Port Out, Starboard Home: And Other Language Myths
Registered by cnfotp
9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1
on Tuesday, November 22, 2005
"Can it be true that 'golf' stands for 'Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden'? Or that 'rule of thumb' comes from an archaic legal principle that a man may chastise his wife, but only with a rod no thicker than his thumb? Or that a 'wake' was so-called beacuse the guests sat around to check that the corpse didn't wake up?
These and hundreds of other stories are commonly told and retold whenever people meet. They grow up in part because expressions are genuinely mysterious. Why, for example, are satisfying meals 'square' rather than any other shape? And how did anyone ever come up with the idea that if you're competent at something you can 'cut the mustard'? People are so resourceful at explaining the inexplicable that there are at least a dozen plausible-sounding stories for the origins of phrases such as 'the full monty', 'cocktail', or 'the real McCoy'.
Offered up as an international bookring.
Journal Entry 2
on Sunday, November 27, 2005
Offered as a Bookring. List of participants posted here:
marko167 (Switzerland) <- it's here!
LyekkaMarengo (US, PA)
michaeljl (US, OR)
imadiver (US, OR)
back to me...
Journal Entry 3
on Tuesday, November 29, 2005
This is going in the post today to clarrie-rose... Enjoy :)
Received this morning - looks really good. Thanks!
I really enjoyed this. It was very interesting and good to dip into. I also found it strange to realise how many words and phrases have become so normal that I actually didn’t realise they made no sense: double-cross, for example, or curry favour. Thanks for sharing this - I’ll now send it off to cloggy.
I sent this off to cloggy this morning.
Arrived with me safely this morning. Looks like a perfect book to read over Christmas.
Thanks cnfotp & clarrie-rose
This book was definitely more satisfying in some parts than in others. Where Quinion actually knows for a fact where a term comes from, it is fascinating.
For example, the origin of 'the exception proves the rule' makes perfect sense. Far more so than the way it is used at the moment (you'll just have to read it to see what I mean). Interestingly enough - I think so anyway - we have a saying in Dutch that is a literal translation of this, and used in the same incorrect way.
But there are many places where Quinion, nor I suppose anybody else, knows what the precise origin of a word is, and these are the areas that work less well. He will discredit some other explanation of the origin, and will make a suggestion that seems to me as spurious as the ones he faulted. Or at least with as little evidence.
However, that could just be a personal preference of mine. Where Quinion says: it isn't this, I just want to say: so what is it then? And he often does not do this. So for me, half the book works really well and the other half is interesting enough, but doesn't give me any answers. Maybe others will not find this an issue and I'll be interested to know.
Have pm-ed the next person for their address and will hopefully get the book in the post on the weekend
Received this book today. Thanks for sharing.
A very interesting book. There were quite a few sayings that I thought I knew the origin of that turned out to be myths!
I would have liked a few more definite answers though.
I have xtra's address and will be sending the book on it's way early next week.
That was an expedient delivery!
I look forward to reading this. Language is one of my great interests.
I'm very sorry about the delay!
I finished the book a couple of weeks ago, also a bit late, but I was flooded with several bookring books all at once. And then lots of small things happened that kept me from making the final journey to the post office. But today is the day.
I found much to enjoy in the book, but I think that only people who have English as their native language can appreciate all of it. Still, it was an interesting read. Thank you, cnfotp, for letting me read it!
Received today, my first BC mail in Switzerland. Will probably get round to it in a week or so. I look forward to reading it.
This is an interesting book, but definitely one I'd prefer to have in my PC for reference rather than a read right through.
However I did enjoy it and loved flicking through especially to check out the swear words. If you enjoy this you should listen into BBC Radio 4 Word of Mouth when it returns.
Journal Entry 16
BookRing in Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Friday, June 16, 2006
Released 13 yrs ago (6/16/2006 UTC) at BookRing in Book Ring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Off he flys to Warriors Mark, USA.
Received safe and sound in Central PA. Thanks for the post card, I always had the feeling the Swiss were hiding something about themselves.
As someone who enjoy the English language in a large part due to it's absurbity this was a very interesting read. Most of the folk tales of how sayings came about turn out to be mostly that, just folk tales. But we as a species like things to seem logical and most of the wrong derivations actually sound much more interesting than the true story. Just shows that we are also natural born story tellers (and maker-uppers, if there is such a word.)
I have the next address to send this on and I'll get it in the mail as soon as I get to the post office.
Book was mailed to michaeljl in Portland, OR on 08/17/2006
Received today. Will read and forward.
Journal Entry 20
Southwest Community Center, 6820 SW 45th in Portland, Oregon USA on Monday, December 05, 2011
Released 7 yrs ago (12/4/2011 UTC) at Southwest Community Center, 6820 SW 45th in Portland, Oregon USA
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
At the fireplace Bookcrossing zone shelf.
Journal Entry 21
Multnomah Village, Oregon USA on Thursday, December 08, 2011
I love books about words: this is no exception. This takes on a lot of the words and expressions we think or have thought were understood. This book undoes most of those mistaken understandings and sets some of the origins right. The author takes well into account the mutability of language and our desire as a species to have stories that make some sense about the stories these word often tell.