LOST FOR WORDS: II.

Here are a few more quotes from Lost for Words: The Hidden History of the Oxford English Dictionary (see my first post). On a notorious omission (p. 82):

‘I am afraid it is quite true that the word bondmaid has been omitted from the Dictionary, a most regrettable fact’, [James Murray] was forced to admit in 1901, fourteen years after the publication of the fascicle (Batter-Boz) in which it should have appeared. The admission was prompted by a letter from a perplexed user of the dictionary whose search had in this instance been a fruitless one. Murray’s reply was deeply apologetic. He could offer no ‘rational account’, he wrote. The word was indeed ‘lost’: ‘One can only surmise that the “copy” for it was in some unaccountable way lost either here or at the press’. Either way it was inexplicable and, he added, ‘absolutely unparalleled’.

On affinities with the new theory of evolution (p. 114):

‘We cannot doubt that language is an altering element’, as Darwin himself wrote, musing on the apparent flux of verbal form; ‘we see words invented — we see their origin in names of People — Sound of words … often show traces of origin.’ [...] Words in ‘everyday use’, Darwin reflected, ‘have been worn, until, like pebbles on the beach, they have lost every corner and distinctive mark, & hardly a vestige remains to indicate their original form.’

On page 147 Mugglestone quotes some idiot named Robert Heald who insists that there is no such word as twin: “This is erroneous [...] ‘Twins’ is a plural noun like scissors, tongs, tweezers … the fact that the word terminates with an ‘s’ is an accident, which in no way warrants its transformation into a bastard singular noun.” This is a perfect example of the kind of ignorant assertions resorted to by proud upholders of invented traditions everywhere. And on page 145, a passage showing Murray’s admirable refusal to judge:

Variability, as in the four different pronunciations which the OED provided for words such as vase or hegemony, had to be seen as a salient part of language, even if its presence disconcerted those who searched in vain for categoric proclamations on ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in usage. The same was true, as Murray assured another anxious correspondent, of the ongoing variation in the pronunciation of either. This ‘picturesque variety’ was discernible even in his own family. ‘I say eether, my children all say īther‘, Murray confirmed — yet this was not an issue of concern. ‘It is a matter of taste’, he asserted. ‘No wise person would wish to impose his or her taste on others’. A normative response was inappropriate. After all, Murray added, variation ‘gives life and variety of language’, proving its vitality and its status as a living and mobile tongue.

Comments

  1. About “vase”: When I was about 8 years old, a teacher with a sense of humor told us, with a straight face, that the difference between a vahz and a veyz is that the former is more expensive.

  2. empty: I believe that exact difference was reported by William Labov in the ’60s: one of his New York informants pointed out her small v[eys]es and large v[ahz]es.

  3. They didn’t have bondmaid, but they did have Dickens’s pseudonym?

  4. About invented traditions I’ve been reading The Invention of Tradition. It’s a collection of essays by Eric Hobsbawm and three other historians, including Hugh Trevor-Roper (eek) on Scotchmen (sic) and the Highland tradition, and David Cannadine on the monarchy. The book’s worth buying for those two chapters alone. Did I first hear about it here? I may have.

  5. You announced here that you had bought the book, and were going to read it. Somewhere else you sprayed scorn on Trevor-Roper (eek). I am taking notes, you see. On unlined notepaper, bound in moleskin. Some day it will all add up.
    Would that be the Kung Fu monarchy? David Cannadine just died, so it may be one of the last things he wrote. Did you follow the above link about “skin tags”? They sometimes have peduncles, just like pedants do.
    That’s an amusing whatever-could-he-mean comment about “Dickens’ pseudonym”. Allow me to spoil it by assuring readers that “Boz” is not a lemma in the OED.

  6. What makes you think David Cannadine has died? He certainly doesn’t mention it in what his on his Wiki entry is called his official page. He recently received a knighthood, perhaps that’s what you mean? It’s not the same, you know.

  7. Oh, I must be thinking of David Carradine <* smirks *>

  8. Noetica says:

    Grumbler and Kruun, David Carradine is the Kung Fu man who recently died. David Cannadine is a historian.
    Distinguish being knighted, and entering that good night into which we are enjoined not to go gently.

  9. Just a microsecond too late, Mr. N.! Having danced on Kruun’s nose (Ger. loc.), though ever so briefly, my work is done.

  10. I’m just feeling frisky today, though dark clouds beetle on the horizon und Unheil naht (probably).

  11. I would have put it the other way round, Doctor: David Carradine is a Kung Fu man who recently died. David Cannadine is the historian.
    Dancing on my nose is a good expression, Grumbly.

  12. dance on (someone’s) nose
    I googled this and can’t find a meaning, but the context sounds something like being intentionally mean to someone or giving false information.
    I suppose not everyone enjoys reading history, but I do, and I always appreciate AJPs comments, especially since he has such an encyclopedic knowledge of British esoterica.
    I just started reading Studies in Islamic and Later Indian Art that I got on my Boston trip. Last night after my internet service was restored, I fell asleep over the Foreward, so I can’t report anything back as yet. I am greatly looking forward to the Introduction, which is eight pages long, and unlike Viking Saga introductions, has nice glossy photos.

  13. I would have put it the other way round
    What? Noetica is correct and his links are just fine. AJP’s Amazon link didn’t come through right, though–it directs to a sign-in page.

  14. Try this, then. Then search for David Cannadine’s chapter, The British Monarchy, c.1820-1977.

  15. Nij: What? Noetica is correct
    Noetica is always correct. I’m talking about ‘the’ and ‘a’.

  16. “dancing on someone’s nose’ is a great expression, and it’s a common one in German, where it means being annoyed omeone as if by a fly buzzing arround on one’s nose. Google
    “auf der Nase rum tanzen’

  17. “Dancing on his nose” sounds funny in English, which is why I used it, but the German actually has a more pointed meaning. Sez Duden:

    jemandem auf dem K. (der Nase) herumtanzen/herumtrampeln, ugs.; jemands Gutherzigkeit missbrauchen, indem man ihn respektlos behandelt und sich von ihm nichts sagen lässt. Dance/trample around on someone’s head (nose), fam.: to abuse someone’s good-nature by treating him disrespectfully, and heeding nothing he says.

    Situations to which this expression is often applicable are teenage child <-> parent, man <-> wife. “Trample” expresses greater disapproval than “dance”, of course. I have usually heard only “dance” used.
    In the spirit of Gilbert Ryle, I should point out that “jemandem auf der Nase herumtanzen” is not something that can be done “ever so briefly”. It describes persistent behavior over a longish period of time. The Concept of Mind is full of conceptual precisionizing of that kind: a footrace cannot “gradually” start (either the runners have started, or they haven’t: there’s nothing in between), you can’t feel a “prolonged” twinge (if what you feel is prolonged, then “twinge” is not the apt word, and if it is a twinge, then it is only brief and intermittent: “prolonged twinge” contains a contradictio in adiecto). [Mr. N.: contains or is? What are your views?]

  18. David Carradine is the Kung Fu man who recently died. David Cannadine is a historian. Looks good to me. Noetica is still correct, Grasshopper.

  19. …abuse someone’s good-nature by treating him disrespectfully…persistent behavior over a longish period of time
    I’m at a loss for why someone should want to do this, unless it’s one more example of neotony.

  20. scarabaeus says:

    nah! more along the lines of pedogenesis. it is in the genes.

  21. (consults Wikipedia)
    Pedogenesis or soil evolution (formation) is the process by which soil is created.
    (puzzled, reads further)
    The rock from which soil is formed is called parent material.
    (is that a clue? still very puzzled)
    Aha! Paedogenesis!

  22. theophylact says:

    “I say eether, my children all say īther.” “Why sure,” said Paddy, “’tis nayther.”

  23. dearieme says:

    I still recall my astonishment on discovering that Englishmen say “either” when they mean “each” or “both”. Thus “there were houses on either side of the street” = on both sides, on each side. Very rum.

  24. According to the OED, the sense “each” or “both” is on fact older than the sense “one of the two”.

  25. SnowLeopard says:

    either in the sense of “each” or “both”
    I use “either” this way when I’m not concerned about ambiguity. Is it really so unusual?

  26. Noetica says:

    “prolonged twinge” contains a contradictio in adiecto
    Since you ask, Gracehoper, I would indeed prefer is to contains. It is an instance of the figure, and that is enough to justify the more economical is.
    In this particular case (a redundancy there, do you think?) the contradictio is less than in, say, “long twinge”. Prolonged is more measured and cautious than the stark and uncompromising long. We can describe things of short duration coming to have slightly longer duration as being “prolonged”, without their being aptly characterised as “long”, and without our generating a case of contradictio in adiecto. No twinge is utterly durationless, right?
    Nij, thanks for the mention of neoteny, but mind the spelling.
    What did Grasshopper say as he finally left the Shaolin monastery?

  27. Noetica says:

    I use “either” this way when I’m not concerned about ambiguity. Is it really so unusual?
    Unusual in some places, SnowLeopard. But it’s quite handy, isn’t it? If there is a tree on one side of the gate, and a tree on the other side, it’s good to be able to say “there is a tree on either side”. “There is a tree on each side” is slightly less comfortable phonetically, and has less pleasing natural “binariness” about it (cf. the agreeable terms pair and couple, and the once common brace).

  28. Bathrobe says:

    I heard about the Hobsbawm book years ago but never bought it because of the lukewarm reviews it got at Amazon. Silly, wasn’t I.
    The people who poo-pooh Hobsbawm do so on various grounds — most traditions are “invented”, and while they may be “invented” they were adopted to fill a natural need; Eric Hobsbawm is a “Marxist historian”; these “invented” traditions drew on older, “real” traditions, etc., so the book is essentially “inconsequential”.
    Actually, my interest in this book began with Japan. I found out some years ago that the austere Shinto-style ceremony surrounding the Japanese Emperor is also an invention of the 19th century. Throughout much of Japanese history, much of the clothing, ceremony, etc. at the Japanese court was apparently Chinese in inspiration. It was Kokugaku scholars, notably Motoori Norinaga, who tried to reclaim a pristine Japanese past untainted by cultural borrowing from China. Since the Japanese Imperial line predated the import of Japanese culture, it was decided that ritual surrounding the Meiji emperor should be authentically Japanese, thus the invention of a whole new set of “ancient norms”.
    The attempt to revert to a purer Japanese past also resulted in a strict separation between Shintoism and Buddhism, which is now taken for granted by newbies as absolutely fundamental. But prior to the Meiji restoration there was no hard-and-fast distinction between Shinto shrines (神社) and Buddhist temples (お寺) at all. The two were almost inextricably linked together — “almost”, because, armed with the new idea of an ancient, pristine Japanese tradition, the government did a pretty good job of tearing them asunder. The ways in which one temple negotiated the path from temple to shrine is detailed very well in Sarah Thal’s book about the Kompira Shrine in Shikoku, “Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573-1912″.

  29. SnowLeopard says:

    Agreed, Noetica. I also like the fact that to my ear, at least, “either” and “each” seem to carry, maybe, different degrees of emphasis, connection, or deliberateness. “A gate with trees on either side” sometimes suggests that the trees might have been there before the gate, or came to be there through some independent series of events, or anyway that it’s not so important precisely how the trees got there and why they’re distributed the way they are — the important thing is that they’re there and you can enjoy them as part of the overall ensemble. “A gate with trees on each side” makes me think that maybe someone planted them there on purpose, or at any rate that I’m supposed to be paying attention to the placement and distribution of trees for some reason. I’m probably overstating the distinction by trying to explain it at all, but it seems we at least agree that the two words have slightly different flavors.

  30. thanks for the mention of neoteny, but mind the spelling
    Sometimes when I see what I wrote, I’m amazed at the number of typos, especially last week when I was working on a machine with no right-click, among other things. Sometimes I type the correction, especially if I think there might be a prescriptionist or two lurking, but sometimes I think correcting it disrupts the flow of the comments more.
    With my students, my philosophy of error correction is to do it only if I can’t understand them, if it was part of the day’s grammar lesson, or if the pronunciation will embarrass the student in some way, for instance if it sounds like profanity. Sometimes I also correct a student more if I know they are taking GED classes (or if I think they should take them).
    Myself, if I have something really important to write, I know enough to get someone else to look at it. For English 102, on the advice of the professor, I actually hired an editor (she worked for cigarettes), and it worked out very nicely.

  31. it’s good to be able to say “there is a tree on either side”
    This doesn’t “sound right” to me. It sounds either a little pretentious or a little British. “There’s a tree on both sides” sounds better, even if the number of trees isn’t quite right in some way, or “There are trees on both sides” which multiplies the trees and changes the meaning, or at least makes it ambiguous. I think a lot of Americans would rewrite the entire sentence before using the “either” construction.
    What DID Grasshopper say? (“Now what am I supposed to do with this #@&! pebble?”)

  32. Noetica says:

    Nij, it happens to many of us. I have publicly lamented my own specific dygraphia, in these very threads.
    SnowLeopard:
    But I see that you are using a plural: “A gate with trees on either side.” The case is made more forcefully with the singular, where there are just two trees involved: “A gate with a tree on either side.” Pace Nijma, it is uncomfortable to do that with both: *?”A gate with a tree on both sides.” You can do it with each; but while the binariness of either agreeably matches the two-sidedness of the gate, each is not binary: “A quadrangle with a tree on each side.”
    I am imagining the two sides of the gate to be left and right as one approaches it; but they could also be this side and the side I will be on when I have passed through the gate. Compare: “A gate with an orchard on either side.” Context and expectations, Grasshopper. The Gateless Gate.
    A Wasserjungfer skims the surface – never knows the depths below.
    Grasshopper said: “NOW can I have my flick knife back?”

  33. Ummmm… make that dysgraphia.

  34. “A gate with an orchard on either side.”
    Either side … or … what?
    We are used to the either/or construction and it sounds incomplete. It also sets off my gaydar and/or elitist detector. I don’t think you could get away with it in normal conversation here, maybe in very formal writing.
    I assume “dygraphia” was an intentional joke to make a point.
    Flick knife–would that be a switchblade?

  35. I’ve been so immersed in British lit. all my life that the British usage seems perfectly natural to me.
    Side note–this morning, eating breakfast while I read my daily chapter of Jane Austen, I came across what is apparently an obsolete usage (from our vantage) of the word “replace”. (This was in S&S). Austen used the word to mean quite literally “re-place”–restore to its former position, as opposed to our modern usage in which replace means “substitute”.

  36. Nij:
    Yes, a flick knife is a switchblade.
    Either side … or … what?
    Just shows that to you this use of either (meaning “each of two”, not just “one of two”) is unfamiliar. Let me assure you that others find it quite natural. Concerning dygraphia, I am happy with your interpretation of my “intention”.
    Kishnevi:
    That sense of replace is the oldest. SOED:

    1 Put back in a previous place or position. (Foll. by in.) L16.
    M. WESLEY ‘Your time is up,’ said the operator … Rose replaced the receiver.

    And that example looks plausible enough, ugye? Then there are the two other senses in SOED, virtually opposite to the first:

    2 Take the place of, become a substitute for, (a person or thing). Freq. in pass. (foll. by by). M18.
    3 Fill the place of (a person or thing) with or by a substitute. M18.

    In my experience, replace meaning re-place can indeed cause confusion. It seems to be common among younger Americans. As an older Australian, I never use it that way (if introspection serves me well).
    Compare substitute, especially in the song of that name by The Who:

    Substitute you for my mum:
    At least I’ll get my washing done.

  37. About using “either” in the sense “each of two”:
    The OED says that this is the original sense, but that the other one, which came in the 14th century, has become so prevalent that use of the word in the older sense is now felt to be somewhat archaic.
    Fowler sticks his neck out and says that its use in this sense cannot be considered unidiomatic.
    It sounds okay to me in some contexts. Maybe it does give off a faintly old-fashioned odor.
    “Either” has occasionally been used to mean one or another of more than two — the OED acknowledges it, and I think Jane Austen does it somewhere. Fowler calls this “loose”. It sounds funny to me.
    I have a hand at the end of either arm. What is the sound of it clapping?

  38. Let me assure you that others find it quite natural.
    If they live in Oz. I assure you if you walk into a bar here and say that, you’d better have either a British or an Ozzie accent.
    The Who–British, ¿verdad? –and not exactly young, a tad bit older than me, in fact, but their usage of “substitute” as “replace #2&3″ in the song seems the same as my American English. I understand meaning #1 of “replace” if I hear it (and it sounds like an archaic usage), but would use either “put back” or “returned” in conversation. These days you don’t hang up a phone by putting it back on the hook anyhow, it goes either in your pocket or in your backpack.

  39. either side for both sides sounds perfectly ordinary to me, too. A quick check finds it in Mencken, Hemingway, Runyon, Hammett and Dave Barry.

  40. Now I’m just sitting here repeating to myself “one on either side”, trying it out over and over. I like it. It doesn’t make me feel British, or gay, or anything like that. “One on either side!” Say it enough times and I almost guarantee that you’ll never want to go back to “one on each side”.

  41. Noetica says:

    Nij:
    These days you don’t hang up a phone by putting it back on the hook anyhow …
    Ha ha! We don’t normally “hang up” a phone at all, literally. We haven’t done that for decades; yet the idiom remains, much more persistently than “replace the receiver”.
    … but their usage of “substitute” as “replace #2&3″ in the song seems the same as my American English.
    Really? I’m surprised. (And of course, that usage is not exactly aligned with SOED’s “replace #2&3″.) The Who consistently use substitute this way:

    substitute A for B = put B in place of A

    Another example from the song:

    Substitute your lies for facts.

    We don’t do that here; and W3NI does not license such a usage with for:

    1 a : to put in the place of another : EXCHANGE {substitute a new technique for the old one} b : to introduce (as an atom or group) by substitution

    Only with with (and I would advise against this):

    3 : to replace with another {substitute yesterday’s steady opinions with the latest fancies} {names like Jane are always substituted by the pronoun she — R.A.Hall b. 1911}

    M-W Collegiate does not support the Who-type usage with for, either.
    Rest assured: if I ever walk into a stateside bar, I will employ either a British or an Australian accent, just in case I find myself needing to say “either” meaning “each of two”.
    Emptoid:
    Say it enough times and I almost guarantee that you’ll never want to go back to “one on each side”.
    That’s right. But wait, there’s more! You can say this: “A quadrangle with a tree on either side.” How would you convey that without either, but with elegance and precision? (Remember the example I used above: “A quadrangle with a tree on each side.” In that case there are four trees, on the most natural reading.) I suppose this is possible: “A quadrangle flanked by two trees.” But to me that’s not elegant.
    MMcM:
    Yes, and just in A and B I find these authors using “on either side” in the relevant sense:
    Henry Adams
    Louisa May Alcott
    Francis Bacon
    Frank L Baum
    Thomas Bulfinch
    Edward Bulwer-Lytton
    Edmund Burke
    Richard Burton
    Samuel Butler
    Lord Byron
    Jane Austen’s case is interesting. I find only one occurrence in Pride and Prejudice:

    “Are you pleased with Kent?” A short dialogue on the subject of the county ensued, on either side calm and concise – and soon put an end to by the entrance of Charlotte and her sister, just returned from their walk. The tête-à-tête surprised them.

    She uses the phrase unusually often, elsewhere in P&P and in Sense and Sensibility, but not again with this meaning. From S&S, for example:

    In this calm kind of way, with very little interest on either side, they continued to talk; …

    That might be seen as ambiguous, though. And the last occurrence in S&S is certainly hard to classify without close examination of the context. (This supports OED’s contention that such expressions “must often be avoided on account of their ambiguity”. Often, note: not always.) Quoting a letter:

    “My feelings are at present in a state of dreadful indecision; I wish to acquit you, but certainty on either side will be ease to what I now suffer.”

  42. I am quite familiar with the Who–Tommy was a staple of dorm life. But you are not just using it as an example of a synonym for meaning #2&3 of replace–it’s the “substitute for” that you find non-standard?
    M-W Collegiate does not support the Who-type usage with for, either.The 7th edition (how do you abbreviate that–mw7ncd?) does not say anything at all about what preposition to use with it. We do have substitute teachers, butter substitutes, salt substitutes, and even substitutes for sugar. You can substitute Miracle Whip for ice cream. If you have a cardiac diet, you will substitute olive oil for any other type of oil that’s called for in a recipe; if your school asks you to substitute, they will tell you which teacher they want you to substitute for. (Last week I substituted for three different teachers.) What do Ozzies do–substitute with a teacher? That sure doesn’t sound comprehensible, much less elegant.
    What is this quadrangle of which you speak–besides the faculty club at the U of C?

  43. Here is another example that I just encountered of “on either side” meaning “on each side”. It’s from Chapter 46 of Mansfield Park, which I am rereading in connection with the recent topic of dubious amateur theatricals. The excerpt should be sufficiently ample to dispel any doubt whether “on each side” is meant:

    Fanny seemed to herself never to have been shocked before .. A woman married only six months ago; a man professing himself devoted, even engaged to another; that other her near relation; the whole family, both families connected as they were by tie upon tie; all friends, all intimate together! It was too horrible a confusion of guilt, too gross a complication of evil, for human nature, not in a state of utter barbarism, to be capable of! yet her judgment told her it was so. His unsettled affections, wavering with his vanity, Maria’s decided attachment, and no sufficient principle on either side, gave it possibility: Miss Crawford’s letter stampt it a fact.

  44. Noetica says:

    Nij:
    For substitute and for, standard usage everywhere is this:

    substitute A for B = put A in place of B

    But as I showed above, The Who do it this way:

    substitute A for B = put B in place of A

    You found that normal, which surprised me.
    With with (a usage I advise against) instead of for, things work differently. The direct object can indeed be the thing that is removed. See above, from W3NI: “substitute yesterday’s steady opinions with the latest fancies”.
    The connexion with replace is this: with each verb there is a clearly more common usage, and a clearly less common usage that we would do well to avoid, lest we cause confusion.
    The version of the Collegiate that M-W makes available online has this at “substitute [2, verb]“:

    transitive verb
    1 a : to put or use in the place of another b : to introduce (an atom or group) as a substituent; also : to alter (as a compound) by introduction of a substituent {a substituted benzene ring}
    2 : to take the place of : REPLACE
    intransitive verb : to serve as a substitute

    We have been discussing transitive uses of this verb. While M-W allows that the object may be the thing removed (sense 2), it does not give any example, or show whether or what prepositions are to be used. In that situation, we are entitled to assume that no prepositions are used. That is why I wrote: “M-W Collegiate does not support the Who-type usage with for, either.” All the Who-type uses are with for.
    In fact, Collegiate’s sense 2 is very poor. It suggests a usage of this form:

    A substitutes B

    But we do not say *?”Jim Beam substitutes Jack Daniel”, do we? Not even in the toughest downtown Chicago bars; not even using a Commonwealth accent.
    Collegiate’s sense that is illustrated with “a substituted benzene ring” is derivative. The benzene ring neither replaces anything nor is itself removed, but is altered by the substitution of one of its parts. See Benzene at Wikipedia.
    As for quadrangle, it is perfectly standard. SOED:

    2 A square or rectangular space or courtyard entirely or mainly surrounded by buildings, as in some colleges. Cf. QUAD n. 1, QUADRANT n.2 2. L16.
    3 A rectangular building or block of buildings; a building containing a square or rectangular courtyard. E17.

  45. Noetica says:

    Grumbler:
    The excerpt should be sufficiently ample to dispel any doubt whether “on each side” is meant
    [Sufficiently ample? Subtle! ;)]
    Interestingly enough, from what I cite here, without your earlier sentence, we could not have known what you think: does it mean “on each side”, or not?
    … and no sufficient principle on either side …
    Can we really tell from the context what on either side means? If we can, it is not trivially easy.
    The most natural reading for me of the whole is this: “and on neither side a sufficient principle”. That is equivalent to this: “and on each side no sufficient principle”. That is the “each of two” sense, ugye?
    But the whole can be analysed in the “one of two” sense, instead: “and on one of the two sides no sufficient principle”. From the context, it might be that the absence of a sufficient principle on just one side would be enough to “give it possibility”.
    I favour the first reading; but deciding this from the rest of the excerpt is difficult, partly because of its convoluted syntax.

  46. Sufficiently ample
    Quite seriously, I was thinking of the expression “ample bosom”, and how a given instance may meet the expectations of one, yet miss those of another.

  47. But as I showed above, The Who do it this way:

        substitute A for B = put B in place of A

    You found that normal, which surprised me.

    It seems there are many issues with replace, substitute, trade and exchange in English. As an aside, there is a slight difficulty with the corresponding German words, but not with ersetzen (substitute, replace). ersetzen appears with only two prepositions (or none) in actual practice, and without ambiguity:
    2. Er ersetzte A durch B (he replaced A by B)
    3. Er ersetzte A mit B (he replaced A by B)
    although the use of “mit” in 2. is decidedly unkempt. Duden doesn’t deign to mention it.
    There is also just Er ersetzte A (he replaced A) without a preposition, as in the English “he replaced A”, meaning essentially “he got rid of it” without more details being given.
    But there are the (in practice, if not in theory) ambiguous tauschen, austauschen, eintauschen. I use the expression
    4. Er tauschte A gegen B [optionally aus or ein](he exchanged/traded A for B)
    exclusively to describe the following: he had A, then got rid of it and took B instead. But I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the expression, more than once, used to describe something different: he had B, then got rid of it and took A. Just as in the Who line “Substitute your lies for facts”.
    But I am coming to feel that the semantic context (what the Who song is about), and what A and B concretely are, cannot be ignored in determining what they mean by the particular line “Substitute your lies for facts”. I have followed the example of others here by abstracting the concrete nouns, writing things like “he replaced A by B”, because I too had the feeling that all this was about syntax alone. Things can get very confusing if you don’t do this: I tried to change over to “lies” and “facts” in my examples, with the corresponding German words, but very quickly had to backpaddle. And yet we are merely assuming that this is about syntax alone, in part because otherwise we can easily get confused. We want to be as general as possible, but we may be missing important aspects of (particular) cases when we talk only about A and B.

  48. We are used to the either/or construction and it sounds incomplete. It also sets off my gaydar and/or elitist detector…. I assure you if you walk into a bar here and say that, you’d better have either a British or an Ozzie accent.
    This is ridiculous. Many Americans find “on either side” perfectly normal. Please try to realize that your personal usage and experience does not substitute for those of the entirety of the United States. And “gaydar and/or elitist”? Are you trolling?
    You found that normal, which surprised me.
    I don’t think she even considered the bizarre usage, she was just shooting from the hip without thinking as usual.

  49. I favour the first reading; but deciding this from the rest of the excerpt is difficult, partly because of its convoluted syntax.

    That is my point. Not even the immediate context removes all doubt (and it is annoyingly convoluted). But how do we (I include myself) come to favour the first reading, if not by consideration of much, much more than syntax? Here, it would be our knowledge, accumulated over the course of the novel, of the particular personalities involved, Mr. Crawford and Miss Bertram (Maria).
    Mansfield Park shows at least two things of interest to me:
    1. the well-bred, who take their principles seriously for the most part, but are not above doing what they damn well please when they can rationalize it.
    2. Fanny, who twists and turns in absurd agonies of principle, but who always in the end comes down on the side of decency without the aid of rationalization

  50. Bathrobe: “Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573-1912″ The link for that doesn’t work, but I got the book up at Amazon. It looks very interesting.
    About Hobsbawm: my cousin, who’s a modern historian, told me that that community doesn’t take Hobsbawm seriously, because he didn’t renounce the Party in 1956. I started to read his recently-published autobiography, and decided I didn’t like him enough to finish it. On the other hand, he does come up with ideas — like this book, which is well worth reading — that make me forget all that.
    The Invention of Tradition has a chapter Representing Authority in Victorian India, one on colonial Africa and one (by Hobsbawm) on Europe 1870-1914; otherwise it’s about Britain and Ireland, including the chapter where Trever-Roper shows that up until the late eighteenth century the Scottish Highlands were Irish islands with Irish culture, that the kilt was invented by an Englishman in the 1720s and that clan tartans were invented for the visit of George IV to Scotland in 1822. Hobsbawm wrote the introduction. There’s only one review at Amazon uk, and it’s positive. My favourite part of the book is in Cannadine’s chapter on the monarchy, where he talks about competing claims for greatness in European cities during different periods and with particular reference to state funerals

  51. I have run into “substitute A by B” meaning put B in place of A”. This usage eliminates ambiguity for me, but I am not used to it. I can’t remember for sure, but it’s possible that in at least some cases it was a native speaker of German doing his best to translate a usage of, perhaps, ersetzen, and not getting it quite right.
    About “neither” for one of 3 or more –
    On further reflection the following would not sound the least the least bit funny to me (or at least it would get by me the first time): “I think that either A, B, or C is going to win.” But the following would sound very funny: “A, B, and C are all strong contenders; either of them could win.” Yet I think that I have seen something like this last usage in a good book, probably one of Austen’s.

  52. Noetica says:

    Stu:
    It seems there are many issues with replace, substitute, trade and exchange in English.
    Definitely. Interesting to see much the same in German also.
    We want to be as general as possible, but we may be missing important aspects of (particular) cases when we talk only about A and B.
    That’s right. And having to appeal beyond syntax to context all the time is unsatisfactory. If all constructions relied on context before we could interpret them, the text as a whole must become uninterpretable. Any construction that does not “pull its weight” with precision and clarity is suspect. Can’t spoken by Americans is like that for me. Since I can hardly distinguish whether they are saying “can” or “cannot”, they might as well be saying “can or cannot” each time! I usually need context to work it out.
    What’s worse with on either side, we now suspect that sometimes in Austen (at least) we cannot ever resolve the ambiguity with certainty. Apart from the wider general semantic context of a whole passage, a whole novel, or even a whole oeuvre, we might hope that the preponderance of a particular sense for an expression might guide us where the same expression is obscure. For example, my survey of on either side in P&P and S&S revealed that in nearly all of the many cases it clearly meant “on one of two sides”, and this should give weight to that interpretation in the obscure cases too. But no: these cases are obscure just because of local peculiarities (including syntactic) that set things more in balance between the two possible interpretations.
    All that said, I reaffirm my endorsement of either meaning “each of two”, and I endorse once more OED’s caution that sometimes the meaning can be uncertain. That is true of many expressions, but if we are aware of the danger we can avoid the pitfalls.

  53. Baðrobe says:

    no sufficient principle on either side
    Grumbly, use of a negative invalidates the example. As Noetica says, it is equivalent to “neither”, which isn’t a problem. The problem is the use of “either” to mean “both”.

  54. Noetica says:

    Empty:
    Yet I think that I have seen something like this last usage in a good book, probably one of Austen’s.
    Much the same thing but with neither, from P&P:

    “Their conduct has been such,” replied Elizabeth, “as neither you, nor I, nor anybody can ever forget. …” [This one also interests me for its lack of else after anybody. Such an absence is characteristic of American, I say: but that's another substantial topic.]

    “Neither duty, nor honor, nor gratitude,” replied Elizabeth, “has any possible claim on me in the present instance. …”

    And from S&S:

    “… He had left the girl whose youth and innocence he had seduced in a situation of the utmost distress, with no creditable home, no help, no friends, ignorant of his address! He had left her, promising to return; he neither returned, nor wrote, nor relieved her.”

    Here is sometime a little different from S&S:

    … for neither Mrs. Jennings, nor Sir John, nor even Mrs. Palmer herself, ever spoke of him before her.

    “… Well, and so this was kept a great secret, for fear of Mrs. Ferrars, and neither she nor your brother or sister suspected a word of the matter; …” [Mix of nor and or.]

    And this, also from S&S, in which there is a “scope anomaly”:

    But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed to see him distinguished – as – they hardly knew what. [More canonic, logically: "But he was fitted by neither abilities nor disposition ...".]

  55. Noetica says:

    Baðman:
    As Noetica says, it is equivalent to “neither”, which isn’t a problem.
    I cannot in good conscious receive your nod; I allowed that the case could go either way. From above:
    But the whole can be analysed in the “one of two” sense, instead: “and on one of the two sides no sufficient principle”. From the context, it might be that the absence of a sufficient principle on just one side would be enough to “give it possibility”.
    This might seem implausible; but among all that convolution, we can never really know. Luckily, it doesn’t make much difference.

  56. Noetica says:

    Nij and LH:
    … she was just shooting from the hip without thinking as usual.
    Nij, LH can be a hard man. But he is right, I say. Take these as words to the wise, just as others among us have earlier had to modify our own acts. Here we are engaged in meticulous analysis, and reporting diligently concerning hard-won empirical evidence. It takes a lot of time and effort to answer less researched rejoinders; and though I have taken these as an opportunity to add to the stock of specific points and to say things that I hope are generally useful, I will not always do so.

  57. Baðrobe: Grumbly, use of a negative invalidates the example. As Noetica says, it is equivalent to “neither”, which isn’t a problem. The problem is the use of “either” to mean “both”.
    I don’t see any invalidation going on!? What Noetica wrote, with respect to “… and no sufficient principle on either side …” in my example, was:

    The most natural reading for me of the whole is this: “and on neither side a sufficient principle”. That is equivalent to this: “and on each side no sufficient principle”. That is the “each of two” sense, ugye?

    But the whole can be analysed in the “one of two” sense, instead: “and on one of the two sides no sufficient principle”. From the context, it might be that the absence of a sufficient principle on just one side would be enough to “give it possibility”.

    I favour the first reading; but deciding this from the rest of the excerpt is difficult, partly because of its convoluted syntax.

    I agree with him in favoring the reading: “and on each side no sufficient principle”, i.e. on both sides.

  58. Noetica says:

    … in good conscious …
    I meant … in good conscience ….

  59. Noetica says:

    Ah Stu, we must stop coinciding like this.

  60. Baðrobe says:

    AJP Taylor:
    The subject of the book is very interesting. Its drawback is that it is the product of an academic dissertation, resulting in the predictable leaden style.

  61. Noetica says:

    … resulting in the predictable leaden style.
    Now that we speak of ambiguities! “… the leaden, predictable style.” :)

  62. Baθrobe says:

    “No sufficient principle on either side” can have only one reading for me: neither side had sufficient principle.
    Negatives are a misleading element to mix into discussions like this because of the way they behave grammatically. It doesn’t matter that the “no” is physically separated from the “either”; the effect is still the same as “neither”. I find it difficult how you could interpret “no sufficient principle on either side” to mean “no sufficient principle on one of the two sides”, and I challenge you to come up with an example in English, using a negative, where it could have this interpretation.

  63. Baθrobe says:

    Well, having issued the challenge, I find myself instantly coming up with an example.
    “No sufficient principle on either side could result in the case being thrown out of court”.

  64. The 7th edition (how do you abbreviate that–mw7ncd?)
    I’ve seen lexicographers use just W7.

  65. I don’t think it’s at all leaden, Baθ. It was originally academic, but it’s not some graduate student’s dissertation on microbe sexing. They’re all (okay, except the Welsh guy) very good writers, and in fact Cannadine is a follower of J. H. Plumb, who set out to make history more accessible to the public (former students include people like Simon Schama).

  66. …former students include…
    For the overly literal, that should be ‘…former Plumb students include…’

  67. scarabaeus says:

    “…What is this quadrangle of which you speak-…”
    All upper crust places of good brainwashing have ‘wot’ a Saxon ‘wood’ say it be “the Quad” where one can amble or blather or do neither but ‘oogle’.
    There be either a head or tail on the coin but the coin has three sides, an edge that be out of sight.
    Then there be Bring and Take that has differing meanings on either side of the pond rather than both sides use it in the same manner.

  68. Noetica says:

    Bæþrobe:
    Well, having issued the challenge, I find myself instantly coming up with an example.
    You see?
    Introducing negation certainly does complicate things. English negation is already intricate; but it is fascinating and useful to survey its intersection with the domain we have been exploring. French negation too, as discussed here some weeks ago; and German? It would also be worthwhile to bring in Latin uter (“either [of two]“), neuter (“neither [of two]“), ullus (“any [of several]“), nullus (“none [of several]“): their semantics, their comportment in syntax, and some etymological links with the Romance and Germanic equivalents.

  69. LH can be a hard man. But he is right, I say. Take these as words to the wise, just as others among us have earlier had to modify our own acts. Here we are engaged in meticulous analysis, and reporting diligently concerning hard-won empirical evidence. It takes a lot of time and effort to answer less researched rejoinders; and though I have taken these as an opportunity to add to the stock of specific points and to say things that I hope are generally useful, I will not always do so.
    What.
    Have I missed something really obvious? “Analysis”? “Empirical evidence”? “Research”? “Modify”? I understood the comments were not for linguists only.
    I am who I am.
    I was going to try to catch up on the thread tonight to digest it and try to make some responses, but perhaps that’s not wise.
    I thoroughly enjoy it when the linguists slow down enough for me to keep up with them–I wish they (and I) had time do it more often. It’s a relief not just to not to have to dumb down whatever I say, but also to be challenged by people who are not afraid to use language in complex ways. I do read the threads with a toolbar that will take me instantly to google, the dictionary at answers.com, wikipedia, and the language text translators. Language is one of the things I wish I had several more lifetimes to pursue, but of course we have to make choices.

  70. Okay, so it seems that the 3-way eithers I thought I remembered in Austen were in fact 3-way neithers.
    On the subject of 3-way eithers: I take back my statement that they (all) sound funny to me. It is as natural to say “I’m sure that either the Red Sox, the Yankees, or the Rays will win the AL East” as it would be to say the same about two teams. But “either” gets funny for 3 where it would have been natural for 2 if I switch to “The Red Sox, the Yankees, and the Rays are all strong contenders, and either of them could end up winning the division.”

  71. And there’s a famous 4-way neither:
    Neither rain nor snow, nor sleet nor dark of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

  72. … it seems that the 3-way eithers I thought I remembered in Austen were in fact 3-way neithers.
    Not necessarily. I only surveyed for neither. But there are interesting uses with either, too. From P&P:

    The perpetual commendations of the lady, either on his hand-writing, or on the evenness of his lines, or on the length of his letter, with the perfect unconcern with which her praises were received, formed a curious dialogue, and was exactly in unison with her opinion of each. [Note the disagreement of number: "The perpetual commendations ... with the perfect unconcern ... was exactly in unison" (aberrantly taking the more proximate dialogue to be the subject, I presume). Cf. elsewhere Austen's very prevalent use of the plural verb with the singular either or neither. I had thought that was more modern. Austen's overall intention in this sinuous sentence is by no means certain.]

    “… It is, in short, impossible for us to conjecture the causes or circumstances which may have alienated them, without actual blame on either side.” [Means "on one side" or "on both sides"? To add to my earlier inventory of such cases, in fact.]

    [Jane:] “I have nothing either to hope or fear, and nothing to reproach him with. …”

    [Elizabeth:] “… and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.” [The first instance has a scope anomaly (see earlier); the second is parallel except that the scope of of is canonic. This species of inconsistency is abundant in the text.]

    “But I hope there is no strong attachment on either side,” said Jane. [Yet another uncertainty. I now think these are more prevalent in Austen than I say above. We naturally think Jane hopes there is no strong attachment on both sides; but she just might mean "on one side, or alternatively on the other, no strong attachment". The fluidity of the syntax evidenced in Stu's quote earlier, and in the scope anomalies, suggests that Austen was not rigorous in delivering meanings of these sorts.]

    “When I said that he improved on acquaintance, I did not mean that either his mind or manners were in a state of improvement, but that, from knowing him better, his disposition was better understood.” [Scope again? Also: "did not mean 'his mind OR his manners were in a state of improvement' "; or "did not mean 'his mind AND his manners were in a state of improvement' "?]

    And I’ll give just one from S&S:

    “… What his mother really is we cannot know; but, from Fanny’s occasional mention of her conduct and opinions, we have never been disposed to think her amiable; and I am very much mistaken if Edward is not himself aware that there would be many difficulties in his way, if he were to wish to marry a woman who had not either a great fortune or high rank.” ["Had neither fortune nor high rank", or "had not fortune or had not high rank"?]

    Hmmmm.

  73. I had thought that was more modern.
    Here’s a non-linguist question. What would be the purpose of surveying (googlebooks search?) something over 200 years old–just curiosity? I thought the major concern was to document current usage and regional differences.

  74. Because the world did not begin yesterday. Because what is in front of our noses is very litle to go on when trying to understand what is in front of our noses.
    Is this nose-spectacle what it seems to be? Didn’t we see the world differently as children? If we knew what people 200 years ago thought was “the major concern”, maybe we could see “the major concern” of ours in a slightly different light. Maybe we would then prefer to say “a major concern”, then maybe just “a concern”, then perhaps not a concern at all, but curiosity. And so on.
    What does “current usage” mean, for instance? For all one knows without looking into the matter, people have always spoken as they do today. The very fact that you use the expression “current usage” reveals that you must have looked into an old-timey book. So this “curiosity” you express, about motives for looking into old-timey books, does itself seem rather curious.

  75. 200 years: a snippet of time! A mere 5 to 6 Nijma lives laid end to end, a mere 3 to 4 Grumbly lives. How much, how little, changes over a lifetime! 2000 years ago, a mere ten 200-year stretches laid end to end. A sparrow-fart!

  76. Noetica says:

    Or Schmetterlingskot, Stu? :)

  77. You bet! de minimis non cacandum est. btw, might Q. Pheevr be the “Other” you once adumbrated?

  78. To put it another way: When hounds like these get to spooring, there is no knowing where the trail will lead them. What lies right in front of their noses is, always, the beginning of an unbounded and only partially imagined realm of footprints, fewmets, strange prey half-glimpsed, and the odd red herring.

  79. Indeed, I myself am rather fond of herring. “Curiosity” doesn’t even half begin to characterize the motives. “Strange prey half-glimpsed”: now you’re talkin’!

  80. In linguistics most of us are not qualified as hounds, of course. At best we run along trying to keep up, yipping merrily and occasionally saying “he went that-a-way” or “this doesn’t smell right to me”.
    In my own field, where I do qualify as a hound, I am not equally fond of all herrings. Those which lead to an all too familiar blind alley I could do without.
    Literal herrings can be great. The best snack I ever had in an airport (okay, that’s not saying much) was in Copenhagen in May of 1987. It was some kind of pickled herring, flavored with orange.

  81. Noetica says:

    de minimis non cacandum est.
    NEC.*
    btw, might Q. Pheevr be the “Other” you once adumbrated?
    Might be, yes; is, no.
    *Nunc cachinnandum est (loosely, “LOL”).

  82. Noetica says:

    I meant “nunc est cachinnandum”; but both are equally current. I am not among those who would, if they came to consider the question at all, judge either to be mistaken.

  83. Noetica says:

    As for herrings, I am already on record as suggesting the kippers at this blog’s breakfast.
    (Where’s the sugar? O, jay, there’s no milk.)

  84. Noetica: “When I said that he improved on acquaintance, I did not mean that either his mind or manners were in a state of improvement, but that, from knowing him better, his disposition was better understood.” [Scope again? Also: "did not mean 'his mind OR his manners were in a state of improvement' "; or "did not mean 'his mind AND his manners were in a state of improvement' "?]
    Do you really see ambiguity of the “or versus and” kind here, where the “either” came with an explicit “or”?

  85. Empty:
    Do you really see ambiguity of the “or versus and” kind here, where the “either” came with an explicit “or”?
    Yes.
    Incidentally, what is the sand of one hound clapping? (Or is that a read hearing?)

  86. The only way I can account for the sand is to suppose that the hound is a beach. And I don’t think you would hear much than a schmetterling of a paw’s.

  87. A hound clapping noisily in the sand, from Ulysses:
    “His hindpaws then scattered sand: then his forepaws dabbled and delved. Something he buried there, his grandmother. He rooted in the sand, dabbling delving and stopped to listen to the air, scraped up the sand again with a fury of his claws, soon ceasing, a pard, a panther, got in spouse-breach, vulturing the dead.”

  88. A beached hound clapped out from strenuous swimming? Coz’n of “clap” and “klaffen (bark) having similar origins. As empty says, it gives one paws, like too much applause.
    A few years ago I started to reread Ulysses, but as I remember felt “bored” with it this time, so didn’t get far. What could have been the matter with me? Perhaps a slight stroke? I’m off to the bookstore.

  89. Coz’n of “clap” and “klaffen (bark) having similar origins.
    This were cozenage indeed. The beatch was a clapdog, ugye? (The clap? Neither be “cynical” about love.) But of course you must read Ulysses now, Stu. I declare you ready.
    Empty, your koan (a more pawsitive version):

    What is the sound of one hand-clapping?

  90. From upthread:
    “We are used to the either/or construction and it sounds incomplete. It also sets off my gaydar and/or elitist detector…. I assure you if you walk into a bar here and say that, you’d better have either a British or an Ozzie accent.”
    This is ridiculous.
    I am neither stupid nor uneducated.
    Many Americans find “on either side” perfectly normal.
    Some do not. It’s not the first construction I would want my students to learn if I wanted them to be understood. I would teach them “on each side” or “on both sides”. “On either side” implies a choice. And the most pertinent part of my observation was left out: “I don’t think you could get away with it in normal conversation here, maybe in very formal writing.” Sure, you might hear it in the teachers’ lounge, but my students will be working in factories, supermarkets, landscaping, and they will have to deal with everyone (although of course some will go on for their GED). I try to teach my students register without giving them something that needs a lengthy explanation. But Noetica’s description of the utility of the phrase was quite interesting and makes me think our language is losing some of it’s flexibility and poetry (if you consider poetry the ability to say things with few words).
    Please try to realize that your personal usage and experience does not substitute for those of the entirety of the United States.
    Do linguists really believe one person’s usage can be the same as every single other person’s usage in any country, even a country as small as, say, Lichtenstein, much less a country as big as the U.S.? This is totally counterintuitive to me, but maybe there’s something I’m missing, being someone who deals with language acquisition where the rubber meets the road, in adult education, and not in the theoretical world of academic linguistics. I have been in a few countries, but I have never, ever seen one where everyone spoke the same language with the same usage. Neither have I seen any of the other commenters qualify their descriptions of their usage by saying something like “but someone else in Germany/Norway/France who is older/younger/richer/poorer/from a different ethnic group/on the east side/on the south side/by the river/in the capital may have a different usage. Doesn’t that go without saying? I have asked about this before but have never received an answer.
    And “gaydar and/or elitist”?
    Yes, if you use overly elaborate constructions in ordinary conversation, people may think you’re making fun of them. In addition, you don’t have to go too far from the teachers’ lounge to find guys who will jump on other guys for using language they consider to be too sissy or eggheaded. Does a Real Man say “puce”? Since I’m not a guy, I don’t know all the subtle (and not so subtle) stuff guys do to enforce “guyness” on other guys, but I know it’s there. In case you don’t think it doesn’t happen in Boston, yes it does. The big thing when I was just out there was guys calling other guys “faggot”, presumably to enforce their idea of proper male behaviour. You can hear people talking like that on the street. I don’t think guys from the Commonwealth have quite that kind of social pressure on them.
    Are you trolling?
    No.
    “You found that normal, which surprised me.”
    I don’t think she even considered the bizarre usage,
    What bizarre usage? It’s Peter Townsend, fer cryin’ out loud. The Who couldn’t possibly sound bizarre any more than the Lord’s Prayer or the National Anthem could, although once you start to parse it you may have questions. I’ll reread Noetica’s description though, it’s spread across several comments and interspersed with two other conversations, but if he can continue to wait for me to catch up, I’m getting into the dictionary thing now, and I’ll get to it.
    she was just shooting from the hip without thinking as usual.
    See answer #1.

  91. Noetica says:

    I understood the comments were not for linguists only.
    “No ma’am. We’re philosophers.”
    I’m sorry to see things moving this way, Nij. LH is perfectly justified speaking to you as he did. Some of what we see here is the work of hardcore linguists, as at Language Log. But LH is far more accommodating, and creative amateurs are especially welcomed – to his credit and hugely to everyone’s benefit. Reciprocally, let each of us find a comfortable place in the auditorium, and feel cautiously for the limits of our knowledge, the better to expand them. In fact, that applies all over the web; but then there are local niceties and protocols to come to terms with. Not always easy. Take our Grumbler (please! two left feet! I’ve seen more graceful demi-pliés from an octopus): came here all scruffy and belligerent, yet even he has settled down to play well with otters.* I’m hoping you’ll soon perfect that here, too.
       *Should I correct it? Nah. Just the image I want.
    More avuncular advice (or patronising advice, if you must see it that way), is available through other channels. But that is enough on the topic here, I think. From me; and (may I say?) from you.

  92. Da Robe says:

    I must say, I often find Nijma’s comments interesting and cosmopolitan (experience in the Arab world, etc.) She obviously comes from a different background, but that’s quite normal in a world like ours.
    I am quite surprised that “trees on either side of the street” has disappeared from Nijma’s variety of English, but Nijma was only backing up an observation made by another poster. The fact that she feels that this expression is too high-falutin’ for everyday colloquial use makes sense. This is the mark of an expression that is on the way out. People know it but don’t use it. For me, the conjunction “for” is similar. I know its meaning, I know it can be used, but for me it has a bookish, unnatural feel and I don’t use it. If someone seriously used it in conversation I would definitely prick up my ears.
    Nijma obviously comes from a different social and linguistic background from some of us, but I don’t think that she should be dismissed as being eccentric or difficult for the sake of it. She has her experience and shouldn’t be crucified simply because it is different from ours.

  93. Da Robe says:

    “Crucified” was too strong a word. Perhaps “criticised” would have been better.

  94. While Nijma is right that there is plenty of homophobia in some neighborhoods of Boston, I’d argue that a construction like “either side of the street” would not be perceived as pretentious or elitist in any way by working class “townies.” Sounds to me like perfectly normal Boston speech. Boston working class colloquial speech does preserve a number of forms that might seem pretentious in other American dialects but aren’t in Boston (such as “cawn’t” instead of “can’t”.) I’d also suggest that affecting a posh English accent in a working class Irish American drinking establishment in Boston is a bad idea…

  95. “Criticized” would have been a strong enough word if it had been anyone else. If LH is distressed, I am even more distressed.
    Uncle Noetica, of course I welcome any advice you have on any subject on any channel, especially since you’re willing to pay homage to our two local philosopher saints, Jake and Elwood. You nailed it right down to my zip code–I had no idea philosophy was such an exact science. I don’t say things like “deese” or “doz” or “Da Penguin”, though, although I sometimes do say “da East Side” (a neighborhood south of the South Side). In a way I’m flattered that I’m not being humored and patted on the head like a noobie, although I still feel very much like a newcomer and an outsider.
    settled down to play well with otters
    I’m not looking to blogs or other bloggers to fulfill my emotional needs, although I do prefer civil forums (and will resist the attempts of any octopi to involve me in bullying someone else), but if that’s part of the territory and the expectation, I will have to deal with it on some level. This forum attracts me precisely because the participants are NOT like me and can give me something new to think about. I thought long and hard before delurking (I do still lurk elsewhere) and decided that I did have something unique to offer this forum, although of course YMMV.
    I generally like to hold back on a thread until the real linguists have dissected everything, unless I have something specific to say about language, then join in the bons mots, if I can think of any, and digressions, in the hopes that something will trigger another language observation from someone. Of course anyone is justified in questioning me, and I welcome disagreement, but if someone wants to cast aspersions on my character or motives or secret thoughts, which are notoriously hard to prove, I also have the right to defend my honor.

  96. Baθrobe says:

    I don’t normally use “da” either. I’ve been influenced by AJP goatherd to indulge in playful variations on my user name.

  97. Actionē says:

    And why not, Μπάθρωμπ? Everyone else seems to be doing it.

  98. Ныджма says:

    Way cool.

  99. звезда says:

    hmm.
    OED: substitute, v.
    {dag}1. a. trans. To appoint (a person) to an office as a deputy or delegate; occas. with compl. Obs.
    {dag}b. To set up or appoint as a ruler or official in the place (stead, room) of another. Obs.
    {dag}c. To depute, delegate. Obs.
    2. To put (one) in place of another. a. const. in (occas. into) the place, stead, room of.
    b. Without const.
    {dag}c. Const. to. Obs.
    d. Const. for.
    e. Math. and Chem. (See SUBSTITUTION 5, 7.)
    3. Law. To nominate in remainder.
    4. To take the place of, replace. a. (orig. in pass.)
    Now regarded as incorrect.
    b. More recently, used incorrectly for REPLACE v. 3a.
    5. intr. To act as a substitute. Freq. with for.
    I think we can forget the chemistry meaning–at least I’m trying to forget organic chemistry. The benzene “subsitution reaction” example is pretty specialized, and the modern descriptions of the chemical reactions use the word “replace” in the usual way to describe the chemical reaction:

    Heating with NaOHat 300 ºC followed by neutralization with acid replaces the SO3H group with an OH

    Before the chemical reaction you see the sulfonic acid ion hanging off of the carbon ring, and after the chemical reaction the OH ion is there in the same position on the carbon ring. Goodbye SO3H, hello OH. SO3H replaced OH.

  100. звезда says:

    I mean, OH replaced SO3H.

  101. νοητικά says:

    That’s right, Νίδζμα: OED does not mention, let alone make allowance for, that usage made infamous by The Who. Not one of the OED’s citations at that article hints at such a usage, either. A quick survey of the hundreds of occurrences of substitute[s] within five words of of in the full OED text turns up many cases like this:

    2000 N.Y. Times Mag. 13 Aug. 50/2 They want to ‘disintermediate’ political go-betweens and substitute their own networks for established political machines.

    But I saw nothing like the usage of The Who.
     

  102. Noetica says:

    Read: “… within five words of for …”

  103. Noetica says:

    Actually, “Νίτζμα” would be a more standard transcription, by the current Greek conventions. Substitute it for “Νίδζμα”.

  104. звезда says:

    Peter Townsend exegesis…
    Random food subsitutions:
    (A) margarine for (B)butter–hello margarine (A)
    (A)zaatar for (B)salt–hello zaater (A)
    (A)honey for (B)sugar–hello honey (A)
    (A)Kool Whip for B)ice cream–hello Kool Whip(A)
    (A)olive oil for (B)anything–hello zait zaytoon (A)
    In all examples the first thing replaces the second thing, and you then have the first thing.
    The Who substitutions (with commentary):
    You think we look pretty good together
    You think my shoes are made of leather (hello not-leather)
    But I’m a substitute for another guy (hello me–the other guy she can’t get) (A)
    I look pretty tall but my heels are high
    The simple things you see are all complicated
    I look pretty young, but I’m just back-dated, yeah
    Substitute your lies for fact (hello lies) (A)
    I can see right through your plastic mac
    I look all white, but my dad was black
    My fine looking suit is really made out of sack
    I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth (substituted for a silver spoon)
    The north side of my town faced east, and the east was facing south
    And now you dare to look me in the eye
    Those crocodile tears are what you cry
    It’s a genuine problem, you won’t try
    To work it out at all you just pass it by, pass it by
    Substitute me for him (hello me –we already know “I’m a substitute for another guy”)(A)
    Substitute my coke for gin (hello coke)(A)
    Substitute you for my mum (hello you–he wouldn’t be the first guy to treat his girlfriend like a mom, either)(A)
    At least I’ll get my washing done
    It looks to me like the word order is the same for either one–when you substitute A for B, you are left with A in all instances, including the Who song, if the guy in the song who is born with the plastic spoon is going to have a consistently false life.

  105. Νίτζμα says:

    There is no substitute for a Νίτζμα. The Νίτζμα is unique.

  106. Many thanks to you, sage Uncle N, for helping to improve the mood around here and for the tips on how to perfect (or at least improve) our playground/auditorium manners. I for one found food for thought there.

  107. Noetica says:

    Ah, a read-hearing, as opposed to a head-rearing. :)
    Rightio, let’s have a look:

    But I’m a substitute for another guy (hello me–the other guy she can’t get) (A)

    That one is not of the form “substitute (verb) A for B”. In this one, A and B simply could not be, er … substituted, either for the other.

    Substitute your lies for fact (hello lies) (A)
    I can see right through your plastic mac
    I look all white, but my dad was black
    My fine looking suit is really made out of sack

    I don’t agree. I think fact replaces the lies, which is borne out by the semantic parallels of the next three lines, in each of which something veridical nullifies an earlier deception.

    Substitute me for him (hello me –we already know “I’m a substitute for another guy”)(A)
    Substitute my coke for gin (hello coke)(A)
    Substitute you for my mum (hello you–he wouldn’t be the first guy to treat his girlfriend like a mom, either)(A)
    At least I’ll get my washing done

    Apart from the clues we get from the broader context, the key to all of these is the last, involving the mum, who is paradigmatically and prefeministically the washer of clothes. The fact that some men neotenously treat their lovers as mothers (including relying on them for nurturing in the form of domestic service) cannot turn this last substitution around. “At least I’ll get my washing done”? We must assume that some transition is mooted: either removal of the mum and installation of the lover, or the reverse. It is implausible that the implication is supposed to be “at least I’ll still get my washing done”. How could that serve the message of the song? But a transition from being with mum to being with lover makes no sense here. Why should the mum not have done his washing, and the lover be going to do his washing? All of the description of the lover weighs against that hypothesis.
    The uses of the verb substitute in the song are not all easy to parse. They could be:
    1. imperatives (“Hey you, substitute A for B, will you?”),
    or
    2. elided forms, with infinitives but only latent subjects and modals (“[I am going to, or I intend to] substitute A for B”).
    Quite plausibly they are a mixture. Certainly “Substitute you for my Mum” belongs in the second category. And possibly, Nij, your analysis is justified for one line or another; but not for all, I insist. Most plausibly of all, there is no clear objective interpretation to be found for every line. The Who would not be the first to skim, Wasserjungferlich, at a safe altitude over the depths of actual substantial, determinate meaning. Look at Leonard Cohen (alias God, if there were a god). And of course, let’s not even mention Dylan.
    [Not] speaking of Dylan, very dyligent work, Nij! Now for the otters …

  108. Sorry, as a lifelong Who fan, I’m convinced you’re all mishearing the song. Townshend is not substituting B for A or using the word in an unorthodox way. The word “Substitute” is a noun, because the singer is a substitute. It should be transcribed thusly:
    Substitute – me for him (i.e. I’m a substitute for him)
    Substitute – my coke for gin (my coke is a substitute for gin)
    Substitute – you for my mum (you’re a substitue for my mum, gets a little weird here).
    This is the way I’ve always heard it, and I think the fact that the back-up vocals always sing “Substitute” while Daltrey sings the next line back up my case. Also in the following lines it is crystal clear that “substitute” is not being used as a verb:
    “Substitute – I can see right through your plastic mac
    Substitute – I look all white but my dad was black
    Substitute – I can see right through your plastic mac
    Substitute – My fine looking suit is really made out of sack”
    You are all overthinking this song I think. Or I missed the joke.

  109. Noetica says:

    Fine, Empty. And how is your koan coming along? Let’s try it again:

    What is the sound of one? Hand-clapping?

     

  110. Noetica says:

    Uncle Vanya! You dark horse, you.
    Overthinking, yes. And a whole school of reed-airings. Thinking reeds, but.

  111. I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth is probably the best line in any sixties song (I was going to say the best line ever written, but rap has some good lines).

  112. I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth
    Yeah! And of course that line inspired the punk group Preverend Spooner and the Spastic Loons.
    Whatever happened to them, Krunch? Ah, memories.

  113. Noetica,
    I nearly reared my head once, but I lacked the right daring.
    Is the sound of one hand-clap “ping”?

  114. the best line in any sixties song
    … not written by Bob Dylan. Unless the key is that it stands on its own, while Dylan’s lyrics are sometimes harder to pull apart. But, still:
    - How many roads must a man walk down?
    - For the times they are a-changin’.
    - They’re painting the passports brown.
    - We’ll just put some bleachers out in the sun.
    - Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.
    - At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used.

  115. Andrei Codrescu has written that not long after moving from Romania to Detroit he
    “fell in love with the songs of Bob Dylan and decided to write down the words that so impressed me. I faithfully transcribed thirty songs. One day I showed them to a friend who laughed until he had tears in his eyes. It turns out that I hadn’t gotten a single word right. My songs were by no means Dylan’s. Dare I say it? They were better. One day I will publish a book: Thirty Bob Dylan Songs by Andrei Codrescu.”

  116. αστέρι says:

    neotenously
    Something about this doesn’t sound quite right. Maybe too much like “tenuous”. I want to say neoteneously. And would the person who does it be neotenoxious rathar than neotenacious? I do hope this field of inquiry receives the recognition it deserves and is not a mere evolutionary dead end.

  117. I was thinking of the best line that stands on its own. My wife would certainly agree with you about Dylan, though. I prefer ‘you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows’ to ‘the times they are a-changin’. The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals stole the handles is another good line. The plastic-spoon line perfectly captures one aspect of London in 1966 that’s similar to English punk in 1976.

  118. l'oeufminuszero says:

    Bear in mind that we are supposed to be otters when we pronounce the words “neoteny”, “neotenous”, and “neotenously”; that is, the stress is on the second syllable.
    I did find an alternative adjectival form “neotenic” somewhere, with the stress on third syllable, but “neotenically” makes me think of octopuses.
    Tke your choice, I guess.

  119. Take.

  120. “paradigmatically and prefeministically the washer of clothes”
    Our washing machine, which must have been made in Canada, is labelled bilingually. Under its lid you see “Using your Automatic Washer” on one side and “Utilisation de votre laveuse automatique” on the other.
    Are they called “laveuses automatiques” in France?

  121. Νίτζμα says:

    Townshend is not substituting B for A or using the word in an unorthodox way. The word “Substitute” is a noun, because the singer is a substitute.
    It is the genius of Townsend that allows multiple simultaneous interpretations.
    Obscure phrases may delight some, but consider the simple naivety in this lament about moving beyond authoritarianism:

    I remember when the answers seemed so clear
    We had never lived with doubt or tasted fear.
    It was easy then to tell truth from lies
    Selling out from compromise
    Who to love and who to hate,
    The foolish from the wise.

    But today there is no day or night
    Today there is no dark or light.
    Today there is no black or white,
    Only shades of gray.

  122. If you mean it’s pretentious to talk about popular music this way you’re certainly not the first to say so, Nij. I don’t agree, though.

  123. Not pretentious so much as complex and ambiguous. I mean, the other morning I woke up singing “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth”, which is clear enough (although I didn’t sing for long), but what does “Better jump down a manhole Light yourself a candle” mean?–but people gravitate towards it. Not that I couldn’t listen to Dylan all day–I’ve used “Blowin in the Wind” in classes. It’s not WHAT he says though, it’s how he says it.

  124. Neotenica says:

    ‘Εμπτι:
    Is the sound of one hand-clap “ping”?
    That’s coming along quite well. But wait, there’s more:
    What is the sound of “O”, “Neh“, and “clapping”?
    And still more, of course …
    ΜΜκΜ:
    Since I have no time just now for the necessary preliminary lustration, my preverence revents me from citing equal kleinods from Songs of Leonard Cohen and Songs of Love and Hate, to mention only the earliest pinnacles of the supreme master’s sibylline œuvre.
    Ott on, mes néotènes.

  125. Herding grasshoppers, عمي?

  126. CIA-noté says:

    Leonard knows, someone has to.

  127. de minimis non cacandum est, in current usage, would mean “don’t shit yourself over trifles”.

  128. Lutration requires no preliminary lustration.

  129. I always try to do as I otter (lutra)

  130. runningonempty says:

    Noetica,
    Can you help me work out who this “CIA-note’” is? It looks like an anagram to me. I may be overthinking this, but let me tell you what I’ve got so far.
    I got very excited when I thought I glimpsed ACTAEON (torn by hounds!), but on re-examination that would have involved an illegal vowel shift.
    But that red herring usefully led to the thought of unauthorized substitutions in general. I recalled that Pete Townshend seems to have allowed himself to replace A with B. Following his example, I got:
    I BE NOT C.
    But who is this C? Maybe the great god Cohen? Of course our friend is not the god, but I can’t think why he would feel the need to deny it. Anyone can tell that he is a fervent worshipper of Cohen … Of course, he is a
    COANITE
    (I conclude that the B was a red herring, too, but again a useful one.) Now I am running fast, with my nose to the ground. I detect a reference to both “Cohen” and “koan” here — reference to both without preference for either, I think.
    Certainly there are many spellings of “Cohen” in English. I’ve only seen the one for koan. But what is the sense of one koan spelling?
    I will close with some doggerel:
    On either side the gaitless gait,
    A bootless boot (needs two more feet).

  131. tlajous says:

    Re: Either (from way above)
    Running the risk that I end up being lambasted by my amateurship…
    In Spanish, “or” can be “o” or “ó”. The diacritical accent turns the inclusive form “o” into the exclusive form “ó”. In English, and I think there’s some discussion here, “or” is always inclusive (meaning “and/or”)—and/or, at least, it is ambiguous enough to force the inclusivity. So much so that, when in need of an exclusive form, we have come up with “xor” in logic and computing. In language, we sometimes use “either/or” to mean the exclusive form (personally, when meaning alternatives I try and always [all times] explicitly use “and/or” and/or “either/or” [which is to say that each time I use "and/or" either/or "either/or"]).
    Now, does this tells us something about “either”? The fact that “either/or” means exclusion could potentially suggest that “either” is exclusive (as in “one of two” above). But if that was (not were) the case, then we would just use “either” for exclusive alternatives, and there would be no need for “either/or”.
    So I posit that our use of “either/or” is just a contraction of “either…or”. And this would suggest that “either” is only exclusive within the “either…or” construction. By exclusion, then, “either” is inclusive (just as “or”).
    I.e. the “one of two” version of “either” is incomplete without the “…or” (an incomplete usage contraction, albeit from the 14th c), but not *wrong* (and the “each of two” = “each and/or both” is *right*).
    (And in another personal p/reference, I always use the isolated “either” in the “each of two” sense.)
    TL

  132. Running the risk that I end up being lambasted by my amateurship…
    I’m not so sure about “amateurship”. You seem at least to have mastered the style of the Sphinx. I find it very difficult to make out what you’re saying, from sentence to sentence. Each sentence is shrink-wrapped so indestructibly and tightly around its meaning that I can’t prise it open – like the plastic wrapping around small electronic equipment nowadays, in Germany at any rate. ´
    As Huck said: “the statements was interesting, but tough”. I think that I disagree with you at almost every point, but I’m not sure. Let me just start at the beginning of your post and comment on a few sentences, one by one:
    In Spanish, “or” can be “o” or “ó”. The diacritical accent turns the inclusive form “o” into the exclusive form “ó”.
    This is the only statement I clearly understand, but I just as clearly don’t believe it, off the bat. Granted, my Spanish is nowhere near perfect, but having read a lot of Spanish over decades I’ve never encountered such a convention, and I can’t find anything about it in my grammars or on the internet, for instance in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
    What I did find (remembered only vaguely) is this, where the accent is used to distinguish the letter “o” from the zero numeral “0″, when the letter has numbers on each side:
    O / Ó
    Esta conjunción disyuntiva (que indica alternancia), únicamente será tildada cuando se encuentren números alrededor. Esto sirve para evitar la ambigüedad con el número “0” dada su similitud en forma: “¿Eran 2 ó 3 personas?”.
    Perhaps you generalized from this, understanding it in the following way: it doesn’t make sense to ask “were there 2 or 2 persons present?” When used with numbers, “or” makes sense only when the numbers are different. So when “or” appears between two numbers, it “has the exclusive form”. The same would apply to “ó” between two numbers. But it is illicit to generalize to “ó” between any two nouns, because the use of “ó” is explicitly restricted to the “surrounded by numbers” situation (únicamente), and is intended as an aid to reading, not as a tool of logic.
    And in any case, “A or B” cannot possibly mean “both A and B, if you so desire” when A is incompatible with B. “To be, or not to be? That is the question”. The answer to that was not, and could not have been: “take both, silly!”.
    In English, and I think there’s some discussion here, “or” is always inclusive (meaning “and/or”)—and/or, at least, it is ambiguous enough to force the inclusivity.
    I suspect many English-speaking Americans are not accustomed to interpreting “you can have A or B” as implying that they can have both if they so desire. It’s a question of actual usage to be determined statistically, not a question of principle (unless you have PRESCIPTIVIST tendencies). What does “ambiguous enough to force the inclusivity” mean? As a rule, ambiguity does not force anything. On the contrary, it leaves things up in the air.
    So much so that, when in need of an exclusive form, we have come up with “xor” in logic and computing.
    Now, from my knowledge of the history of mathematical logic, the reason for introducing the “xor” operator, in contrast to what had been called the “or” operator, was precisely to circumvent the ambiguity of “or” in actual English speech, and arguments about ‘the real meaning of “or”‘. With “xor” and “ior” at your disposal, there’s no longer any need to argue. In each context, you specify the operator that does what you intend.
    In language, we sometimes use “either/or” to mean the exclusive form (personally, when meaning alternatives I try and always [all times] explicitly use “and/or” and/or “either/or” [which is to say that each time I use "and/or" either/or "either/or"])
    I broke my hedge-trimming shears on that sentence, trying to get it open.

  133. I remember, I believe, exactly where and when I first saw substitute with ‘replace with’. It was in the 1968 book The Making of Star Trek by Stephen Whitfield, which I read in 1974 or so. Gene Roddenberry is quoted on page 303 as saying:
    “I threw out those pages, substituted it with a one-line order from Kirk: ‘Reverse course!’”
    I remember thinking that was weird at the time, but of course I lived a bookish life as a child, even more than I do now.

  134. GS – Thanks!
    o versus ó
    Post-reading your post and checking the RAE, I have become para(e)noid. I am a native Spanish speaker, so I think it’s not that I misunderstood the RAE… It now appears as if I’ve just gone and entirely made this up!
    And/or maybe this is an example of sollipsistic usage… Well, at least of ultra-localized (or just technical) usage. I’ve never looked up the exclusivity of ó that I can remember—in a big mea culpa confession. It’s always been a natural convention for me, and comes from days before the Internet allowed for proper sourcing.
    My latest, rather than earliest, recollection of a discussion was precisely in re: English’s lack of linguistic (as opposed to logistic) xor. It was in a group of group theorists and none griped. I am a mathematician, and in the School of Sciences, we all used ó as xor (and sneered at the travails of English-speaking group-ers when fumbling for a natural exclusive construction that avoided the logician’s). At the time in question, I was explaining the English “or” (as I thought my English was better than that of most of my peers, and they haphazardly—it now seems—agreed).
    **”A or B” cannot possibly mean “both A and B, if you so desire”** (Please excuse my use of ** as I don’t know how to italicize.)
    I think they can, and therein lies part of the issue. If I were to ask you to dinner I could say “please let me know of any preference for location or cuisine”. If I used “and”, I would be indicating that I expect “both” a neighborhood and a culinary choice. By using “or”, I allow you to choose to voice an inclination for one, the other, and/or both. If I was of the type that insists on absolute(-ist) fairness, I would need xor to say that you had to opt for an end-geography and I would then decide on the origin-geography, xor vice-versa. I guess this can fall outside the use of “or” for alternatives, so the other example is that when we go “you can have meat, potatoes, or fruit”.
    **”ambiguous enough to force the inclusivity”**
    As you well point out, Hamlet allowed his context to define the exclusivity. And most times that works. But by the above I mean that since “or”‘s exclusivity or inclusivity is context-dependent, and in some cases the context leaves the ambiguity open (as in our dinner), then the natural form is inclusive (or we would go insane). [As the inclusive form includes in correct context the exclusive but the opposite does not hold. In a sense, the inclusive for "is larger".]
    **With “xor” and “ior” at your disposal, there’s no longer any need to argue.**
    In Logic there is no need to argue, granted (or I could say that there is always need to argue, just not for this). My point exactly is that English (as opposed to logician-English) has no such operators and so we need use “or” = “and/or” = ior and “either/or” = xor when we want to make sure the inclusivity and/or exclusivity is explicit.
    On the more marginal
    **unless you have PRESCIPTIVIST tendencies). **
    I am not of a PRESCRIPTIVIST bend, or so I hope (hence my “not *wrong*”). Just seeing the word in caps makes me feel like I am watching a trailer for LH vs DFW Redux…
    **
    I broke my hedge-trimming shears on that sentence, trying to get it open.**
    Let me try and explain my convoluted writing (though I can’t say that as for my convoluted self):
    we sometimes use “either/or” — I.e. as if it was a word.
    I try and always [all times] explicitly use “and/or” and/or “either/or” — Every time I mean choice, when “or” is normally used, I “or” for something else. that something else is sometimes “and/or”, sometimes “either/or”. So, in general, I use one “ior” the other.
    which is to say that each time I use “and/or” either/or “either/or” — But each specific time, I cannot use both; each sepcific time I “or”, I use one “xor” the other.
    **You seem at least to have mastered the style of the Sphinx…. **
    You’ve just given brilliant wordsmith ammunition to every significant other that, in looking for signifiance if my insignificant prose that was meant to convey my heart-felt but locked-in significatum, decided I was too obscure… and dumped me.
    TL

  135. In Spanish, “or” can be “o” or “ó”. The diacritical accent turns the inclusive form “o” into the exclusive form “ó”.
    My Hispanic students say no; it’s only used for numbers. They agree with Grumbly. Example–the numbers 9 or 10:
    In words: nueve o diez
    In numerals: 9 ó 10
    And this would suggest that “either” is only exclusive within the “either…or” construction.
    What about this example: “You can plant the tree on either side of the gate.”
    the reason for introducing the “xor” operator, in contrast to what had been called the “or” operator, was precisely to circumvent the ambiguity of “or” in actual English speech,
    Not quite. They describe computer gates–electrical circuits, if you will–with exact outputs which are described by a “truth table”. The output of an “or” gate is either a one or a zero–that is, either on or off-depending on the inputs. Only one input has to be a one to get a one at the output. If both inputs are one, the output is still one. If both inputs are zero, however, the output is zero.
    The “exclusive or” gate is slightly different in that a one at both inputs will produce a zero at the output. You must have a one at one input or the other but not both in order to get a one output.
    I broke my hedge-trimming shears on that sentence, trying to get it open.
    How about this: “You can have either the chocolate cake or the chocolate ice cream.” “You can have the chocolate cake and/or the chocolate ice cream.” …ooooorrrrrr…(back to the exclusive “either”) “You can have either piece of cake.” “You can have either kind of ice cream.”

  136. Nijma -
    **What about this example: “You can plant the tree on either side of the gate.”**
    See above on Hamlet.
    **They describe computer gates**
    That came after both the chickena dn the egg. The truth table pre-dates computer gates. It’s from our friend Frege, I think. It permeates Fregean logic and then moves to language, and appears in THE Tractatus, etc. Within mathematics (which also serves to give context to my usage of the exclusive ó), the “xor” operator generates a group and the “or” operator does not. (Hence the discussion among group theorists, where “ó” generates a group and “o” doesn’t.) The electrical/computer circuitry is just an application… And if you follow the truth tables, you get to exactly the meaning I posit above. I am basically saying tha the truth table for English-”or” and “either” is the same as that for Logician-”or” and to force the “xor” truth table, the “either…or” construction is necessary.
    TL

  137.  

  138. I am basically saying tha the truth table for English-”or” and “either” is the same as that for Logician-”or” and to force the “xor” truth table, the “either…or” construction is necessary.
    TL, now I understand what you mean!! I did have the distinct suspicion that Anglophone utility-shed Grumbly was up against Hispanic baroque-chapel TL. No offense meant with the Sphinx: it does have a fascinating expression on its face.
    For text in italics, type this: <i>text</i> This site supports basic HTML tags.
    xor generates a group. How curious! Can you give a brief description? There are a few mathematicians floating around here (I am 1/4 of one), so it would be of some interest, even though not general interest.

  139. tlajous,
    Before Frege, Boolean algebra (I’m more on the practical side), but yes, an apt parallel to the either~or language question.
    And this would suggest that “either” is only exclusive within the “either…or” construction. By exclusion, then, “either” is inclusive (just as “or”).

    “You can plant the tree on either side of the gate.”

    “Either” used by itself in my gate/tree example above (chosen for its parallel with the “There is a tree on either side of the gate” example further upthread) is exclusive. The Hamlet example was about “or”, and there it’s used with “be”–it’s like pregnancy, you’re either dead or you’re not. If you wanted to test whether “either” is inclusive, you would need an example with no contextual clues that was not ambiguous.
    Most of the usual codes work here. For italics:
    <i> to begin italics
    </i> to close italics

  140. tlajous says:

    Thanks for the italics tip, my only meta-language is LATEX.
    How curious! Can you give a brief description?
    I’ll back up. Using Rotman’s excellent An Introduction to the Theory of Groups (it’s in Amazon, but one day I’ll learn to add links, I’ll stick to italics for now):
    “A semigroup (G,*) is a non-empty set G equipped with an associative operation *.”
    AND
    “A group is a semigroup G containing an element e such that: (i) e*a = a = a*e for all a in G; (ii) for every a in G there is an element b in G with a*b = e = b*a.”
    (We could go into the differing usage of all and every in here…)
    Use the set {Y,N} (where Y is “yes” and N is “no”) with the operator xor. Then we must only show that it needs no parens when we compose it. Hhhhmmm, now, Y xor Y = Y, N xor N = N, Y xor N = Y, and N xor Y = Y. Then we only need show that for any three operands this (the no-need for parens) holds (as there are only two elements in the set). And it’s easy to do explicitly, so I’ll leave it to you. So xor generates a semigroup. Now e (the identity) is Y because Y xor Y = Y = Y xor Y and Y xor N = Y = N xor Y. And b (the inverse), is N for Y, as Y xor N = Y = N xor Y, and Y for N as N xor Y = Y = Y xor N. Note that I seem to be repetitive because we have not shown commutatitvity (i.e. a*b = b*a). But that one, I think, is clear and trivial from the truth table (Y xor N = N xor Y) and from the fact that the definition of e already showed it for all elements in G as there are only two. So the group is in fact, abelian (every pair commutes).
    Now, try the same with or. It’s clearly a semi-group as it is associative (more easily shown than for xor, again, doing so explicitly in sets of three is the fastest route). But with or, there is no identity: it cannot be Y as Y or N = Y, and it cannot be N as if it was, then Y would have no inverse.
    And that’s where my ó versus o comes from…
    TL

  141. tlajous says:

    Nijma -
    you would need an example with no contextual clues that was not ambiguous
    If there is such a thing as an ambiguous example, then it is inclusive. See above on how inclusivity is larger than exclusivity (which intuitively makes sense too).
    Before Frege, Boolean algebra
    On Boole, I can just say that I drool…
    TL

  142. TL,
    If there is such a thing as an ambiguous example, then it is inclusive.
    It could be just ambiguous. First you have to find the example. How can an adjective be larger than another adjective anyhow?–asserting something does not make it true. I think your original take on either/or was more intuitive. My examples of exclusive “eithers” were just like either/or’s where the “or” was not specified because it was already known. “Either” is just a poetic “either/or”.

  143. Looks like my close italics after “inclusive” didn’t work. That’s why using the preview function is such a good idea.
    Shall I preview this comment? Nah..

  144. TL: I think you rushed your description of how XOR generates an abelian group. First of all (Claim 1) your operation is not XOR. Second (Claim 2) what you describe cannot be an abelian group of order 2, because that would have to be isomorphic to the cyclic group C2 (i.e. Z/2Z) of order 2, yet there is no isomorphism from your S = {Y, N: *} structure to C2.
    Claim 1
    Let’s look at the XOR table for the operation I’ll designate by *:
    p  q  *
    F  F  F
    F  T  T
    T  F  T
    T  T  F
    Using your sentence “now, Y xor Y = Y, N xor N = N, Y xor N = Y, and N xor Y = Y”, I derive this table for Y and N:
    Y  Y  Y
    Y  N  Y
    N  Y  Y
    N  N  N
    Clearly this table is not equivalent to the XOR table, no matter how you might reorder the rows, because the proportions of Y and N in the result column (3:1) are different from the proportions in the XOR table (2:2). These proportions are unchanged on row reordering.
    Claim 2
    If your structure S = {Y, N: *} were an abelian group, then it must be isomorphic to C2 = Z/2Z, since up to isomorphism there is only one abelian group of order 2, namely C2. Suppose we had an isomorphism
    f: S -> C2
    Of course the identity of S, which you say is Y, must map to the identity 0 of C2.
    f: Y -> 0
    The only remaining element in S is N. This must map to 1 in C2. So we have
    f: Y -> 0
      N -> 1
    But then (I’m using the usual + for the C2 operation)
       f(N) = f(N*N) = f(N) + f(N) = 1 + 1 = 0
    contradicting f: N -> 1. Thus f can’t be a homomorphism, and so not an isomorphism either.

  145. If you want to hold on to Y as the identity in your structure, then you need to stipulate N xor N = Y. Then your operation really is XOR, and the structure is C2. Alternatively, you could stipulate “Y xor Y = N” (instead of = Y) and leave N xor N = N as it is. Your operation would really be XOR, N becomes the identity instead of Y, and the structure is C2.

  146. I have meaning to ask how to do the special effects, particularly because it is useful to italicize what one is responding to.
    Unfortunately one of the messages that I wish to respond to would be unchanged by italicization!

  147. tlajous says:

    I am usimg an iphone – BIG advance apologies for the problems that ensue.
    GS – It was 1am after a long day at work. I typoed. Y xor Y = N. With the correct truth table in front, e is clearly N. It is isomorphic to C2 (I like to keep it “different”). You are again right. Apologies.
    Nij – Each “either” (without …or) can be inclusive and/or exclusive. When there is no ambiguity it’s because it is exclusive by context. It is a special case of the broader one of ambiguity. Hhhmmm, imagine a set of all instances of “either” in language. All are ambiguous until I understand context, which generates the sub-set of exclusive cases. All are inclusive until context qualifies. So, the set of inclusive cases contains that of exclusive cases. “Humans that have a hand” (ambiguous) is the same as “humans that have a left hand and/or a right hand” (inclusive), which contains “humans that have a left either/or a right hand” (exclusive). Also, in my original comment I said that either was a contraction of either…or.
    TL

  148. I finally see what the problem is. It’s due to the handwaving in your presentation regarding inverses and the identity. You really should have checked your details. The fact is, either
    A) Y = N, and your structure is the trivial group of order 1
    or
    B) Y is not N, and either your structure has no identity and is not a group, or it has an identity but then also an element without an inverse, and still is not a group.
    Ad A): Clearly Y = N gives us the trivial group of order 1
    Ad B): (where Y is not equal to N) If your structure has no identity, it is not a group.
    Suppose, on the contrary, that your structure has an identity element e. e must have the properties
      (1) eY = Ye = Y
      (2) eN = Ne = N
    Suppose e were Y. Then in (2) we would have to have YN = NY = N, contradicting your table where YN = Y (which is not N by assumption). So e must be N. But this means that Y has no inverse, because there is no element x such that Yx = xY = N. Taking x = Y we would have to have YY = Y, which is not the identity N by assumption: and for x = N we have YN = Y, which again is not the identity N by assumption. So Y has no inverse.

  149. I have absolutely no idea what you all are talking about, but I’m glad to sit here in the stands, sipping my drink and watching the ball fly back and forth!

  150. These be induction skirmishes, I ‘spec, almost unavoidable. Surely you remember coming down hard on one Grumbleby who clomped into view brandishing unproofread opinions …

  151. Thanks for the induction. I enjoy learning like this (and please don’t be bashful in bashing me—I insist on my amateurship and am more than willing to pay for it).
    To try and sum up a bit, lest I get even more confused [and confusing], have we agreed that:
    1. I typoed, and that with Y xor Y = N, then xor generates an abelian group (where N is the identity and Y and N are their own inverses—i.e. C2)?
    2. xor represents the exclusive form of English-”or” and the “either…or” and/or “either/or” constructions in English? And that the logician-”or” is the inclusive English-”or”, an isolated “either” (context-dependent), and/or the “and/or” construction?
    3. Ambiguity = inclusivity which is larger than exclusivity? So that, “or” = “either” = “and/or” > “either…or” = “either/or”? (Can’t do a reverse C.)
    4. In a weird localized Spanish usage convention amongst group-theorists at the School of Sciences, “xor” = “ó”, while this is not the RAE usage? (I am giving myself descriptivist points for ultra-localization, I know.)
    5. An isolated “either” might be a c14th century usage contraction of the “either…or” construction? Which then lost its exclusivity to ambiguity so that, outside the “either…or” and “either/or” constructions, “either” is inclusive just like English-”or” normally is (that is, with the exception of contextual exclusivity)?
    I promise to proofread.

  152. TL: are you a fan of Lacan’s writings and style, by any chance? Do you know Volpi’s El fin de la locura? I’m still wondering about the Sphinx factor …

  153. LH: Nice to see that you don’t draw the line at mathematical tangents.
    hatters: But I’m glad to see that this subthread looks like it’s winding up.
    TL: Welcome, and congratulations on coming through an encounter with Grumbly and his shears apparently unhurt. By the way, is there some serious reason why anyone would care which logical operations were group laws?
    hatters: ø is the usual mathematical symbol for the empty set.

  154. Have read of Lacan but have not read Lacan. So, no. As re: Volpi, I very much like the Crack Manifesto (more so feeling a dire need for a new Crack when it comes to my generation—I recently wrote that “There is no literature that I have found that for my generation answers the Crack Manifesto‘s call to ‘[forge] the national culture’ ” [so, yes, clearly I am Mexican]) and I thought En busca de Klingsor was excellent. But with his Jon Stewart-plagiarized collaboration with Denise Dresser (México: lo que todo ciudadano (no) quisiera saber sobre su patria) and his management of Channel 22, it felt like the beginning of what he professed was ending in the title you highlight. Strike that, it was stupidity, not madness, that ensued (1:3 commas:words). It teed me off so much that I have refrained, thus far, from reading El fin de la locura (and also because I’ve heard not-so-nice things about it).
    TL

  155. Null – Thanks!
    reason why anyone would care which logical operations were group laws
    Probably not. But then again, I spent a couple of years working my way up to proving that Budan-Fourier does not really include an error in its count… And no one should care (i.e. even less than the group-ability of Boolean operators).
    TL

  156. why anyone would care which logical operations were group laws?
    I was actually a bit disappointed, having expected something groovier. At least I can finally buy a new pair of garden shears in good conscience. This year I read a bit of Neumann’s 1998 workshop notes on geometric group theory, where I was delighted to learn about Cayley graphs. Directed graphs are my friends, they have proved very useful to me in IT. But enough of this stuff.

  157. “A or B” cannot possibly mean “both A and B, if you so desire” …
    I think they can, and therein lies part of the issue.

    You snipped out the all important when A is incompatible with B from the claim. This is part of the context which helps disambiguate.
    To “you can have chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream,” “can I have a bit of both?” is probably greedy and rude. But to, “would you like chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream?”, much less so. It’s the form of the whole question and not the alternative alone.
    More to the point, to “would you like coffee or tea?”, “a bit of both, please” will mark you at the least as a weirdo. But having chosen one or the other, “would you like cream or sugar?“, “a bit of both, please” is perfectly ordinary.
    In short, or in English (and most other languages) is quite simply inclusive disjunction. Any exclusivity comes from conversational implicature.

  158. You snipped out the all important “when A is incompatible with B” from the claim
    Thanx, MMcM. That excision was still griping me, but I decided I’ve done enough complaining today. Welcome, TL!

  159. don’t be bashful in bashing me
    Bash with either fist?
    Or stomp with either shoe?
    “or” in English (and most other languages) is quite simply inclusive disjunction
    I don’t have a problem with that usage, it seems intuitive. It’s “either” that keeps bothering me. To me, “either” is by default exclusive, although with Noetica’s “there is a tree on either side of the gate” example, I can see two trees if I squint and avoid looking directly at them, mostly because it’s the only meaning possible in the context.
    Now tell me how many fists and how many feet is TL getting bashed with? I see one fist and one foot. But I don’t know who s/he should call. There is an 800 Abuse Hotline number but also a number for Masochists Anonymous. TL could call either. At first I see one phone call, but there could possibly be two, just as an afterthought, depending on the tolerance level for navel-gazing–the context doesn’t rule it out. The phone could be dialed with either hand. (–must be one hand according to context?) But what if TL can’t dial with either hand. Does that mean one or two hands are unable to dial? I say both, but I suspect our antipodean friends stopped counting earlier.

  160. tlajous says:

    A fist. A shoe. Either would hurt.
    If “either” was exclusive, the above would mean that if a fist hurt a shoe would not (with the opposite also holding). Alternatively, it would imply that a fist and a shoe at the same time would result in no pain.
    And, your TL could call either. is inclusive (as I could call one and then the other).
    Hors-contexte, “either” is inclusive (which can be proved by finding just one example where it can be by “and/or”). Whereas, “either…or” and “either/or” are exclusive irrespective of context (dare I say contextlessly?).
    TL

  161. I’m not buying it, tlaj. “Either” is about choices. If someone wants to clobber you, they will have to choose one thing to do first. When you make that life-saving phone call, you will have to choose one number to dial. And as far as

    If ‘either’ was exclusive, the above would mean that if a fist hurt a shoe would not:

    if you smack your thumb with a hammer you can get it to stop hurting by banging your head against a wall.
    BTW, what is a “tlajous”? It sounds vaguely Nahuatl.

  162. Noetica,
    I have held off on responding to your most recent comment in order to give myself time to understand it better. I continue to discover more in it with each rereading, and yet I still feel like I am merely skimming the surface.
    May I say that I have rarely seen so many meanings packed into one little void? My hat is off to you.

  163. Captain Bathrobe says:

    Nijma, in the words of the immortal Captain Beefheart, “someone’s had too much to think”.
    Perhaps you’ve been teaching English to non-native speakers too long, but you seem to be putting a straitjacket on English that doesn’t necessarily exist.
    It’s not possible to categorically state that “either” has to be “exlusive”. It may be about choices, but there is no absolute necessity for one choice to be excluded.
    For example:
    “Either way you’re wrong”.
    I have no idea how this works in terms of logical operators, implications, or whatever, but it quite clearly means that under both assumptions you are wrong.

  164. Capt. Baθ, It means “damned if you do or (as in “exclusive or”) damned if you don’t”. It doesn’t mean damned if you do and don’t.
    Just because someone can take a particular context and decide that within the context both things could happen simultaneously or sequentially does not mean that the original question (or the word “either”) is about that. When you say “either way you’re wrong”, you are saying if you would pick one way or the other you would be wrong, you’re not judging whether it is theoretically possible to pick both ways simultaneously. If it was about that, the statement would be “Both ways you’d be wrong.” As you pointed out.
    I could say “Either refrigerator has space for your extra chocolate” and to me it would mean a choice between two refrigerators–one fridge or the other but not both. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to put chocolate in both refrigerators simultaneously, in a third refrigerator, in the cupboard, next to the mousehole, or simply eat it. But that wasn’t the question. The original question was about picking a refrigerator. One or the other but not both. Everything after that is negotiation. If I wanted them to use both refrigerators, I would have said “Both refrigerators have space for your extra chocolate”.
    Perhaps you’ve been teaching English to non-native speakers too long
    Tonight’s first exercise was to change “She has a new hat” (I swear to God I am not making this up) into the negative form using a contraction. The correct answer would be “She doesn’t have a new hat.” One of my students asked if she could say “She hasn’t a new hat.” It sounds British to me. Certainly I understood it, but no one here talks like that, and it’s not a phrase I would encourage. Student need phrases that are grammatically correct, but also useful. She nodded understandingly. It hadn’t been understood. Then she asked about “She’s got a new hat.” and “She hasn’t got a new hat.” I took a deep breath and perhaps slightly under the influence of the word “hat” in the example, told her she would find it in British textbooks but not American ones, but she would hear it on the street more often that the example from the book, and then went on at length about language changing. I really shouldn’t talk like that when the legislature is in session and they are voting to eliminate 50% of the grant that funds our program. Perhaps I have been reading this blog too long.

  165. Noetica, I have held off on responding to your most recent comment
    It was the answer to the koan “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”. If you’re drawing a blank, he did too. Point .

  166. Νίτζμα says:

    Noetica appears to have transcended duality with a unique solution to the Zhàozhōu koan.
    Baθrobe, what did you mean earlier by a “different social and linguistic background”? Is that anything like an invisible accent?

  167. Grumbly,
    Yes, it may be read as an answer to the well-known koan, but what answer? Maybe “no sound”, maybe “there is no answer”. Likewise it may be read as an answer to any of several related koans that have been posed here by Noetica, myself, and otters, most recently my “What is the sense of one koan spelling?” Or it may be a new koan (“What is the sound of no hands clapping?”?); a proposed pair of hind feet for my doggy couplet (metric feet having no syllables at all would be quite apt here, I think); a witty contrast to the prolixity of my preceding message to him; a reference to my own screen name; an image of Noetica’s mind contemplating an answer in Zen fashion (“my mind is in Lehrlauf”). Personally, I firmly believe it to be all of these and more. When I told him that I “feel like I am merely skimming the surface”, I was thinking of your Wasserjungfer, of course, but I could equally well have said that, like a dragonfly in flight, I have barely scorched the surface of his meaning.
    I considered replying to Noetica’s blank message with “.”, perhaps thinking of the “?” and “!” in your discussion of the same koan at your German-language blog. The point, of course, would have been either that I understood him, or that I did not; on another level, a point as counterpart of emptiness might have suggested the terminal object of a category (in the mathematical sense) as counterpart of the initial object; in addition; I was also thinking of the semantic territory covered by the words “period”, and (since one meaning of “period” is (one meaning of) “sentence”) “sentence”, and “sense”. But I didn’t.
    What did you mean when you wrote “Point .”? The empty character that you placed between the word “Point” and the following point gave me pause. It reminded me of the old gag: “You’ve got a point there. You’ve also got a hole in your head, but that’s beside the point.”
    Needless to say (sigh — so why did I say it?!), I regard all of this further prolixity as a mere footnote to Noetica’s eloquent blankness.

  168. empty:
    Point [blank]. Id est, “point blank”.
    There are different kinds of eloquence. Consider a baroque chapel and a Japanese rock garden, and verbal equivalents.
    Noetica must not yet have seen your anagram post, otherwise he would have responded. I thought it quite witty. The trail may have been covered over by my load of group-theoretic peanuts.

  169. Νίτζμα says:

    the old gag: “You’ve got a point there
    Our local version of the old saw was “You’ve got a point, but a good hat will cover it.”
    The math was very nice, Grumbly. I noticed right away the truth table he was using wasn’t for “or” or “xor”, but math is one of those subjects, like English literature, that I have been able to dodge for most of my life after early unpleasant brushes with them. Gate theory is something else, but I suppose if I said too much about that I would be showing my age.

  170. Nij: Thanks, I’m glad someone appreciated it! I followed TL’s lead, trying to put things in such a way that anyone could understand who had ever touched the subject. Unfortunately, that ran into rather too much detail.

  171. Bathrobe says:

    if you would pick one way or the other you would be wrong
    Exactly. So whichever side of the street you picked, you would find a tree.
    And the meaning is the same as “both”.
    I am well aware than “either” refers to a mental choice. Just as “any” refers to a mental choice among many.
    “Everyone knows that”.
    “Anyone knows that”.
    The mental gymnastics behind the two expressions are different. “Everyone” is like “both”. It explicitly spells out the meaning that all people are in possession of that knowledge. “Anyone” is like “either”. It means that whatever single person you like to pick, that person would be in possession of that knowledge. But while the nuance is different, the final result is the same. “Anyone” offers you a choice, with the intention of affirming that any choice you make has the same result — in other words, everyone knows.
    I don’t see that “either” in this context is so much different. It offers you a choice, with the intention of pointing out that whatever choice you make has the same result — there is a tree there.
    As for your different background, I was thinking back to your earlier comments (elsewhere) about not having heard four-letter words when you were growing up. LH found that concept too outlandish to swallow, and even I found it most remarkable, but neither of us were raised in the same milieu. It is often a surprise when you discover that something you assumed was common knowledge is unknown to a person from a different background.

  172. “A” tlajous is me, and has no connection to Náhuatl or any other pre-Columbian language. The initial initial of my initial name is “t”. The theory and the folklore is that the rest is badly spelled middle-french (but I might get schooled on that). It is written “lajous” but pronnounced “lajoux” (i.e. the “s” is silent). There is discussion of origin/meaning, but my favorite is a form of “là-bas” that is a play on los del sur and Los de Abajo. This has, most probably, in death, most certainly, come much to Azuela’s dismay!

  173. Oh no! Having just sworn that I am never ever again going to commit “either”, now I find “anyone” and “everyone” turning up as surprise witnesses for the prosecution. People, for cryin’ out loud!!! What is the cash value (William James) of this “either” business? Does anyone dare, or care, to sum it all up in less than 50 words?

  174. Consider a baroque chapel and a Japanese rock garden, and verbal equivalents.
    Noetica must not yet have seen your anagram post, otherwise he would have responded.
    My working theory is that his blank comment is a rock-garden reply to my baroque barrage.

  175. There, you see? Two elegant gentleman, Mr. Ample and Mr. Empty, bow, politely, mutually. Each continues on his way, well-satisfied, gently dreaming of breakfast, the imminent kipper.

  176. “A” tlajous is me, and has no connection to Náhuatl or any other pre-Columbian language. The initial initial of my initial name is “t”. The theory and the folklore is that the rest is badly spelled middle-french (but I might get schooled on that). It is written “lajous” but pronnounced “lajoux” (i.e. the “s” is silent). There is discussion of origin/meaning, but my favorite is a form of “là-bas” that is a play on los del sur and Los de Abajo. It has, most probably, in death, most certainly, come much to Azuela’s dismay!

  177. The theory and the folklore is that the rest is badly spelled middle-french
    Too bad marie-luce hasn’t been around lately or you might have found out if there’s more background information available about Lajous and French.
    I was thinking back to your earlier comments (elsewhere) about not having heard four-letter words when you were growing up.
    Not quite, it was the f-word we didn’t hear until Jerry Farber came along, although we had to try to puzzle out the copy with the asterisks which was nonetheless forbidden. Then Country Joe and the Fish came along and spelled it out for us on the Woodstock album. The biggies were “hell” and “damn”, along with their circumlocutions heck and darn, which were also not used in polite company. We had “shit” too, my personal favorite, but I don’t remember where I ever picked that one up, and of course “shoot”, which was merely regarded as slang and not particularly naughty. When my exchange student wish was granted we also got mierda (shit), miércoles(Wednesday-a circumlocution), and a la gran (puta) in Spanish.
    I was quite surprised at LH’s surprise, having read somewhere that he had relatives some 400 miles from where I grew up, and not “hearing an accent” in his speech, but of course his experience was totally different. There are however huge swaths of the midwest that are like that. It is Nixon’s “silent majority”. I was very interested also to see the map someone linked to of the “northern cities vowel shift” or something like that, and seeing that my home town was on the remote western edge of that. I’ve lost the link now as I was moving and having computer problems at the time. I would be very curious to find out the distribution of the “f-word” and how it correlates with religion, social class, generations, geography…all of that. I wonder how you could find that out. I was quite shocked to move to this neighborhood and hear it all the time on the street–but of course this is a very Catholic town and a blue-collar neighborhood, also at one time it was the Haight-Ashbury of Chicago as far as availability of street drugs–or maybe I’m just getting older and the language itself is changing yet again.

  178. Speaking of things of which we cannot speak (whereof much more could be said, and will be, I suspect), I found this utilitarian translation from Song of Songs (7:1–2) in Robert Alter’s fine The Art of Biblical Poetry, recently arrived from Amazon:

    How lovely are your feet in sandals, nobleman’s daughter!
    Your curving thighs are like ornaments, the work of a master’s hand.
    Your sex a rounded bowl – may it never lack mixed wine!
    Your belly a heap of wheat, hedged about with lilies … (p. 196)

    Two thoughts sprang hind-like to mind: that’s not the way the standard translations do it; and then, how like this Sumerian snippet, which LH will recall from Nicholas Ostler’s equally fine Empires of the Word:

    O my god, the wine-maid has sweet wine to give,
    Like her date-wine sweet is her vulva, sweet is her wine … (p. 51)

    I wish I could link to the relevant page of Curtis Vaughan’s out-of-print The Old Testament Books of Poetry from 26 Translations, but it is not visible even at Google Books. (I picked up a copy for $2 at an op shop, the other week.) Let me just report the facts from the six translations Vaughan shows for verse 2: four of them substitute the word navel; one body; and one waist. Robert Alter himself is brave in altering to sex, so redolent and re-mini-scent of those “diaries” of Anaïs Nin.
    For all our easy talk of the lutra (“otter”, itself from the verb ot, or ott: “to post off-topic, or on a tangent“), we tend to pass over the castor in conspiratorial silence. So do the translators of the Bible’s most joyous celebration of juicy young lust.
    I ott not: let me point (q.v.) out that translators have been literally lost for words, too, like the hapless lexicographer in LH’s post. This is no rude harangue, nor even a littoral herring, LH. It is a literary earing (SOED: “Earing … Naut. Any of a number of small ropes used to fasten the upper corners of a square sail to its yard”), by the aid of which, um … ligature I work to keep us on course.
    How natural an image is that bowl of wine, for desert people. Think for a moment from an Urman being’s point of view, of the woman’s body as landscape. Think of The English Patient, furchrissake.
    Only in recent years have our autteurs freely referred to a wet cunt using les mots justes (les mots juteux, je voudrais dire). It is a key concern of the film Atonement (of the novel too, I assume), and from this “central” image springs so much more in that masterpiece. Strangelovelike I restrain my writing wrist from otting off on a full analysis. Returning instead to Song of Songs, my third sprightly thought was this: How oughtt we to translate those lines?
    Well, cunt is out. So are all modern substitutes. Thinking “outside the box”, it seemed to me that, in spite of the other parts of the body being plainly named in the Hebrew (except the pubic hair, called lilies by convention), we must use art and indirection to cover, or uncover, the chose célèbre. I got carried away (sc. nympholept), and before long had rendered Song of Songs 7:1–9 in pentameters, like this:

    Lovely sandalled feet, O prince’s daughter!
    Some master craftsman formed those thighs, those hips –
    that goblet, never dry of sweet mixed wine!
    Soft-lily-edged, your belly’s harvest sheaf;
    your breasts are like twin fawns of some gazelle.
    Your ivory-towered neck; your eyes the pools
    of Heshbon, by the bustling city’s gate.
    So nobly stands that nose, as David’s tower
    looks from Lebanon towards Damascus.
    Your head of hair a crimson-braided garden:
    a king’s ensnared, within that purpled grove.
    How beautiful your charms, and how alluring!

    I long to climb my Darling’s date-palm heights –
    lay trembling hands upon her shapely boughs,
    those breasts like round ripe clusters on some vine!
    Apricots, her breath; like whispering wine
    it gently, smoothly, flows to greet my touch,
    down through teeth and the languid lips of love.

    Now, since I am innocent of Hebrew, I did that by dylangently dysentangling the eugraphia of several translations, and by consulting Alter’s extensive analysis; I sought not to alter where I alteration found, but to be as faithful to the sense as poesy would permit.
    Cohen is hugely influenced by biblical style: including these poems, which have worked their magic on centuries of European literature. So much in Baudelaire, for example, is a close paraphrase of the encomia to female beauty in Song of Songs. Good wine that kept well, and travels well.
    ———-
    Whereof I have not yet spoken, being diverted by the Shulamite, thereof I intend to speak soon, mes loutres littéraires. Except that I must thank Null for permuting my nom de réseau so réseaurcefully. I would do the same for him, but I find so little alteration to alter to from ø, unless it be (or not be, strictly for this case; see Tabellion for full discussion) to ǿ. Null must remain satisfied in the knowledge that ø will always fit in, being a subset of every set – including, of course, itself.

  179. I think there’s inconsistency because there’s still no consensus on what שָׁרְרֵךְ means precisely. It might mean ‘navel’, as the evident relationship with שָׁרֵּךְ in Eze 16:4 suggests. It is rendered ὀμφαλός by LXX. Or it might have meant ‘vulva’ and just etymologically related to that. And even if it does mean ‘navel’, that might or might not have been intended as a euphemism or metonomy. (That is ignoring the midrashist explanation that it’s a metaphor for the Sanhrdrin and similar Christian explanations used to justify the book’s canonicity.) But you’d still want to respect that in the translation.
    This argument does back at least to the 19th century. More recent notes are here, here, and here.

  180. Noetica,
    I missed you. The e-action just isn’t the same when you’re gone.
    The poem translation more than made up for the wait. It’s gorgeous, or sumptuous, or something. (Those words may be too tacky. Help, someone.)
    Tabellion! I had never delved into it before. It’s more a yarn than a thread. I was on the edge of my seat watching to see if philology would capitulate to ontology or the otter way round.
    Since my need to belong is bumping up against my need to be brief, so I will leave it at that for now.

  181. Technical question that I keep forgetting to ask: how does one embed (or possibly imbed) a link in a comment?

  182. There is no need to be brief here: expatiate at will! And links are done using href:
    <a href=”URL”>link</a>
    will take you to the desired URL when you click on it. Thus
    <a href=”http://www.languagehat.com/archives/003552.php”>this thread</a>
    will become this thread.

  183. Hat:
    Thank you. Now I know how to make links.
    Thank you also for eliminating one reason for brevity. That leaves at least three, though: My family needs me, I have work to do, and it’s a glorious summer day out there.

  184. Uncle N:
    Thank you for your concern about my sense of belonging. (It does not require the eyes of a links to see that that is an issue for me.)
    But I beg leave to remind you that, in the usual usage of set theory, the empty set does not belong to (is not a member of) itself. Subset, yes; member, no.
    In fact, nothing belongs to the empty set, but that’s the way I like it.
    In most versions of set theory, there is no reason why a set might not belong to itself: For example, the set of all nonempty sets (if there were such a thing as the set of all nonempty sets) would belong to itself.
    I am struggling mightily with my own strangelovian arm here — Russell’s paradox and its kin are clamoring for utterance — but let me save that for another day, or for others to expatiate upon.
    I conclude by remarking that here come those types and tokens again.
    P.S. Where I come from “OT” means either Old Testament or Occupational Therapy.

  185. In most versions of set theory, there is no reason why a set might not belong to itself
    Most versions?? Has the Aczel/Barwise crowd driven the axiom of foundation so far out of town, since the 80′s? I had the impression that folks had settled down to an uneasy truce – FA believers on one side of the tracks, AFA champions on the other. All working in different factories.

  186. Two thoughts sprang hind-like to mind: that’s not the way the standard translations do it; and then, how like this Sumerian snippet,…
    Barbara Walker (The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets) compares Song of Solomon to the royal wedding hymns of Sumer and Akkad, the wedding being “a king’s union with the Goddess Inanna, Queen of the Universe.”

    A priestess impersonated the Goddess on the royal wedding night. Solomon’s mysterious “black, but beautiful” bride, the Shulamite, seems to have been no more than an ancient Canaanite title of the Goddess, Zulumat, “Darkness.” Like the Goddess she was not only the night and the moon; she was also the land and its crops. Her stature was like a palm tree, her breasts like clusters of grapes, her mouth like honeycomb, her teeth like flocks of sheep, her belly a heap of wheat set with lilies, and so on….

    “Goblet” certainly has plenty of female pagan symbolism attached to it, “chalice” might better emphasize the religious ritualism of the poem; for female symbolism there is also cup, cauldron, or bell (for a touch of emptiness) although the bell is never found far from the dorje.

  187. Bell. (with repaired link)

  188. the axiom of foundation
    Stu, you have caught me talking through my, um, hat. It’s not that times have changed since you learned this stuff, but rather that I never learned this stuff properly. I am sure that you know more than I about set theory and the (various proposed) philosophical foundations of mathematics.
    Let me merely suggest that it might be fun, some rainy day, for me, or you, or TL, or someone, to teach our fellow campers a little about the paradoxes that pointed the way to modern set theory. Or maybe for “some rainy day … teach … a little” I should substitute “some dark night … tell … some ghost stories”.

  189. It occurred to me belatedly that Noetica had said “fit in” rather than “belong”. This pulls the wool out from under my halfhearted pun (be long = belong, be short = be brief). Also more or less takes away my excuse (if I need one) for my remarks on self-membership and paradoxes.
    Personally, I care more for belonging than fitting in. But enough about me.
    I looked up “expatiate” because I wanted to be sure that it is strictly intransitive (yes) and was surprised and pleased to learn also that it has a sense of “wandering” …

  190. I am sure that you know more than I about set theory
    Well, I know beans – just enough for a frugal breakfast before a final attempt to find my way out of Death Valley.
    You should keep in mind that I defer to homotopy calculus dudes in matters mathematical. When they say something about math, I assume that I am learning something. I may briefly clang on my tin bowl for fun – “Well, I thought … run out of town … either side of the tracks …” – but then I scamper for cover. Walter sometimes takes the trouble to hammer it into better shape, in the nicest way, but it’s still battered and full of holes, and will barely hold one small portion of frijoles.
    The reasons I took so much (too much) trouble with TLs ultra-simple example were 1) I was following his lead in presenting things in a simple way, 2) his presentation was obviously wrong, but 3) I couldn’t immediately figure out what the problem was, and thought others would have the same difficulties. Because of 2), I even wondered briefly whether a real mathematician would flub such a simple example. Only later did I go sleuthing on the net to find out who he was, and had to slink back home wet and bedraggled. And he did say later that it was only a typo …
    Think of me as knowing just enough math to be a nuisance to non-mathematicians. From knowing my tin bowl so intimately, I have a certain knack for finding holes in the tin bowls of other people.
    the paradoxes that pointed the way to modern set theory … some ghost stories
    In my experience, that stuff has the following effect on people, in decreasing order of frequency: either they get confused and overwhelmed after a certain point, or they turn into essentialist/constructivist/fundamentalist cranks, or they become set theorists.
    Until about 10 years ago, I would have phases where I dived headfirst in these things yet again, trying to swim to the other side. In the most recent phase (I’m determined it will be the last one) I learned about Aczel, Barwise, Etchemendy et al. Each phase always ended with my having several books stacked up in the crapper, which I would browse through like reading recipe books in a foreign language. I recognized an ingredient here, a technique there, but never enough to plan a dinner to which I could invite company.
    All I remember now about the end of another phase was browsing a fat dark green book by Sierpínski on set theory. My favorite passage was something like this, where he is discussing some kind of monster cardinal he had dreamed up: “We must be cautious here, however, because we are on the brink of inconsistency: when we try to take the following limit …”

  191. Catenio says:

    ø:
    Expatiate? I wonder …
    I was also thinking of the semantic territory covered by the words “period”, and (since one meaning of “period” is (one meaning of) “sentence”) “sentence”, and “sense”. But I didn’t.
    But yes, I got your point. The period-as-part qua period-named-for-that-of-which-it-is-part. A denominatively metonymic totum pro parte, Toto: though so otterively to Otot takes us on a tangent waaaaaaaaay outta Kansas. In short, the ultimate twinge-like singularity of the point tout court substitutes for the prolongation of the sundance as a whole (too long).
    (Few? Whew! Such a-pun-dance of noetic notions: a worldsworth flight of ideas – if not a wordswirled fight of ideals. If Playtune could see us now, and how we sport in the Cave.)
    As for periods in this context, the less said the better.
    Or, according to one midrashist ex-courses:
    “As for periods in this cunttext,” the lass sighed, “they’re bitter.”
    Louchely speaking, and suivant ses règles, neither I nor the loose lass thinks that either is inapplicable. In either case, silence is golden. (The “golden mean”; the “demon angel”.) So let us leave blood out of Song of Songs; leave Blood Wettings to Lorca – another who is deeply and indubitably indebted (neh, imbedded) when it comes to biblical themes (see “Tamar y Amnón“).
    Speaking of silences, Song of Songs is great literature in large part because of its lacunae and uncertainties. On the whole, the hole is greater than the strum of the parts, pace Hofstadter. All great art is like that. Mozart said (apophatically and apocryphally, in a masterly stroke of cundtensation) that silence is the best part of music, or that “music is the silence between the notes”, attributed to otters also. (I say nothing about either Simon or Garfunkel.)
    The null-said is present as sib-said in every-said’s supper-said; but sad to say, never as proper supper-said to any-said. And yes, re-member to re-set your assumptions: I did knowingly say that “ø will always fit in, being a subset of every set – including, of course, itself”. Note in passing that “including … itself [as a subset]” can be read_here_in either way: “since ø includes itself”; or “since ‘every set’ includes ‘ø’ ”.
    Your worry that ø is not (normally) a member of sets (whereof nonetheless it must be a subset) is easily set aside and nullified, since for every set S of which ø is not a member ({m¹, m², …, mⁿ}) there is a corresponding set Sˈ of which it is a member ({ø, m¹, m², …, mⁿ}).
    Mmm – immminent kippers.

  192. Noetica says:

    … and beans. Mmmmm.
    Beans were forbidden to the Pythagoreans, of course.
    I passed over in silence these facts about “Tamar y Amnón”. Tamar means “date palm”; Tamar was half-sister to Amnón, who “climbed” her (by force according to the Midrashists: but you know how they are), thereby making her, in a sense short of innocence, “his sister, his bride” (see Song of Songs, and see the Egyptian precursors thereof).
    But best of all, what finer example of silence in music, or ommission in art generally, than Lorca’s conclusion? The father of Amnón was none other than David:

    Violador enfurecido
    Amnón huye con su jaca
    Negros le dirigen flechas
    en los muros y atalayas.
    Y cuando los cuatro cascos
    eran cuatro resonancias
    David con unas tijeras
    cortó las cuerdas del arpa.

    David cut the strings of the harp, with scissors. Of course Lorca could have gone on: but no, he most fittingly stopped when he did.

  193. Νίτζμα says:

    Kippers….this is breakfast?

  194. Noetica says:

    Breakfast-said? Supper, right now in Australia. But I don’t think Australian Pythagoreans would want any, if they saw that photo. We Empedocleans, yes.

  195. Νίτζμα says:

    Not having harpstrings didn’t prevent David’s Lamentions when Absalom was killed in battle (in the forest near Ajloun a few kilometers from where I lived). (IIRC, the range of the soprano part is a real killer, particularly before breakfast.)
    Song of Solomon is incompatible with Empedoclesiatics. Only though Discordianism can one truly escape duality and shed the veil of maya that is this existence.

  196. Noetica says:

    Mmmmmm, māyā … Yummy. ¡Y la Maja de Goya!
    But isn’t it waaaay past your bedtime, Nijma? :)
    By the way, now that we speak of माया: in writing ommission, my sin was not one of commission but one of omission. It should have been:

    … or om-mission in art generally …

    That is, the implicit ottering of the sacred syllable through the lacunae in art. (One so e-silly gets hoist by one’s one bêtard, ball-lancing so meany juggled mêmings at the sametime.) Compare Cohen’s lines (note the bells, Nijmette):

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in.

    Compare the spellings Shulamite and Shulammite, and ot and ott. In each case either is used.
    Ó, and an otter thing. About o and ó, in the Lorcine language. RAE should have made this clear at its article “o”, but it does not. U is substituted for o before a vowel or a (silent) h. See the separate entry “u”:

    u². 1. conj. disyunt. U. por o, para evitar el hiato, ante palabras que empiezan por o o por ho; p. ej., diez u once; belga u holandés.

    “Por o o por ho“? Uh-oh, my ed urts. I’m going to bed.
     

  197. Nijmāyā says:

    “Por o o por ho”
    Same pronunciation, the h is silent. I knew that.
    Is it true he’s a zionist?
    No work today, I can sleep when I’m dead.

  198. I’m hardly in the thick of things myself, but I get the sense that nobody really worries about foundations except those who specialize there (or in history). You just figure that ZFC is probably consistent, and if it isn’t something else will come along that’ll still support the intermediate results of whatever area you work in.

  199. There’s no point in “figuring that ZFC is consistent” if by that you mean “take as a working hypothesis”, in the sense that maybe someone, one day, will demonstrate consistency. After all, if ZFC is consistent, then its consistency can’t be proved in ZFC (Gödel). What you can work with is relative consistency, for instance: “if ZFC is consistent, then ZFC+CH is consistent” (Gödel again).
    Anyway, ZFC includes the FA (foundation axiom). What I was talking about were those who find it convenient to discard the FA, taking the AFA (anti-foundation axiom) instead. That gives you things like x = {x}, which can be useful in IT.
    If a concrete inconsistent result is ever derived from ZFC or one of its consistency-implications, all that will happen then is that the constructivists will inherit the earth. They’re well-prepared. Choice will be among the first to be defenestrated, I don’t doubt.
    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “nobody worries about foundations except those who specialize there”. Very few people even know that there is such a thing as “foundations”, much less worry about them. Used to be, nobody worried about global environment except those who specialized in the subject. Still, I don’t expect the day to come when concerned citizens will flock to large demonstrations, brandishing placards with the words “Save the axiom of choice!”.

  200. No. I meant not that one expects consistency to be proven (for exactly the reason you state), but that if it were inconsistent, someone would have noticed by now. That’s why I said “probably”.
    And everything I said as meant to be restricted to those who know what it is, not the population at large.
    So, one can be a constructivist or intuitionist or Boubakist at root and work day-to-day at a much higher level without effect, or so it seems to me.

  201. Yes, the members of the silent, countable majority. They always have a gut feeling in reserve, against the day when high-falutin’ comes a-cropper.

  202. SnowLeopard says:

    Does the axiom of choice deserve to be saved? I have collected some books to investigate this question and will probably get down to business in the year 2025, but in case Armageddon intervenes, I would appreciate the benefit of some informed opinions to tide me over. (The discussion of group theory was also welcome, though I’m a novice there also.)

  203. Does the axiom of choice deserve to be saved? … I would appreciate the benefit of some informed opinions to tide me over.
    Can’t help you with informed opinion, SnowLeopard! But opinionated information? Any time!
    I think it’s basically a matter of whether you want to spend your life as a monk or a monster-trucker: frugally, or buy-now-pay-later. When Final Depositions are being taken, the question will not be whether Choice deserves to be saved, but how much you have saved by abstaining from Choice! That’s what I’ve heard, anyhow.

  204. SnowLeopard says:

    Yet Lutherans claim to be justified by faith. And Luther himself doesn’t seem to have been much for abstaining from Choice. Hmmm. Reminds me that I also need to spend some time with Goedel’s (sorry, no umlauts handy) ontological proof of the existence of God, which when I heard of it struck me as rather out of character.

  205. I never knew about Gödel’s ontological proof, and there’s a whole Wikipedia article on it! (Incidentally, HTML renders umlauts with “uml” after the vowel; thus ouml between & and ; will turn into ö.)

  206. Noetica says:

    Thank you for expanding the limits of my knowledge, LH. How could I have survived so long without coming across that fact? You can make an umlette without breaking a neck.

  207. Noetica says:

    And of course I cannot resist referring to a book called Nothingness and emptiness (which may interest ø, and others who frequent this thread). We see mention of Sartre’s ontological proof, on which I once wrote a little thesis. Sartre aims to prove not the existence of God, but the external existence of the objects of perception.

  208. Siempre pensé, por Su teorema, que Gödel no existe sin Él—sin diacríticos y sin críticos.
    Oh, and I posit, with nor further proof but with some clopen-mindeness, that {and, or}, where the isolated “or” is exclusive, generates a Sierpiński space.
    TL

  209. Apologies, I meant: Oh!, and I posit, with no further proof but with some clopen-mindedness, that {and, or}, where the isolated “or” is exclusive, generates a Sierpinski (with an acute diacritical mark over the “n”) space.

  210. I fixed it for you with my Hattic magic (which in this case involved the Windows character map).

  211. Favoritism! Way up above here I wrote Sierpínski with the accent in the wrong place. Did anybody correct that? Nope. Does an accent make a difference? W.C. Fields thought so: “Madam, my name is not Souse, but Sousé, Sousé, with an accent grave over the e!”

  212. jamessal says:

    Random but clever: in last week’s New Yorker, Anthony Lane described Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Brüno as “the Austrian fashionista with the big umlaut.”

  213. tlajous says:

    Did anybody correct that? Nope
    LH corrected my HTML (it originally read “Sierpiński”), I (very subtly) corrected your accent positioning.
    Does an accent make a difference?
    An accent makes a HÚGE difference. I have alienated many by throwing fits when the one in my first name is ommitted.
    TL

  214. {and, or}, where the isolated “or” is exclusive, generates a Sierpinski space
    TL, you seem to have a great store of nanofacts at your disposal! I find that “the” Sierpinski space is just a two-point connected set, albeit a cute one. {and, or} has two elements. You distinguish “or” as the isolated point. So there’s the space, we’re finished.
    What remains to be “generated”? Why does the closed “or” have to be XOR?? What might {and, or} be good for, looked at in this way? It’s a pity you usually open with the Inscrutable Brevity Gambit: a2-a3. I still haven’t seen your middle-game.

  215. when the one in my first name is omitted
    They’re just gringos, not to worry.

  216. tlajous says:

    a2-a3
    As I don’t play, I’d rather stick to my A4 or a substituent.
    So there’s the space, we’re finished.
    The objective of mentioning Sierpi´nski (I’ll never find the n-acute) space was two-fold: 1) to, in extreme subtlety, point out the misplaced glyph (you made me think of the topology); and 2) to playfully try and extend the simplicity of such a space into English. (Think of it in language terms but using topology—map “or” to 0 and “and” to 1, then {0,1} is “and/or” and is clopen [ambiguous], “or” is closed, “and/or” contains both “and” and “or”, etc… It was just meant to be neat and fun. The reason I like to distinguish “a” and “the” is that every set can be mapped to “the”, but I use “a” for one that is homeomorphous with its “natural” topology. Oh!, and it has to be “xor”, as otherwise {1} = {0,1}.)
    Siempre pensé, por Su teorema, que Gödel no existe sin Él—sin diacríticos y sin críticos.
    Bilingual-mathematical-theological-linguistic… humor. “Gödel sin Él y sin diacríticos” = God (literally, by removing the last two letters and the umnlaut [and the acute accent on the E given the purposeful indeterminacy of the endophora]). Thus, God no existe, por el teorema de Gödel (cataphoric possesive “Su”). And I use Caps to exophorically reference God. Under God’s theorem (attributing Him ownership which, if He exists, is the case), Gödel doesn’t exist… And you can keep playing around, because the phrase is either inconsistent or incomplete—and this in itself (“sin críticos” = in reference to those that criticize Debray for applying Gödel to other subjects [namely politics]) should negate God and thus Gödel as he (i.e. Gödel) “proved” that He (i.e. God) exists. It links/negates the existence of Gödel to God’s by negating/linking both.
    (And then we can go full circle because one of Debray’s critics is Sokal, who was sort-of mimicked by “Siskind”, who joined LH’s legion, by admiring yet admonishing of DFW’s non-sequiturs (here). This of course I have just come up with and was not embedded in the original cryptic one-liner.)
    Native Spanish speakers omit the accent also. Hell annoying.
    TL

  217. In case anyone still cares, I wrote a whole paper on the recent development of reversed _substitute old for new_ beside the much-criticised but nearly century-old _substitute old with new_ and the standard _substitute new for old_:
    Denison, David. 2009. Argument structure. In Günter Rohdenburg & Julia Schlüter (eds.), One language, two grammars? Differences between British and American English (Studies in English Language), 149-65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    It’s available on my website, if you have the patience for a longish academic piece – and an explanation which involves soccer. The reversal of usage has also been extensively discussed online by Arnold Zwicky. For those who (like me, several years ago), thought of the lyrics in the song by The Who, here’s your answer (a footnote in the paper above):
    Several colleagues have wondered whether the song ‘Substitute’ by The Who (released 1966) might contain some early examples of the reversal. I wrote to ask Pete Townshend, its writer, whether the line
    (i) Substitute you for my Mum
    meant ‘replace you with my Mum’ or ‘replace my Mum with you’. The answer sent on his behalf (1 Dec. 2004) reads: ‘Pete says it is the latter (viz: “YOU” are the substitute)’. In other words the song exhibits standard usage, not reversed.
    DD

  218. Noetica says:

    That’s brilliant, David! Thanks for contributing, and for sorting things out regarding The Who, in particular.
    I have to concede: my interpretation of the song “Substitute” turns out to be wrong; and Nijma’s turns out to be right, at least on the central point. I am mystified as to how it makes any sense, though. The singer will now at least get his washing done, having left the mum and gone with the substitute? Well, I suppose any lyric can be twisted topologically into some sort of straight sense; and we have touched more than once above on how works of art are enhanced by ambiguity, or by other difficulties of interpretation.
    Finally, the fact that others have felt impelled to approach the lyricist himself for a verdict shows the plausibility of the alternative reading. So I don’t feel too bad!

  219. Those who were trying to “make sense” out of Townsend were mostly revealing their own value systems; for instance the comment about “nullifying an earlier deception” I see as an attempt by Uncle N and others to put right an uncomfortable situation set up by a straight (OED) interpretation of the lyrics. But Townsend was not one to flinch at unpleasantness. After all, this was the guy who wrote a rock opera about sexually abusing a child.

  220. The pdf file for Dr. Dennison’s paper is here.

  221. Oops, Denison, hate those typos.

  222. Thanks for the link, Nijma, and congratulations on being in sync with Pete Townsend! And of course many thanks to David for dropping by with valuable information, including the word from the horse’s mouth.

  223. Noetica,
    I think you’re still overinterpreting the song. The singer’s point is that everything in his life is fake. He is a substitute for another guy, his girlfriend (You) is just a substitute for his mum – You’ll do his washing but not much else, i.e. You do the chores, but aren’t providing in the sexual arena, now maybe I am overinterpreting.)
    Also David Denison – seems to me you’ve transcribed the lyric incorrectly in your example. Maybe you can get Pete to clarify whether “substitute” in that line is a noun or a verb. It seems clear enough to me it’s a noun, i.e “(Substitute) you for my mum” is probably how the lyric should be written. Listen to how the song is actually performed.

  224. Listen to how the song is actually performed.
    Even better, watch how the song is actually performed. At 2:24 you can very clearly see the lead lyrics sung as “substitute you for my mum” even as the backup repeats “substitute” over the lead.
    As far as the deeper grammatical form(s) of “substitute”, I saw somewhere, and I’ll never find the link now, that Townsend said he was trying for a meme on the order of Mick Jagger’s “Satisfaction”. This Rolling Stone interview with Townsend kind of hints at that:

    “My Generation” was written under pressure; someone came to me and said, “Make a statement, make a statement, make a statement, make a statement, make a statement,” and I’m going “Oh, okay, okay, okay,” and I get “My Generation” together very quickly, like in a night — it feels like that. It’s a very blustering kind of blurting thing. A lot of our early records were. “I Can’t Explain” was a blurter and a bluster, and “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” which was our second record, was just a brag, like, you know, nothing more. “Substitute” was a takeoff on Mick Jagger or something equally banal.

  225. Some cobbled-together associations:
    From the lines
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in

    we leap to
    It is the little rift within the lute
    That by-and-by will make the music mute,
    And ever widening, slowly silence all.

    (So there’s another way to make an om-Laute.)
    From the lute, whether lit up, let rip, or left for mute, we are led to the oud, and thence (not so oddly — his uncle was an oudist, and it shows) to the King of the Surf Guitar. Would Mozart still maintain (if he had in fact said it in the first place) that music is the silence between the notes if he could hear this?

  226. Noetica says:

    ø:
    Ó, I do like that! And such a sonic segue from Denison to Tennyson. So merry much springs hart-like to my head, to raise in reply – not all in the nature of a kippered herring (vide supra, inter lutras). See this opening stanza of Nerval’s “El Desdichado”, now that we speak of lutes (all of which have a hole in the middle leading to the whole universe, like a Klein bottle) and lutrae:

    Je suis le Ténébreux, – le Veuf – l’inconsolé,
    Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la Tour abolie:
    Ma seule Étoile est morte, – et mon luth constellé,
    Porte le Soleil noir de la Mélancolie.

    That poem was mentioned recently chez Grombleur.
    But unfortunately and by a remarkable coincidence, since I expatiated on Song of Songs, my task to hand is to edit a long and intricate piece written by a French woman with parlous English. She dwells on that same topos of Canticum canticorum, but in its medieval reception. It’s going to take me another day to work through it, so … more later.

  227. I’ve got work to do, too, come to think of it. So of the several remarks that I could make I will confine myself to one driven by honesty:
    The “rift … lute” line is one of those many literary shreds and shards lying about in my mental attic that are only there because Bertie Wooster learned them at school. I didn’t even know it was by Tennyson until I googled it the other day.

  228. Noetica says:

    On different shifts in Time, we two must toil. / Wherefore, ø, let’s otterwise recall / This second thought, as Attic as your first, / And spare the tuft of flowers for later mirth:

    “Men work together,” I told him from the heart
    “Whether they work together or apart.”

     

  229. a hole in the middle leading to the whole universe, like a Klein bottle
    Or like an omphalos.

  230. It seems there are many locations to choose from.

  231. many locations to choose from
    …but for this urban beduweeya there can only be one choice.

  232. Noetica says:

    Many locutions too, Nijma. The omphalos that I prefer is of course the Martello tower in Ulysses. From the Telemachus episode:

    - Do you pay rent for this tower?
    - Twelve quid, Buck Mulligan said.
    - To the secretary of state for war, Stephen added over his shoulder.
    They halted while Haines surveyed the tower and said at last:
    - Rather bleak in wintertime, I should say. Martello you call it?
    - Billy Pitt had them built, Buck Mulligan said, when the French were on the sea. But ours is the omphalos.

    Since this thread deals with shifts of location and locution around the navel (linked now to the naval, note), I am duty-bound to put this topographico-anatomical grotesquerie on record also, for future reverence:

    A cloud began to cover the sun wholly slowly wholly. Grey. Far.
    No, not like that. A barren land, bare waste. Vulcanic lake, the dead sea: no fish, weedless, sunk deep in the earth. No wind would lift those waves, grey metal, poisonous foggy waters. Brimstone they called it raining down: the cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Edom. All dead names. A dead sea in a dead land, grey and old. Old now. It bore the oldest, the first race. A bent hag crossed from Cassidy’s clutching a noggin bottle by the neck. The oldest people. Wandered far away over all the earth, captivity to captivity, multiplying, dying, being born everywhere. It lay there now. Now it could bear no more. Dead: an old woman’s: the grey sunken cunt of the world.
    Desolation.

    Now, just as the navel turned up in the first episode dedicated the Stephen Dedalus, this turns up in Calypso, the first dedicated to Bloom. In Stephen’s episode, though, old women are a central feature (the milkwoman, and others from legend); while Bloom, in pursuit of a kidney for breakfast (faute de kippers), is also in pursuit of the nymph next door, closely contrasted with a crone:

    He stood by the nextdoor girl at the counter. Would she buy it too, calling the items from a slip in her hand. Chapped: washing soda. And a pound and a half of Denny’s sausages. His eyes rested on her vigorous hips. Woods his name is. Wonder what he does. Wife is oldfish. New blood. No followers allowed. Strong pair of arms. Whacking a carpet on the clothesline. She does whack it, by George. The way her crooked skirt swings at each whack.

    And of course the nymph motif is explicit from the start, for Bloom:

    The Bath of the Nymph over the bed. Given away with the Easter number of Photo Bits: Splendid masterpiece in art colours. Tea before you put milk in. Not unlike her with her hair down: slimmer. Three and six I gave for the frame. She said it would look nice over the bed. Naked nymphs: Greece: and for instance all the people that lived then.
    He turned the pages back.
    – Metempsychosis, he said, is what the ancient Greeks called it. They used to believe you could be changed into an animal or a tree, for instance. What they called nymphs, for example.

    Bloom’s attraction to nymphs will reach its climax in the infamous Nausicaa episode. (Do we find in “oldfish” a supersalted mattermorphosis of the kipper? There are kippers in the novel, along with a further-eastern reverence in mentions of Yom Kippur – yum, kipper! But more on that in anotter post, perhaps, along with the inevitable connexions between Nausicaa, the action of Calypso, and other abiding fibrils of this thread.)
     

  233. I see Mauritius has three Martello towers still standing.

  234. The wasteland theme: is this not the Muspel or mother’s curse laid on the land itself because the inhabitants have neglected the goddess and reduced the female principle to its lowest human denominator? Not an accident the blighted lands are in the southern deserts or that Surt will ride forth from the south at Ragnarök to destroy everything, the sun, the moon, and the gods themselves.

  235. And the oud is gendered?

  236. Noetica says:

    Yes Nijma, the oud is gendered – or rather, sexed. Think of oud-nymphs and neverdryads (moist and *derew(o)-y young saplings).
    Thank you for making the connexion between oud and lute. I suffer an etymological itch (and may even break out in a mid-rash) when people expatiate on the oud as “a kind of middle-eastern lute”, never quite making the point that the words are connected almost to identity.
    There are Martello towers on Mars (now that the French are in space)? I knew about the Hungarian diaspora in the Indian Ocean, but not the Irish. The omphalos must still be Joyce’s one, though.
    Speaking of connectedness to the point of identity, it’ou’d be remiss not to point out the intimate relations between these three:

    ὀ-μ-φ-α-λ-ός
    u-m-b-i-l-īcus
    n-a-v-e-l

    And Sanskrit nābhīla, French nombril, all from this PIE root given in AHD:

    nobh-. Important derivatives are: nave2, navel, and umbilicus.
    Also ombh- . Navel; later also “central knob,” boss of a shield, hub of a wheel. 1. a. NAVE2, from Old English nafu, nafa, hub of a wheel; b. AUGER, from Old English nafogâr, auger, from Germanic compound *nabo-gaizaz, tool for piercing wheel hubs (*gaizaz, spear, piercing tool). Both a and b from Germanic *nabo. 2. Variant form *ombh-. UMBO, from Latin umbo, boss of a shield. 3. Suffixed form *nobh-alo-. NAVEL, from Old English nafela, navel, from Germanic *nabalo. 4. Suffixed variant form *ombh-alo-. a. UMBILICUS; NOMBRIL, from Latin umbilìcus, navel; b. OMPHALOS, from Greek omphalos, navel. [Pokorny 1. (enebh-) 314.]

    But the less said about central knobs, the better. Let’s give the feminine its dew.
    Something on ø’s gravid posting in due course.

  237. N:
    Out of the mouths of crones …
    Last night my mother-in-law suddenly (apropos of nothing but the fact that, after my son played GLACIERS in a game of anagrams, I idly trotted out the British pronunciation thereof) spouted the following verse by Auden:
    The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
    The desert sighs in the bed,
    And the crack in the tea-cup opens
    A lane to the land of the dead.

    So I thought I would toss some crazed crockery into your hopper along with Cohen’s cracked bell and Tennyson’s riven lute, turn the crank, and see what comes out (after a suitable (in)gestation period).
    Just more grits for the mill.

  238. She wouldn’t be a widow by any chance… W.H.Auden’s “As I walked out one evening.”
    Eliot, the wasteland guy, was the first to publish Auden’s work.

  239. a widow
    Twice. Also a poet.

  240. Noetica says:

    Nijma:
    I must meditate at length on the implications of “Eliot, the wasteland guy”.
    ø:
    I glean in the metamathematical aftermath of your pregnant semantic field – parsemé with the promise of sheaves (some perverse, perforce), by no means parsimonious in pawsibilities. Much must be left unspoken, though; we wouldn’t want to swell the thread beyond what it can bear.
    For now I say only this. The girth of this thread is such that I declare it the successor to Tabellion. Some dozen or so of the hundreds who analyse our every phrase will have by now understood: the otter of this and the hydra of that are one and the same. (Not just one or the same, I stress.) Indeed, the words are deeply wed:

    wed-1. Important derivatives are: water, wet, wash, winter, hydrant, hydro-, undulate, abound, inundate, redundant, surround, otter, Hydra, whiskey, and vodka.
    Water; wet. 1. Suffixed o-grade form *wod-or. a. WATER, from Old English wæter, water; b. KIRSCHWASSER, from Old High German wassar, water. Both a and b from Germanic *watar. 2. Suffixed lengthened-grade form *wêd-o-. WET, from Old English wæt, wêt, wet, from Germanic *wêd-. 3. O-grade form *wod-. WASH, from Old English wæscan, wacsan, to wash, from Germanic suffixed form *wat-skan, to wash. 4. Nasalized form *we-n-d-. WINTER, from Old English winter, winter, from Germanic *wintruz, winter, “wet season.” 5. Suffixed zero-grade form *ud-or. (HYDRANT), HYDRO-, (HYDROUS), UTRICLE; ANHYDROUS, CLEPSYDRA, DROPSY, HYDATHODE, HYDATID, from Greek hudor, water. 6. Suffixed nasalized zero-grade form *u-n-d-â-. UNDINE, UNDULATE; ABOUND, INUNDATE, (REDOUND), REDUNDANT, SURROUND, from Latin unda, wave. 7. Suffixed zero-grade form *ud-ro-, *ud-râ-, water animal. a. OTTER, from Old English otor, otter, from Germanic *otraz, otter; b. NUTRIA, from Latin lutra, otter (with obscure l-); c. HYDRUS, from Greek hudros, a water snake; d. HYDRA, from Greek hudra, a water serpent, Hydra. 8. Suffixed zero-grade form *ud-skio-. USQUEBAUGH, (WHISKEY), from Old Irish uisce, water. 9. Suffixed o-grade form *wod-â-. VODKA, from Russian voda, water. [Pokorny 9. au(e)- 78.] – AHD

    Vodka? Whiskey? Never dry of sweet mixed wine.
     
    La topologia? As Wed1genstein might have said, if a mouse could not squeak (either in Spanish or English) its silence would be incomprehensible to us.

  241. Noetica says:

    Or silent in Italian, as I didn’t say, since topo is “mouse” in Italian and “mole” in Spanish (or to ¡molé!).

  242. Noetica says:

    Or “tamale”, as I ott to have written, since “to ¡molé!” makes no sense at all (heaven forbid, wâllah!).

  243. Twice.
    Lucky guess, huh.
    What do you mean “British pronunciation”, ǿ? There is one pronunciation for glacier here. Probably nothing at all like glacis.

    The hill on which Kerak stands–with sheer cliffs on three sides and clear command over the Wadi Kerak leading down to the Dead Sea–features both in the Old Testament and on Madaba’s Byzantine mosaic map as natural defensive stronghold. The crusaders began building a fortress on a rocky spur atop the hill in 1142, boosting the natural advantages of the site by digging dry moats to the north and south and reinforcing the slopes with a paved glacis.

  244. Eliot, the wasteland guy
    as opposed to other Eliots, like that Chicago Norwegian, Eliot “Untouchable” Ness.
    I have succumbed to the inevitable and obtained a used copy of Ulysses. (Joyce, not Grant or Lord Alfred Tennyson)

  245. British speakers have both /glæs/ (glass) and /gleʃ/ (glaysh) as possible versions of the first syllable. If you listen to the several non-rhotic readings of the poem on YouTube, you’ll find both.

  246. From Merriam-Webster:
    … especially British ˈgla-sē-ər …
    That’s the one I meant, not that it matters.

  247. I was pretty sure that Topo Gigio was a mouse, not a mole. Glad to have that cleared up.

  248. If you listen to the several non-rhotic readings of the poem on YouTube, you’ll find both.
    As well as differences in whether “bow” is the true rhyme with “snow” or the eye rhyme.
    And since we started a list of lines and couplets earlier, I may as well throw out one from the work evidently inspired by it: “I knew that very instant, / She meant to do me harm.”
    topo is also ‘rat’, as Eco observes.

  249. (eek). I am taking notes, you see. On unlined notepaper, bound in moleskin. Some day it will all add up.
    We have come full circle. The squeak, the mole — it is all there, just as Grumbly foretold it long ago.

  250. Ah, MMcM. I want to reply at some length to your remark about navels and the like in Song of Songs, above. I’ll do so soon enough. Pope is interesting, but cuntroversial as a representative of one extreme in interpretation. For Emerson and his Dravidian diaspora there is The Song of Songs and ancient Tamil love poems, in which the Shulamite could be glossed as a She-Elamite, ugye?

  251. Vodka? Whiskey? Never dry of sweet mixed wine.
    and Danish Akvavit.
    And once again the mixed wine is never far from the hydra, just as the bell is never far from the vajra, and the triple goddess is never far from the trident.

  252. Here is a real neverdryad.

  253. we wouldn’t want to swell the thread beyond what it can bear.
    It is somehow both threadbare and badly swollen. I’m ready to stop. But first … No. I’m stopping.
    I’m so glad that that the otter and the hydra are wed-1.

  254. I doubt the thread will end before Uncle N’s current, completely coincidental Song of Songs project does–and maybe not even then. Some blogs do have an endless open thread, you know.

  255. Noetica says:

    I’m ready to stop. But first … No. I’m stopping.
    Wott? Of course we must remain endlessly open for business; and anyway, I have finished my odditying of the C*nt*c*m C*nt*c*r*m piece (for now).
    We haven’t even contynude the permanentmutation of Martello through Mortella to Morella (reflex of Tennyson’s Tithonous) and beyond. We haven’t cunsidered the fundamental ottitudinal dangers of seeing the half-clad dancing Shulamite’s torrid zone as a naked cingularity (an ATTic thought indeed) – half-hidden, half-revealed. We’re just warming up! Myself, I’m in this from alpha to aftermirth. (“Amen”?)

  256. Possible rewrite, huh. Okay.
    C*nt*c*m C*nt*c*r*m
    hmmm.
    c*nt* can only be “canta” . And C*nt*c*r must be con tocar.
    Perhaps there is an “om” or two (umb?)in there for koan meditation. Or an abbreviation for campana.
    Can I buy a vowel?

  257. Aconite says:

    Can I buy a vowel?
    Better a vowel than a consonant, I chime in bell-like agreement. But Hebrew omits vowels; so why c*n’t I, in Canticum Canticorum? Speaking of which, various translations speak of “bowels” in the Song of Songs where “inner parts” or similar would be more apt – or much better, once more we should use indirection and art.
    The er, passage in question is heavily contested. Here’s how Marvin Pope does it, in his insistently supersexualised version:

    My love thrust his “hand” into the hole,
    And my inwards seethed for him.
    I rose to open for my love,
    And my hands dripped myrrh,
    My fingers liquid myrrh,
    On the handles of the bolt.

    Pope and many others go on and on about the interpretation of this crux-crutch. Pope finds that hand is used to refer to the manbroom virile in other Semitic literature; but he need not think that the action requires such a canonic intromission. Why not just a hand?
    As I say, so much is indeterminate about the Song of Songs that it has inflamed imaginations over the c*nturies. I read that there are more commentaries on it than on any other book of the Bible.
    It’s all a Rorschach plot, I tell you, in which apophenic fancy runs wild.

  258. Bathrobe says:

    c*nt*
    Just wondering, how do you pronounce “Kant”?

  259. Rhymes with pissant.

  260. completely coincidental Song of Songs project
    Which is more complete: a meaningful coincidence, or a mere one?
    So of course I google “apophenia” to see what it is and and the first thing I see is in LH. Figures.
    And will we now have to go into the etymology of “Quadroph(r)enia”, reviving the Who threadlet?

  261. Noetica says:

    Rhymes with pissant.
    Hat! Decorum!
    From Boswell:

    JOHNSON. “My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. You may talk as other people do: you may say to a
    man, ‘Sir, I am your most humble servant.’ You are not his most humble servant.”

    I try to keep my mind clear of Kant, but when I speak of him, I say /kānt/. With all due prolongation.

  262. (Oh I see, that’s where the Rorschach link went, too.)
    we must remain endlessly open for business
    Well if that’s your ottitude, then do join me some time to that green field, for mooing and maying as well as mowing and haying. Moueing, too, I imagine.
    I abandon the hopper/crank/mill figure, and am considering that what I really need to process my apophases is a ruminant with an indeterminate number of stomachs.

  263. By the way, Nij, Akvavit is great stuff but I looked it up — found that PIE had two words for water (how’d that happen, I wonder?), and aqua/akvavit is from the other one.

  264. There were two words for water, one inanimate (*wodōr) and one animate (*akwā); similarly, there were two words for fire. There are, of course, various theories about what this implies for culture, religion, ideology, etc.

  265. do join me some time to that green field
    I meant “in that green field”. No doubt I too hastily revised an earlier version on the order of “go with me to that …”
    But if this is either a Freudian cowslip or an apophenically productive one, I’ll slip it on (or be the fall guy and slip on it). The otter entered through a key(stroke)hole, didn’t it?
    Joined to a green field … the field whose center I was making a world-omphalos …

  266. Oh hell, I didn’t mean to say apophases, either. Can we pretend I never mentioned it? Sometimes all those Greeky words start to look alike to me. I meant
    No, I didn’t, either.

  267. David Marjanović says:

    <deep breath>
    I thought that either is the dual of each, the same way as how both is the dual of all, although I was aware that each was not completely impossible to use for choices between two possibilities. — It’s completely absent from German, so you’re reduced to “on each side” (auf jeder Seite) or “on both sides” (auf beiden Seiten). “Either-or” and “neither-nor” are entweder-oder and weder-noch (or, archaically, nicht-noch) in German; like in English, they’re not restricted to two possibilities; both are etymologically obscure to me, but I know next to nothing about Old and even Middle High German (for LH standards at least).
    Obligatory digression: the last vestige of the dual, both, is missing from French but not Spanish, and from some German dialects but not others or the standard language. Where it’s missing, “all two” is used, in analogy to “all three”.
    The English or is much more often inclusive than the German oder. In German, “and/or” is used pretty often in writing, and “A or B or both” is fairly common in speaking, I think.
    Substituieren exists in German, but just about only in chemistry jargon.
    Immanuel Kant ends in a consonant cluster and therefore almost automatically has a short /a/ in his surname. He’s not Oliver Kahn.
    What have I missed…? Oh yeah, this one:

    Are they called “laveuses automatiques” in France?

    Nope. Machine à laver, lave-linge.
    Anything else?

  268. Anything else?
    Since you ask, sure, as long as you’re up can you please take those clothes and put them in the dryer?

  269. David Marjanović says:

    There were two words for water, one inanimate (*wodōr) and one animate (*akwā); similarly, there were two words for fire. There are, of course, various theories about what this implies for culture, religion, ideology, etc.

    …and for language typology (what kind of language PIE or some recent ancestor of it was).

  270. David Marjanović says:

    Dryer: sèche-linge.

  271. Noetica says:

    Immanuel Kant ends in a consonant cluster and therefore almost automatically has a short /a/ in his surname. He’s not Oliver Kahn.
    However that may be in German, people often change it for sensitive English ears. As I remarked in the LH thread That’s no nightingale!:

    I am reliably informed that the more delicate Serbs say /piza/ for pizza, as opposed to /pitsa/. Sounds too much like pička (cf. the Russian) otherwise.

    Nous aussi, nous sommes des gens délicats et propres. Others would say /kænt/, with similar muddevasion.
     

  272. Where did I read an account of a misunderstanding between a NY policeman and a philosophically-minded gent over the categorical imperative and that vowel? Wasn’t it somewhere in the LH archives?

  273. Decorum!
    When it comes to invective, are we not here at Languagehat standing on holy ground? Of course it is traditional for one to avert one’s eyes–some things are not meant to be looked upon by mere mortals.
    There were two words for water, one inanimate (*wodōr) and one animate (*akwā); similarly, there were two words for fire.
    And earth and air? I’m guessing since “akvavit” is “water of life”, (*akwā) was the animate one.

  274. in the LH thread That’s no nightingale… the thread is closed, but I notice “coger” being used as Spanish for “fuck”; I was taught “cojer” by someone from Chile.(also “concha”)

  275. Noetica says:

    Holy ground? The hole in the whirledrock (the omphalos), or La Montaña Sagrada, sequel to El Topo?
    Spanish concha first of all means “shell” (recursive and self-reverential precursor of the Klein bottle), but secondarily and in accord with universal metaphor “cunt”. Tener más conchas que un galápago means “to be a slippery customer”. Cojón means “testicle”, as in “Castor and Ballocks” (usually coming in twos, as a biological and by no means vestigial instance of the dual case so aptly integrated into the conversation by David, above). Cojo means “limp, lame, wobbly”, or an entity possessed of those qualities; and una cojera is “a limp”, cojear “to limp, to have a weakness”. Cojonudo is translated by the Klett dictionary as “fantastic, fucking great” (unsurprisingly marked vulg, since it is used to translate from the Vulgate expressions of astonished delight when the bagels and kippers were multiplied, forming either an Abelian or a Cainian set, and usually but not always both, appearing together). Cojudo means “stupid”. But no cojer. The verb in question is spelt coger, and it has very many meanings all to do with touching, grasping, taking, getting hold of; and the vulgar equivalent of copular, “to fuck”. Una cogida is “a fuck”. There are many other words beginning with cog-; I note especially cogote, “the back of the head, the scruff of the neck”. Particularly let us observe the locution estar hasta el cogote, “to have had enough”.
    We have nudged Nidge in the direction of Ulysses, where she will find much of this sort of talk – some of it Spanish in inspiration, of course, from Molly in the Penelope episode. That is all to the good. I see no harm coming of it. But as for decorum and nightingales, I suggest we all take time out to moodytête (or cogitate) on the silence between the notes.

  276. David Marjanović
    </deep breath>
    I thought that either is the dual of each, the same way as how both is the dual of all
    Okay, I was unpacking some books and I ran across my Murphy purple (Raymond Murphy, Grammar in Use Intermediate) an ESL grammar which a lot of Europeans like, but is relatively unknown in the U.S. (and thanks to the textbook rep for sending it to me.) Murphy tends to make complicated things easy to understand. Here’s a summary of what Murphy said about “either” in Unit 86:

    A. We use both/neither/either for two things. (Aha! dual–now that part makes sense)

    For example, you are talking about two restaurants:

    We can go to either restaurant. I don’t care. (=one or the other, it doesn’t matter which one)

    B. Both of/neither of/either of (examples with “of”)

    C. You can also use both/neither/either alone (examples)

    D. You can say
    both…and….
    neither…nor….
    either…or…. (examples)

    E. compare either/neither/both (two things) and any/none/all (more than two)

    So according to Murphy, either is the dual of any.
    As long as I was amusing myself with Murphy instead of unpacking, I ran across this tidbit about “have got” in the appendix about grammatical differences with British English:

    North American

    But have got (not gotten) is an alternative to have:
    I’ve got two brothers. (=I have two brothers.)

    British

    Have got is a more usual alternative to have:
    I’ve got two brothers.

    So someone DID put “have got” into a textbook–for both British and American English.

  277. cojer
    Check out cojer in Urban Dictionary and also in Google Translate. It was a long time ago I heard this, but consider first that Latin America has a lot of differences in usage from one part to another and also that Chile is remote from a lot of the continent and tends to have more Castillian pronunciation, and also that “cojer” googles (861,000 ghits), so I am not the only person to think of it. Cojones means balls here too; maybe cojer is similar to “balling” in English, if this isn’t too much swearing (or folk etymology?)for one evening.
    concha
    The phrase was “concha de tu madre, huevón”, and I was told this was equivalent to “fuck your mother, bastard”, although concha is supposed to be “shell”, as in conch, and huevón is supposed to be from huevo “egg”. (Folk etymologies?) Maybe this is similar usage to the Arabic insult “cous ochtic” (your sister’s zucchini). (Arabs get insulted about their sisters, not their mothers.)
    …and Ulysses? Ulysses??!!!?? ULYSSES?!! I spent the whole day with Ulysses waiting for my car to get fixed and if I hear anything more about Ulysses right now, my caps lock key is going to get stuck.

    …Bread, butter, honey. Haines, come in. the grub is ready. Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts. Where’s the sugar? O, jay, there’s no milk. Stephen fetched the loaf and the pot of honey and the butter-cooler from the locker. Buck Mulligan sat down in a sudden pet.
    -What sort of a kip is this? he said….

    Ignoring the lack of quotation marks for the moment–this was published in 1914 and maybe they hadn’t been invented yet–now who is this jay person, or is it a jay bird, and why was the character not introduced before? And what is the sudden pet, not an otter, I hope. And kippered snacks for breakfast…no wonder the Introduction (did I mention I like introductions?–this one did not disappoint) said “whilst in many places the effect of “Ulysses” on the reader undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac.” I’m really tempted to go straight to the copy of “Mostly Harmless” which I also picked up at the same time. Speaking of “mostly harmless”, it would be comforting to see some nice photos of venomous Australian creatures right about now.
    (Just kidding about “pet”, I imagine it’s something like “petulant”.)

  278. Noetica says:

    Spelling of co?er: meh.
    Nijma, get yourself a cheap secondhand copy of Gifford’s book, at Amazon. Not the very latest edition, but perfectly adequate. Goes through line by line. A couple of errors, but we can all (or both, for the dual) work together on those. There are many other guides, but Gifford is the best to have at hand.
    Also, freshen your familihilarity with Hamlet before immersing yourself too deeply in The Novel (n-v-l, see PIE, above; who said we don’t get to have triliteral roots?).
    Yes: order Gifford, and while it’s on its way read Mostly Harmless to get it out of the way, then Hamlet, then Ulysses. (As for Finnegans Wake, one wouldn’t read that one; one would write it.)
    “… whilst in many places the effect of ‘Ulysses’ on the reader undoubtedly is somewhat emetic, nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac.”
    Said by our hero Justice John M. Woolsey, 6 December 1933. The continuation, which concludes the judgement: “ ’Ulysses’ may, therefore, be admitted into the United States.”
    Speaking of “mostly harmless”, it would be comforting to see some nice photos of venomous Australian creatures right about now.
    The reptiles are all lying low for winter, pretty well. But I did see a tiger snake lying torpidly across the track as I climbed a hill near here, a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, we don’t see so many of them. It’s the spiders that are more likely to spring at you.

  279. Bathrobe says:

    Maybe ‘jay’ is short for ‘Jesus’…. :)
    I just made a comment about ‘have got’ at another thread, but I’ll repeat it here (since it seems to belong here).
    There is an imbalance in the use of “have got”, in that it is used only for the present tense in the possessive sense. However, in the speech of some British speakers I’ve noticed “had got” being used as equivalent to “had”, i.e., the past tense of “have got”. This is something that I would suggest is a real difference between British and American English (and we don’t use it in Australia, either).
    Pleased to see someone else linking “any” and “either” together :)

  280. Noetica says:

    Coger is a verb that changes spelling in its various congujated parts: cojo, cogemos, cojamos, etc. See full conjugation at Wiktionary. The spelling cojer for the infinitive may be prevalent, but it seems not to turn up in dictionaries or grammars, even for South America.
    Dressing Gown:
    Yes, of course Buck’s “Jay” means “Jesus”. Astute readers, or those with A Reader’s Guide to Lost for Words: II at hand, will be aware of an earlier occurrence of “Where’s the sugar? O, jay, there’s no milk”, waaaay upthread, possibly over the border and into Cambodia, whereof we may not speak.
    This is something that I would suggest is a real difference between British and American English (and we don’t use it in Australia, either).
    Certainly use of get distinguishes Brit and Am usage; and yes, this is one of the few points of grammar in which Brit and Aus differ. Brits might say “I hadn’t got any” where we would only ever say “I didn’t have any”.

  281. I’m guessing since “akvavit” is “water of life”, (*akwā) was the animate one.
    It seems you guessed right, Nijma, but it was sheer luck. You could just as well have said
    I’m guessing since “uisqe baugh” is “water of life”, (*wodōr) was the animate one.
    Your error is more subtle than that of a guy named Zenny that my mother once taught with, who told his students that the Latin word terra means “firm”, as in terra firma.

  282. I hasten to add that your error is way more subtle than Zenny’s. My serious points, if I have any, are these:
    By the time (*akwā) had turned into what was presumably the only Latin word for water it had presumably totally lost the sense of animacy. And that was long before it got used in naming any alcoholic concoction aqua vitae.
    Of course, some of us here like to imagine that, in an almost apo-whatever-it-was way, words can carry secret meaning for us if only we dig deep enough; and it would be in keeping with that to imagine that Latin aqua would carry more of a sense of animacy than Greek hydra and others. But uisqebaugh is a convenient dash of cold water in the face for your particular example.

  283. Spelling of co?er
    Okay, conjugation makes sense. If you spelled it cogo instead of cojo, the g would be hard, instead of pronounced like “h”.
    one inanimate (*wodōr) and one animate (*akwā)
    yeah, right, the information is imbedded in the sentence, if it was a snake it woulda bit me. That still doesn’t answer earth and air–I suspect DM’s split-S and fluid-S is in there somewhere too, but today there is not time for puzzling out PIE, I have to go figure out where my mail is disappearing to.
    an earlier occurrence of “Where’s the sugar? O, jay, there’s no milk”
    That’s why I mentioned it–even as I was cursing out Joyce for not speaking English, I was laughing as I recognized the quotations from upthread.
    Gifford’s book
    Thanks for the recommendation, it’s exactly what I was wishing for yesterday. I started making a list of stuff to google. On the first page alone there was ungirdled, Intoibo ad altare Dei, equine, ouns, chrysostomos…and on the second page dactyls, jejune,..Quickly I realized I wouldn’t be able to read the book in that way; I was just going to have to go with the flow and get everything from context, just like I tell my students everyone learns their first language.

  284. Noetica, a spider would be lovely, if you have the time. I bet Kron would print it–although this might be the perfect time for you to start your own blog….

  285. Damn. i missed this party.
    Ø: Where did I read an account of a misunderstanding between a NY policeman and a philosophically
    That was Grumbly’s story about Sidney Morgenbesser that he first told at LH, and then told here (I must say his telling at LH was better, but I kant find it). LH noted Morgenbesser’s death in 2004 here.

  286. And why would the German immigration people give someone a name like Morgenbesser. Besser than what? Abend? The Wiki url has him as ‘sydney’.

  287. Bathrobe says:

    In the hope that “morgen” (tomorrow) would be “besser”?

  288. Good news everyone. Over at Language Log Geoff Pullum has initiated a thread called Fucking shut the fuck up, so we won’t have to cover that one so thoroughly here. We can delegate, and maintain a delicate decorum in our forum. No doubt they’ll work the topos cojérently. The heading is a recent quote from Van Morrison, and must come as bitter intelligence to those of us here who revere Astral Weeks.
    I have linked our thread at Language Log, for concinnity of discourse in the blogospheric reticulum.

  289. Here’s the answer to why fire and water but not earth and air. Fire and water are “inanimate but move seemingly of their own will”.

  290. Wait, no, according to this, the physical “elements” were conceived as living beings in various religious traditions: water, fire, earth, and air (and in some traditions, wind) are animate things acting on their own in both Sanskrit and Greek. Later a distinction is made between body and soul, a new word being coined for the physical entity.
    So earth and air also had their own active/stative word pairs.

  291. But back to Canticum Canticorum
    my bowels were moved for him
    This can only be a typo for “my bowls were moved for him”.

  292. That’s pretty shocking, Doctor. Who would have taken Geoff fucking Pullum for a Van hater? I’m impressed by your use of red text, I couldn’t do that.

  293. Noetica says:

    Ha ha! I was going to post something about those singing bowls Nij, prompted by your own references to bells, above. Bells, bowls, “bowels” (construed as body cavities more génerally, I hasten to clarify: à la KJV translation, see above), vowels – all the same in PIE, no doubt. (Well, archetypally resonant in any case.)
    I bought a singing bowl from a lovely Tibetan couple in Beijing, on the street. Very much an aural mortar and pestle, and therefore very pudendal. Very much along the loins of the aGan ( אַגָּן ) in our source, which is glossed as “a bowl (as pounded out hollow):–basin, cup, goblet”. Pounded. Hmmm.
    I’ll definitely be getting back onto that subthread. There’s more to sort out, especially: why do none of the more common translations speak of a sheaf of wheat? The Hebrew word that is used certainly can mean that; and the word used for wheat is for the whole plant or the threshed product.

  294. CIA tone says:

    Yes, Krwn. Shocking. Still, I myself only know A[u]stral Weeks, so I can hardly pass informed judgement.
    Don’t be impressed by red text at LLog. It just means that your system recognises a location you’ve already visited – in this case, right here.

  295. Noetica says:

    Sorry, I meant Lustral Weeks; or on the otter hand, Lutral Weeks.

  296. Wait, no, according to this
    You’re joking, right? (I confess I sometimes have a hard time telling.) The link in your first comment is by a historical linguist making cogent and interesting points about PIE; the second is by someone talking about ancient Indian philosophy, which I guess is interesting if you’re interested in ancient Indian philosophy, but has nothing to do with what we were discussing.

  297. Noetica,
    I want to get back to sheaves, too, for the peripheral reason that we have those in mathematics. They were invented in French and called faisceaux, translated into English as sheaves and into German as Garben.
    We also have bundles and stalks and fibers.
    The term perverse sheaf which you brought up before is annoying to me, an example of uninspired naming of technical terms. Maybe some time I will tell some stories about faisceaux etales (sorry, I don’t have time to learn how to put the accent on the first “e” there at the moment); in English we call these etale sheaves, because the French adjective seems to have been regarded as too mysterious or subtle or wonderful to translate.

  298. Thanks for checking my links, Hat. The first one did seem to me very mainstream and academically respectable in tone, although I have no way of knowing. The second I didn’t think was an easy read, especially with so many odd symbols in the Sanskrit words, but just as in English philosophers may go to another language like Greek or German for insights about “sein” or “praxis”, the writer here was using observations about the language to draw conclusions about the thought system (and I do find religion and mythology interesting). The second link also has the advantage of answering my burning question about dual words for earth and air. Again I have no independent way of judging the website or the author, except that it is internally consistent and “feels right” (the author claims a viewpoint of literature rather than linguistics). I have no problem with using information from multiple disciplines to understand the answer to a question, especially if the sources can be checked. Since at least one person is interested, I’ll paste those particular paragraphs:

    To understand the conceptual background of these earlier cosmogonies, we have to look at the history of the meanings of the words used for the elements. In other words, we have to fix the original meanings of the names of these elements. A few facts about them may be stated without much discussion. The words p¤thiv¢, ap, tejas, v¡yu and ¡k¡¿a appear to be their original designations. Only at a later stage, when these words lost their cosmological affiliations are they replaced by other words having the same meaning. From being of specific connotations, they acquired more generalised meaning and then it became unimportant which word could be used for them. One can compare the original words with the words used in a text like Caraka SaÆhit¡ : kha, ap, v¡yu, agni, kÀiti, mah¢ and bh£mi are used only in the Jaimin¢yopaniÀad, 1.10.10, while kÀiti is found in the older UpaniÀads. Maitr¡ya¸¢ has the list in the form ¡k¡¿av¡yvagnyudaka bh£my¡dayaÅ 6.4; v¡ta is not used in this context, as also udaka. In Mu¸·aka, 2.1.3 we read: etasm¡t (puruÀ¡t) j¡yate pr¡¸o manaÅ sarvendriy¡¸i ca A khaÆ v¡yurjyotir¡paÅ p¤thiv¢ vi¿vasya dh¡ri¸¢ A which is a very late form of cosmogony and these things never play the role of a source. Long ago Meillet showed that while udaka means water in a secular sense, ¡paÅ has religious and cosmological associations. Of the two IE words for fire, agni (IE ognis) and p«ur, the first is the older being found in the marginal areas while pur (e.g. fire) is an innovation.
    The situation is very similar to this in Greek as well. For earth both g® and khth°n are used but the first gets a place in the cosmology as one member of the primeval pair, and is used as an element. khth°n cognate with Skt. kÀm¡ mostly refers to the surface of the earth, as a place of habitation. In the Iliad, XIX-259 it is associated with the seen and the Erinys and occurs in the utterance of an imprecation (g® te K¡i h®lios K¡i Evineies). For wind «aveimos (root – ave- to blow) is used which suggests its origin in breathing, while Sanskrit v¡yu corresponds to a”er and originally meant mist, or lower atmosphere, as against the upper vault or firmament, which corresponds to Sanskrit “¡k¡¿a ‘the shining one’. The word used in the building up of the Greek mythology is however Ouranos ‘heaven’. Aith«er is used as a feminine noun to refer to the upper air or heaven. Thus air and sky did not occur as different elements in Greek cosmogony. Here either one or other element is taken as the original substance which in the Greek mythology is concerned as a living thing, and in no way different from the anthropomorphic gods.

    While I didn’t follow the whole religious argument about the nature of elements, it seems pretty clear to me that someone versed in Sanskrit literature considers the idea of dual words for all the elements (including earth and air) to be very basic.

  299. They were invented in French and called faisceaux, translated into English as sheaves and into German as Garben.
    And into Russian as пучки (puchkí), which literally means ‘bunches, bundles’; for some reason they didn’t choose the word for ‘sheaf,’ сноп (snop).
    it seems pretty clear to me that someone versed in Sanskrit literature considers the idea of dual words for all the elements (including earth and air) to be very basic.
    But that is of interest only in terms of Sanskrit literature; it has nothing to do with Indo-European, and the fact that this guy dabbles in Greek to find parallels does not mean he knows what he’s talking about. You can find all sorts of things on the internet; it’s important to exercise judgment about what should be taken seriously.

  300. it’s important to exercise judgment about what should be taken seriously
    I don’t trust judgment, mine or anyone else’s, but I do respect peer review. Repeating something is not the same as taking it seriously, especially when it’s done in a venue where any glaring inaccuracies are likely to be spotted. I follow the example of Herodotus, who could hardly have been said to have had a neutral point of view himself, but who repeated any number of implausible stories along with careful information about their sources. Until better information comes along, I am perfectly willing to provisionally accept the premise that earth and air had dual names across possibly several languages and several religious traditions at roughly the same time in history. [And that akvavit is truly the water of life. :~) ]
    Who would have taken Geoff fucking Pullum for a Van hater?
    If you want to maintain parallel structure, shouldn’t it be “Who would have taken fucking Geoff the fuck Pullum for a Van hater?” Not to be anal about grammar or anything.
    aGan ( אַגָּן )
    “Basin”, hmm is this the same word used for the basin or was it “sea” that stood, I think outside the second Temple. In the LDS tradition they also use a huge cauldron they call I think a “sea” for their baptisms, which are quite serious affairs as they baptize the deceased, which they have researched in their considerable genealogical databanks, often with one of the descendants standing in. And the temple of Aphrodite at Jerash has a huge red granite basin in front of it that reminds me so much of the Mormon version. But really, Uncle N, King James Version!!??! Although my denomination uses NRSV, I am partial to TNIV, partly because its used by those who are biblical literalists (as I most certainly am not) and also because it is the first biblical translation to consciously use gender accurate language, that is, to reproduce the gender or the original language being translated. More later about resonating bowls.

  301. David Marjanović says:

    I am reliably informed that the more delicate Serbs say /piza/ for pizza, as opposed to /pitsa/. Sounds too much like pička (cf. the Russian) otherwise.

    Really? Would surprise me, because after all that’s a language with a three-way contrast: c ć č /ts tɕ tʂ/.

    So according to Murphy, either is the dual of any.

    <headdesk>
    Yes, of course. That, too – and that’s in fact much more common than the other meaning.

    The second I didn’t think was an easy read, especially with so many odd symbols in the Sanskrit words

    I hate it when people make up their private fonts instead of just simply using Unicode. All I got from reading that stuff was a headache.
    …Well, and I noticed that it asserts a lot of stuff without trying to demonstrate it or citing anything for it. For example:

    khth°n cognate with Skt. kÀm¡

    Why? All these words have in common is the /k/.

  302. I noticed that it asserts a lot of stuff without trying to demonstrate it or citing anything for it.
    This is not uncommon in Indian scholarship. (No offense to any Indians who may be reading; I just report what I have observed.)

  303. Noetica says:

    Would surprise me, because after all that’s a language with a three-way contrast: c ć č /ts tɕ tʂ/.
    Nevertheless, I had the information about /piza/ from a native Serb, adept in languages.

  304. If you want to maintain parallel structure, shouldn’t it be “Who would have taken fucking Geoff the fuck Pullum for a Van hater?” Not to be anal about grammar or anything.
    Well having written a big book on the subject I expect Geoff himself could be seen as anal about grammar. Even I can see that Shut the fuck up is a verb and Geoff the fuck Pullum is a noun, so they aren’t that parallel.

  305. How about:
    Who the fuck would have taken Geoff fucking Pullum for a fucking Van hater? Cunt.
    Okay, it’s not very strict and rigorous, but some might say that’s endemic to the form (swearing).

  306. I should say I like Geoff, I think he’s very funny and a good writer, that’s just an example.

  307. Noetica says:

    Sheaf is an evocative and usefully poetic word, especially in its soft plural form sheaves. See Keats:

    After Dark Vapours

    After dark vapours have oppress’d our plains
    For a long dreary season, comes a day
    Born of the gentle South, and clears away
    From the sick heavens all unseemly stains.

    The anxious month, relieved of its pains,
    Takes as a long-lost right the feel of May;
    The eyelids with the passing coolness play
    Like rose leaves with the drip of Summer rains.

    The calmest thoughts come round us; as of leaves
    Budding – fruit ripening in stillness – Autumn suns
    Smiling at eve upon the quiet sheaves –
    Sweet Sappho’s cheek – a smiling infant’s breath –
    The gradual sand that through an hour-glass runs –
    A woodland rivulet – a Poet’s death.

    German Garbe “sheaf” (cf. French gerbe) is connected with English grab and grasp. See AHD for the PIE:

    ghrebh-1. Important derivatives are: grasp, and grab1.
    To seize, reach. 1. Zero-grade form *ghrbh-. SATYAGRAHA, from Sanskrit gṛbhṇâti, gṛhṇâti, he seizes. 2. a. GRASP, from Middle English graspen, to grasp; b. GRAB1, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German grabben, to seize. Both a and b from parallel (imitative) Germanic creations with base *grab-, *grap-. [Pokorny 1 ghrebh- 455.]

    With *ghrebh-1 compare perhaps *ghreib-, the root of grip. The idea is, of course, a bundle that one grabs, gathers together, and shapes. Sheaves often turn up in connexion with comely young women in close physical descriptions. See Tess of the D’Urbevilles:

    This morning the eye returns involuntarily to the girl in the pink cotton jacket, she being the most flexuous and finely drawn figure of them all. But her bonnet is pulled so far over her brow that none of her face is disclosed while she binds, though her complexion may be guessed from a stray twine or two of dark brown hair which extends below the curtain of her bonnet. Perhaps one reason why she seduces casual attention is that she never courts it, though the other women often gaze around them.
    Her binding proceeds with dock-like monotony. From the sheaf last finished she draws a handful of ears, patting their tips with her left palm to bring them even. Then, stooping low, she moves forward, gathering the corn with both hands against her knees and pushing her left gloved hand under the bundle to meet the right on the other side, holding the corn in an embrace like that of a lover. She brings the ends of the bond together and kneels on the sheaf while she ties it, beating back her skirts now and then when lifted by the breeze. A bit of her naked arm is visible between the buff leather of the gauntlet and the sleeve of her gown; and as the day wears on, its feminine smoothness becomes scarified by the stubble and bleeds.
    At intervals she stands up to rest, and to retie her disarranged apron, or to pull her bonnet straight. Then one can see the oval face of a handsome young woman with deep, dark eyes and long, heavy, clinging tresses, which seem to clasp in a beseeching way anything they fall against. The cheeks are paler, the teeth more regular, the red lips thinner than is usual in a country-bred girl.
    It is Tess Durbeyfield, otherwise d’Urberville, somewhat changed – the same, but not the same; at the present stage of her existence.

    At the present stage of her existence. We might trace shadows of the Shulamite in this veiling and unveiling account of Tess. Sadder and wiser, she herself later reflects on another sheaf from the Solomon harvest:

    Was there another such a wretched being as she in the world? Tess asked herself; and, thinking of her wasted life, said, “All is vanity.” She repeated the words mechanically, till she reflected that this was a most inadequate thought for modern days. Solomon had thought as far as that more than two thousand years ago; she herself, though not in the van of thinkers, had got much further. If all were only vanity, who would mind it? All was, alas, worse than vanity – injustice, punishment, exaction, death.

    And then of course we have Sons and Lovers, which leads us through a succession of sheaves as the lightest of motifs:

    Away at the grange, one side of the haystacks was lit up, the other sides blue-grey. A waggon of sheaves rocked small across the melting yellow light.

    Later:

    Morel fetched a sheaf of long sound wheat-straws from the attic.

    Later again:

    Impatient of the set in the field, she turned to the quiet lawn, surrounded by sheaves of shut-up crocuses. A feeling of stillness, almost of ecstasy, came over her. It felt almost as if she were alone with him in this garden.

    And now that we have been gently primed, lexically and subliminally:

    They went forward in silence. Round the wild, tussocky lawn at the back of the house was a thorn hedge, under which daffodils were craning forward from among their sheaves of grey-green blades. The cheeks of the flowers were greenish with cold. But still some had burst, and their gold ruffled and glowed. Miriam went on her knees before one cluster, took a wild-looking daffodil between her hands, turned up its face of gold to her, and bowed down, caressing it with her mouth and cheeks and brow. He stood aside, with his hands in his pockets, watching her. One after another she turned up to him the faces of the yellow, bursten flowers appealingly, fondling them lavishly all the while.
    “Aren’t they magnificent?” she murmured.

    The afterglimmer:

    Suddenly they came to a halt on top of the hill. He climbed and sat on a gate, she sat on the stile. The afternoon was perfectly still, with a dim haze, and yellow sheaves glowing through. They were quiet.

    Stile indeed.
    I would have things to say about belly in its etymological connexion with bellows or its phonic and ideopoetic link with the hollowness of bells; and Sanskrit garbha (“womb”) cannot for long be passed over in silence. But someone from Porlock is at the door. So I’ll get back to all this later, and the Hebrew verb that would be used for the action of the Abyssinian maid with her dulcimer.

  308. This raised a smile for me, at the Language Log fuck thread:

    That’s incredible. This thread is past a 100 comments mark. Is it a LL record? What a deep topic!

  309. Even I can see that Shut the fuck up is a verb and Geoff the fuck Pullum is a noun, so they aren’t that parallel.
    It’s not grammatical either, but I thought it had some symmetry. And I thought he was entertaining too, especially the part about negative economic value.
    but some might say that’s endemic to the form (swearing)
    I have long suspected that swearing is a type of contraction. Your phrase doesn’t really work because it’s not short enough. If you look at “fucking shut the fuck up”, it’s really a contraction for “you’re interrupting my concert and probably drunk and an idiot and I have more street cred than you do anyhow so I am not shushing you as a librarian where you get to be a rebel hero by making noise, but since I am a bigger rebel than you are, if you make any more noise you are merely being a jerk.” All of that in five words. It’s very economical.
    This is not uncommon in Indian scholarship.
    It’s too bad this is the only thing that comes up in the first several pages of a google search and that we have to depend on this type of scholarship to understand anything at all about the dual forms of water, air, earth, and fire. It looks like the people who are capable of explaining it in the western academic tradition are busy trying to give us some working knowledge of the f-word.

  310. French gerbe

    On has to be careful in using this word, whose street semantics are on the emetological side these days.

  311. Tell us more, please. This one has also been appropriated as a technical term in mathematics, mathematically in much the same family as a sheaf or bundle.

  312. Or maybe don’t tell us. On slower reading I see that “emet-” answers my main question.

  313. You tell us more, Empty. For something you would have expected to have been written for the general public, that wiki for math sheaves is about as clear as mud. What is it, a computer application? Communications?

  314. It’s a really long story. The concept of a sheaf is sufficiently advanced that, for example, it would fall well beyond almost any mathematician’s list of “things every math major should learn something about”.
    But it’s a beautiful and powerful idea, and as an added bonus it has a beautiful name.
    If you mean the wikipedia article, I personally would not have expected there to be a WP article on that subject written for the general public.

  315. Nijma, not everything can be explained in simple language so that the man (or woman) in the street can grasp it. Surely you can see, glancing down that article, that the level of mathematics involved is high and abstract (“Let F and G be two sheaves on X with values in the category C. A morphism φ : G → F consists of a morphism φ(U) : G(U) → F(U) for each open set U of X…”). If you really want to understand it, you’re going to have to take some advanced math courses. (I myself don’t in the least understand it, though I might have had a shot back when I was a math major forty years ago.)

  316. well beyond almost any mathematician’s list of “things every math major should learn something about
    So even mathematicians don’t understand “sheaf”. Reading between the lines–and I’m certainly not having much luck with reading the lines themselves–it sounds like it might have some graphics application.
    Sons and Lovers, which leads us through a succession of sheaves
    A dull, tedious description, unless read as innuendo and double entendre. I saw somewhere that originally huge portions were edited out for prurience and only restored years later, also that the author was quite young and rewrote it several times. I wonder if the sheaf thing was some personal idiosyncrasy of an urban editor. (Or maybe I’m just feeling a bit jaded today.)
    Sheaves often turn up in connexion with comely young women in close physical descriptions.
    Farm labor is often divided on gender lines, the men being out in the field or barn and the women in the kitchen, garden, or chicken coop. The one time when neighbors came together is during the harvest. The harvest stories I remember from my own family are associated with furniture. During the harvest season, everyone would go to one farm at a time to make sure everyone got their harvest in. At the end of the day the farmer’s wife would feed the crew. The table now in my kitchen would be extended with leaves to seat some 30 people and huge bowls of mashed potatoes would be set down on the table, as everyone came to the table with a huge appetite after a day of hard labor. One particular cabinet held the family Bible. One year was very rough and there was only ten dollars left to live on until the harvest. My grandfather showed everyone the $10 bill, then put it in the family Bible for safekeeping. The harvest wasn’t just some nice evocative thing for dreamy autumn descriptions, it was about survival.
    From the conversations I remember, binding the sheaves was done by man–I suspect it was something that needed some amount of skill and experience, as well as some physical stamina to keep pace with the machine. The girls would follow after, putting the sheaves in piles, although this was something anyone could do. I have heard inlaws comparing notes about how to stack the sheaves, two against each other, then two on each side, up to I think eight. When people came together from different areas, there was agreement about how it was supposed to be done.
    And don’t forget the meaning of the evangelizing song “bringing in the sheaves”. The “sheaves” were saved souls and the “harvesting” was done by the grim reaper.

  317. If you really want to understand it, you’re going to have to take some advanced math courses.
    Thanks Hat and mathematicians, but no thanks. My luck with math is sporadic. I was sweating bullets to pass an undergraduate math test requirement, yet for a graduate level statistics course I was able to teach myself SPSS from an online tutorial.
    Let F and G be two sheaves on X
    Yeah, when you have to define “sheaves” in terms of “sheaves” you know it’s going to be a long day.

  318. So even mathematicians don’t understand “sheaf”.
    No, that is pretty far from what I said or meant.
    Many mathematicians know what a sheaf is, and many others do not. If you count among “mathematicians” all of those who major in math but do not go on to grad school in math, then certainly the majority of mathematicians do not know what a sheaf is.
    A significant number of mathematicians use sheaves in (some of) their research and (some of) their teaching. Many more know what a sheaf is. This might be because they learned about it in grad (or even undergrad) school, or because somebody explained it to them once, or because (at a point in their lives when they both were interested and had the necessary background knowledge to understand it) they looked it up and spent some time reading about it. Still, they might not have occasion to use sheaves in their teaching or research. By the same token, another mathematician who uses sheaves every day might or might not know what a pseudo-differential operator is, while the one who barely has a grip on the concept of sheaf might use such operators every day.
    There will be others who used to know what a sheaf is because they learned it as students, but who have since forgotten because they have not had any occasion to use the concept.
    graphics application
    Not so much. Sheaves play a role in various sorts of geometry. One can say (loosely) that sheaves are (or were originally) a geometric way of working with functions, functions in the mathematical sense. And one can say that different kinds of functions lead to different kinds of geometry. And one can say that the methods of sheaf theory have been beneficial to various kinds of geometry. But it goes beyond that; Andre Weil expanded and revolutionized algebraic geometry partly by saying in effect “let’s pretend that numbers are functions, and then let’s use sheaves to think in new geometric ways about numbers”.
    Sheaves are also related to logic in interesting ways. You could say that they enrich the subject of mathematical logic in the same surprising way in whoich they enrich the theory of numbers.
    There is a good introduction to sheaves called “Sheaves in Geometry and Logic”. It is not written for specialists, as I would the term in this context, but nor would it be accessible to someone who does already have a solid grounding in abstract modern mathematics.
    I know that this sounds mysterious, but there is really is a lot of truth in it; I hope somebody out there may find it intriguing or amusing; I know that I cannot really communicate much by writing in this way.

  319. forget my own name next — when I wrote Andre Weil just now I mean Alexander Grothendieck. Weil on the brain because (a) his name came up the other day and (b) one of the first triumphs of Grothendieck’s new methods was to answer some famous big questions asked by Weil.

  320. Sheaves in Geometry and Logic
    Actually it does sort of make sense, at least it’s interesting to hear it described by someone who’s into it. I can understand the idea of plugging numbers in to a formula to get an answer, and I can also understand assigning symbols to ideas and manipulating the symbols to understand something about the ideas. Generally if I want to understand some mathematics concept it has to be expressed in some physical form that occupies space. Once I understand it on the physical level I can go back and play with the symbols because they then stand for something.

  321. Noetica says:

    But it’s a beautiful and powerful idea, and as an added bonus it has a beautiful name.
    Sheaves in mirththematical logic too, eh? I must prod at this myself. Later. Gingerly.
    The “sheaves” were saved souls and the “harvesting” was done by the grim reaper.
    Well, I chose to passover in silence a second *ghrebh listed in AHD, from which we get grave. From well-curved sheaf to woeful Sheol. For the Hermetic (or indeed the hermeneutic) mystics among us, I record that graph- and graven [image] and the like are from the same root as that grave. See here here and there, as opposed to neither here nor there.
    Heh. After such grave theory, the simple graph theory (or knot?) suggested in ø’s hay (see above) would be a happy diversion.

  322. Yes, the noun grave is related to graph, also to groovy and apparently grubby.
    The adjective grave is not. It is of course related to gravid.

  323. Quite so, ø. That adjective (like gravid, q.v. supra) is from Latin gravis, cognate with Greek βαρύς, and also with Sanskrit guru (“heavy, weighty”; hence “teacher”). PIE is *gru-.
    Grumbly might take this as a cue. Or will he remain stumm? Mmm?

  324. gravid
    …which brings us back to the threefold mystery of “the jewel is in the lotus” om mani padme hum: the child in the womb, the lingam in the yoni, the corpse in the grave. And no diversion needed. Once the goblet is viewed as already broken, as it must certainly be one day, it can be viewed through eyes of resurrection that say today while the blossom still clings to the vine, drink deeply and often.

  325. Or will he remain stumm? Mmm?
    I just learned from a couple of online German-English dictionaries that for mute as a maggot one can say stumm wie ein Fisch. Butt some Fische reden mehr als Heringe.

  326. Noetica says:

    A goblet, the bell or bowl of the belly, the omphalos thereof and of the world, vases (both mud and vessel in French, depending on the gender), burial urns, laud-OMens from singing bowls … aha! I am even beginning to understand about Eliot as “the wasteland guy”. The Hollwomen. Insight through Frau Association. Aha.
    ø, I have never heard the expression “mute as a maggot”. A younger colleague, though, when he finished his PhD thesis, expressed the wish to drink himself into the state of a maggot. I don’t go to that sort of party, but I am reliably informed that he succeeded. A new take on our classic question What is it like to be a bat?, I suppose. Are mathematics students like that too, ø?

  327. Dover has a much cheaper Topoi book. It has a section on bundles and sheaves. That section proposes to accomplish their introduction without requiring a knowledge of topology. Honestly, I’m not sure it succeeds. That is, one might figure out what an open set is, but without spending a term looking at the consequences of different topologies, I’m not sure one would see why. Like many Dover publications, it’s a reprint of something you can read online for free now-a-days: in this case, in Cornell’s Historical Math Monographs.
    I’m sure it’s not as thorough as a Springer yellow book. (Many of which can be found for half price or less in university towns.) Since we’re talking of category theory and expertise, let me remind everyone that Saunders Mac Lane’s co-inventor Samuel Eilenberg was also an amateur expert on and dealer in Asian art. There is an anecdote here about Arthur Upham Pope refusing to believe that the man he knew was the same as the famous mathematician his collocutor knew. Some of Professor Eilenberg’s collection came up for sale at Skinner’s here a few years. (Not all that exciting to us, truth be told: he favored small sculptures.)

  328. And then through O.N. gröf “cave, we stumble back into Plato’s gravid cave by a circuitous route, but arrive at a baptismal font (trust me, it’s in there somewhere, I’ve seen it) ready for rebirth. But no hollowmen here; a head filled with straw could not resonate, ugye?

  329. he favored small sculptures
    Ha, ha. What a great put down. I’ll have to remember that one.

  330. That section proposes to accomplish their introduction without requiring a knowledge of topology. Honestly, I’m not sure it succeeds. That is, one might figure out what an open set is, but without spending a term looking at the consequences of different topologies, I’m not sure one would see why.
    If I were trying to teach somebody about sheaf theory (or practically any other mathematical topic) I hope that I would give some examples before getting to the definitions.
    If a student asked me “what’s a sheaf?” I would probably answer “what have you studied? do you know something about topology? manifolds? differential geometry? complex analysis? algebraic geometry?” and if they knew something about any of this stuff — not necessarily all of it — then that would give me an idea of what examples of sheaves to talk about before getting to a more abstract level. If they had not studied any of these things, then I would probably say “ask me again next year”. But if they somehow had managed to get fairly far into logic or category theory without looking into any of these things, then that might provide an equally good angle from which to approach the topic.
    Probably that’s enough here about sheaves in the mathematical sense.

  331. Noetica says:

    I am away from my usual resources for a few days, but I would want to discuss more in the Song of Songs. Pope’s huge book (over 700 pages) has much to offer us. I’ll say something about this when I can.

  332. I am away from my usual resources for a few days
    Have you gone on walkabout?
    There are some great free videos of mathematics classes at MIT available here. I got it from Grumbly.

  333. Nomadica says:

    Have you gone on walkabout?
    Driveabout and flyabout for a few days. A routine reconnaissance sortie. I’ll dispatch what intermittent observations I can from the field. Over.

  334. Who the fuck would have taken Geoff fucking Pullum for a fucking Van hater?
    This can be maximised further, as
    Who the fuck would have fucking taken Geoff fucking Pullum for a fucking Van hater?
    For some reason you can only say “would fucking have taken” if you leave out the initial “the fuck”.

  335. On the VAN AND THE PRE-HEAD MODIFIER thread that is now closed, AJP says, in response to a comment about the middle class finding the f-word offensive:
    My mother doesn’t like the word ‘fuck’, I don’t object to it and nor does my daughter, so we both use it.
    I am curious about the idea of swearing as a marker of social class. I remember some time ago hearing some snippet about the middle class being anxious about their children, as they did not have wealth enough to guarantee their children’s future–the children would have to fend for themselves through becoming educated if they could. While the idea of social class is hard to pin down–how do you classify a welder who makes $45 an hour as opposed to a teacher who makes $16 an hour–and a lot of Americans like to think we don’t have social classes, the role of education and vulnerability in profanity is an interesting one. Probably everyone has at one time or another met someone who is “untouchable”–they have job security for some reason or another. Maybe because they’re from an influential family, or because of company nepotism and it doesn’t matter who they piss off…or maybe they’re already at the bottom of the food chain and have nothing to lose. So how much does employability come into play when someone decides whether and what type of profanity to use?
    AJP again: older women in particular sometimes find it offensive
    What does profanity convey–anger, aggression, other emotions that are socially unacceptable for certain groups of people to express publicly? Would we really accept our grannies flipping people off instead of baking cookies? Or would she be out on her ear with no pension?
    that doesn’t say ‘fuck’ or fa’en
    The way I understand fa’en is that it’s religious, something like “damned”. I can understand how being compared to burning for eternity would devalue something. But devaluing something by comparing it to sex? That just boggles. Where I come from, we don’t think anything bad about sex at all, we just want it to stay “behind closed doors”.

  336. how much does employability come into play when someone decides whether and what type of profanity to use?
    I’ve never worked at a place where swearing was an issue; people have just said ‘fuck’ etc., or not, as they pleased. Read, who I gather works in science, says she’s never heard her colleagues swear. The many physicists I knew at DESY in Hamburg used to swear as much as I did. Personally, I’d do everything I could to avoid being in a situation where my employability was affected by views on swearing.

  337. There’s new evidence that swearing (=cursing=profanity for purposes of this discussion?) eases pain. I forget where I saw it, but here is a story about it.

  338. I read that somewhere too,
    Swearing doesn’t have any special connection to anger or aggression — isn’t caused by them, isn’t only used in angry or violent situations, or anything like that. Swearing was socially unacceptable for women in the old days and as a feminist Nij, I’m surprised you find anything wrong with it.

  339. You read it here, dammit! Pay attention!

  340. I slave over a hot computer all day cooking up these posts, and this is the thanks I get. Fine, from now on I’ll just buy them down at the market and you can have stale posts for dinner like those poor kids down the block.

  341. Dammit, fuck!
    I’m sorry, Language. I so totally need more memory. Yesterday it was the angelica thing and now this. How embarrassing. I can’t have stale posts; sadly, my doctor said no.

  342. You read it here, dammit!
    Of course, relative to this post, that post was still in the future. It’s not surprising we couldn’t remember it.

  343. I expect my commenters to be precognitive.

  344. Oh, hell’s bells.
    I’m so embarrassed, Hat. I promise: if you keep that home cooking coming I will try really hard eat it slowly and savor every bite.

  345. Shucks, I’m just funnin’ ya. Even I forget what I’ve posted, and I’m the one what cooked it.

  346. I’m just funnin’ ya.
    Oh, I know. Me, too, more or less.

  347. What?! Kron, you didn’t read anything I wrote, did you.
    But I’m trying to picture the Venn swearing diagram for this DESY place where Kron worked. If I were to call them up would they curse me, or would I have to ask for a physicist?

  348. You read it here, dammit!
    And yet another thread is closed before I have a chance to write something pithy about it. I’m surprised the social scientists aren’t tearing out the walls over this one.
    The MSNBC piece said that:

    the cursing group not only reported lower levels of pain, but also were able to keep their hands in the icy water longer.

    As if that was a good thing.
    The al-anon/ACOA people should be unhappy too. I once heard a priest talk to a hospital group about codependency. When someone lives with an alcoholic, he said, they start making adjustments to problematic behavior. It’s like a stairway with a broken step. They learn to skip that step and go around it. Then one day the broken step gets fixed and they get injured–because they adjusted to an unacceptable situation instead of ending it–”to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them”.
    Then Scientific American speculated it might be caused by a structure of the brain called

    ..the amygdala, an almond-shaped group of neurons that can trigger a fight-or-flight response in which our heart rate climbs and we become less sensitive to pain.

    So now the people who swear are not only acting aggressive, intimidating other people, and freaking them out, they are running away instead of solving their problems. Dr. Phil would be SO not amused.

  349. Noetica, I have just run across a tradition called Targum that may have some bearing on your Canticum Canticorum project. The Targum are Jewish and Syriac Christian Old Testament books in Aramaic, now translated into English. I leafed through this one today briefly and looked at your bowel problem. They explain it as the southern Israelites having sympathy for the plight of the northern Israelities, or somesuch. It’s all allegorical.

  350. All the people with a bowel problem should band together. Then they would have a bowel movement.

  351. Then they would have a bowel movement.
    I recommend raisins.

  352. Of course I’m talking about the comment from way up thread from the King James Version “my bowels were moved for him” compared to several other versions “my heart was moved for him”. The Targums had lengthy commentaries; the one I looked at had specific historical details about the Israelites and time frames cited for the various verses.
    There are actually some people who claim that the English of the KJV is the language God spoke, and is infallible.

  353. There are people who claim God is an Englishman. There are others who say God is a (insert nationality & sex here). I just can’t be sure.

  354. This sort of thing is exactly what LH’s first post was about, lo these seven tears ago. It included the quotation:
    “In his Origines Antwerpianae (1569), Goropius Becanus argued that not only was language divine in origin, but that its original form was Dutch. More specifically, he identified the Primal Language as a dialect of Antwerp. The ancestry of the burghers of that city could be traced back to the sons of Japeth, and the latter were folk who had not become linguistically confused by working on the Tower of Babel.”

  355. lo these seven tears ago
    I like that very much.

  356. tears
    Uh, right, how did I do that? Oh, I see, qwerty.
    Anyway, here’s to seven more years in this vale of yours (not of tears).

  357. David Marjanović says:

    There are actually some people who claim that the English of the KJV is the language God spoke, and is infallible.

    AFAIK they rather claim that the translation was divinely inspired, just like the original, so that the KJV is now better (inerrant even) than whatever corrupted manuscripts survive in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek…
    And then there are the extremists within the extremists, who insist on the original spelling of 1611, complete with all quirks. They get totally worked up when the famous asswaged is changed to assuaged, and if you surreptitiously change the seven-letter Saviour into a six-letter Savior, they get holy wrath, because you’re obviously the Antichrist (…or were, before Obama took over that job, but I digress). Really, I found such a website once. I read a lot of it, hoping to find evidence that it’s a parody (there are very subtle parodies out there, like Objective Ministries), but… it’s not. They really believe in the holy asswaged.
    But, hey, Internet insanity can go to different heights altogether. Enjoy, if you can.

  358. change the seven-letter Saviour into a six-letter Savior
    Goodness. I agree with God, that is a bit much. Is the latter the American spelling? I had no idea. I’m shocked.

  359. The raisins and apples of the Song of Solomon may not be so pious and orthodox after all. In Hosea 3:1 we find out the Israelites have been known to “turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So although Yahweh may be a jealous god, once again syncretism has found a way.

  360. Come on, it seems we’re stuck at 362. Doesn’t anyone have a little something they’ve been dying to get off their chest for years? It just should be something about language, preferably.

  361. Yes, now that you mention it Kron, I’m looking for a reason to procrastinate on my bookshelf project, so let me just comment on something you said upthread:

    Swearing was socially unacceptable for women in the old days and as a feminist Nij, I’m surprised you find anything wrong with it.

    Well, first of all, I’ve hardly kept up with all the writings on that, but I would have to take exception to the “in the old days” part. I would say it’s still unacceptable and that any woman who tries it outside of a working class bar will soon be able to confirm that.
    Second of all, the feminist writings I’m aware of mostly deal with the use of certain words to denigrate women. There is not total agreement–most now say the words are offensive–but some prefer to use them in the theory they will become less biting if they are more common. I used to hear those words a lot when I would stop off at a certain working class/lesbian/horseshoe bar (for the horseshoe tournaments, of course).

  362. I would say it’s still unacceptable and that any woman who tries it outside of a working class bar will soon be able to confirm that.
    Are you talking about Jordan? Because if you’re talking about the U.S., you may be living in some alternate universe. In the America I’m living in, women swear constantly and with impunity.

  363. I would blush to repeat the language of Jordanian women, especially some of the non-pious bedouins.
    You should meet my mother, now THAT would be interesting.

  364. P.S. She would win.
    On second thought, no, you don’t want to meet her, not if we want to look forward to the sequel to Monkey’s Armpit.

  365. But seriously, where do you hear this swearing. At work? At church? In class? From professional women? What types of words do they use? I only hear it from the neanderthal, missing-tooth crowd in the bar down the street.

  366. Bathrobe says:

    In my alternate universe, the women never swear and are very demure.

  367. I second LH’s comment, Nijma. Women swear all the time in the Northeastern US. My wife says “fuck” and “asshole” fairly often, especially when driving, and she has a graduate degree from an Ivy League university. Younger women in particular have quite foul mouths these days, when out socially, they do not swear at work in my experience (but neither do most men). Even my mother – born in the 1940s and a Wellesley grad, has used “shit” and “goddamn” pretty indiscriminately as far back as I can remember. English and Australian women are actually far worse. Most American women will draw the line at “cunt”, I think English women crossed that barrier some time ago.

  368. David Marjanović says:

    I would say it’s still unacceptable and that any woman who tries it outside of a working class bar will soon be able to confirm that.

    Not if she’s in the company of scientists, and/or my age or younger and in the company of people in the same age bracket.

  369. Not if she’s in the company of scientists, and/or my age or younger and in the company of people in the same age bracket.
    Nij is the exact same age as me and regarding swearing there’s no difference between your age group, David, and mine/ours. I’m with Language & Vanja, Nij: you may be living in an alternate universe where women of the working class swear, but few others. In my universe Hillary Clinton swears*, and she’s from Chicago.
    *I can’t back this up, but I know she does.
    I think it’s maybe a difference of feminist opinion that British women say ‘cunt’, while many (but not all) US women are less likely to. Germaine Greer is an avid user of the word.

  370. (By ‘Hillary swears’ I mean ‘Hillary says fuck’.)

  371. Good heavens AJP, how would you figure something like that way in Norway. I don’t believe you. I haven’t personally hung out with Hillary, but I have been in Park Ridge, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) and didn’t hear any swearing at all. Germaine Greer is another story. She’s one of those who wants to change the value of swear words by overusing them, plus she would be right at home at a southside horse shoe tournament. Plus she’s filthy rich and spoiled and can do whatever she wants.

  372. Bathrobe says:

    I have a confession to make. In my family we were forbidden to swear — and that went for ‘bloody’, too. My mother used ‘bum’ (for ‘bottom’), but we weren’t allowed to.
    So there was virtually no swearing at home. I still managed to pick these words up somehow, but not at home. And it was always slightly shocking to me as a youth to hear girls and women swearing. It made them somehow ‘bad’ :)

  373. We never heard my grandmother swear except sometimes when she was playing a certain highly competitive and fast-paced card game.
    Some people, myself included, have been known to rein in their bad language around the home to a certain extent so as not to set a bad example for the children. And I don’t think that we need to be completely scornful of this impulse: there are valid reasons for not wanting a young child to say “what the fuck” in school.
    But they may pick these things up from us us anyway. My sister in law was once talking with her young child while driving in traffic. It seems she saw an opportunity to review the idea of friends versus strangers (as in don’t accept rides or gifts from the latter).
    Mother: What do we call the people in the other cars?
    Child: Assholes.

  374. jamessal says:

    there are valid reasons for not wanting a young child to say “what the fuck” in school.
    It may be valid, in a sense, to accommodate people’s magical notions about cursing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t scorn them too.

  375. there are valid reasons for not wanting a young child to say “what the fuck” in school.
    For some reason when I hear a really young person say the f-word I always want to involuntarily glance at their crotch. Often they’re too young to possibly be able to understand the meaning of the word. The guy who lived on the other side of the wall in my old apartment had a young son who used to shout the f-word every once in a while when he was home alone. Sort of disconcerting to hear that in the middle of trying to write a report or something. We finally figured out he was playing video games, but I also pointed out to his father that he wasn’t pronouncing it right, something like “fauwk”. I also mentioned to his father that he was a good looking young guy, which I meant as a compliment, but apparently his father took the wrong way, informing me his son was only 15 and had a girlfriend. After that I didn’t hear any more f-word.
    Last week the 10 year old downstairs, who I think is developmentally disabled, started yelling “Oh, f***” several times a day. His mother is usually home and speaks no English, but now I notice the child doesn’t do that anymore.

  376. David Marjanović says:

    Nij is the exact same age as me and regarding swearing there’s no difference between your age group, David, and mine/ours.

    Where?
    Over here, there is: on average, my generation considers swearing appropriate in a considerably larger number of situations than yours.

    Often they’re too young to possibly be able to understand the meaning of the word.

    Yeah. It took me some time, probably months, to figure out that “asshole” actually had any meaning besides “evil person”.
    (Part of the reason is that it has irregular vowels in my dialect – strongly suggesting that generations of schoolchildren had learned it from each other the way I did. Another part, though, is simply that I didn’t know “ass” alone yet either.)

    but I also pointed out to his father that he wasn’t pronouncing it right, something like “fauwk”.

    From near the beginning of the Iraq War (I think shortly after Mission Accomplished™), I remember a video that made headlines because it showed a US soldier… shooting an unarmed Iraqi or something, I don’t quite remember. What I remember is the pronunciation of what he shouted: “He’s fake’ng he’s fock’ng dead! He’s fock’ng fake’ng he’s dead!” Rounded vowel. I think that’s fairly widespread.

  377. I don’t think I’ve heard such a pronunciation, but I’ve long since learned not to depend on self-reporting.

  378. Over here, there is: on average, my generation considers swearing appropriate in a considerably larger number of situations than yours.
    Maybe in Graz, not in Hamburg.

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