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Toma Sota Balcu
The latest craze sweeping through LiveJournal, Xanga, and other blogging communities involves people posting this message on their blogs:

A girl died in 1933 by a homicidal murderer. He buried her in the ground when she was still alive. The murdered chanted, "Toma sota balcu" as he buried her. Now that you have read the chant, you will meet this little girl. In the middle of the night she will be on your ceiling. She will suffocate you like she was suffocated. If you post this, she will not bother you. Your kindness will be rewarded.

It obviously seems to be inspired by the movie The Ring. Other than that I don't know much about this (such as who started it, etc.), though I do know that I'm now safe.
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 10, 2005

If I die in my sleep tonight I'll be sure to let you know.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  12:48 PM
I'm not afra-
hey! who's that on-

Posted by PlantPerson  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  01:02 PM
Oh this is just a Bloody Mary rip-off. Think somebody is trying to see how many Google hits for "Toma sota balcu" they can get out of this?
Posted by Craig  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  01:39 PM
165 pages so far.

and how is a little girl going to bury me? bring it on i say.
Posted by Nick  in  Merrie Olde Englande  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  01:53 PM
I'm wondering if that's an anagram of some sort. I've messed with it a little and can't figure out one.
Posted by Bill B.  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  02:50 PM
Toma is a common Romanian first name (Thomas) and both Sota and Balcu are Romanian last names. Does this bring us closer to any kind of solution?
Posted by Zoltan  in  Austria  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  03:02 PM
Actually if I think about it, Toma is also a common last name in Romanian, not just a first name. So we have three Romanian last names or a Romanian name - compound last name. Can all this be a coincidence?
Posted by Zoltan  in  Austria  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  03:08 PM
Brings up more than a few anagrams. My favorite is AMOS AT OAT CLUB.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  03:11 PM
Probably the signature of the person that came up with it. Do you have a translation for Sota and Balcu? Crap....duh, there's a Romanian that works here.
Posted by Craig  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  03:12 PM
Oh, great, Alex, so now YOU'RE safe, and the rest of us are going to get suffocated. Thanks a LOT!
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  03:19 PM
He said they're phoenetic spellings, someone hearing the Romanian and writing down what they heard in english without knowing what the meaning was so its hard to translate, or its code for something.
Posted by Craig  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  03:53 PM
I do not understand - do we have a week to post a message or not?
Posted by Loxx  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  04:09 PM
Well, the second and third words are indeed Romanian last names, but they don't mean anything. There are names in other languages too (including English) that aren't necessarily meaningful, right?
Posted by Zoltan  in  Austria  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  04:18 PM
"There are names in other languages too (including English) that aren't necessarily meaningful, right?"
As far as I know, almost all names in English and in all other languages that I know anything about mean something, or at least used to mean something. The exception would be the dumb-sounding names (in my opinion) that people occasionally cook up for themselves or their children out of thin air.
My name (Gary), for example, is an old Anglo-Saxon name that meant something like "Spear Carrier." My last name means "Barrel Maker."
However, most English speakers don't know what these names mean, although neither name is unusual in English.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  05:32 PM
Charybdis! How dare you give us that link! It's addictive!!
Posted by Silentz  in  general  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  05:43 PM
Now I can't give you a counter-example of a name that doesn't mean anything, because you'll say that "probably it used to mean something long ago", and you're probably right. At least in Romanian there are a lot of loan words and names from other neighbouring languages. Such loan words were usually taken up with a phonetical spelling, the new word not meaning anything. After that, add some hundreds of years of "weathering in common people's mouths" and you'll end up with a name not resembling anything. Probably both Sota and Balcu used to mean something in Romanian, Hungarian, Serbian etc, but I bet the guy behind the urban legend had no intention of using this meaning.

Compare how the Ellis Island immigration officers spelled a newcomer's name: for example Tony Curtis was of Hungarian origin (his family was called Kert̩sz before he went to America, meaning "gardener") but who would today know what his name means?
Posted by Zoltan  in  Austria  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  05:49 PM
Big Gary C's real name is Gary Cooper? Somehow the screen name now fits...

Since we're talking about last names now, does anyone know a site where you can reasearch where a last name came from? Although I've tried to reasearch it, no one can figure out what my last name means and since my family came from England the spelling shouldn't be all that different...
Posted by Fay-Fay  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  06:21 PM
Zoltan, I'm not sure I understand your comment that loan words don't mean anything in the new language. If they don't mean anything, most people wouldn't bother to say them, since the principal purpose of speaking is to communicate something.
English also contains a great many loan words (perhaps all languages do), but each loan word means something in English, and usually the English meaning is not too far from the meaning in the source language.
Speaking of Ellis Island, apparently it's something of a legend that the clerks there routinely changed people's family names. Ellis Island had a large corps of interpreters, most of whom were native speakers of the immigrants' home languages, and in any case the names registered at Ellis Island were usually copied directly from the passenger lists of the arriving ships. Last summer, I visited the Ellis Island museum, and the curators there said they have been trying to find documented cases of names being capriciously changed by the immigration inspectors, but so far they haven't come up with any examples.
As for Tony Curtis, if you mean the actor who was in "Some Like it Hot," according to the "World Almanac and Book of Facts," his original name (before he adopted the stage name Tony Curtis) was Bernard Schwartz. I'm not sure what the W.A.& B.o.F.'s source is for this information. What's yours?
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  07:24 PM
Fay-Fay, if you'll tell me what that last name is, I'll see what I can do.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  07:28 PM
Correct, my mistake. There are a lot of Hungary-related sources stating that the original name of Tony Curtis was Kert̩sz - see for example - but they are all wrong. The actor's parents were indeed Hungarians, but they were called Schwartz (lots of German last names even in Hungary, many of their owners Jewish), as you said. In any case, if you google around a bit, you'll find many cases of Kert̩sz becoming Curtis, and probably that was producing the confusion.

Big Gary: I didn't mean loan words, but names. To stick with the Hungarian examples: what does Pataki mean in English? Or Sarkozy in French? Nothing. Yet, the names of these famous politicians are of Hungarian origin (pataki = from the river, sarkozy = from S
Posted by Zoltan  in  Austria  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  08:55 PM
Yes, there probably was some simplification of spelling (that is, making it more like English spelling), and no doubt characters that don't exist in English tended to be changed or dropped (since there were no keys for those characters on the typewriters used at Ellis Island), and any place you have people (some of them not too well-educated) writing a lot of things in a hurry, there will be a good many outright mistakes. A substantial minority of the immigrants came from countries using the Cyrillic or other alphabets, so their names obviously had to be transliterated before they could be written in the Latin alphabet at all (I speak here only of writing systems used in Europe, because very few non-Europeans came in through Ellis Island).
But all of this is different from the legends I had heard about officials who just arbitrarily changed names from "Giannopoulos" to "Smith" or from "Kozlowski" to "Brown."
Also, many names were eventually changed either by the immigrants (or their descendants) themselves or by employers or others, and in later generations those changes have tended to be attributed to "Ellis Island."
I don't think admitting that names were changed would reduce tourism to Ellis Island, and this would help, rather than hinder, people tracing their geneologies, so long as they knew what the name had been changed to (which would most often be their own current family name).
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  09:17 PM
Dearing. We've also seen it spelled Deering. From what we know it probably came from England. If not, then it's from Ireland.
Posted by Fay-Fay  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  09:32 PM
You know, you are starting to miss the point, which is that Alex has enabled an evil girl imp to kill us tonight.
Posted by Lina  in  Miami  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  09:35 PM
Regardless of the curse, I think the fact that you can also make it say A CASUAL BOTTOM is pretty great stuff.
Posted by Eric  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  10:49 PM
Yes, Lina, but if I had my druthers, I'd like to spend my last few moments discussing linguistics.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  12:18 AM
Oh, a HOMICIDAL murderer. As opposed to all those other kinds of murderers. I bet he buried her in dirt made of earth, too.

>>>OR...we kick the shit out of that little girl when she comes visiting....(careful not to mistake any cooky selling girlscouts for her. <<<

It ought to be easy to tell the difference, since girl scouts rarely stick to the ceiling, as far as I know. smile

Has it occured to anyone that you are in fact posting on a blog right now, and if you were really worried about the 'curse', you could just copy n' paste the message and put it in a post on this very thread, and that would technically suffice? Just sayin'....
Posted by Barghest  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  12:35 AM
Thank you for that awful suggestion, Barghest. The only problem with it is that after 1000 copies of Toma Sota Balcu have been posted on this site, an insane blogger named Alex might start appearing on people's ceilings. snake
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  12:42 AM
"What is that on the ceiling? It's mumbling to itself...something about haunted pregnant women on eBay made from elephant dung?"

"I think it's that Alex guy. Get me the broom."

"No, let's catch him in a jar and let him out in the backyard. If you squash a blogger it's bad luck, makes it rain or something...."
Posted by Barghest  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  01:34 AM
It's past midnight and I'm still cool.
Posted by Gigi  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  02:28 AM
Anagrams and Romanian barrel makers aside, this seems very similar to legends that have grown up around sleep paralysis, sometimes known as 'old hag syndrome'.
This occurs when you are just awake (either going to sleep or waking up), and your body is still paralysed (as it is every time you are asleep).
Interesting article here about a program on the subject from the observer, no buried girls selling cookies I'm afraid, you'll have to make do with a giant demonic bat:,6903,596608,00.html
Posted by Rob K  in  UK  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  10:05 AM
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