Egyptian mysteries

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Sadly only one of these cards was posted, though the ‘Etla barra’ card has a laconic message on the back – ‘A request, or a demand’. ‘Come to the Caracol’ was sent On Active Service on 9 November 1916 from Algy to Miss Clare Colley in Pembroke, with a familiar impatient message asking for a letter. Neither Fraser and Gibbons, Brophy and Partridge, nor anyone else I can lay my hands on can help with what the Caracol was – any thoughts anyone? Obviously not an appealing destination for young people; though noting the relative sizes of the characters, they may not be young so much as of lower status. A semiotic coding of status by size was fairly common in British cartoons and comics at this time.


Garland Cannon and Alan S Kaye in  The Arabic Contributions to the English Language: An Historical Dictionary (1994) note how in The Island of Dr Fu Manchu two British characters use the phrase ‘Etla bárra! Gehánumm!’ as a shibboleth to make their way past people who would recognise, but not understand, Arabic. Quest Arabiya, a tv channel broadcasting in Arabic, has a ‘new adventure show’ called “Etla Barra”. Can any Arabic speakers help out here?


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