My wife was reading Joyce Carol Oates’ piece “The Cure” (a review of Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic’s Search for Health and Healing, by Tim Parks—subscribers only, I’m afraid) in the NYRB, and she drew my attention to the following snippet of Beckett (which Oates quotes from Parks):

The Tuesday scowls, the Wednesday growls, the Thursday curses, the Friday howls, the Saturday snores, the Sunday yawns, the Monday morns, the Monday morns. The whacks, the moans, the cracks, the groans, the welts, the squeaks, the belts, the shrieks, the pricks, the prayers, the kicks, the tears, the skelps, and the yelps….

(From Watt; the NYRB version has “the Monday mourns [not “morns”], the Monday morns,” but that’s clearly a typo, so I’ve corrected it.) We both loved the quote and wondered about the word “skelps”; on investigating (it’s another word that’s in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary but not in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate), it turns out to be a Scottish and Northern English word for ‘strike, slap, or smack’ (and is probably imitative in origin). Any readers familiar with it?


  1. Yes, I had to look it up when I read W. B. Yeats’ “Running to Paradise”.

  2. Keith Sutherland says:

    Yes, it was quite common when I was growing up in Edinburgh. It’s part of the wonderful insult, “a face like a skelped bottom”. To me, it connotes an open-hand slap or smack, and particularly from a parent to a child. I can’t imagine a blow in a fight between adults being described as a skelp.

  3. Here’s a conversation between David Balfour and James More Macgregor from Catriona, the 1893 sequel to Kidnapped (not nearly as good as the original, in the general opinion, with which I agree):
    “Well, Mr. Macgregor,” said I, “I understand the main thing for a soldier is to be silent, and the first of his virtues never to complain.”
    “You have my name, I perceive” — he bowed to me with his arms crossed — “though it’s one I must not use myself. [The use of the surname Macgregor was banned from 1603 till 1822.] Well, there is a publicity — I have shown my face and told my name too often in the beards of my enemies. I must not wonder if both should be known to many that I know not.”
    “That you know not in the least, sir,” said I, “nor yet anybody else; but the name I am called, if you care to hear it, is Balfour.”
    “It is a good name,” he replied, civilly; “there are many decent folk that use it. And now that I call to mind, there was a young gentleman, your namesake, that marched surgeon in the year ’45 [the second Jacobite rebellion] with my battalion.”
    “I believe that would be a brother to Balfour of Baith,” said I, for I was ready for the surgeon now [after having been embarrassed to be asked the same question in Kidnapped and not being able to answer].
    “The same, sir,” said James More. “And since I have been fellow-soldier with your kinsman, you must suffer me to grasp your hand.”
    He shook hands with me long and tenderly, beaming on me the while as though he had found a brother.
    “Ah!” says he, “these are changed days since your cousin and I heard the balls whistle in our lugs [ears].”
    “I think he was a very far-away cousin,” said I, drily, “and I ought to tell you that I never clapped eyes upon the man.”
    “Well, well,” said he, “it makes no change. And you — I do not think you were out [polite term for ‘in arms’] yourself, sir — I have no clear mind of your face, which is one not probable to be forgotten.”
    “In the year you refer to, Mr. Macgregor, I was getting skelped in the parish school,” said I.
    “So young!” cries he [the year is 1752].
    It sounds to me like these were spankings or beatings rather than mere slaps, but of course Scots, like English, has changed since 1752, or even 1893.

  4. marie-lucie says:

    This wonderful list sounds to me like an extended tongue-twister. I felt compelled to read it aloud, faster and faster …

  5. marie-lucie says:

    JC, I am not too strong on Scottish history: why was the name Macgregor banned?

  6. It is still a common word for spankings.
    I remember this piece from the Scotsman newspaper in 2004 – a creative translation of a press conference with Guy Roux, the colourful French football coach; Roux had been asked how he would deal with the high-earning footballers at Real Madrid:
    ‘”First up, at 3.05pm, would be Luis Figo, with his private jet sitting on the runway ready to take him to Portugal. And I’d give it ‘Baff,’” he said, with a full swing of his imaginary bat. “At 3.20pm, Zinedine Zidane would walk in, swanning off to Geneva to complete his ‘oeuvre’ for the disadvantaged children of this world. And I’d give it ‘Boom,’” he adds, ever more manically. “Four pm, in comes Ronaldo, off to see his pals in Rome for the evening, and he’d definitely get it. I’d be there all night, skelping them as they come back in up until midnight, ahead of training the next day”‘

  7. Skelp is still very commonly used. Fans of my football/soccer team (Celtic) have taken to referring to players particularly adept at causing damage to arch rivals Rangers (known to us as the huns) as ‘hunskelpers’

  8. The use of the surname Macgregor was banned from 1603 till 1822.
    OK, somebody needs to explain this.

  9. I remember the word from way back in the Oor Wullie comic strip, where the main character frequently got “a skelpin'” for his naughtiness (at least before they Anglicised the text in the 70s and removed most of the Scots dialect).

  10. If this DSL link works, it provides a nice list of senses and citations. (I particularly like “skelp-doup, a contemptuous epithet for a schoolteacher” and “skelp-the-dub, contemptuously for a low-class menial or gadabout person.”)

  11. J. W. Brewer says:

    This suggests a darker subtext to Mr. McGregor’s garden in Peter Rabbit?

  12. AFAIU the MacGregors were dispossessed, banished, and compelled to take different names (and were condemned to death if they still insisted on self-identifying as McGregors or Gregors) … but nothing in the law prevented others from identifying them by their clan name. BTW they got through the banishment with their royal Y-chromosome lineage fairly intact, according to (yes) The MacGregor DNA Project

  13. I’m not sure what happened between 1774 and 1822, but the name MacGregor was banished by James VI of Scotland, on the eve of his departure to become James I of England.

    MacGregors were involved in the killing of John Drummond, the king’s forester (after Drummond had hung some MacGregors for poaching) in 1589 and MacGregors took part in the Conflict of Glenfruin in 1603. With encouragement from the Campbells, King James VI and the Privy Council issued an edict banning the use of the name MacGregor. The clan chief was hanged at Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross in 1604. Many adopted the name Murray, Graham, Stewart, Grant and even Campbell. The surname was not fully restored until 1774.

    The “Conflict” at Glenfruin, aka “The Slaughter in the Lennox”, was an unpleasant affair in which some Lennoxes and 2-300 Colquhouns on horseback were routed & killed. In an associated incident at Glen Fruin someone called Dugald Ciar Mhor, (Dugald the great, mouse coloured) and his MacGregor cohort allegedly killed some defenceless clerical students from Dunbarton.

  14. The MacGregors also stole a large number of the Colquhouns’ goats.

  15. (i) ‘Skelp’; Michael Munro’s excellent ‘The Complete Patter’, often available on eBay, has this (between the entries for ‘skelly’ and ‘skinto’):
    “This Scots word for smack is also used locally in the phrase ‘skelp it’, meaning to work briskly at a job: ‘We’ll need tae skelp it tae get this finished for dinnertime’. ‘On the skelp’ means on a wild night out or drinking spree: “Some state he’s in. He looks like he’s been on the skelp for a week”.
    (ii) MacGregor; Sir Walter Scott’s introduction to ‘Rob Roy’, gives a good account; put shortly, after a series of massacres committed by the MacGregor clan against their neighbours, he writes, ‘By an Act of the Privy Council, dated 3d April 1603, the name of MacGregor was expressly abolished, and those who had hitherto borne it were commanded to change it for other surnames, the pain of death being denounced against those who should call themselves Gregor or MacGregor, the names of their fathers. Under the same penalty, all who had been at the conflict of Glenfruin, or accessory to other marauding parties charged in the act, were prohibited from carrying weapons, except a pointless knife to eat their victuals. By a subsequent act of Council, 24th June 1613, death was denounced against any persons of the tribe formerly called MacGregor, who should presume to assemble in greater numbers than four. […] The MacGregors, notwithstanding the letters of fire and sword, and orders for military execution repeatedly directed against them by the Scottish legislature, who apparently lost all the calmness of conscious dignity and security, and could not even name the outlawed clan without vituperation, showed no inclination to be blotted out of the roll of clanship. They submitted to the law, indeed, so far as to take the names of the neighbouring families amongst whom they happened to live, nominally becoming, as the case might render it most convenient, Drummonds, Campbells, Grahams, Buchanans, Stewarts, and the like; but to all intents and purposes of combination and mutual attachment, they remained the clan Gregor, united together for right or wrong, and menacing with the general vengeance of their race, all who committed aggressions against any individual of their number. They continued to take and give offence with as little hesitation as before…’
    The acts of proscription, which had been lifted between 1661 and 1693, were finally repealed in 1774; but they seem to have been in desuetude for some time by then, as the Act of 1774 proceeded on a petition by ‘Gregor MacGregor, late Drummond, Esquire for himself and at the request of a numerous Body of the ancient Surname of MacGregor’.

  16. The 1822 date I gave was that at which John Murray of Lanrick was recognized as the new official chief of Clan Macgregor and was allowed to resume his historic surname by royal grant. By no means all of his clansmen followed suit, however, and there are many famous crypto-Macgregors, including Edvard Grieg and Germaine Greer, and perhaps even William Lyon Mackenzie King, though he never said so.
    Here’s a lengthy account of the crimes and virtues of the clan, who were (in my judgement) not much worse than any other Highlanders, but who had the bad luck and bad judgement to alienate everyone from the Campbells to the Jacobites to the London Government, being all for themselves and very little for anyone else. As Wordsworth wrote in “Rob Roy’s Grave”:
    “The creatures see of flood and field,
    And those that travel on the wind!
    With them no strife can last; they live
    In peace, and peace of mind.
    “For why? — because the good old rule
    Sufficeth them, the simple plan,
    That they should take, who have the power,
    And they should keep who can.

  17. Jonathan Mitchell and Sir Walter Scott have it.
    There’s a very affecting song called Cumha Ghriogal Mhic Ghriogair Ghlinn Sreith or just Griogal Cridhe. The song is written from the point of view of the wife looking out at her husband’s head stuck up on a pole, remembering earlier and happier days.
    You can find a few different versions on YouTube.
    Here’s a bilingual version of the words:
    Last night I watched a television show about what some women suffered in Bosnia in the 1990s. The technology may be a bit different, but the reality is not too much changed from what the Scots had to endure. Rape as a weapon of war was very much in use in 1745.

  18. “Skelp” was a standard word in Scots English in my boyhood. Although we might threaten to “skelp yer erse” to each other, the dominies never did it to us. The preferred corporal punishment was to the palm, administered by what was known in literary circles as a “tawse” but which we referred to as “the belt”, “the strap”, or – more fancifully, after too many visits to the Saturday morning cinema – “The Lochgelly Equaliser”.
    The exception was an Englishwoman who taught at the primary school and wielded a cane.
    Of course, when you started to play cricket and took your first slip catch, the notion that the pain of the strap amounted to anything much became laughable. When we realised that in the nearest American equivalent to cricket the fielders wore gloves, we mocked the big jessies.

  19. I had been hoping for some commentary about Dugald the great, mouse coloured.

  20. For instance, was there another Dugald the great who wasn’t mouse-coloured, and this was meant to distinguish which one you were talking about?

  21. Well, there was Dugald Duck. He had mouse-colored friends, but they were usually pacific.

  22. Undoubtedly there was. What was mouse-colored about this particular Dugald was his hair. This sort of thing was and apparently is rampant in the Highlands:

    Calum Murdo MacKinnon is always given both his Christian names, for there are so many Calum MacKinnons in the district [of Glenelg, on the coast opposite the Isle of Skye] that Calum alone would be ambiguous; there are so many Murdos as to make that name by itself ineffective too; and there are so many Murdo Calums, which is the true sequence of his name, that to retain his identity he has had to invert them. This was a common practice under the clan system, and is still the general rule in many parts of the West Highlands, where the clan names still inhabit their old territory. Sometimes he was abbreviated to ‘Calum the Road’ (in the same way I have known elsewhere a ‘John the Hearse’, a ‘Duncan the Lorry’, a ‘Ronald the Shooter’, and a ‘Ronald Donald the Dummy’ — the last not in any aspersion upon his human reality but because he was dumb). But the necessity for this strict taxonomy is a strange situation for one whose nearest neighbor other than myself is four miles distant.

         —Gavin Maxwell, Ring of Bright Water (1960)

  23. J. W. Brewer says:

    One line of my Scottish ancestry is completely opaque because (according to the researches of the relevant female relation who spent a lot of time mucking around in the Mormons’ microfilms) three identically-named boys were born in the same end of Banffshire in the same relatively limited timeframe circa 1799-1800, all with different parents. Since whatever disambiguating nicknames may have ultimately attached to the boys were either not yet in existence or at least not written down in the parish registers, there’s no way to figure out which of the babies was my 3-greats-grandfather and thus which of the sets of parents were my 4-greats-grandparents from whom things might conceivably be traced back further.

  24. Nice use of “conceivably”, JW.

  25. Seth Pourciau says:

    I believe the “Monday mourns, the Monday morns,” makes just as much sense, if not more, than the “Monday morns, the Monday morns”–contextually and poetically speaking, that is.

  26. “I had been hoping for some commentary about Dugald the great, mouse coloured.” The Gaels seem to have been prone to distinguishing people by their colouration – fair, dark and red are favourite bits of names that I’ve come across.
    Mousey is new to me. But, f’rexample: “Domnall mac Donnchada (Modern Gaelic: Dòmhnall mac Dhonnchaidh),[1] anglicised as Donald III, and nicknamed Domnall Bán, “Donald the Fair” (anglicised as Donald Bane/Bain or Donalbane/Donalbain), (died 1099) was King of Scots from 1093–1094 and 1094–1097.[2] He was the second known son of Duncan I (Donnchad mac Crínáin).” (WKPD)

  27. And “Ruaridh” (= Rory) means red. I’ve managed to forget the one that means dark.

  28. I think that “ciar” => “mouse-colored” may be someone’s creative joke? AFAICT the word means generic “dark” (or its various equivalents) in Gaelic languages. Swarthy, dusky, black etc.
    To draw a parallel from the more familiar Russian history, there was Czar Vassily the Dark. Not because of his hair though, but because of his blindness.

  29. I believe the “Monday mourns, the Monday morns,” makes just as much sense, if not more, than the “Monday morns, the Monday morns”–contextually and poetically speaking, that is.
    That’s as may be, and if someone turns up a copy of Watt that contains it I’ll entertain the notion that it’s what Beckett intended. Until then, I remain confident that it’s a typo, even if an unusually felicitous one.

  30. I was being forgetful: “dhu” is black or dark, also seen as “dubh”. I’ve no idea what the relation of the two spellings is. Someone will tell us in a wee while.

  31. Didn’t people live long enough to to turn grey (Dougal the salt-and-pepper)?

  32. dearieme: “Dubh” is the correct spelling for Irish and Scots Gaelic. “Dhu” is found in attempts to Anglicize the language.
    It refers to people who are dark-haired or have a dark complexion, but it is not used for people of African descent.

  33. It refers to people who are dark-haired or have a dark complexion, but it is not used for people of African descent.
    The German schwarz, used in certain expressions when describing people, used to mean primarily “black-haired” or “of a dusky/dark complexion”. As I have read, there weren’t many “black” people in the general population, apart from the bigger cities.
    That changed with the influx of black American GIs after the war, their children with German mothers, and of African immigrants and students. Nowadays, depending on how schwarz is used in an expression, it may not be immediately clear what is meant.

  34. The German schwarz, used in certain expressions when describing people, used to mean primarily “black-haired” or “of a dusky/dark complexion”.
    So did English “black”; Pepys is always talking about “black” people, meaning dark-haired or -complected.

  35. Returning to ‘skelp’, I note that Chambers Scots Dictionary adds these among other riffs on this theme:
    skelp-doup, n. a contemptuous designation of a schoolmaster;
    skelpie, adj. deserving to be whipped; n. a worthless person, a mischief-maker, a mischievous girl;
    skelp-the-dub, n. a contemptuous term for one accustomed to do dirty work; v. to act like a foot-boy.
    But that was in 1911, and never have I heard any of these. What, indeed, is (or was) a foot-boy, and why does he act like a skelp-the dub?

  36. I’ve always taken “foot-boy” to be the junior version of a footman.
    I read somethere that Caligula liked to swim in his pool while little boys underwater nibbled at his toes and other extremities. That’s probably not what is meant here.

  37. A “dub” is a puddle – where I grew up “the dubs” referred specifically to an area with many puddles left between the hummocks and tussocks when a particularly high tide ebbed. Otherwise I’m in the same boat as J.M.

  38. Golly, even typing that comment brings back the lovely seasidey smell of the dubs, the short grass and thrift on the hummocks, the whins and brambles growing just above the flooding line, the breeze, the sun, the picking out of wee crabs, the cycling to get there, even the pig-styes I had cycled past, the hill above the dubs on which (my father and I agreed) there really ought to have been the remains of a Roman fort. (And, years after I left school: lo, one was discovered.)

  39. J. W. Brewer says:

    See also “Black Irish” for perfectly “white” people who are less fair-complected (and/or perhaps less rosy/ruddy-complected) than a prototypical person-of-Irishness is thought to be. I suppose that could be a calque of a Gaelic expression but have no actual information as to whether that’s the case or not.

  40. J. W. Brewer says:

    If you believe wikipedia, the Civil War Union general John Alexander Logan Sr. “was known by his soldiers with [sic?] the nickname ‘Black Jack’ because of his black eyes and hair and swarthy complexion.” OTOH, Black Jack Pershing supposedly got the nickname because early in his military career he had commanded black cavalrymen (a/k/a “Buffalo Soldiers”) out west.

  41. Tiberius was the pervert, Grumbly; Caligula was the mass murderer. Here’s Suetonius’s description from Chapter 44 of his life of Tiberius (I need not, of course, translate):
    Maiore adhuc ac turpiore infamia flagravit, vix ut referri audirive, nedum credi fas sit, quasi pueros primae teneritudinis, quos pisciculos vocabat, institueret, ut natanti sibi inter femina versarentur ac luderent lingua morsuque sensim adpetentes; atque etiam quasi infantes firmiores, necdum tamen lacte depulsos, inguini ceu papillae admoveret, pronior sane ad id genus libidinis et natura et aetate. Quare Parrasi quoque tabulam, in qua Meleagro Atalanta ore morigeratur, legatam sibi sub condicione, ut si argumento offenderetur decies pro ea sestertium acciperet, non modo praetulit, sed et in cubiculo dedicavit.

  42. This rhetorical device to freeze-dry a person into a physical feature (“Dugald the Mouse-Colored”) or activity (“Tiberius the Pervert”, “Caligula the Mass Murderer”) – does it have a name ? It sure does help to compose historical events into a tidy picture.
    Suetonius makes Tiberius sound rather resourceful, and does not magnify the minnows out of proper proportion (vix ut referri audirive, nedum credi fas sit). But what a pity he wrote all those words about him instead of just branding his character ! “Suetonius the Can’t-Get-To-The-Pointer”.
    Speaking of resourcefulness … I read your comment right after consorting with the skateboarders next to the Cathedral in Cologne. Having searched the internet, I discovered an explanation for my having confused Tiberius with Caligula:

    I got to checking it out the other night when i was reminded of a scene in “I, Claudius” … Tiberius’ ghost appears before Claudius, and Claudius has only one question to ask him: Why on earth did he make the murderous psychopathic megalomaniac Caligula his heir and the next emperor?
    Tiberius explains that when he was emperor, he did a lot of very bad things, and was worried about his legacy.But he knew that if he made Caligula the next emperor, nobody would ever remember a single bad thing Tiberius did.
    And that’s how it worked out. Teenage skateboarders know lots of cool stuff about Caligula. But nobody knows a thing about Tiberius.

  43. Gosh, a branch of the Lions Club here in Cologne is the Caligula Lions Club. Here you see members donating a mobile monitor to the Saint Antonius Hospital. On their website is a bit of background to why they chose Caligula for their club name:

    He [the Lions Club officer for youth affairs] had always been very impressed by certain stories about this boy [Caligula]: how, borne in his mother’s arms, he had waved at the Ara Legion soldiers to boost their morale as they returned home after defeat; how, dressed in his full legionnaire uniform right down to the little boots, he would stroll in the streets and receive the veneration of the city and the legion due to their crown prince.

  44. Still thinking about that disposition to immortalize the immorality of dead folks, I just happened on something in Fontane’s Cécile which clarifies a related issue. Recently I had occasion to gripe to myself about the fact that the French word conscience has to do service for two English words of rather different meaning: “conscience” and “consciousness”.
    In the novel, the Emeritus talking at table says that the notion of “bad conscience” is misleading. It is a good thing to become conscious that what we have done, are doing or intend to do is “bad”. Thus a bad conscience is a good conscience.

  45. Trond Engen says:

    I suppose the reason why Agrippine Colonial skateboarders know anything at all about Caligula is that, seen as a son of the city, he’s a chance to juice up history lessons with something kids actually remember.
    And, by the way, what’s the etymology of Latin ara “altar”?

  46. According to Lewis and Short:

    āra , ae, f. (Osc. form aasa; Umbr. asa: PELLEX. ASAM. IVNONIS. NE. TAGITO., Lex Numae ap. Gell. 4, 3, 3; cf. Serv. ad Verg. A. 4, 219; Macr. S. 3, 2) [perh. Sanscr. ās, Gr. ἧμαι, Dor. ἧσμαι = to sit, as the seat or resting-place of the victim or offering; v. Georg Curtius. p. 381 sq.]

  47. I just discovered how to use this site to convert an HTML text passage into explicit Unicode, allowing you to save it in a plain editor for future reference:
    1. Copy the passage from your browser (for instance the dictionary lemma above) into the comments area.
    2. Press preview
    3. The comments area now appears at the top of the page below the previewed content, and holds the Unicode version of the content.

  48. Grumbly T. Stu
    Is the T. for Tiberius?

  49. <blushes daintily> How did you guess ?

  50. It can also be interpreted as “tease” or “tyrannosourpuss”.

  51. Trond Engen says:

    Ah, thanks. I asked because it looked similar enough to Norwegian åre to make me interested, but different enough to exclude a straightforward borrowing.
    The derivation is åre m. “central fireplace” < ON árinn “(elevated?) fireplace; podium” (by reinterpretation of the suffix as the masculine def. article) < Germanic *aziná- m. “fireplace”.
    It’s apparently a derivation of the root *a:s- “glow”, also known from Eng. ‘ashes’. A closely related word is esse f. < *ásjo:n-. Both words are found as old loans in Finnish, asina and ahjo respectively.

  52. Trond Engen says:

    arina and ahjo I mean.
    Also: The -iná- suffix looks a bit odd to me, and the gloss “podium” for the ON word is interesting. But I don’t think there’s any way to derive it from Latin.
    And sorry for forgettong to make visible arrows.

  53. And sorry for forgettong to make visible arrows.
    Fixed by hattic magic.

  54. @MOCKBA
    I think that “ciar” => “mouse-colored” may be someone’s creative joke?
    Indeed. The etymologically correct beast would appear to be the hare.
    To draw a parallel from the more familiar Russian history, there was Czar Vassily the Dark. Not because of his hair though, but because of his blindness
    Dubh, the regular word for black, has the same root as both deaf and dumb as well as the Greek word for blind (τυφλός).

  55. Similarly, when a French author refers to the essay by M. Emerson named “Confiance-en-soi”, it is up to the English translator’s memory and instinct to realize that this must be rendered not as “Self-Confidence” but as “Self-Reliance”.

  56. I had to read virtually the entirety of Viktor Astafiev’s Перевал before realizing that the title should be translated The Passage and not The Pass.

  57. Yes, it’s common in Ireland, where I come from.

  58. I just realised that the expression ‘clip under the lug’ (where ‘lug’ means ‘ear’) is reasonably common in Australia and maybe Britain. Would this ‘clip’ be related to ‘skelp’ in some way?

  59. The London (Cockney) expression is (or used to be) a clip round the lug ‘ole.

  60. ‘clip under the lug’ (where ‘lug’ means ‘ear’) … Would this ‘clip’ be related to ‘skelp’ in some way? … a clip round the lug ‘ole.
    The connection might be through Asklepios. With the famous staff, he would apply sharp raps to the heads of inattentive disciples (represented by servile snakes crawling around it). In our nerveless times, only the hand and the ear are used.

  61. No, that can’t be right, Stu, because most snakes have neither hands nor external ears. You’re thinking of the fellow Socrates made sure to give his cock to.

  62. I’m sure that when Socrates was young he shared his cock generously. When he got old and nobody wanted it, he sacrificed it. That’s reasonable enough – but hardly worth composing a dialog about.

  63. Sorry about the crude humor. In hindsight I am surprised that that word was able to penetrate whatever protection the site has on.

  64. I don’t think LH has anything against obscenity. It’s part of the warp and weft of language. The object of blocking on this blog is to keep out those wretched spammers.

  65. crude humor … obscenity
    What are you guys talking about ? It must be so subtle that I’m missing it. A little rooster among friends is nothing to crow about.

  66. You know what they say about kicking against the pricks.

  67. A little-known but moving pseudo-Platonic dialog describes the last hours of Socrates’ wife Ξανθίππη. Calling her handmaidens to her side, she commanded that they drown a cat, i.e. sacrifice her pussy to Poseidon.

  68. The full titles of Kidnapped (1886) and Catriona (1893), posted here for the amusement of the Hattics:

    Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson.

    David Balfour, Being Memoirs Of His Adventures At Home And Abroad, The Second Part: In Which Are Set Forth His Misfortunes Anent The Appin Murder; His Troubles With Lord Advocate Grant; Captivity On The Bass Rock; Journey Into Holland And France; And Singular Relations With James More Drummond Or Macgregor, A Son Of The Notorious Rob Roy, And His Daughter Catriona.

    As a consequence, U.S. editions of Catriona were known as David Balfour.

  69. As well they might be. Why is Catriona the accepted short form?

  70. I guess you’d have to ask the publishers: Catriona is what appears on the front covers. Project Gutenberg has two e-texts under the two different titles.

  71. marie-lucie says:

    Many years ago I read Les aventures de David Balfour and Catriona (both in French). The only thing I remember about those books (apart from their cover: I can still see the pale yellow paper with black lettering) is an episode in Catriona in which fierce Highlander women perform a gruesome warrior dance to celebrate their clan’s victory over an enemy clan.

  72. I’m reminded of two novels by Matvei Komarov, two of the most genuinely popular novels throughout the remaining existence of the Russian Empire (in the sense that they were read by lots and lots of often barely literate people, as opposed to the relatively small layer of educated people who read Tolstoevsky), Obstoyatel′noe i vernoe opisanie dobrykh i zlykh del rossiiskogo moshennika, vora, razboinika i byvshego moskovskogo syshchika Van′ki Kain [A detailed and true description of the deeds good and evil of the Russian scoundrel, thief, robber, and former Moscow detective Vanka Kain] (1779) and Povest′ o priklyuchenii aglinskogo milorda Georga i o brandeburgskoi markgrafine Friderike Luize s prisovokupleniem k onoi istorii byvshego turetskogo vizirya Martsimirisa i sardinskoi korolevy Terezii [The tale of the adventure of the English milord George and the Brandenburg margravine Friderika Luisa, and in addition thereto the stories of the former Turkish vizier Martsimiris and the Sardinian queen Teresia] (1782), known for short as Van′ka Kain and Milord Georg respectively.

  73. marie-lucie says:

    After reading the entirety of this post and the comments, I think that I misremembered the gruesome episode: it is rather about the women of the defeated clan who are mourning their dead men in “barbaric” fashion.

    Scottish men’s descriptive names

    The same types of descriptions are common in Breton surnames, including those translated into French: Le blanc, Lenoir, Leroux (all about hair colours), and lots of others. Quite often the French article occurs in front of a Breton noun, as Le Pen (“pen” meaning ‘head’ but also probably ‘headland’), and again many others.

  74. And of course Le Guin. From a Guardian interview (in writing):

    Q: Do you pronounce your name the French way or, as most of your fans do, Luh Gwinn?

    UKL: Een zees country we say Luh Gwinn. En France nous disons Le Guin, comme le vin or le gain; et en Bretagne – c’est un nom breton – je crois que c’est encore Luh Gwinn. (Like Gwyn in Welsh – I think it’s the same word.) It is all my husband’s fault, anyhow.

Speak Your Mind