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  Issue 118, page 4

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From Eric Corbman:

In Issue 112, on the subject of Lucifer, you state: "Could it be that Heilel Ben Shakhar was an oblique reference to the Babylonian goddess known variously as Innanna, Ishtar, Astarte and Ashtaroth who was associated with the 'morning star'?" At first, being the good Jew I am, I was opposed to this explanation. "Don't they know Judaism is monotheistic? Haven't they heard the Shema?" I was thinking... until I found some things that pointed me otherwise. Although the patriarchs - Abraham (Avraham), Issac (Yitzhak), and Jacob (Ya'akov) - were fiercely monotheistic (supposedly... I don't believe in a lot of the stuff, but anyway), their companions and wives were not. In fact, Jacob's son Asher (by Zilpah) was supposedly named after "Ashtaroth" or "Asherah" (both the same goddess). And Rachel supposedly also worshipped these gods, as shown when she stole her father Laban's teraphim. I just wanted to say that your explanation is quite likely.

Thanks, Eric.

From Brad Daniels:

It's not just the feminine forms of words describing professions that are disappearing (Curmudgeons' Corner, Issue 117). It seems the word masseur is dying out, as well. Several times, I've heard references to "male masseusses". I get visions of transvestites giving massages whenever I hear the phrase.

It is true that French words borrowed by English are slowly losing their gender.  More language evolution before our eyes!  (Barb and Malcolm are in the corner grumbling about that "infernal language evolution"!)

From Bruce Yanoshek:

A note for Anthony Shapley (Curmudgeons' Corner, Issue 117): We still have dominatrices (although very few would use this Latin plural)!

Also, concerning avatrix, when was the last time you heard the word aviator used? Maybe both words are gone and it's not a sexual matter. I have seen no evidence of actress disappearing, so I don't know why it is included. Although officially they have become servers and flight attendants, I think most people still call them waitresses and stewardesses, so these words seem to be here to stay.

Also, has he ever actually heard the word chauffeuse? If the word was never in common use, he can't legitimately lament its passing.

So, what is this pseudo-curmudgeon's complaint? This isn't the Whiner's Corner!

Barb and Malcolm come to fellow-curmudgeon Anthony's rescue: We heard Amelia Earhart referred to as an aviator recently!  As for actress, we have both seen several instances when actor was used to refer to a woman.  The only people to use actress these days seem to be those associated with the Academy Awards ("Oscars") or those discussing the Oscars..  As for chauffeuse, we have to agree with you, Bruce.

From Ben Warmus:

I was reading through your back issues (way back to  Issue 5) and found your discussion on myriad. You said the root myriados meant exactly "10,000". In studying Chinese culture I found that they have been using the term "the 10,000 things" for longer than recorded history. They had no word to encompass everything, but instead used the phrase "the 10,000 things."

Fascinating!  Isn't that the number they symbolize with the swastika?

From Eric Swanson:

Here's an interesting excerpt on the meaning of husband and wife. Any validity to it?

From "Godey's Lady's Book" 1857:

The meaning of "Husband and Wife"

Husband is properly "house-band", the band and bond of the house, who shall bind and hold it together. Thus, old Tusser, in his "Points of Husbandry" states:

 'The name of the husband, what is it to say?
Of wife and household, the band and the stay.'

So the very name (husband) may put him in mind of his authority (or household securer), and of that which he ought to be to all the members of the house (e.g., their security, their strong band holding the members safely inside). And the name of wife has its lesson too, although not so deep as one as the equivalent in some other tongues. It belongs to the same family of words as weave, woof, web, and the German weben. It is a title given to her who is engaged at the web and woof, those being the most ordinary branches of female industry (i.e., contemporary of developing civilizations--certainly pre-dating our sophisticated technologies), of wifely employment, when the language (of the culture) was forming. So that in the word itself (wife) is wrapped up a hint or earnest wisdom, stay-at-home occupation (or heart-felt focus and desire to be there, cf. Genesis 3:16 - in the Hebrew text), as being the fittest for her who bears this name." (All the words in brackets are mine) 

So, we see from the study of these old words that a strong household is bound together by two God-ordained forces: 1) we see an external force - the husband - holding it together like a strong man whose arms embrace and protect it; and 2) we see an internal force - the wife - wisely and artistically knitting its internal members together with heart-felt chords of love and sustaining commitment. Both forces working cooperatively are necessary and sufficient.

Utterly, utterly wrong.  A husband is etymologically a "house dweller", while a wife is simply a "woman" (we've discussed these before).  We love it when writers make up stuff like the above.  He just goes on and on about a subject with which he is clearly not familiar, all to make a point.  This sort of thing still happens today.

From Ian Rowlands:

Pepperpot soup: As I live in Jamaica I am trying to find someone with a two hundred year old pot of Pepperpot soup, no luck so far. I thought the habit of keeping back a little for the next batch only applied to foods with yeast such as sourdough or laban.

Hmm, well, Mike's Jamaican friends in London told him that it was their practice to leave a little bit of a batch in the pot for the next batch. 

My wife, who studied Spanish at the University of Madrid, tells me that not some ,not most, but ALL Spanish words beginning with al are Arabic in origin. Please give me a Spanish word derived from Latin beginning al so I can win at least one "argument".

See Sez You, Issue 117, to win your argument.

New Amsterdam: This was the original name given to the Dutch settlement on Manhattan island, so it seems unlikely to also have been used for Buffalo which is relatively nearby. For a good story on New Amsterdam becoming New York read Nathaniel's Nutmeg

Every American schoolchild knows that part of New York state was once called New Amsterdam. There are many, many instances of duplicate town names in the U.S., some even being in the same state.  (We suspect there is a Springfield in every state.)  We have no reason to doubt that Buffalo was once known as New Amsterdam, if briefly, especially as several trustworthy sources on New York history say so.


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Last Updated 05/01/01 08:05 PM