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INARTICULATIONS ABOUND IN BOOK; EDWARDS ENGINEERS DOCUMENT VERBAL GAFFES IN 'DIPTIONARY'.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

For people who like to eat coffee and drink doughnuts, meet together separately, and watch Doogie Howard on TV, the engineers of NASA Dryden Flight Research Center have a book for you.

For more than 36 years, the engineers of the aerostructures branch at Dryden have not only documented their contributions to aerospace: they also have recorded their assaults on the English language.

Mangled names, slips of the tongue, Freudian slips and smooshed-together words have been recorded in an aging spiral notebook dubbed the ``diptionary.''

``If you have low spirits this is the thing to read,'' said Lance Richards, keeper of the diptionary.

The diptionary is the 1963 creation of Bob Meneely and Jerry Jenkins. The first verbal faus pax was ``lognic,'' Meneely's attempt to say logic.

The diptionary was kept for about 15 years by Roger Fields before it was handed off to Richards in 1988.

There are now about 1,400 entries from over 100 different contributors in the diptionary. Each entry includes the blunder, what was meant to be said, and the initials of the offender.

Richards' contributions to the book include ``Thermos Thomas'' for Therman Thomas of the Buffalo Bills and ``papal'' instead of paper. Richards' favorite entry is ``I prefer walking with bare shoes, not feet.''

``Sometimes we combine words. We call it efficient speak,'' Richards said.

Efficient speak entries include ``queek'' for quick and cheap and ``horizonical'' for horizontal and vertical.

Names of co-workers were often the subject of the verbal slip-ups. A colleague named Dr. Ko was called a variety of names including Dr. Kro, Dr. Joe, and Dr. Hoe. Former test pilot, and later astronaut, Fred Haise was ``efficient speaked'' into ``Fraise.''

In years past, a ``Golden Tongue Award'' was given to the engineer who provided the most contributions in a year. The verbal bloopers have been memorialized in other ways. For the retirement party of Jerry Jenkins, Richards wrote a faux Jenkins' recollection of the ``good ol' days'' using all 35 of Jenkins' contributions to the diptionary.

One segment of the story reads: ``I understand the pilot wasn't hurt, but the plop of the plane, which was attached to a really shift staff, fell off and land a flew feet from a fruitstrand in Noodles. Although I can't get too speciffy as to the exact location of the plop, let's just say that the fruitstrand owner sustained some soft-tissue industries in undisclosed locations.''

There are varying strategies for trying to avoid memorialization in the diptionary, Richards said.

Some engineers try basic denial - ``I didn't say that.'' Some try shifting the blame - ``You didn't hear me right.'' And some try stealth - they keep plowing through the conversation in hopes that no one caught the blunder.

When the diptionary was kept by Roger Fields, a diligent chronicler of gaffes, some tried silence.

``People became very paranoid. They were afraid to speak,'' Richards said. ``You had to watch what you said because you knew it would end up in the diptionary.''

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: (color in AV and SAC only) Lance Richards of NASA Dryden Flight Center boasts the more than 1,400 entries in this ''diptionary'' will cheer any reader.

Jim Skeen/Staff Photographer
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 19, 1999
Words:537
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