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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Piss-cutter and Make It Go Away: Curling words to live by

As a curling writer, I'm fascinated by the language of the game. Friends of mine told me that when they tried to watch the Olympic curling event, they were in stitches over the indecipherable language - "code" they called it - used by the announcers. Try it: turn your curling antenna off and just listen to the lingo used to describe our game. It's pretty darn strange.

But there's always room for word evolution in curling.

At the recent Scotties, Saskatchewan (now Team Canada) skip Amber Holland drew lots of attention for her unusual lingo during a few games.

Referring to one of her rocks as a "piss-cutter" got people talking. Is that a bad word? What does it mean? How did that one get by the censors?

Truth is, the term is not as inappropriate as you might think.  Although I haven't concluded my research, it appears that the term is in common usage in the U.S. Marine corps, as the name of a certain type of folded cap worn with a uniform. But it's also been found as far afield as New Brunswick, as a term for something outstanding or good. "A real piss-cutter of a job", says Bill Casselman, collector of unusual Canadian terms, means to do a really good job of something. (You can read Bill's blog, here).

An article in the National Post in which Amber got "cornered" by reporter Cory Wolfe, suggests that the term is actually from Old English. I checked in with Professor Elizabeth Greene at Queen's University, a Old English specialist, and she says the term doesn't ring any bells with her. (We both went running for our copies of Beowulf and found nothing).

So the truth is out there, readers.  If anyone can help nail this one down, I'd love to know.


How often have we heard the announcers (and occasionally, curlers) preface a hit with the phrase: "We just want to make it go away."

Now, my question is, have curlers always been using this phrase - make it go away - or is it the invention of the late Sandra Schmirler (my theory)?

I can remember Sandra discussing shots with Jan Betker, her third, in the house and announcing that the plan was to "make it go away", at which point TSN announcers Vic, Linda and Ray would laugh in approval.

My question: did Sandra invent this term? Does anyone remember "Make it go away" being used in curling parlance before the late 1990s?

The language of curling: another reason to love the Roaring Game. (And of course we know where that term came from....right?)

1 comment:

  1. I think "Make it go away" originated with Quebec's Kevin Adams in the 1990 Brier in Sault Ste Marie. I know I've heard Ray Turnbull credit it to Adams.