Search found 57 matches

by Andrew Dalby
Sat Dec 03, 2005 1:06 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: extra man
Replies: 14
Views: 5835

extra man

An alternative is "spare man". I knew I'd seen this concept before. This is from Anthony Powell's /A Buyer's Market/ (1952, but realistic mid-1920s setting), p. 36 of the Fantana paperback: ... he evidently regarded himself as a kind of standard "spare man" ... (double-quotes in original). It is sai...
by Andrew Dalby
Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:03 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: plain vanilla
Replies: 20
Views: 14503

plain vanilla

Anyway,
Ken Greenwald wrote:
in 1762, a German physician, Bezaar Zimmerman, claimed that "No fewer than 342 impotent men, by drinking vanilla decoctions, have changed into astonishing lovers of at least as many women."
Why "at least as many"? How did Zimmerman get his statistics?
by Andrew Dalby
Fri Dec 02, 2005 12:59 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: plain vanilla
Replies: 20
Views: 14503

plain vanilla

Ken, I want to thank you (better late than never) for that fascinating answer to my throwaway question. It's a curious twist of history that Jefferson brought vanilla beans from France to America, since the origin of the plant was Mexico: that's where the Spanish first encountered it and named it. B...
by Andrew Dalby
Tue Nov 29, 2005 12:46 pm
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: machine vs. machinery, etc.
Replies: 9
Views: 6913

machine vs. machinery, etc.

That's it Brian, they can be counted but they can't be pluralised (or pluralized for that matter). A significant difference perhaps between English and (e.g.) French, in which you can treat any adjective (that I can think of) as a noun and so you can indeed say 'les pauvres'. Doesn't help them much ...
by Andrew Dalby
Sat Nov 26, 2005 8:42 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Let's call a spade a spade.
Replies: 4
Views: 5110

Let's call a spade a spade.

I've been checking this out, Haro. Plutarch is the oldest accredited source (about 100 AD, in 'Sayings about Kings and Generals'). As you suggest, Plutarch says that the idiom 'they call a trough a trough' was used by the Greeks, in king Philip II of Macedon's time (about 350 BC), to suggest that Ph...
by Andrew Dalby
Thu Nov 24, 2005 1:02 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: literal commentary / figures of speech
Replies: 13
Views: 5421

literal commentary / figures of speech

What is a literal commentary? The phrase doesn't mean anything much to me. Is it a commentary on a literary text?
by Andrew Dalby
Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:57 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Is there anything in the wind...
Replies: 29
Views: 10039

Is there anything in the wind...

I don't know if I really want to get involved in this, but ... Quote: >> I think it is universally accepted that some languages are more developed than others This is your mistake, 'please', I'd say. It isn't universally accepted. Far from it. It's generally accepted that a baby, first learning to t...
by Andrew Dalby
Mon Nov 21, 2005 2:17 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: In for a penny, in for a pound
Replies: 7
Views: 3488

In for a penny, in for a pound

With the French saying, perhaps more than the English one, there is an implication that there's only one right way, and that's to continue. Because once a bottle of table wine is opened, the wine has to be drunk (OK, you might keep it a day or so) or it will be wasted. No wonder those Greeks and Rom...
by Andrew Dalby
Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:40 am
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: Linguistic Dysfunction
Replies: 16
Views: 11103

Linguistic Dysfunction

My daughter, born in Britain, lives in Greece. Greek is her third language. Phoning home, she said --

I've just found a new place to live. I went to see it before half an hour.

Before half an hour meant 'half an hour ago' -- Greek/English interference I think.
by Andrew Dalby
Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:34 am
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: piss in * pocket
Replies: 10
Views: 6720

piss in * pocket

Or perhaps imprecision? Here's a supplementary question maybe not too far from the title topic. Would the following explanation be used by a US management, as it would by a British management, for deciding to bring a potential troublemaker into the team? We'd rather have him on the inside pissing ou...
by Andrew Dalby
Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:43 pm
Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: The creolization of international business English
Replies: 12
Views: 10942

The creolization of international business English

Continuing from what Phil says here: although the safe rule for getting a good translation is 'employ a native speaker of the target language' (who must have some other skills too of course) this rule is often set aside, even by organizations that ought to know better, when they want a translation I...
by Andrew Dalby
Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:32 pm
Forum: Usage and Writing
Topic: Severe or major
Replies: 12
Views: 7451

Severe or major

Perhaps needless to say (but I will anyway) that severe has to have negative/unfavourable connotations (for somebody) while major doesn't. A politician can achieve a major breakthrough at any time, but there must at least be an enemy for him to inflict a severe defeat on.

Andrew
by Andrew Dalby
Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:56 am
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: the die is cast / the dye is cast
Replies: 17
Views: 25814

the die is cast / the dye is cast

Re posteriority: I stand corrected. I'll start using it too.
by Andrew Dalby
Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:50 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: Caesar and Rome
Replies: 2
Views: 2148

Caesar and Rome

I've just seen that a discussion of Augustus's names and titles, with notes on Julius Caesar too, is happening at Google Groups soc.history.ancient, at this address

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.hist ... 2d424f1c6a

Andrew
by Andrew Dalby
Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:14 pm
Forum: Word Origins and Meanings
Topic: pasty vs pastie
Replies: 34
Views: 13721

pasty vs pastie

Oh, that's why they put pasties on knockers. I always wondered.