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jpmaher commented on the word senile
In "senile old fool" the word senile for the masses means not old but demented. Syntax is the reason: In senile dementia, the meaning of the second term has "impregnated" the first term. Stoic grammarians (not the stolid guys) actually called the phenomenon "pregnancy". Other useful terms for it: transferred epithet, adventitious association, adequation...
March 11, 2012
jpmaher commented on the word anus
Industry dictionaries and netymologists typically ignore syntax. In the case of Latin the syntax was "anus culi", ring of the arse... The diminutive appears in Italian anello "'ring" (on finger). Italian anello is not understood as "little anus".
jpmaher commented on the word cteis
Joseph Campbell and copy-cat lexicographers say it's a mystery, but it's not if you apply a simple knowledge of Greek. Ctéis is the French transcription of Classical Greek kteis (genitive ktenos), which translates into English as comb, scallop, or female pubes. In Greek iconography the image of the scallop is rebus writing for the female pudendum, aka pubes, vulva, or pussy. Related is latin pecten, which has the same range of meanings. At Eleusis, which is Greek for "trysting" place, they worshipped the female naughty bit. That's why the Christians suppressed the cult of Demeter, not some much out of prudery but because it was "a false god". Still, if it feels good it must be a sin. Pass the oysters.
jpmaher commented on the word fish-fag
William Banks Fortescue painting
February 22, 2011
jpmaher commented on the user jpmaher
Fish-fag, a female fish-hawker. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer. 1882.
jpmaher commented on the word incardinate
In regard to the Catholic clergy, "Incardinate" is not a cacography of "incarnate". It means to promote a cleric to the rank of cardinal. “Key” men in the RC hierarchy are metaphorically "hinge-men". Although "cardines" is usually translated as ‘hinges’, the ancient "cardo" (plural "cardines") do not “hang”, but are vertical posts, round at the base, on which twin doors pivot in a round-mortised stone. Our term is "key-men", but the key & the keyhole in Italy allude to Amore. Look up "chiavata" and "chiave".
December 7, 2010
London Evening News, November 8, 1933. A staff writer on the London Observer, November 12, 1933, P. I5/7, commented on this as follows:
“ ‘O.K.,’ to the use of which the Southwark coroner has been objecting, is one of those pseudo-funniments which depend upon misspelling. .. In the commercial world one finds the same idea in the ‘kwick-lunch counters’ and the ‘phlat pheet’ advertisements of the shops. It is only a very specialised sense of humour that thinks it funny to do a thing wrongly, though there is no denying that the art of perversity has its successes as well as its failures… The two that stayed with me were “P.D.Q.” (Pretty Damn Quick), and “O.K.” (Oil Keerect)…. from Allen Walker Read
December 6, 2010
jpmaher commented on the word hooker
On the “urban legend” of General Hooker: The phrase "pretty Hookers" (1845) has been interpreted by Professor Norman E. Eliason (1956) Tarheel Talk to mean ‘prostitutes’. His ASSERTION, is that before the US Civil War prostitutes were commonly called “hookers”. All other references of hooker in the 1800s were to hooker-boats or to Mennonites or to thieves or persons with the family name Hooker. (Search engines and jokes are not sensitive to the difference between proper names and common nouns.)
Try to find a single passage in which the word "hooker" refers explicitly or implicitly to whores. Consult the series "Making of America: MoA – a digital library of primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction." See also the many boks by Jay Moynahan on whoring in the Old West. He has told me that he never found "hooker" as a word for prostitute. Eliason's interpretation, which is repeated as fact in slang dictionaries printed since 1956, is that the Civil War story merely reinforces an old usage that was there all along. How long and where? Not attested in Chaucer or Shakespeare, who were bawdy enough; not Down Under or in Ireland. A Galway hooker is not an Irish tart, but a boat named for fishing with hook, not net.
Eliason considers it mere coincidence that General Joe Hooker sequesterd prostitutes in SE Washington. pm the site of the present Museum of the American Indian, in Washington SE, in 1863 a red light district. Civil War historian Shelby Foote would not have been able to find "hooker " = ‘whore’ in any 1840s dictionary since no such entry exists. The phrase “pretty Hookers” certainly refers to “hot chicks” in Eliason’s source, a letter from North Carolina student T. S. Haughton to fellow student Bryan Grimes. – Another of their fellows was Erasmus A. Roscoe Hooker. (Google “Graduates of the University of North Carolina 1798-1851”. Eliason’s own source warns his correspondent that, while dalliance with the girls he has mentioned as “pretty Hookers” would be safe sex, he should at all costs avoid prostitutes: a clap epidemic was in full bloom. Check Eliason’s primary source. The earliest unconditionally sure case of referring to prostitutes as hookers was in the 1914 booklet of Jackson and Hellyer, Vocabulary of Criminal Slang, With Some Examples of Common Usages. – Common, that is, among criminals, not citizens. A compendium of underworld slang would not include words that were common knowledge to rookies and civilians.
By “unconditionally sure” reference I mean that the writer says flat out “hooker means prostitute”. In “conditionally sure” cases, context and inference make clear what the word means: “Ain't you got the sense to tell a good girl from a hooker? (Look Homeward, Angel. Thomas Clayton Wolfe 1929.) Otherwise we have contestable cases, i.e. where an opinion or interpretation on meanings is involved, with or without argument. Eliason’s opinion is untenable. His reviewers overlooked this gem of historical linguistics from his book (1956: 54): “I Seen Batsey Betsy above the fish Dam a tuesday Last and “He goes to see Sally above the fishdam… –Eliason: “Above the fish dam as used here is very curious, for it is evidently not an adverbial phrase answering “where?” but rather an alternate surname, common in early English but extremely rare so late as this.” Eliason takes this as “Betsy who?”, not “Betsy where?”. Remember George Burns & Gracie Allen: "Say Good night, Gracie"? That was a joke, a deliberate joke, while Eliason's surname is an unintentional joke. Netymologist Wilton and librarian Shapiro et al. have not done their homework.
September 15, 2009
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