Tuesday, December 27, 2005

For the Last Time: Nomen Omen

People always ask me about my name.

I get emails.

I get comments here and on other people's blogs.

Even in person, people who recognize my picture — or otherwise know or figure out that I'm me — ask what the heck does "Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)" mean?

So in order to save myself the trouble of explaining it over and over again, I've decided to put up this post and link to it somehow in my profile.


...has nothing whatsoever to do with stegosaurus dinosaurs. However, due to the fact that it seems like every time someone sees "Steg" they think of hordes of rampaging platey-backed dinosaurs, I eventually embraced the connection. After all, dinosaurs are pretty cool, although when I was your typical nerdy little dinosaur-loving kid my favorite was triceratops, not stegosaurus.

Steg is actually nothing more than a nickname my cousin made for me in middle-school, as part of a reciprocal nickname-bestowing game between him and my brother. The names started with part of our names, and slowly mutated — always in sync with each other — through such stages as Septagon, Octagon, and Hexagon. Eventually, at the end of the game we were (the much more concise) Steg, Ag, and Jag. And Steg is the only one that stuck.


...is a transliteration of the Yiddish sentence דאָס איז ניט דער שטעג (dos iz nit der shteg), which means "that is not the way". I once took some Yiddish classes, and encountered the word שטעג šteg [remember: š (S-haček or S-caron) is the same thing as sh], meaning way or path. I thought it was cool that it looks like a Yiddish version of my nickname, with sh instead of s, and so used the expression dos iz nit der šteg (which can also be understood, btw, as "you're off the derekh!") to mean something along the lines of hey, nice to meetya, my name is Steg — not Šteg — and don't you forget it!

that Goblin King theme

...is because in college I was in a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) group, with a fairly typical medieval-fantasy theme. My character was a human monk who grew up among goblins (in order to have an interesting backstory) and therefore cast his 'spells' in the Goblin language (which I made up). Unfortunately, there were infighting/politics problems in the gaming group and it fell apart. A year later, me and a few friends decided to bring back the game, but with a somewhat different setting and storyline. We took the same fantasy world, and changed it a bit — including making the new game take place 20 years or so after the events of the old game. So all our old characters became big important figures in the new game, who we could use as plot devices while usually playing new regular characters. My old char became the [non-goblin, as i've mentioned] Goblin King.

If it comes out as anything other than boxes, under "THE HALL OF THE GOBLIN KING" at the top of the page there should be something that looks like (make sure your webbrowser is set to Unicode!)
ㅁㅇᆘㄴㅡㅏㄴ ㄷㅠㅡㄴㅛㅈㅡᆘㄱ ㅁᆘㅡㄷㅠ ᆘㄱㅡㅁㄹㅜㄷ
This is as close as I was able to get at writing in Goblin the first line of one of my old character's spell-chants, Pwét-et Dá-tíy-Ék pé-Dá Ék-prad "Person who I see before me..." It was used for turning potentially-dangerous random encounters into harmless bumps in the road. Consider it a birkat habayit for making my blog a generally non-confrontational space.


Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

For some reason, this is all sounding really familiar. I wonder why...

(And Aggən claims that he never really gave any credence to the game...)

12/28/2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

What did the game need credence for? It was a silly way to waste time in the class that made me hate Gemara for 3 years.

12/28/2005 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember making fun of cousin J's nick name thing. i definitely dont respond to any weird things that came out of it.

12/28/2005 3:55 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


That's why I said And Steg is the only one that stuck..

12/28/2005 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also think you may be making long unrequested stories out of people's bored questions. I'm not sure they care for all the details.
something like "Steg = my cousin dubbed me that in middle school // dos is... = a Yiddish phrase i like that sounds like 'steg' // and "Goblin King" = I played LARP in College and had fun being drafted as a "Goblin king" character" may work better

12/28/2005 4:09 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Re'uvên, do you know why I call you Aggən?

12/28/2005 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you were trying to annoy me by simulating steg's L-trouble?

12/28/2005 4:20 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...


12/28/2005 4:42 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Hey, did you notice that we're the only three people on this thread?

12/28/2005 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

marge, i think that has to do with my last suggestion to the proprietor. people just aren't so interested

12/28/2005 4:58 PM  
Blogger Lab Rab said...


I figured out the Yiddish translation from two sources:

1) When Alan links to you, he puts in parentheses (this isthe way). Meaning, I think, this really is the way to get to Steg - using this hyperlink.

2) Your translation of "On the Main Line" is אויף דער שטעג - so it's pretty clear from there what "Steg" means.

That said, I had always thought that the purpose of the comment was to warn people that there may be some unusual ideas here, so don't be confused and think that this is the mainstream "way" of thinking for all Jews.

12/28/2005 5:06 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

R' Prof. LR:

That said, I had always thought that the purpose of the comment was to warn people that there may be some unusual ideas here, so don't be confused and think that this is the mainstream "way" of thinking for all Jews.

Thanks, i forgot about that possibility... I think i might have actually had something like that in mind at one point, but i don't remember for sure anymore.

12/28/2005 5:57 PM  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Actually I found it to be somewhat interesting.

12/29/2005 2:26 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


yet another connotation of "that is not the way"! :-P

12/30/2005 10:32 AM  
Blogger Phillip Minden said...

She was talking about Jack...

12/31/2005 11:52 AM  
Blogger MC Aryeh said...

I also find it interesting, but I prefer to continue to be oblivious and think of your moniker as meaning Steg (This is not the steg (asaurus). Of course, that still leaves the first Steg in an ambiguous state, and I am willing to accept your explanation there.

And you are a strange lad (not directed to Jack) - but that is one of the reasons I keep coming back! Because you are a fascinating strange lad...

1/02/2006 3:04 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

MC Aryeh:

"Steg (this is not the stegosaurus)"... hmm... i like that one too :-P .

1/02/2006 8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "boroparkpyro" matter hasn't been addressed at all. Does it have anything to do with those mysterious arsons I've been hearing about?

2/08/2006 9:14 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Mike Koplow:

Nope, sorry to disappoint you. I'm just from B.P. and like fire, that's about it. No criminal activity... lately ;-)

2/08/2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger Ayelet said...

Hmm. Very useful. Not sure I get the whole goblin game but you menfolk have always been a strange species... Thanks for the lowdown.

2/26/2006 9:43 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

Not only men, Ayelet...I played D&D, Magic & Vampire :)
Hey, Steg, my fave was Triceratops, too. Stay on your derekh, if you can, tho'. ach time I step off mine, Ha-Shem send a car to smash into me. Ow.

6/29/2006 2:53 PM  
Blogger WBS said...

. I've hunted the Giant Albino Deer Monster in Upstate New York. And i've lived with the Aboriginal Ghosts whose name still haunts my homeland.

What's that about?

7/18/2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I went to college in Upstate New York, and once i saw in the woods a very tall pale shape that was probably just the moonlight hitting a dead tree without leaves, but at the time looked like a Giant Albino Deer Monster standing on its hind legs with its forelegs against its chest and immense antlers spread out to either side.

And the Valley of the Aboriginal Ghosts is ‘Eimeq Refa’im in Southern Jerusalem, where I lived for two years while i started this blog (and am visiting at the moment).

7/18/2006 4:17 PM  
Blogger WBS said...

Now I get it! Although you left out that‘Eimeq Refa’im literally means valley of the ghosts, which I had to find out from wikipedia (of all places)!

I don't speak Hebrew (yet) and your blogroll perplexes me.

Kol tov.

7/20/2006 5:09 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Sorry about that.
Refa'im means two things:
1. a mysterious aboriginal people who as far as we can tell from the times they're mentioned in the Tanakh, were the first people to inhabit Israel (before us or the Canaanites)
2. dead people in the underworld

"ghosts" is a more modern development of #2 which i didn't even know about until i got there.

7/20/2006 6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are confused about the word steg. In Yiddish, zagt men der "veg". Ich ken nisht kien vort 'steg'.

6/11/2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


take it up with Uriel Vainraikh, then :-P
and other Yiddish dictionaries i've looked it up in.

6/11/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger come running said...

I love names, and usually end up calling my friends names that I make up and vice versa. Even wrote a post about it...


btw-enjoying your blog

11/08/2007 1:50 PM  
Blogger B.BarNavi said...

Steg, why do I see Korean Hangul?

5/03/2008 11:25 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


because the alphabet i invented for the Goblin language for that game was heavily stolen from Hangul; most of the letters are the same or almost the same, even if they represent slightly different sounds.

5/04/2008 12:44 AM  

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