Birds Flock. Ah! But Do They Bink? Nay, They Do Not.
by David Kennedy Bird
Abstract: In which the blogger attempts to etymologically examine the term “flockbinker,” with unexpectedly fruitful results.*
Y’know, we sure do talk a lot about flockbinkers around here. Which is kind of odd, since no one has any real idea what they are. So, in this post we’re going to attempt an examination of the term “flockbinker,” to see if we can shed any light on the subject.
I flatter myself in having a bit of background in linguistics and etymology, so this should be a walk through the zoo. [suddenly uncertain] Wait. Is that a real expression? A walk through the… zoological garden? The… animal display park? The Baltimore Aquarium? No. The animal penitentiary? A walk in the place where they have all the animals in big cages? Dang it, how DOES the expression go?
Oh dear. We’re not off to a rootin’-tootin’ start, are we. Wait. Is that really an expression? A rootin’-tootin’ start? I am suddenly questioning everything i know about linguistics.
Perhaps the best place to begin a journey from, is the place of humility.
Wait. Are you allowed to hang a preposition when you’re quoting a wise saying?
[gets all grumpy for a minute or so. bangs about, using inappropriate language and breaking the china. best just to leave him alone ’till he recovers]
Okay. Better now. Let’s figure out some linguistics! Wait. Is that what you do with linguistics–figure it out? No matter! Onward!
So, when we’re figuring out the origin of a word, it seems to me that the way to start is to break the word down into its component parts… like they did the word “prostitution” in the movie Night Shift.
The term “flockbinker” breaks down fairly conveniently, it seems to me, into two halves: “flock” and “binker.” Why don’t we begin with an analysis of the “flock” part, and then move on to “binker.”
A “flock” is a group of animals all moving in the same direction, as in “a flock of seagulls” or “a flock of sheep” or “a flock of yellow-bellied, trainspotted marmosets.” A flock might be on the move in order to obtain food, or to seek warmer climes, or to find a good deal in menswear. A flock does not generally move into an area where the large, mean boys are likely to assail them with insults and possibly even physical abuse, although certain animals have been known to flock into the U.S. congressional chamber during protracted policy debates, for no reason that anyone has ever been able to supply.
“Binker,” the second part of the word, is generally used to mean… hmmm. We seem to be running into a bit of a problem. I’m not finding “binker” in the dictionary. We may have to improvise a bit here. Let’s see. Well, for one thing, “binker” is like “blinker” but without the “l”. So it’s like a turn signal, i suppose, but smaller. Binker is also a bit like “winker,” one who–i suppose–winks. Then, of course, there’s “stinker,” as in, “Stinker Pinker,” a character from the fiction of P.G. Wodehouse. And, of course, if we want to go minimalist, an “inker” (first cousin to the binker, one supposes) would be, er, somebody who applies ink. I dunno. This is beginning to feel like we’re grasping at straws. I think we’re done with binker for now.
So, to summarize: a flockbinker would be… a group of Bertie Wooster’s mentally deficient buddies? Or, a tribe of turn signals that are missing important component parts? Or, a group of seafowl singing “Space Age Love Song” while batting their eyelids flirtaciously? Or, a bunch of fancy marmosets avoiding the neighborhood bullies while showing off their badass tattoos?
I must confess that i find none of these definitions satisfying.
For now, it may be best to shelve our attempts to define the term “flockbinker” with any degree of precision, and just leave it as an essentially undefined term.