April 30, 2004

We Dispose of Goodle Mystery

The English language Goodle web page to which Mark referred is indeed puzzling, but the mystery is easily resolved if you know a bit about Korean language and culture. 온들 [ondɯl] "warm stone" is the traditional Korean heating system, a kind of hypocaust. In its original form, a wood fire was built in a fireplace like the one shown in the photograph and used to heat a wide stone called a 구들장 [gudɯlʤaŋ] under the floor of each room. One virtue of this system is that the stone has a large heat capacity and so stores up heat from the fire and releases it gradually, making the temperature of the room insensitive to the state of the fire. A variant uses a number of smaller stones with a layer of mud over them. A still later version uses water in a network of pipes embedded in concrete, a system which I believe was a favorite of the American architect Eichler. This company manufactures what they promote as a new, improved, pre-fabricated heating system derived from the traditional 온들. The term goodle is presumably an anglicization of 구들 [gudɯl], a synonym for 온들. The company very likely chose this term in an attempt to play on the English word good as well.

Posted by Bill Poser at April 30, 2004 10:49 PM