Issue 181, page 4

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From Ted Reinert:

In every modern edition of "Hamlet" that I've look at, the word has been spelled as you spell it. In the First Folio of Shakespeare, however, published in 1623, it is actually spelled as the OED spells it (i.e., "fardles" (it's capitalized in the First Folio)). I wonder what the OED lists as the first occurrence of this word? It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the First Folio had that honor -- if so, why not accept the First Folio's spelling? Esp. since "dle" is a perfectly normal word ending in English.

Even if Shakespeare's was not the first printed occurrence of "fardel," cannot the OED be forgiven for considering the First Folio's spelling of this very obscure word to be the proper one? After all, anybody who knows that word well enough to use it probably knows it from "Hamlet." Perhaps the OED experts who handel such matters didn't meddel with fardel because they saw no need to fiddel with it. Why assume they made a muddel of it? It is idel to let your respect for the OED dwindel over such fiddel-faddel as "fardel." Use your noodel! Don't be so addel-pated! Why not take the middel road (as I do) and agree that both spellings are correct?

The problem is not that the OED uses an unusual spelling of the word, but that it is inconsistent and uses one spelling in one spot and another spelling in another spot.  In neither instance does the word occur in a quotation.

From Henry Peacock:

Bricks also have a frog.

From Dr. Seth Thompson:

Thanks to the discussion of the part of a horse's hoof, it is now clear where the "frog" in the switch in railroad tracks comes from ...

From Eric D. Zimmerman:

Thanks for returning to regular publishing! TOWFI is a great diversion and a real resource.

On frog this week: There's a type of railroad track intersection called a frog. I always assumed it was named after the animal, since it has four rails protruding horizontally from a center - similar to the way a frog's four legs extend. Now I'm not so sure! Did it come from the amphibian, the horse's foot, or independently from fork?

From Terri Pine:

I missed what would, from you, be a most entertaining commentary on the analogy of a horse's frog to the knot-shaped frogs that fasten a cloak or similar garment.

Daniel H. Schechner:

Regarding your explanation of the part of a horse's foot known as the frog:

* Not to split (horse)hairs, but clearly there are two 2-tined forks in the hoof.
* What I see resembles a pair of frog's legs, rather than the whole animal.
* Or perhaps it's the double wishbone of a radioactive chicken.

I, too, have missed you both.

Very funny, Daniel!  Thanks to all of you for your kind words.

The frog in brickmaking is a hollow in one or both faces of the brick.  The OED connects that word with frog "amphibian", perhaps because of the shape of the hollow(s) (our conjecture).

The frog "fastener" is thought to come from Portuguese froco, which has the same meaning, and ultimately from Latin floccus "flock", which is not a group of animals but instead the white stuff put on Christmas trees to make them look snowed-upon.  Synonyms for Latin floccus are "a tuft of wool" or "a snowflake".  Apparently the cloak fastener was thought to look like such. Curiously, the word frock (= "dress") is also from floccus .

From Dave Paul:

What happened to Issue 180? Issue 179 has now reappeared on the site.

When our internet host moved us to a new server last week, they moved Issue 179 instead of Issue 180.  Once we became aware of the problem we fixed it.  All should be back to normal, now, and we're still at .

From Jeffrey Lichtman:

You are right that the current war in Iraq is not a pre-emptive war. The term that best describes it is "preventive war" - a war to prevent a possible threat in the future. 

From Dwight Shaw:

I've been a long time fan of your site, and would never presume to question your expertise on the origins of words, but in your last issue I believe that you do not fully understanding the nuances of the rhetoric used to justify the current gulf war. (How true this rhetoric is, may be open to debate.) First, the word preemptive is appropriate, if we understand that the Bush administration considers the Iraqi's are already involved in terrorist activities. Thus under the unconventional concept of "war on terrorism" the battle is underway, and the invasion of Iraq is simply stopping them from bringing weapons of mass destruction into play within the ongoing attack. This would make preemptive the appropriate word to use. 

Secondly, the smoking gun analogy is appropriate because the action equated with firing the gun is not the use of weapons of mass destruction, but the creation and possession, of said weapons, and the facilities to produce them in violation of UN resolution. 

Whether you agree with the U.S. administration or not, from their perspective they are using the terms appropriately. 

In a final note I'd just like to congratulate George W. Bush to be the first person out side of comic books to use the term "evil doers" with a straight face.

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Or read last week's issue to see what all of these people are talking about!

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Last Updated 04/08/03 11:23 PM