'' ``Here come da judge'' and ``Verrrry interesstink!'' If you grimaced wanly and listened to the studio laughter, you might convince yourself that you were enjoying humor. It was a kind of suburban Hee-Haw, minus the sophistication and fine music. Still, it launched Goldie Hawn (who played a giggly airhead) and Lily Tomlin (as switchboard tsarina Ernestine). Also, they got Pres. Dick Nixon to come on and say

``Sock it to ME?''
It can be proven by calculus that this was a far greater step out of character for him [ftnt. 5] than any sax playing on Arsenio could ever be for presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

At the end of the show, co-host Dan Rowan would say to co-host Dick Martin

Say ``Good Night,'' Dick.

and Dick would say

Good Night, Dick.

This was a shameless rip-off of the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show of radio and early television, which used the sign-off

Say ``good-night'' Gracie. / Good-night, Gracie.

Just to be clear, however, Laugh-In was not a rip-off of Hee-Haw. Hee-Haw was inspired by Laugh-In. It was also inspired by the Smothers Brothers. The form that the inspiration took was that Tom and Dick complained to CBS management about the censoring of political jabs on their show, and CBS ended the piecemeal censorship by cancelling the show. CBS replaced it with Hee-Haw, a hay-seed copy of Laugh-In with no memorable contributions to the language, no intelligence, no relevance, and pun jokes told in black-out format, but more skin.

sock puppet
A false Internet identity created for deceptive purposes.

The definition text of this entry used to read simply:

An expression of fealty to godbert.

The word godbert anchored a link (now dead, as you can confirm) to some sock-puppet pictures sent by Dilbert fans to Scott Adams or to United Feature Syndicate.

Special Operations COMmand. The ``Pentagon headquarters'' (physically located in Tampa, as it happens) responsible for US commando units; created in 1987.

Special Operations Command Research Analysis & Target Evaluation System.

Strategy for Organisations Concerned in Rural Advanced Telecommunications Experiments.

System Of Cellular Radio for Traffic Efficiency and Safety. DRIVE project which is developing the techniques for using digital cellular telephony as the basic communications medium for transmitting traffic information. See TSWS.


Socratic answer, One
Socrates in the early dialogues, increasing admixture of Plato in middle and later writing. See, e.g., John Halverson: ``Plato, the Athenian Stranger'' Arethusa, 30, pp. 75-102 (1997).


Socratic method, The
The method of disproof. Elenchus. High-brow Lt. Colombo, avant la Lettre. Is it mere coincidence that Peter Falk is ugly-sexy, just as Alcibiades describes Socrates in Symposium?


Socratic question, The
When we read Plato writing in Socrates's voice, are we getting Socrates or Plato? Extensive discussion in

Scottish Office Central Research Unit. Now officially the Scottish Executive Central Research Unit (CRU).

Secretary Of Defense. The US SoD is down one link from the POTUS in the military chain of command. I can think of many reasons why SODUS is not an official military acronym.

Sleep-Over Date.

Sun-Overhead Detector. (Handy for standardizing test data on solar cells.)

Serve Our Dog Areas. ``...a non-profit organization formed to provide ongoing support and stewardship for the Off-Leash dog exercising area at Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington.''

soda ash
Sodium carbonate: Na2CO3.

A deadly poison, lethal even in tiny doses. Found on human fingers in the form of NaCl (common table salt) solution. The way this poison kills is by accumulating as ions at the silicon-silicon oxide interface. These ions cause a debilitating nonuniformity in the flatband voltage. The threshold voltage is no longer the same for all devices, nor even very well defined for any single device. Moreover, the problem increases with time, because ions originally scattered in the oxide drift in the presence of the electric field (i.e., when the device is on) and accumulate at metal-oxide interfaces.

(Although the FET idea was first patented in 1935, it was not until the late 1960's that IGFET's became commercially important. Much of the reason is that fab facilities were not initially clean enough to keep the sodium content low.)

In view of their demonstrated toxicity, contact with humans and other carbon-based life forms should be avoided. The other alkali metals are bad guys too, but they're less common.

Definitely see Na entry.

As the next entry shows, washing your hands doesn't necessarily help.

sodium lauryl sulfate
The popular older name for sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS, q.v.), a popular detergent used in many consumer cleaning products. One interesting effect of SDS on many people is to make sour things taste bitter. I can't remember the last time I saw a toothpaste on the market that did not contain SDS.

See the hard water entry for a bit more on this detergent.

It's also called sodium laureth sulfate.


Societas Ophthalmologica Europeae. They named it in Latin because everyone can read Latin. Even you can understand this.

Special Operations Executive. Organized by the British in 1940 to work with and encourage resistance movements in Axis-occupied areas. When it was organized, Winston Churchill expressed the hope that it would help ``set Europe ablaze,'' but there is broad agreement that the European resistance movements helped only at the margin. (The SOE also had operations in Asia.)

State-Owned Enterprise. SOE's in China are evaluated annually by SASAC.

Scottish Office Education and Industry Department.

School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. It's just like they say in real estate: location, location, location. (The University of Hawaii.)

Society Of Fluorescence.

Special Operations Force[s].

(New York) State Office For the Aging. See New York State's Aging Services Network Locator.

Solid-Oxide Fuel Cell. A fuel cell (FC) in which the electrolyte is a solid oxide. Experimental SOFC's operate in a range of about 800-1000°C and the charge carriers are oxide ions -- O2-. Like FC's with molten-carbonate electrolyte (MCFC), SOFC's can be used to combust carbon monoxide.

Special Operations Forces EXhibition.

A woman's name, the capital of Bulgaria, and the classical Ancient Greek word for `wisdom.'

Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. The platform is a Boeing 747-SP aircraft. Somewhat surprisingly to me, this is reported to be the only airborne astronomical observatory currently in operation.

That claim evidently excludes ordinary planes with people who look out their windows at the sky. The first noteworthy instance of that occurred in the 1960's, when Gerald Kuiper pointed the business end of a 30 cm telescope out the window of a plane. Today he could never get it past security, and if he could they'd charge him for a second seat. And they'd ask him to remove his ``Belt.''

Between 1974 and 1995, NASA operated a telescope from a military cargo plane.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and DLR (the German analogue). The aircraft operates with a ceiling of 45,000 feet (13,700 meters), above most of the atmosphere and its water vapor. Water vapor absorbs IR radiation (except in certain ``IR windows''); flying above it makes it possible to do (full-spectrum) IR astronomy.

Self-Organizing Feature Maps. I suppose it'd be sophomoric to try to pun on this acronym.

S. of S.
Secretary OF State. This abbreviation occurs in The Wizard War, a book about British intelligence in WWII.

soft drink
A carbonated beverage. A soda in the East, a pop in the Midwest, and a soda pop in the past. ``Carbonated'' here means that it has carbon dioxide dissolved in the fluid (which is mostly water).

Spin-On Glass.

Standard Operating Guidelines. Hey, y'got nuthin' on me. I was just following orders.

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

Southern Ocean - GLOBal Ocean ECosystems Dynamics Research. An IGBP program.

State Of Good Repair. A condition, not Pennsylvania.

Section Overhead (cost). Cf. TOH.

Sense Of Humor. Personals ad abbreviation.

Sense Of Humor Failure. Email abbreviation.

Start Of Heading. ASCII 01 (CTRL-A). (Same character also used for SOM.)

Standard Oil of OHIO. One of the companies formed from the antitrust breakup of Standard Oil, based in New Jersey. Before it consolidated its branding under ``Exxon,'' Standard Oil of New Jersey was ``Esso'' in many places but ``Humble'' in Ohio.

Small Office/Home Office.

You used to be able to buy an office-noises-background soundtrack to sound big when you called. Now you just make a glitzy webpage.

A district of central London. In the seventeenth century it was an immigrant area, but you can get an idea of its current status from the lyrics of ``Werewolves of London.'' The origin of the name is unknown, but lexicographers with an opinion mostly believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry.

SOHO, Soho
SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory. A probe for observing the Sun, located in a halo orbit around Lagrange point L1.

South Of HeustOn Station. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, not appropriatest. This little absurdity is explained in the next entry.

South Of HOuston Street. A section of NYC. Although SoHo is pronounced ``So Hoe,'' it is probably useful to know that the name of Houston Street in NYC is not pronounced identically with the Texas city named Houston, but instead is pronounced ``house ton.''

There's a story that mispronunciation of that street's name led to the exposure of a German spy in WWII. I kind of doubt it. (For another story of enemy Germans thwarted by ignorance of locally common knowledge, see the SRP entry.)

In April 2006, the Dublin (Ireland) City Council unveiled plans for a 2.6 billion euro cultural and commercial quarter. The quarter was planned as a rejuvenation of Dublin's historic communities of the Liberties and the Coombe (mostly the former), located in the south inner city. The project was inspired by the revitalization of New York City's SoHo, and was to be called ``SoHo'' also, standing in this case for ``South of Heuston Station.'' The most interesting thing about the whole story, to me, was that in Dublin, somehow ``SoHo'' should be expected to call to mind New York rather than London.

At the time, City manager John Fitzgerald said 2 billion euros of private funds had already been committed, and that the city council would put forward 100 million euros to fund public-private partnerships that would in turn raise a further 500 million euros. That sounds rather heavily leveraged.

Maybe I was right about the London/New York thing. In any case, there was widespread opposition to the name change, and the Dublin City Council eventually came to its senses. By the time they hired John Thompson and Partners (JTP) in 2007 or 2008, it was to ``develop a plan for the regeneration of the Liberties.'' That's fortunate for me, because this is only a SoHo entry, so I don't have to explain how Ireland was forced to seek an EU bailout in November 2010, amid the implosion of its heavily leveraged real estate market. My nameserver can no longer find a server for <www.theliberties.ie>, and a lot of (most? all?) ambitious construction plans have been... put on long-term hold.

Silicon [or Semiconductor] on Insulator. A fabrication technique in which single-crystal silicon is deposited on an insulating substrate, with the obvious advantage of excellent electrical isolation. The insulator is usually chosen from a small set of materials that are lattice-matched to the semiconductor one wants to deposit. In fact, for silicon-on-insulator growth, the only insulators commonly used are sapphire (AKA: SOS) and silicon itself (which has been implanted with enough oxygen to make it an insulator.

Southern Oscillation Index. A measure of the intensity of the western Pacific subtropical high pressure system. Its ``low-frequency'' (period of 36.7 years) oscillations have been adduced to explain long-term fluctuations in rainfall patterns across China (see QBO entry).

Small Outline Integrated Circuit. A miniature plastic flat pack designed for surface mount with gull-wing leads. Most versions have lead spacing of 0.05 inches.

Here are some typical specs.

Small Outline package with J-leads.

Southern Ocean - Joint Global Ocean Flux Study. An IGBP program.

Science On-Line education project.

Out of Luck.

Standards Of Learning. Curriculum guides. In Virginia, at least, teachers consider the SOL's to be a kind of strait-jacket. For English classes, the SOL's emphasize reading mechanics and grammar, are accompanied by a panoply of required hand-outs and work-sheet assignments, and are the subject of annual tests. Literature requirements are also included but apparently not directly tested, so that aspect is effectively scanted. The fellow in charge of the SOL's--below the governor--never has been a teacher himself, and refused to release his own SOL scores to the public when he took the test himself.

Suda On-Line. A distributed project to create an English translation of the Suda by the coordinated contributions of many translators, editors and area specialists communicating across the web. `The Suda' is the generally accepted title-revision of a Byzantine encyclopedia previously known by the name of its supposed author, `Suidas.' However, there's been a great deal of debate about all this. All we know really about Suidas is what we have: his idiosyncratic encyclopedia. See SOLVL for more.

Scholars' Online Academy. An organ of the Institute for Study of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, ``a non-profit educational corporation chartered by the State of Louisiana.'' SOLA is broadly Christian, its sister institution RCA is specifically Roman Catholic.

RCA and SOLA share most of their courses, but the RCA curriculum includes some additional explicitly Catholic curricular items like elementary theology and a course in Scholastic philosophy.

solar cells
``Solar cells'' are photovoltaic (PV) cells. We're going to use the PV entry for general information about them, and reserve this entry for information about space applications (viz., extraterrestrial uses, on satellites not too far from home).

The principal consideration is light intensity, and as explained at the RTG entry, the main qualitative fact is that solar cells are the power source of choice from Mars sunward.

Of course, solar cells don't store energy for any longer than a fraction of a second. (The circuits they are part of may function longer due to capacitance in parallel with the cell.) For those awkward times when a solar-cell system is eclipsed (typically by some large body that its satellite is orbiting), it is necessary to have backup. That's usually batteries.

Satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO) make an interesting case. Because of the tilt of the earth's axis of rotation, geostationary satellites do not usually go directly behind the earth. That is, they are not eclipsed by the earth. The exception occurs for a period of a couple of weeks around each equinox. During this ``eclipse season,'' GEO satellites are eclipsed daily for up to seventy minutes.

solar-dynamic power system
A power system that is basically a heat engine operating across a temperature difference created by solar radiation. Sane solar dynamic power systems include a solar concentrator. Most solar dynamic power systems so called are intended for space applications, and as such require radiators. Typical designs rely on closed cycles (i.e., the working fluid is cycled rather than consumed). The expanding fluids power Brayton turbine or Stirling cycle engines.

The programming language for real men. Bit flipping is for pansies!

solder sucker
A device for vacuuming up molten solder. Usually has a spring-loaded piston which, when triggered, retracts rapidly from a cylinder to leave behind an evacuated volume. I guess I should be embarrassed to admit that I have found these to be a lot of fun.

Consider EDSYN's Challenger Soldapullt ®

``External main spring design creates a powerful vacuum stroke.'' Oooo!

``Soft-push cam trigger.'' Strong enough to be gentle!

``Single full stroke plunger and cleaning shaft allow maximum vacuum flow.'' Can such things be?

Now for the gushy stuff:

``Cushioned locked tiplet (tip) for soft touch. (1 extra tiplet included).''
[Emphasis added.]

And a final reminder of all that coiled power:

``Made of durable high-impact plastic.''

All this for just $7.75 +P&H and it doesn't even put out your eye.

Here's an item specially suited to solder SMT's and SOIC's.

Stacked Organic Light-Emitting Device. The idea is to stack different-color OLED's to produce a ``full color.''

A card game one person can play against himself or herself, but not both.

It's not a good idea to play solitaire for hours on end. Take a break, eat a salty snack.

sol palmetto
What is this, charades? You heard about saw palmetto. (And you probably heard about it from Larry Kimb.)

Obsolete (I should write obolsete) English word for the obsolete French coin called a sou. You still remember the sou, right? Right? It's the source of the common everyday expressions ``I don't care a sou'' and ``I don't give a sou.'' Like the equally popular expression, ``I don't care a farthing,'' it expresses lack of interest. It's amazing how long these expressions persist in common speech, isn't it? I guess that once they become common coin, well, Bob's your uncle!

The odd thing that strikes one immediately is that while the farthing (when still in circulation) was the smallest (or smallest common) denomination in England, the sou when in circulation was worth 12 deniers.

Y'know, one man's problem is another man's solution. For example, I used a google search solution and discovered that my problem was nVIDIA, which advertises itself as a source of ``solutions for'' Macintosh. I'm sure Apple would prefer to think of the Mac as a solution rather than a problem.

Interestingly, the Spanish-language version of the nVIDIA homepage, alone among the eight non-English versions, leaves ``solutions for'' in the original English. For another Spanish language issue, see the nVIDIA entry. You want to know about software? Screw that! We talk about human languages here.

As you may gather, I consider the use of ``solution'' in the sense of ``marketed service or product'' to be an ugly bit of businesspeak. To give the language criminals their due extenuation, however, I'll observe that in ``Watching the Wheels,'' John Lennon sang

Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind

Maybe not so extenuating after all.

An adjective often used by economists to indicate liquidity; a noun often used by chemists to indicate liquid.

Suda On-Line Volunteer List. Part of the scattered collection of web-based bits and pieces of initial enthusiasm that have since been integrated into SOL.

Start Of Message. ASCII 01 (CTRL-A). (Same character also used for SOH.)

Symposium On Mediterranean Archaeology. The next one, to be held at the University of Sheffield, is SOMA 2000.

So Others Might Eat. Self-described as ``an interfaith, community-based organization that exists to help the poor and homeless of our nation's capital. We meet the immediate daily needs of the people we serve with food, clothing, and health care. We help break the cycle of homelessness by offering services, such as affordable housing, job training, addiction treatment, and counseling, to the poor, the elderly and individuals with mental illness.'' They should work on this statement SOME more and find a way to foreground the potential ``serve ... food'' pun, rearranging it into a possibly non-zeugmatic syllepsis (serve people ... [serve] food).

Devising an organization name whose acronym is a modest quantifier was very clever. (``Please, sir, I want SOME more.'') But they should have stayed away from the subjunctive ``might.'' It's too tentative. If they're hungry, then it's enough that they may eat, and they will. I mean, which universe are they speculating about? Or was this the preterite indicative of may? That's so yesterday. (Actually, most of the ordinary modals are fossil preterites. That's why they never take a final ess in the third-person singular.)

Nevertheless and inasmuch as words, notwithstanding ... why not some of the same?

some say
Someone could conceivably say -- for the speaker's convenience, assume that someone does say. After all, it takes all kinds.

Okay, okay, it would be strange, but not inconceivable, right? Say it, dammit!

No, not that.

The most important concept in airline reservations science.

In the preceding statements, you can usually replace sometimes with usually, sometimes.

My travel agent said, ``remember that, and you'll go far.'' I laughed. A few hours later, as I was writing this entry, I finally got it. A little travel-agent humor.

Snoring in color.

so much
So much that what?

September, October, November. Aggregated Autumn data. Yes sir, take your complaints right to the MAM entry. Cf. DJF, JJA.

Service Order Negotiation And Retrieval.

SONAR, sonar
SOund NAvigation and Ranging.

Material found in only one of the three synoptic gospels. Special use of the German Sondergut, meaning `special legacy.' Cf. double tradition, triple tradition.

Synchronous Optical NETwork. American version of SDH.

Light emission stimulated by sound pressure. Still quite mysterious. See the relevant entry in an Acoustics FAQ, some more extensive description, or the Net Advance of Physics entry.

A consonant that is not an obstruent. That is, a voiced consonant that is produced without constricting the vocal tract so far as to produce a stop or friction (as in a fricative) or both (an affricate). The nasals encountered in European languages are all sonorants, as are the liquids (r and l) of English. Some approximants, like /w/, are also sonorants. There's a certain amount of play in the definition of sonorants, and I've even seen the meaning extended to include vowels.

School Of Philosophy. This has a nice ambiguity, and it reminds everyone that the word for school is derived from a Greek word meaning `leisure.' There don't seem to be any academic institutions that favor this abbreviation. I can't imagine why. Some universities' registration systems do inflict ``SOP'' as a course code prefix.

At the University of Sydney (in NSW), there's a School of Philosophy, Gender, History, and Ancient World Studies. It's interesting to philosophize on the question, which of the words following of were meant to modify ``World Studies'' -- if there was any meaning at all. You wonder, if they decided to concentrate on their core business and spin off some earlier diversification, what would be left and how it would be branded. According to a June 2001 newsletter of the ASCS, ``mail sent to this School's name disappears into a black hole.''

When I was in grad school, I met a woman named Sydney, or maybe even Sidney. I pointed out that she had an unusual name for a girl. She pointed out that she still resented her parents' having given it to her. You know, she was beautiful, and a rose by any other does smell as sweet (though I can't say roses are very fragrant). Incidentally, it wasn't until the nineteenth century that flower names began to be popular as girls' given names in English. (Rose is the single prominent exception, having come into use centuries earlier.) Annette Bening costarred as Sydney Ellen Wade in a 1995 romantic comedy ``The American President,'' in which one of the minor humorous themes concerned the President's attempts to buy her flowers without his job getting in the way.

Small Outline (microelectronic chip) Package. Vide SO.

Standard Operating { Practice[s] | Procedure[s] }. Tradition!

State Of Polarization.

A scrap thrown to a supplicant.

Sum Of Products. Typically in the sense of set theory or Boolean logic: a union of intersections or the logical or (sum) of a number of and'ed factors.

Every logic function can be expressed in SOP form, just as every logic function can be expressed in POS form. If a certain term appears in many of the products, then it can be more efficient for evaluation to factor out the common term.

Spanish, `soup.'

SOPHocles. Ancient (dead, actually) Greek playright.

[Football icon]

SOPHomore. A student in the second year of a four-year sequence, or a ``scholar-athlete'' in the second year of college eligibility. (Either a ``true sophomore'' or a third-year student who was red-shirted as a freshman or for some other reason has used up only one year of eligibility at the start of the season.) Also abbreviated So.

Société de philosophie analytique. This is the kind of acronym that makes you pull yourself by the forelock and ask ``Why? Why!!?? Why couldn't they include just one more letter from the word philosophie and have a word that means knowledge instead of a homonym for a piece of furniture?'' Cf. Mensa.

Quoting from an email, SOPHA ``was created in 1993 with the project of improving and expanding the practice of analytical philosophy in French. One of its mandates, the organization of a triennial conference, aims at facilitating philosophical contacts and networking among French-speakers and Francophile, all over the world.'' French analytical philosophers are probably thinner on the ground than American continental philosophers (not counting literature departments).

The third conference, ``Language, Thought, Action,'' was held in Montreal in September 2005. The proceedings were published in Philosophia Scientiae and are available online.

Spectrograph for Observation of PHenomena in stellar Interiors and Exoplanets. The successor to ELODIE.

sophisticated statistical techniques
Techniques that may require a mastery of arithmetic. The head term is used by political analysts and their ilk to puff up their and their friends' work. The implementation of the techniques is done by anonymous writers of statistical software packages. The job of the political analysts is to take the output from the statistical programs and systematically misunderstand it.


So popular that internet web pages are dedicated to him

Society Of Research on African Cultures.

A hexahydrix alcohol made by reduction of glucose.


Society for the Oral Reading of Greek and Latin Literature. Founded in the 1970's and affiliated with the APA.

A group that's interested in oral reading might have come up with an acronym that was more pronounceable than this initialism, and a group that offers a three-day workshop for $400 (includes shared overnight accommodations, full board, instruction and materials) ought to be able to figure out how to afford its own website. If the link above fourohfours, try this search.

Sorry, this wrapper is not a winner. Please try again soon.
Thanks again, sucker. Buy more of our products.

An Indonesian woman's name. And stop callin' me Shirley!

Sort of. Eye dialect.

Southern Ohio Regional Transportation Authority. Buses in greater Cincinnati, OH.

Nowadays, most anglophones think of this as representing

Save Our { Souls | Ship }.

and therefore it does. In origin it is a Morse-code distress call:

o  o  o  ---  ---  ---  o  o  o
This is supposed to be transmitted without interletter gaps. For more details on this, see the SOS entry in the alt.usage.english FAQ.

Perhaps you would also be interested in learning about the Meanings of International Maritime Flags.

The SOS distress call has caught the imagination of many musicians. The song ``I'll Send an SOS to the World'' contains many triple three-note patterns.

In 1965 or 66, the singer-songwriter Edwin Starr was watching the television show ``Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea'' and became intrigued by the distress signal. He worked it into a song which was originally called ``Sending Out Soul.'' ``I changed it into a love song by calling it `Stop Her on Sight','' said Starr. ``I know that should have been `S.H.O.S.,' but the record company said no one would notice.''

Cf. CQD.

Service Of Supply.

In her The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1933), Gertrude Stein wrote this about the arrival of the doughboys in '17 (p. 224):

... At any rate the american soldiers came [to Nîmes], a regiment of them of the S.O.S. the service of supply, how well I remember how they used to say it with the emphasis on the of.
    We soon got to know them all well and some of them very well. There was Duncan, a southern boy with such a very marked southern accent that when he was well into a story I was lost. Gertrude Stein whose people all come from Baltimore had no difficulty and they used to shout with laughter together, and all I could understand was that they had killed him as if he was a chicken. The people in Nîmes were as much troubled as I was. ...

More of Gertrude Stein's views about American soldiers telling stories can be found at the have-got-to entry.

Silicon-on-Sapphire. A semiconductor fabrication technology in which silicon is deposited epitaxially on a grown crystal of sapphire. [Based on the color, it should really be called silicon-on-ruby.] It's the principal example of SOI.

Sociology Of Science. Sounds like a distress call. In an article in 1974, Stephen Brush asked ``Should the History of Science be Rated X?'' [It was the title of the article, which appeared in Science, vol. 183 (22 March 1974), pp. 1164-1172.] Brush, an accomplished historian of science, usually addressed more difficult questions. As recently as the 2005 AAAS meeting, he participated in a panel discussion that took his landmark 1974 paper as a starting point. (This is just the anyone-can-join AAAS.)

Strength Of Schedule. How good the teams are, that a team plays over the course of a season.

School Of Technology.

Purdue University's School of Technology at Richmond (SOT) makes its home on the campus of Indiana University East.

[SOT image from slow-loading www.nsc.com/pkg/gifs/sot.gif]

Small Outline (SO) Transistor. National Semiconductor illustrates. Their illustration is at left.

STS-1 Overhead Terminator.

Scholarship Of Teaching and Learning. Looking for a definition? Any definition? Here's one:
At Illinois State, we have defined SoTL as "systematic reflection on teaching and learning made public." This definition arose from the work of a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students involved in the early Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) Campus Program in 1998. Currently, our primary efforts to support SoTL on campus our [sic] housed with the Cross Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

It's not quite horrifying to think that many of the people involved in defining scholarship as systematic reflection made public think they're engaged in anything but a travesty.

Satellite communications On-The-Move.

The Society Of The Rusting TARDIS. ``An informal gathering of people who enjoy British television,'' may the Lord have mercy on their souls.

State Of The Union. Article II, Section 3, of the US Constitution stipulates that the President

shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

An old French coin of low denomination. Its name survives in common expressions like ``not worth a sou.'' Okay, maybe that's not such a common expression anymore. Don't take any wooden nickels, my friend.

sound bite
A segment of political speech of any length that constitutes ``news'' without conveying information:

sound bite < bit < nybble < byte

Eugene A. Nida, in his Toward a Science of Translating, suggested the term ``meaningful mouthful'' for the unit in terms of which one should think of translating. For another glossary entry inspired by Nida's work, see old flame retardant.

sound card
Performance benchmarks here.

Not an abbreviation for the Soviet Union. The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion is one of the better known and more important archaeological sites in Greece.

We're talking suppliers here. It's a good idea to design with an eye to multiple suppliers. Particularly if you use a highly specialized or low-volume part, or if you do not have a long-term contract with your supplier, or if your principal supplier is located in an earthquake-prone area like Japan or California. Design strategies include layouts that can accommodate multiple package dimensions and styles, and designing around high-volume elements.

Souteast Asia
The spelling of Southeast Asia on the binding of Historical Dictionary of Southeast Asia by John N. Miksic (Scarecrow Press, 2007). That's on the first edition. I imagine future editions will have a more orthodox spelling. The reference librarian thought it was funny too. ``Maybe we should send it back.''

South Ken
SOUTH KENsington.

Single-Occupancy Vehicle. A vehicle occupied by a single person, who is assumed to be the driver. For official purposes, motorcycles are excluded from the category of SOV's. (If they weren't, they'd probably be the only common sort of SOV's that are also HOV's.) I'm not sure about empty buses.

Subject Object Verb. One possible order of major elements in a sentence.

Russian noun meaning `council.'

English adjective characterizing political arrangements of the Soviet Union (put in place starting in 1917 by revolutionary socialists in what had been called the Russian Empire, and elsewhere as opportunities presented). Also describes similar bureaucratic arrangements inspired by the Russian experiment.

English adjective describing avowedly communist governments patterned on the USSR.

Female pig.

To make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is the unrealized dream of modern alchemists. Transmutation (of base metals into gold) has already been achieved by neutron irradiation.

Statement Of Work. General commercial and government usage.

Southern Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research. (Don't think of sewer.) A program of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

SOuthWEstern TOwnships. Eleven miles southwest of Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa. Soweto was founded in the 1930's as a legal residence for black gold miners. (Miners, not panners: there's a gold vein under Johannesburg.) Initially, rapid growth was fueled by an influx of job seekers. In 1948, however, the white supremacist National Party came to power and imposed a severe apartheid. Growth from the 50's on was thus also fed by the progressive expulsion of blacks from Johannesburg. Thus, though Soweto was generally poor and working-class, it eventually had all social classes present.

This mix is reminiscent of the situation in US, where black ghettoes like Harlem were home to all social classes. In the US, the situation changed when housing nondiscrimination laws of the 60's gave those better off a chance to move out. This departure has been identified by James Q. Wilson (I think), and others, as a cause of social collapse in the inner city. In the ninties, there has begun to be a return of the black middle class to traditionally black neighborhoods, attracted in part by lower costs of home ownership. That's what the newspaper said, anyway.

The 1955 Freedom Charter, a list of civil rights demands, was ratified by ANC delegates meeting in the Kliptown section of Soweto.

Soweto is famous principally for protests that began in 1976. By exile, incarceration and murder, the NP regime had succeeded in suppressing black resistance to apartheid. In 1976, the government ordered all public schools to teach science and math in Afrikaans, leading to a student protest on June 16, 1976. Police responded with bullets, and over 80 students died. This massacre rekindled rebellion, with rent strikes and other protest continuing until the end of apartheid in 1994.

Son Of WinGreek. WinGreek is one of the systems for inserting polytonic Greek in text normally set up for a modern language. SOWG is reportedly an improvement.

German: `anyway, anyhow, in any case.'

Some words are unaccountably cool, or have coolness that one cannot completely account for. In principle, it might be the sound of the word. For example, when I started to learn English at age 5, ``garbage can'' was my favorite vocabulary -- it was full of strange new sounds for a Spanish-speaking boy. It might be the oddly-shaped semantic hole it fills. (I can't think of a good example off-hand. Come back later.) Or it might be something else. In general, it probably has something to do with the poetry of the word, because poetry is what is lost in translation.

Anyway, sowieso is one of those words. It's hard to explain why, when you can use it, you want to. Perhaps it has to do with the positioning of adverbs in German sentences. Unlike anyway, the adverb sowieso rarely comes at the beginning of a sentence. (It does occur colloquially as an interjection, but then it's a one-word sentence meaning `of course.') It may have to do with the construction of the word: so in German has a meaning similar to so in English (as well as so in Japanese); wie means (and is cognate with) English how. Both of these function familiarly both as words and in compounds. For example, soundso is basically `so-and-so.' Likewise with wie: As a prefix, irgend- can typically be translated as `some-,' and sure enough irgendwie means `somehow.' This is probably the place to mention that there was a German coming-of-age movie entitled ``Irgenwie und Sowieso.'')

`Soviet Union' in German.

According to the NSA, `` `SOWPODS' represents a combination of the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary (OSPD) [standard in North America] and the Official SCRABBLE® Words (OSW), the former British word source.'' Appropriately, then, the seven initial letters are rearranged to create the word SOWPODS.

SOWPODS was created in 1991 for the World Scrabble Championships in London and subsequent World Championships. It has slowly been adopted in ``most of the world.'' That is, in most of the places where there is a designated official dictionary. As of 2005, that includes most of the British Commonwealth, with the significant exception of Canada, and a few mostly Arab countries. Since January 2003, all British tournaments have officially used the OSW-I, or Official SCRABBLE® Words, International, which is now equivalent to SOWPODS, although at least some UK clubs use OSPD. As of 2005, North America (i.e., the US and Canada) is the only major region not to adopt SOWPODS for tournament play, unless Israel or Thailand is a major region. (Hmmm... the winner of the 2003 WSC was from Thailand.)

SOWPODS has about 25,000 more words than the OSPD. So far, referenda of NSA members have rejected switching, and tournament play in the US is according to TWL. Since SOWPODS and the WSC were created in 1991, all eight champions have been nationals of countries that used something other than SOWPODS.

Scrabulous serves a look-up tool for the current SOWPODS and TWL. (Similar tools are served on a decaying page with forwarding links to <Scrabulous.com>, but until Scrabulous.com finally offered definitions, it was handy to keep the link. Now it's just here for hisorical reasons. The old page is at <Bingobinge.com>. When you use all seven of your tiles in a single turn in Scrabble, you are said to score or make a bingo. I don't know who says this. Maybe you could say it yourself. You could also say ``hot dang!'' I don't know if either of these is officially approved terminology anywhere, but a bingo is worth an extra fifty points.) Bob Jackman serves a number of SOWPODS word lists.


SOCKS. A spelling used in baseball team names.

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