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  Issue 117, page 4

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From Simon Chang:

Referring to the topic Monday on the Feb-20-2001 issue, in Spotlight, I would like to add the Japanese word for Monday:

getsuyobi (o-macroned in the syllable yo)
getsu = "moon" (cf. ge? in Hokkien or Taiwanese dialect)
yo = "shining" (cf. yao in Putonghua and Hokkien dialect)
bi mutated from hi = "sun", hence "day"

From the analysis above, this word is a compound of 3 parts, only the last part is native Japanese.  The first 2 parts are derived from Chinese language.

Thanks, Simon.

From Rashid Yaman:

I've been away from the internet for a while and I was just catching up with my favourite site when I noticed your reference to the "Cocodryllus" and it's alleged saffron colouring in Issue 108. I'm no expert on crocodiles, but I have recently read Agnes Keith's rather excellent book Land Below The Wind about her experiences of pre-war North Borneo. Here's a little extract....

He lay in the sun on the mudbank at Lamag. He was brilliant and handsome, with a skin of a clear yellow ochre color with shining black markings, almost the colors of a sunflower. But he looked more like a griffin than a crocodile. If a flame had come out of his mouth I should have known he was a griffin.

....she goes on to say later...

Our Muruts [one of the indigenous people of northern Borneo] said that this surprisingly vivid coloring was common to the crocodiles who lived far up the river. The river-mouth crocodiles which I had seen before were only a drab mud color.

Sadly it was shot by Mr. Keith. So maybe those bestiaries weren't too fantastic.  Anyway, thanks for giving me more information about words than I could ever use!

So there are yellow crocodiles and they live in Borneo!  It seems as if we should give "Sir John Mandeville" a little more credit.

From Ben Hinerfeld:

I just stumbled onto your website trying to find the etymology of buck.  As you suggest, perhaps the term buck for "a dollar" originated in the early American deerskin trade. I found a government price list for goods in 1751 South Carolina that measured things in bucks and does. A buck was equal to two does. A doe was equal to one pound of deer skin.  For example, a blanket or shroud was priced at 6 does or 3 bucks, a knife was 1 doe, a "Fine Rufel Shirt" was 4 bucks or 8 does, a women's side saddle was 20 bucks or 40 does. A gun was 7 bucks or 14 does, and it was 60 bullets for a doe.

The OED says the origin is obscure and doesn't even suggest this account.  Hope this is helpful.

Very interesting!  It sounds like something that should certainly be considered in buck's etymology. Thanks, Ben!

From Andres Pedraza:

Remember, it is only Americans who raise the middle finger in insult. Almost every nation has a different way of performing an insulting gesture. Britons raise the index and middle fingers in a V shape, Italians flick their thumbnail off their upper incisors, the French slap the inside of their right elbow and Mexicans grab their crotch. The most elaborate one of which we are aware is that of Colombia where the thumbs are linked and the hands are flapped like a bird in flight. [Issue 39]

I've been living in Colombia for a decade. I've yet to see someone do this. You are very mistaken. Colombians use a form of the American finger gesture but with the two fingers beside the middle one involved as well, so that it looks as if the testicles were also there.

Mike, who has about 84 gigabytes of memory in his brain, heard the naturalist Desmond Morris make the claim about that Colombian gesture many years ago.  Perhaps it is confined to a single tribe of indigenous Indians or the like.  We'll have to track down Dr. Morris to find out.

From Doug Edwards:

First, let me say that you have a great site. It's very entertaining.

My comment refers to the Olympics discussion from Issue 102 (I'm a newcomer to your site, and just worked my way back to this issue).  There you state that the word stadium refers to a measure of distance. I simply wanted to point out that the pole used by surveyors (the thing you look for when looking through a transit) is called a stadia rod.

Simply trying to add my two cents worth.

$0.02 gratefully accepted.

From Consuelo Lopez-Morillas:

Albergue [Issue 115] is not Arabic but (surprise!) from Gothic *haribairgo via old Germanic heriberga. It is therefore unrelated to Albu(r)querque, a genuine Arabism.  Other Spanish words that begin with al- of non-Arabic origin include almuerzo "lunch" < Latin *admordium "bite", and albe'rchigo "peach" < Lat. (malum) persicum "Persian apple". (Source for all these: Juan Corominas, Breve diccionario etimolo'gico de la lengua castellana.)

It's a common misconception that Spanish usted must come from Arabic ustaz/ustad [Issue 116] because of the strong superficial resemblance.  In fact, its descent from Vuestra merced "your grace" is documented through a whole series of intermediate forms: vuesarced, vuasted, vusted, etc.).

We knew you'd come to the rescue, Consuelo.  Muchas gracias.

Readers may not be aware that a branch of the Goths ended up in Spain.  The Goths were a Germanic people who originated in southern Sweden, left for warmer climes around 200 A.D., stopped off in the Ukraine for a while, then swept across Europe from East to West.  The name Cataluńa (a Spanish province) is derived from Gothislandia ("Goth's land").

From Christopher Mitson:

Oh how I share Scott Murphree-Roberts' irritation over pronouns and diminishing personal stocks of bejeebers. (Scott wrote, in Issue 116, "It irritates the bejeebers out of me, and I need every bejeeber I've got").  But I wonder if it isn't another case of LOM (Language on the Move)?  Here in New Zealand my bęte noir is the form "Kate and me went to the circus." ("No, Kate and I went to the circus." "No Dad, you didn't go, just Kate and me.")

I notice, increasingly, that the form is achieving common use among younger people, even the well (?) educated. I've noticed (and cringed at) the form in UK and Australian English as well.  Some people have confessed to knowing they are wrong and thus try to avoid the construction at all costs!  Others, like my daughter and her friends, see no problem with the usage.

The answer is so simple, I really can't see a difficulty.  If we are talking about accompanying Kate to the circus... just leave Kate out of the equation for a moment.  Thus: ("Kate and) I went to the circus". You'd never say, "Me went to the circus".  Hence, you'd never use the form "Kate and me went to the circus". would you? Please?  But if this is a case of Language on the Move... why? And can you cite any other corruptions which once seemed appalling and now don't grate at all?

I must say how great and grateless TOWFI is! Every issue is a treat. Thank you

We like your solution.  Leaving Kate out of the equation simplifies matters greatly. She wouldn't have appreciated the circus, anyway.  Seriously, though, no one says "Kate and me went to the circus" do they?  It's usually "Me and Kate...".

Other "corruptions"?  Why, there are hundreds!  How about the use of "you" to refer to a single person?  We are sure that back in the 17th century there was no shortage of old fogeys saying "It's thou I tell ye. Thou !"

From Graham Crowley:

As a pig in a poke was reportedly a cat in a sack sold as a piglet to the unwary, and to let the cat out of the bag was to expose the deception, I humbly submit that more than one way to skin a cat [Issue 116] refers to the use of cats in hoodwinking the gullible. A skinned cat could be passed off as rabbit (lets not dwell on those again), whilst the skin of said cat could be passed off as a more valuable pelt, especially if dyed.  So more than one way to skin a cat means more than one way to trick the public out of their money.

We admit that this might sound plausible but we'll need historical references before we buy that one.

It does however conjure the fascinating image of a medieval cat-skinner walking in on his apprentice and saying "Come lad, put that cream away.  There's more ways to kill a cat than choking it with that stuff."


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