Issue 144, page 4

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From Dean Jens:

I've only seen "for all intensive purposes" used once; this was when a friend in college asked me to proofread her paper. I laughed rather harder than was perhaps polite, and she rescinded the request that I proofread the rest of it.

Heehee!  It sounds as if she should have let you continue!

From Sue Duffy:

While I did know that carols were originally dances, I didn't know they were single jigs. Traditionally, Celtic single jigs are in an unusual time signature of 12/8, and in Ireland, are also known as Kerry slides. Single jigs are considered "old fashioned" in today's repertoire of Irish dances.

"Traditionally"?  Well, it all depends on what you mean by "traditional".  The jig is not an indigenous Irish dance and was imported from England where jigs (single and double) are still a mainstay of Morris and Country dancing.  Now we come to think of it, aren't all the "traditional" Irish dances from somewhere else?  The jig is from England, the reel from Scotland, the polka from Czechoslovakia, the mazurka from Poland, and the waltz is from Austria. 

We must also take issue with you in the matter of meter.  Yes, Kerry slides are usually written in 12/8 but there are plenty of Irish single jigs written in a 6/8 time signature... as a cursory glance at "O'Neill's" will reveal.

From Ethan D. Frolich:

While driving around town the other day, I happened to pass The Fiddler's Green Pub and noticed the use of the one of the missing letters from Issue 142. I'm not sure if it's used appropriately, but check it out for yourself in the attached image.  If you're interested in the pub, you can take a virtual tour on their website at: http://www.fiddlersgreenorlando.com/

Hmmm!  While that letter does, superficially, resemble the letter yogh we suspect that, in this case, it is the letter G as written in uncial script. (Hence also the funny n.)

The uncial alphabet is appropriate (and preferred) when writing in the Irish (a.k.a. Gaelic) language but we feel it out of place here. 

For those who hadn't caught the allusion, Fiddler's Green was a legendary paradise - the sailors' equivalent of "the Big Rock-Candy Mountain".

From Ray Adams:

I enjoyed the selection of Holiday related words. But then, I've never found an issue that hasn't got many intriguing bits of information scattered throughout. My particular interest is in the word church.

Not really seeking to enter the thousand year debate over the etymology of our English word church, as I readily "take your word for it", I only note that the Latin ecclesia comes from the Greek ekklesia. The word ekklesia has a church context predating that of the Latin ecclesia and a Greek usage broader than the biblical literature that supports the adoption of that word by the biblical writers to describe what we now call a church.  In classical Greek ekklesia meant an assembly of citizens summoned by the crier. The ekklesia then, are those "called out" of their general life routines to assemble to worship the Lord. By biblical usage of ekklesia, this is the church. In fact, the English translators used the word church for ekklesia. Now, whether there is an etymological connection between church and ekklesia I would leave to the 1000 year debate. 

From Andrew Charles:

I remember reading quite a detailed analysis of the origins of church. It may have been in the OED, but I'm afraid I don't recall. As you have noted the word is strictly Germanic and Slavic in use, and the only common origin that is certain is West Germanic. Unfortunately it is widely considered to be non-native, the question being, from where was it borrowed? The Greek kyriakos doma (Lord's house) is most favored, but in Greek the word for church is almost always ekklesia (assembly). Even the Goths adopted the Greek word. I believe there is only one citing of kyriakon (or perhaps late Greek kyrikon) referring to a church, and that was apparently far from any region the Germanic tribes had contact with. The same question has to be asked - if church is from Greek, then why wasn't it used in Greek, or Gothic or Latin, or any other language which adopted Christianity and its terms from Greek-speakers (albeit Jewish Greek-speakers). If the word is from Gothic kelikn, then presumably it was applied by other Germanic tribes to church buildings with their "towers". 

Church must be the single most difficult word in English etymology.  Debate has raged for centuries and we suspect that little more is to be said.

From a Reader:

You ask "Isn't it funny how people continue to say things that make absolutely no sense?"

Well, it's not exactly funny but my boss' favorite expression is "BUY the bullet". UGH!

Why of COURSE that's funny!  Why is he the boss?  (We know, don't ask questions about inexplicable yet seemingly universal enigmas.)

From Dave:

I'm a Brit working in the US and have recently been noticing that several of my colleagues (from different parts of the U.S.) say 'Supposably' instead of 'supposedly'. ARRGGHH!!

Unfortunately, that one is painfully common!

From Jeff Lee:

I'm afraid this is too late for this year's holiday issue of TOWFI, but someone just sent me this URL, and I figured you'd appreciate it at least as much as I did: http://www.georgetown.edu/cball/oe/rudolph.html

Delightful!  Thanks, Jeff!

From a Concerned Reader:

The evening star ("Thee-evening-star" or " The evening star" )??  An apple or a apple??  I know, in French, a vowel at the end of a word falls off when confronted by another vowel (as in d'accord = De + accord.)  

I heard there's a new law in town: it's now OK to use "a" when preceding a vowel. Is this true? And, besides sounding better, why do we add the "n" or stretch "the" to "thee" before a vowel?? 

No, it's not ok to use a as an article for apple.  Nor do we like hearing "an historical account".  While the "n" in an originated in the same manner that the British "intrusive r" did, for ease and speed in pronunciation*, that "n" has been standardized.  

* It's easier to say "an apple" than "a <glottal stop> apple", just as it is easier to say "America<r> is large" than it is to say "America <glottal stop> is large".

What's a glottal stop?  Say "uh-oh", and the closing of the vocal cords between the uh and the oh, blocking off the flow of air, and then releasing the vocal cords suddenly, is a glottal stop. Another example is that of a Cockney speaker saying butter as "bu?er" (? is the universal symbol for a glottal stop).  That substitution of a t sound with a glottal stop is know as t-glottaling.


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Last Updated 01/08/02 06:19 PM