Corpora: Zarf now freely available for civilian use. (fwd)

Lou Burnard (
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 10:15:18 +0100 (BST)

Just for light relief -- does anyone have any ideas how to express the
meaning of a term whose significance is too secret to talk about ?

Lou Burnard

Forwarded message:
> Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 08:05
> From: Nev Dull <>
> From: Peter Langston <>
> From: "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
> Language":
> "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