Fun_People Archive
12 Apr

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 99 11:37:07 -0700
To: Fun_People
Precedence: bulk
Subject: ZARF?

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649
Forwarded-by: "T.S. Waterman"
From:  Ron Zacharski <>

	NSA declassifies the word "Zarf"

We found the following in this month's Atlantic Monthly Word Watch column
in "a selection of terms that have newly been coined, that have recently
acquired new currency, or that have taken on new meanings, compiled by the
executive editor of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English

"Zarf, meaning unknown: "Effective immediately the term Zarf will be treated
as UNCLASSIFIED when standing alone or in conjunction with a classification
marking. This action applied ONLY to the term Zarf. Information protected
by the Zarf codeword will continue to require protection (National Security
Agency email reprinted in the Washington Post Magazine)"

According to the Atlantic Monthly this is not the first time the government
has declassified a term without divulging its meaning. The memo
declassifying Zarf was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The
National Security Agency has declined to comment. The Atlantic Monthly
writes: "Zarf is an anomaly in this space, which generally discusses new
words whose definitions are in some way revealing about societal or other
trends: Zarf is a new word whose LACK of a definition is revealing."

The word lacks an unclassified definition in English.  We are curious what
the word means in other languages. In Persian, for example, the word means
"dish". In Turkish the word means a protective cover or an envelope. Did
some National Security Analyst/Linguist snarf this Turkish word and extend
its meaning?

We would appreciate hearing what the word means in other languages.

Karine Megerdoomian
Ron Zacharski
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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