Issue 132, page 4

Search Home FAQ Links Site map Book Store


New Ask Us Theory About
Sez You...
From John Dixon:

What if I didn't want to remember another password, or sign up for an email account? Can I still enjoy your web site of words ?

Of course!  (John's asking this in response to our reminder to our mailing list subscribers that we've moved our mailing list from ListBot to Topica.)  The Take Our Word For It webzine will always be here, accessible whether you are a member of our mailing list or not.  However, for those interested in joining our mailing list, or seeking more information about it, check this page.

From Ann Fitzgerald:

I want to thank Bruce Yanoshek for his excellent, simple reminder about what the term "begging the question" means. As a retired teacher of rhetoric and freshman comp and English literature, I wish you would run another short essay on what the word "rhetoric" really means, in spite of the current demonization of the noble science of effective writing and speaking.

It is unfortunate that rhetoric has gained such negative connotations.  

From Roger Palmer:

I just typed in the word hamburger [in your search box]. Second try in two days.  All I get is a blank screen when the "results" page is finished loading.  Hope I'm not the only one.

No, you're not the only one.  PicoSearch technical support tells us that there is some broken html in some of our pages, and that's causing the problem.  We'll test that, and if it is in fact the problem, we'll be working on repairing those particular pages over the next few weeks.  Meantime, if you do get a blank search results screen, let us know what word you were searching.

From Ted Friethoff:

In Take Our Word for It 131 you wrote in your article on etymology:

Americans tend to call the smallest finger a pinky. This term mystifies Brits. Aren't all the fingers equally pink? In this case, the word comes from the Dutch pinkje "small".

I am afraid your are mistaken as the word pinkje does not mean "small" in Dutch. Pink is the name of the little finger and as we Dutch very often add the dimunitive je to our nouns it results in pinkje "a small little finger.

Well, pink may mean "little finger" in modern Dutch but, form comparing cognates, we think the -je might not be a diminutive in this case.   Have you looked up the etymology of pink in a Dutch dictionary?  We strongly suspect that you'll find it comes from the a Germanic root pink(e) meaning "small".  Similar words turns up in dialect words in England and Germany.  (The flower and color words pink are quite separate words). 

Another word that seems to make sense is nitwit. It is only too natural to assume that a nitwit has the wit ("sense") of a nit ("louse egg") but it really comes from Dutch niet wit ("know nothing").

I don't think the "wit" part in "nitwit" derives from Dutch "wit" as this means "white" so "niet wit" really means "not white" which doesn't make much sense. 

Our mistake.  We meant niet wiet


Comments, additions? Send to Melanie & Mike:
Copyright 1995-2001 TIERE
Last Updated 08/18/01 05:58 PM