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Anthropology 250
Issues in Anthropology
Linguistics and Garbage
• Semantics - the study of meanings in
• Etymology - the study of the history of words.
• Euphemism - New word or phrase that
replaces one that has negative connotations
• Metaphor - understanding one thing in terms
of another using an analogy.
• Irony - the use of words to convey a meaning
that is the opposite of its literal meaning
Etymology of “Garbage”
• Middle English "the offal of a fowl, giblets,
kitchen waste", originally "refuse, what is
purged away" from
• Old French garber "to refine, make neat or
• Germanic origin, akin to Old High German
garawan "to prepare, make ready",
• Old English “to make ready, adorn”
Etymology for “Trash”
• "anything of little use or value," 1510s, perhaps from a
Scandinavian source (cf. O.N. tros "rubbish, fallen
leaves and twigs,"
• Norwegian trask "lumber, trash, baggage," Swedish
trasa "rags, tatters").
• Applied to ill-bred persons or groups from 1604.
• Applied to domestic refuse or garbage in 1906
• The verb meaning "to discard as worthless" is 1895,
from the noun;
• in the sense of "destroy, vandalize" it is attested from
1970; extended to "criticize severely" in 1975.
Etymology for “Rubbish”
• c.1400, from Anglo-Fr. rubouses (late 14c.), of
unknown origin. Apparently somehow related to
• Anglo Norman *robel (“bits of broken stone”).
Presumably related to rubbish, originally of same
meaning (bits of stone).
• Ultimately presumably from Proto German
raub (“to break”), perhaps via Old French robe
(English rob (“steal”)) in sense of “plunder,
destroy”; see also Middle English, Middle French.
• The verb sense of "disparage, criticize harshly" is
first attested 1953 in Australian and New Zealand
Some Synonyms
Some Euphemisms
“Take out the trash”
• Perform oral sex on a man. “its time to take out
the trash, get on your knees”
• The good guy gives the bad guy what’s coming to
• Having a bowel movement “ I have to stop by the
house and take out the trash”
• Disposal of a body by a murderer.
• To get rid of something that is in the way using
Trash Metaphors
“Trailer Trash”
“White Trash”
“Trashy women”
“Her purse was a soft-sided trash bin, filled to the top
with bits of used tissues, crumpled papers, and a halfeaten apple.”
• Rubbish. British word for lies. British synonym for
• Rubbish. Ideas, opinions that are not valued. George
Harrison “intellectual rubbish”.
• Rubbish. Crappy, poorly performing
Psychological Trash
• “If the trash stinks, take
it out” removing
negative thoughts and
attitudes from daily life
• “Head trash”
• Oscar the grouch
Psychological Garbage
• The Law of the Garbage Truck
“Many people are like garbage trucks. They run
around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of
anger, and full of disappointment. As their
garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it.
And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.
So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t
take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them
well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.”
Trash in Technology
• “Garbage in garbage out”
• Computer “recycling bin” file and
– A trash receptacle simulated by an
application or operating system that stores
items deleted by the user. The receptacle is
an interim holding place that lets users
restore the item if needed. In order to
completely "empty" the receptacle and save
disk space, an "empty trash" or equivalent
option must be selected by the user.
Garbage Irony
Ironic shock value:
• Rubbish. A clothing company name.
• Garbage. A Scottish/American alternative rock
band formed in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1994
• Heavy Trash – A band based on “the stench of
avant punk trash and nasty garage ooze and
• Rubbish music - a band that makes music out of
recycled stuff.
Naples, Italy Garbage Crisis Irony
Garbage Irony
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