From Graham Crowley:
Good to see TOWFI back in business, even if
Spotlight still seems to be Fabulous Animals rather than Hogmanay.
I was interested to read in your news letter that POSH was once a term for a
British halfpenny. Could you shed any light on the origin of TOSHEROON, a
slang term for the British Half Crown or Two and Sixpenny bit? (Thank goodness we went decimal).
I was going to add my threepenn'orth to the ongoing Curmudgeons' Corner debate
but I shall have to leave that until the weekend after next.
Spotlight has a way
of doing that. The creators of today's popular web browsing software
must have been familiar
with our sneaky Spotlight, as they include a "reload"
button that will put Spotlight back in its place promptly.
our American readers, threepenn'orth means "three pennies
worth". As for tosheroon, its etymology isn't know with
certainty. However, Eric Partridge says that it and its predecessor tusheroon
are corruptions of Lingua Franca mazda caroon "half a
crown". Lingua Franca (literally "the French
tongue"), by the way, was a mixed language or jargon used in the
eastern Mediterranean, consisting largely of Italian words deprived of
From Daniel Kelber:
I don't wish to belabor the discussion too much, but I would just like to
concur with your final comments. I always use "this past weekend" when discussing what I had done over the previous Saturday and Sunday on a
Monday or Tuesday, and "This coming weekend" when discussing plans for the
weekend at the end of the week I am in; and finally I only use "next weekend" on a Saturday or Sunday to refer to the weekend that will arrive
in a week. Outside these context I use your "the weekend of..." No one seems to be confused when I refer to weekends :-)
That seems the only surefire
method to get one's point across the first time.
From Georg Trimborn:
I think part of the problem here seems to be the fact that many media
personalities (news anchors and radio DJs) are mis-using the word next.
The online version of The American Heritage Dictionary (third edition) says
that next means
"1 Nearest in space or position..."
"2 Immediately following, as in time, order, or sequence..."
Note that both of these would imply that the next
corner really does mean
the one that's coming right up. But I can't count the number of times I've
heard someone on the radio or TV say "Next, a story about..." , when, in fact, the _next_ thing up is five minutes of commercials - then
you get the story they were talking about. Help, I think I'm turning into a curmudgeon...
The term ghetto blaster was regularly heard around New York City in the
late 1970s to refer to the large portable radio/tape player devices also
called boom boxes. The term was so common that I'm sure it appeared in
print before 1980.
You'd certainly think so,
wouldn't you? However, the OED is not as good with American English
as it is with British English.
From Dennis McGee:
Todd Foster's comments on his favorite obfuscations bring to mind
one of my favorite. Several years ago the manufacturer of a popular denture
cleaner ran an ad on TV showing the alleged superiority of its product. In
the ad a string of "pearls made of denture material" was covered in red wine
and blueberry sauce, then cleaned with the manufacturer's product. For
years I've search without success for these types of "pearls" and my wife
had to make do with occasional pearls from oysters. So sad, huh?
Think of how many fewer oysters we'd have to
rob if we could only get those fabled "denture material"
From Gordon Brown:
It's great to be getting your e-zine again! But it also puts me back in my
self-righteous mode and compels me to respond to your final sentence regarding gymnasts on page 2 of Issue 109. You say "The eccentric French
composer Eric Satie wrote a very beautiful piece for piano called Trois Gymnopedie which, taken literally, means
'Three Naked-feet'." Erik Satie
(1866-1925) wrote a set of three pieces called Gymnopedies, which accounts
for the Trois. I also used to suppose that Gymnopedie might
mean "barefoot", but I
fell into the common trap of confusing Greek ped
"child" with Latin ped "foot". I don't know the Greek word for
"barefoot", but I suppose it must
involve the root pod. Anyway, Satie's own explanation was that Gymnopedie
was an ancient Greek dance performed by naked children. Whether or not he
was correct about that, at least that fits the etymological roots!
We must accept what the
composer said, but our paedo-/pedo- words come from Greek pais
From Allan Price:
It quite made my day to find you were back in the saddle! I look forward to many more intriguing issues of
Allan, it's good to be back (in more ways than one!). And thanks to
all of our loyal readers who wrote to tell us they missed us during our
From W. Russ Long:
Just wanted to remind you that your etymology for
chad, listed in Issue 107 and refuted
in Issue 108, has not yet been corrected.
Ah, yes. We don't have
a clear policy on errors like that. Errors in attribution, or any
errors that concern other people, we correct in the back issue in
question. Our own errors, like typos, we correct in the back issue
in question, also. However, errors like that concerning the
etymology of chad aren't so simple. We did, after all, acknowledge
the error in the letters section of the subsequent issue. We'll work
on developing some procedure for dealing with errors like that.
Perhaps an editor's note in the erroneous document, pointing the reader to
the next issue where the error is corrected, would do.