Have you heard how an Inuit language fascinates sociologists by having 15 words for "snow?" Well, whoop-de-do.
Shaquille "Diesel" O'Neal, also known as "Shaq Fu," "Shaq Daddy," "Superman," "Most Dominant Ever," "Super-Shaq," "Last Center Left," "Shaq-Diesel," "Planet Shaq," "Almighty Conceitedness," "Jon Bon Shaq," "Dr. Shaq," "Agent Double-Double 34," "The Millennium Goliath," and, on certain Halloweens, "Shaquanda," has 15 names right there just to describe himself.
That's not getting into variations involving "Big." Or his evil twin, "Elliuqahs Leano." They're all part of his Shaq-abulary that comes out when talking with him.
"I've got a million of them," O'Neal said.
It's more than nicknames. It's abbreviations, codes, words, some of them grammatical distortions that leave him saying, "Is that a word?" He tries them on friends and teammates, and will talk to reporters to see how they play.
"Write that down," he'll tell a public relation official if he says a word or line he especially likes.
Don't talk back. Talk Shaq. Or at least try to talk it now that we're sitting around, tapping our toes, waiting for the Heat's game tomorrow. You can't become fluent in Shaqspeak overnight.
But here, as a public service, is a pocket Shaq-tionary to help:
TWIsM. It's tattooed on his arm, just as it is on many in O'Neal's personal crew. It stands for "The World Is Mine." O'Neal got the idea after watching the movie Scarface. Tony Montana, played by Al Pacino, had a globe of the world with the message "The world is ours."
Flop-ternity. The "flopping fraternity" of players, he says, who fall down when playing defense against him in hopes of getting an offensive foul. Members include Jason Collins, Vlade Divac and Dennis Rodman.
LSU. His college stands for "Love Shaq University" or "Learn Slow University," depending on his mood.
Big. Used frequently in nicknames such as: "The Big Aristotle," which is what he called himself in 2000 while quoting the philosopher ("Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit"); "The Big Deporter," which he used after knocking several foreign centers out of the playoffs. Also, "The Big IPO," "Big Daddy," "The Big Stock Exchange," "Big Havliceck" (after several made free throws) and "Big Felon" (after a crucial steal in a game).
Lethalest. What he has called himself. As in "I'm the lethalest player out there. Is that a word?"
Shaqfari. What he calls hunting trips taken to game preserves in Florida's wilderness.
Elliuqhas Laeno. His name spelled backward; it's his evil twin who is "the person I am not allowed to be because of my status," he once told New Yorker magazine. "He's dead, though. I killed him off."
I.D.G.A.F. This was the nameplate above his Los Angeles Lakers locker. The G-rated translation: "I Dominate Games Always and Forever."
Rivalristic. As in: "I have my own rivalristic problems in the Eastern Conference. Is that a word?"
Sh.A.M. Stands for "Short Answer Method." Typically a quick, one-sentence answer used when tired of reporters' questions, tired of the same questions or just trying to make a getaway. Frequently accompanied by mumbling. Used like, "I started shamming them."
NBA. The league stands for "Nothing But Actors."
Heatenin. What he first considered himself after the trade to Miami. As in, "I was a Laker. Now I'm a Heatenin. Is that a word?"
My White Father. What he called Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Foul Shaving. As discussed in his book, Shaq Attack, this comes from his younger days when an opponent picked up a few quick fouls to get to the bench rather than play against O'Neal.
Flossin'. When you make yourself look good at other people's expense.
One piece of advice: Don't go flossin' by shamming everyone or putting I.D.G.A.F. on your office desk. Some things are reserved for The Big Linguist, who backs everything up with three championship rings.
Dave Hyde writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.