Issue 114, page 4
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From Daniel Kelber:
From Lin Sims:
No need to panic! Check Issue 53 where we discussed several of the suggested derivations for mind your p's and q's.
From Anthony Stevens:
It may be evolution in process but right now it's still considered incorrect to use forecasting in the manner that Malcolm Tent discussed last week. Until that usage becomes widespread and, finally, accepted, Malcolm says, he'll continue to label it incorrect. He doesn't think "flown into an airport" is at all analogous to the problem discussed with "coal prices" and "forecasting".
As for something being good enough for Shakespeare, does this mean that you use the term bowels to mean "children", as he did? Even though no one will understand what you really mean, because the standard meaning of bowels today is "the bodily system that excretes solid waste", or, more broadly, "the innards"? Clarity of meaning is something we consider very important in the usage of language. A word having a history of meaning X doesn't mean it can be properly used to mean X today when the meaning has shifted to Y (and, so, a word's prior meaning shouldn't influence how we use the word today if it now has a different meaning). The word bead originally meant "prayer" but came to be associated with the stones of a rosary and, then, to any rounded stones worn as jewelry. Would you say, to a stranger, "I'm going to say a bead for my dear departed relative" just because bead originally meant "prayer"? We think that the "if it's good enough for Shakespeare it's good enough for me" logic is flawed. Clear communication is paramount; sloppy communication impedes clarity.
From Brian Degnan:
Wet your whistle definitely came before whet your whistle. It's quite old...
...but not as old as:
So, we have wet all the way back in Middle English and whet not heard of until the 17th century. It's our guess that whet your whistle was simply a misunderstanding of wet..., with influence from whet one's appetite.
Whet means literally "sharpen", so that whetting one's appetite means to "stimulate" the appetite, while wet one's whistle means to "slake one's thirst".
Thanks for the good words about the site, Brian!
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