The Other I

September 21, 2011

Cowabunga! Need to know

I woke up in the middle of the night last night wondering about the source of  the word “cowabunga.”  Where in heaven’s name did a word like that originate?

My hypothesis was that it began with Spanish cowboys.  It was an idea that I made up completely out of nothing, which a little research on the internet suggests is just about what it’s worth.

The best guess of modern linguists is that it derived from the Native American exclamation Kwa Bungu.   If I had been a television child, I might at least have been aware of its reincarnation by Howdy Doody’s Chief Thunderthud who (I am told) began each sentence with the nonsense syllable “kawa.”

Since then, “Cowabunga!” has led the life of a celebrity, being adopted by Hawaiian surfers, and no less personages than Snoopy, the Cookie Monster, and Bart Simpson.

Speaking of the need to know, I should have mentioned in my post yesterday that lemon juice is acidic, but becomes alkaline when it’s broken down.

Don’t ask, I don’t know.  I’ve also learned, however, that there is a modicum of confusion in this area.  Some foods are categorized as alkaline on some lists and as acidifying on others.

I am unable to be too obsessive about this, and have settled for printing out a list of alkaline foods which I have posted on my refrigerator.  I also have a list of acidic foods but I find that for myself, I do better by maximizing alkaline foods than minimizing the acidics.  So the acidic list is not posted in a very prominent spot but is there if I’m really driven to find out.

There’s a good list on  Or use Google for enough references to last a lifetime.




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