Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fun Fact

The etymology of slave:

late 13c., "person who is the property of another," from O.Fr. esclave (13c.), from M.L. Sclavus "slave" (cf. It. schiavo, Fr. esclave, Sp. esclavo), originally "Slav" (see Slav), so called because of the many Slavs sold into slavery by conquering peoples.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Works Cited

The English word 'defeatism' is formed from the French word défaitisme current in 1915, which is not officially French: that is to say, in the early Twenties Marshal Foch, as a member of the Académie Française, vetoed its adoption into the Dictionary, on the ground that it was an un-French concept and intolerable.

Graves and Hodge, The Reader Over Your Shoulder

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Works Cited

That I am the Man in the Cloak. In other words, I am by no manner of means the Man of the Cloak, or the Man under the Cloak. The Germans call me "Der Mensch mit dent Mantel", the Man with the Cloak. This is a deplorable error in the nomenclature of that otherwise intelligent people; and I am speechless with astonishment that they should have fallen into it. Why? Because my cloak is not part and parcel of myself. The cloak is outside, and the man is inside, as Goldsmith said of the World and the Prisoner; but each is a distinct entity; of that I am satisfied; on that point I, as the Persians would say, tighten the girdle of assurance round the waist of my understanding, though, perhaps, there is no waste of my understanding whatever. I admit that you may say, "The Man with the Greasy Countenance," or "The Chap with the Swivel Eye;" thus, also, Slawkeiivbergina (vide Tristram Shandy) calls his hero ''The Stranger with the Nose," and reasonably enough; for, although it was at one period conjectured that the nose in question might extend to five hundred and seventy-five geometrical feet in longitude, not even the most incredulous amongst the Faculty of Strasburgh were found to advance an opinion that the nose was not an integral portion of the individual. With me the case is a horse of another colour. I do not put my cloak on and off, I grant, but I can do so when I please by a mere exercise of volition and muscle; and therefore it is obvious to the meanest capacity (I like original tours de phrase) that I am just the Man in the Cloak, and no mistake.

James Clarence Mangan, My Bugle and How I Blow It

Monday, March 07, 2011

French Modernism vs. Chenoweth

JOSHANA: So the Kennedy Center website has crashed from the amount of people trying to buy Wicked tickets. I'll do what I can.

SCOTT: All you can do. Now, amazingly, I had absolutely no problem buying tickets for Turangalîla. In fact, when I bought the tickets, they offered to bump me up to play with the second violins.


SCOTT: I want to say the etymology of "trivial" is something like this. It comes from the Latin word "trivium," a combination of "tres" and "via," meaning where three roads meet. In Roman times, the "trivium" was our modern day water cooler. It's where you would go to talk about last night's "Lost" episode.* So the sort of mindless things people would chatter about came to be called "trivial." I want to say that's the etymology, but I suspect I made that up awhile ago and I can no longer distinguish the fact and the fabrication in my mind.

* Actually, "Lost" had not yet premiered in classical Rome. I throw that in there just to make it understandable for the modern audience. In truth, a Roman was more likely to be watching "Three's Company."

NB: The real etymology, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
early 15c., "of the trivium," from M.L. trivialis, from trivium "first three of the seven liberal arts," from L., lit. "place where three roads meet," from tri- "three" + via "road." The basic notion is of "that which may be found anywhere, commonplace, vulgar." The meaning "ordinary" (1580s) and "insignificant" (1590s) were in L. trivialis "commonplace, vulgar," originally "of or belonging to the crossroads."

Works Cited

"All right," said the major. His eyes twinkled. "Maybe you aren't so dumb as you let on. Maybe. We got one last question. This here's a cultural type matter ... listen up close. What effect would the death of Ho Chi Minh have on the population of North Vietnam?"


Reading slowly from his paper, the major repeated it. "What effect would the death of Ho Chi Minh have on the population of North Vietnam?"

Paul Berlin let his chin fall. He smiled.

"Reduce it by one, sir."

Tim O'Brien, Going After Cacciato