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#1 2008-06-23 15:27:35

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2146

rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Reuben Goldberg was a syndicated political cartoonist from the middle years of the twentieth century. He is best known today for his series of cartoons featuring devices invented by Prof. Lucifer Butts. These elaborate cartoon devices performed simple tasks in complicated ways. Today, any over-engineered, underperforming machine can be called a “Rube Goldberg device.”

Building Rube Goldberg devices has become popular sport among the nerd crowd. Sometimes these devices are mistakenly labelled “Rude Goldberg” machines. Three instances from the hundreds of exemplars on the net:

A label for a youtube video: “A Rude Goldberg device my group and I made for a project in Physics.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ5mHtJOGq0)

Blog for a science project: “Some potential problems that we may face include: assembling an enclosed Rude Goldberg device,” (http://historyofscience2008.blogspot.co … udget.html)

Post on Yahoo Answers: “Rude Goldbergs are not an easy project. The better it gets, the harder it gets.” (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index … kHI&show=7)

I’m guessing that the substitution of “rude” for “rube” is crossfertilized by the sense of “rude” meaning something rough, unrefined, raw, primitive, jury-rigged. From the standpoint of what these machines accomplish, they are arguably rude and simple, even though, from the standpoint of how they do it, they are anything but rude.

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#2 2008-06-23 18:54:38

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

I’ll buy kem’s rude as “inelegant” analysis.

That being the case, I wondered if there were any “elegant goldberg devices,” construing rude as an adjective attached to the name Goldberg device. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Of course that isn’t counter-evidence to kem’s analysis; it just suggests that rude goldberg (device) is treated as a unit, rather than an adjective plus proper noun.

The search turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. A Google search suggested 3,710 raw (273 unique) hits for “rude goldberg” in quotation marks. When I looked through some of those pages, though, I found no instances of the word rude. Clearly, the search engine is doing something unexpected.

Searching for more specific terms, I found 140 (17 unique) returns for “rude goldberg device” and 71 (14 unique) for “rude goldberg contraption”. Searches for “elegant goldberg device”, “elegant goldberg contraption”, “refined goldberg device”, and “refined goldberg contraption” all came up empty, though. I found three gHits for “elegant goldberg”, all references to the Goldberg Variations, and three hits for “refined goldberg”, all coincidental references to other people named Goldberg (not the cartoonist).

There are 42,900 raw hits for “goldberg device”, and each of the first ten pages contains the string Rube Goldberg device. There are 22,800 raw hits for “goldberg contraption”, and eight of the first ten refer to Rube Goldberg contraption. The other two appear to be more false positives – I couldn’t find Goldberg on either page.

Ah, the mysteries of Google.

ADDENDUM—EUREKA!

There are two pages describing an “elaborate Goldberg device”.

Jackie and Yong escape using the most Jackie Chan way possible (an overly elaborate Goldberg device that causes 6-digit property damage figures).
http://aaronsboardofbad.blogspot.com/20 … -2001.html

Mulder’s attention turns to a nearby table where Weems has constructed an elaborate Goldberg device.
http://www.filmfodder.com/tv/xfiles/goldberg_variation/

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#3 2008-06-23 20:30:29

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

kem wrote:

Reuben Goldberg was a syndicated political cartoonist from the middle years of the twentieth century. He is best known today for his series of cartoons featuring devices invented by Prof. Lucifer Butts. These elaborate cartoon devices performed simple tasks in complicated ways. Today, any over-engineered, underperforming machine can be called a “Rube Goldberg device.”

I’m really sorry to contradict you—I hate to seem disrespectful, or anything.

But the proper term is clearly “Rube Goldberg contraption.”

Last edited by TootsNYC (2008-06-23 20:30:56)

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#4 2008-06-23 22:18:24

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Nilep—I suspect most of your false positives are the result of “silent redirections” based on strings of probable misspellings. If you click on the “Cached” button for such hits, the top of the screen will usually say something like “These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: rude goldberg.” I’m a bit surprised by your two false “Goldberg” hits, though—it’d be interesting to see what those look like using the “Cached” button.

I also found a few hits for “intricate/complicated Goldberg machines.”

Inspired by TootsNYC’s post—and interested in advancing the march of Science—I ran some numbers:

Rube Goldberg machine 144k hits
Rube Goldberg device 42k hits
Rube Goldberg contraption 31k hits
Rube Goldberg invention 6k hits
Rube Goldberg thing .9k hits
Rube Goldberg widget one hit

Of the phrases I could think of, “machine” is the clear winner. But I agree with TNYC—“contraption” conjures up far more pulleys, tubes, levers, springs and counterweights for me than any of its competitors do.

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#5 2008-06-23 23:41:39

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2146

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Contraption. An artificial word for an artificial device. Appropriate.

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#6 2008-06-24 02:18:57

nilep
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-03-21
Posts: 291

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

patschwieterman wrote:

I’m a bit surprised by your two false “Goldberg” hits, though—it’d be interesting to see what those look like using the “Cached” button.

As you predicted, both say, “These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: goldberg contraption.”

http://209.85.141.104/search?q=cache:Cz … cd=6&gl=us

http://209.85.141.104/search?q=cache:ks … cd=7&gl=us

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#7 2008-06-24 21:00:39

TootsNYC
Eggcornista
Registered: 2007-06-19
Posts: 263

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

kem wrote:

Contraption. An artificial word for an artificial device. Appropriate.

And, it’s just a fun word to say.

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#8 2008-06-24 21:26:26

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1776
Website

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Has anybody ever seen a serious attempt to measure that quality, of how “fun” a word is to say? I have a feeling that it influences our choice of vocabulary more than most theories of linguistics would know how to allow for. “Discombobulated”, “serendipitous”, “acetylsalicilic acid” (“never can remember the other name for that stuff!”), “Wa-la!” (aka “Voilà”), (sure) “contraption”.

There was silence supreme, /
Not a shriek, not a scream, /
Scarcely even a howl or a moan, /
As the man they called “Ho!” /
told his story of woe /
in an antediluvian tone.

No other word would ever “get” it like “antediluvian” in that context.

I’ve wanted to call them “Ballonisms”, and describe them as “primal preposterosities principally promulgated for the sheer antediluvian pleasure of discombobulating the populous with neoglescently colorful, albeit impertinacious, inappropriations”. This is in honor of Mr. Ballon, from Mark Twain ( Roughing It XXVII):

What Mr. Ballon customarily meant, when he said a long word, was a secret between himself and his maker. … If a word was long and grand and resonant, that was sufficient to win the old man’s love, and he would drop that word into the most out-of-the-way place in a sentence or a subject, and be as pleased with it as if it were perfectly luminous with meaning.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-24 21:30:44)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#9 2008-06-25 07:39:56

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

I’ve never seen anyone try to quantify that effect, but I think I know what you mean. Do any of the following work for you? Bamboozle, flim-flam, bric-a-brac, in cahoots, lubricious, salubrious, dilettante, wallow, pollywog, carburetor. I’d also add “bulbous,” but maybe that’s because I always hear it in my head the way that the singer Captain Beefheart sings it in his song “Ella Guru.” His enunciation itself seems to exemplify bulbousness.

W’s are good. B’s are good. They’re both esp. good with rounded vowels. And repetition of an element with a bit of variation is very nice.

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#10 2008-06-25 10:40:25

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1776
Website

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Yes, all of them work. Yes, repititition [sic] adds to the fun. Yes, w’s and b’s, and rounded vowels, are good. But so are other things in other cases. I have a niece who loves the name of C.S.Lewis’ pfifltriggi (from Out of the Silent Planet ) enough to use their name as an online handle. The ee’s and i’s and s’s and t’s of “eensy-weensy teensy-tiny itty-bitty” are fun for me. (Some claim to have disproved the claim that such high-front vowels and apical fricative consonants naturally mean ‘little’, but I am quite unconvinced. One of my favorite pairs of words from a Nahuatl dialect I’ve worked on is tzītzikitzī [IPA ˌtsitsɪˈkɪtsi] vs. tzikitzitzī [ˌtsɪkɪˈtsɪtsi] which mean, respectively, ‘little sg.’ and ‘little pl.’ I would be very surprised to find a language in which they meant “humongous”.)

Or think what fun Ogden Nash had with the VgmV sequence in The Third Jungle Book

Why does the pygmy
. indulge in polygmy?
His tribal dogma
. frowns on monogma.
Monogma’s a stigma
. for any pigma;
If he sticks to monogmy,
. a pygmy’s a hogmy.

(They will probably take this one up in the California supreme court one of these days.)

What’s sometimes called “sound symbolism” certainly enters in. Just slurp and slosh around your mouth a bunch of the lovely slishy slushy sleek slippery slick sloppy words (slathers of them) that begin with sl .

Wasn’t it Lord Peter Wimsey who claimed to be at least half-drunk on words most of the time?

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2008-06-25 10:53:36)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#11 2008-06-25 13:13:11

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

David and Pat – don’t you think the latter area of speculation warrants its own thread?
Kem – I’d never heard of Goldberg and am pleased to make his acquaintance but feel I should point out that ‘Heath Robinson contraption’ was an official dictionary entry in 1912. That W Heath Robinson was a Brit excites none of the jingoistic bones in my body, for I have none; it may simply be that Goldberg fans are as ignorant of HR as I was of Goldberg, and would like to know more.

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#12 2008-06-25 13:32:05

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1776
Website

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

A nicely worded rebuke, and spot on.

Is there an easy way to move a bunch of posts to another thread?


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#13 2008-06-25 17:55:36

patschwieterman
Administrator
From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Is there an easy way to move a bunch of posts to another thread?

The question I ask myself most often. Back in the dusty, abandoned offices of the Database, there’s a threadbare manual that mentions moving whole threads between pages—suggesting to me that it should be possible to move individual posts. But it doesn’t explain how to do either operation (the idea was obviously that the moderator would have already been given a little training), and it gives cautions about crashing the whole website if you try to do it without first doing other things that are also unexplained. I may try emailing Chris, but that hasn’t worked in a while. (Of course, we can always cut and paste and delete if we feel like it.)

To get on topic again before we get into any more trouble, the Wikipedia page for “Rube Goldberg Machines” lists a number of Goldberg analogues in a host of countries, and duly notes the priority of Robinson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rube_Goldberg_machine. That page also mentions the Danish cartoonist Robert Storm Petersen, who seems to have been nearly an exact contemporary of Goldberg and Robinson—and a fascinating figure in general.

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#14 2011-03-15 16:51:13

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2146

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

This switch at the head of this fun and polyjacked thread also runs the other way. “Rube,” which for the last century has been a slang term for a yokel/country bumpkin/hick, can interlope on the semantics of “rude.” There are numerous examples on the web of “be rube to” and “rube awakening” in contexts that require “rude” – four are cited below. Even a few “rube remarks” show up.

Movie review: “People who feel life is so painful, so meaningless that they decide to end it all are in for a rube awakening within the confines of this screenplay. ”

Post on fishing forum: “The rube awakening I got at Camp Far West last weekend was yet another reminder that I’m not in Southern California anymore.”

Apocalyptic web fiction: “ She’d never be rube to a guest, my friend.”

Forum post: “And unofficially, employees are now allowed to be rube to parents who attempt to dump their kids on the store.”

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#15 2011-03-16 20:00:37

JuanTwoThree
Eggcornista
Registered: 2009-08-15
Posts: 331

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

What to make of the sex change? Unless I’m missing some joke about machines made by women.

some kind of ruth goldberg machine? an overly complicated machine to do one simple task

Think of the childhood game mousetrap and multiply the scope by about 50000 and you have a Ruth Goldberg Contraption

You had to get different types of machine parts and make a giant kind of ruth goldberg device. It was great.

and many many more. I thought there must be or have been a famous Ruth Goldberg but it seems not. Obviously both Ruth and Goldberg are Jewish sounding names and one might get associated with the other, but it’s not as if Rube wouldn’t.

There may be a more delicate way of expressing that thought, but I can’t think of one that isn’t being coy. No offensive stereotyping is intended.

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#16 2011-03-17 03:47:30

David Bird
Eggcornista
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1185

Re: rude goldberg << rube goldberg

Intricate tinkering runs in the Goldberg clan..

Ruby goldberg machine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=susaigpyul0

Rudy-Goldberg marble segments
http://www.narutoforums.com/showthread. … 502&page=3

And the forebear of them all: Root Goldberg.

thats the problem with all root goldberg machines like the domino express, if 1 thing goes wrong the whole thing does
http://www.24hourcampfire.com/ubbthread … /4366964/2

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