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Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:09 pm
On a commentary on Sumo wrestling tonight I heard "Miyabiyama notches up his fourth loss". Does this strike anyone else as strange? Surely one can only notch up positive things such as victories.
Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:12 pm
No, I don't think so Phil. If you were pleasuring on an island atoll, knew how many days you could stay, deliberately dispossessed yourself of all modern trappings, and didn't want to be unpleasantly surprised and jerked away, you might want to keep track with a primitive notched stick. The original SixGun or FlightKill count meant some one lost and didn't win. As is often the case, human purpose superceeds a word's "intenSional" definition.
Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:38 pm
Phil, I agree with you. All, except one, of the notch expressions that I am aware of have connotations which are positive as in topnotch (first-rate, outstanding, superior): "His work is always topnotch"; to the notch (to perfection, exactly): "He was up to the notch in his game"; a notch in your belt (a feather in your cap, a success: "His latest degree was just another notch in his belt"; to notch (to score or achieve): "He notched a few aces in his time." The one usage, which is not necessarily positive or negative is notch up or down, to move up or down or increase or decrease by notches or degrees: “The temperature has notched up another degree.” But I would say that it was bad form to notch up a loss.
Phil,I’m not quite sure how notch in one’s belt came about, but it might have somehow been transferred from an original form of the verb ‘notch’ which meant to put a notch in the handle of a gun or rifle to record, score, or achieve a ‘kill.’ Maybe folks who didn’t carry guns felt left our and decided to start recording other kinds of successes on their belts. (<:)
Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:43 pm
Quite so, quite so, Louis. But leaving pomobabble aside for a moment, is it not so that normal sentient speakers of the English language understand "notch up" in a positive sense and that the communicative act is undermined by using it in a negative sense (assuming that the commentator had not been overgenerous with the irony-ladle, and also assuming that the commentator had an intention to communicate in the first place)?
Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:47 pm
Ken, our posts, but in this case not our swords crossed.
Posted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:34 am
Phil, I agree, that it is mostly used in a positive sense, but 'notch' per se is neutral enough not to disallow its negative use. My basic point here is that regardless of its statistical occurrence, the Sumo viewpoint should rule. The Japanese may resent its use in the first place. 'Notch' is a bite out of a totem, so the "UP" sense may be no more than that in "beat up".
OK, I tried it with out the multi-negates, and this time it Was just a silly affectation. Will have to check in the future if my multi-'s contain meaning or not but I am not willing to give them up yet.
Lneil P.s. pls note tense mix (cute huh).
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 12:55 am
.. surely one sense of "notch" is "to record, as by notches" (Collins Australian English Dictionary) .. it doesn't mention anything about being a positive record or a negative record .. simply a record .. so if a sumo is on a losing streak then notching up, recording with notches, his losses is as appropriate as notching up the winning streaks of more skillful sumos .. and I would also venture that the preposition "up" is not required ..
WoZ of Aus 04/01/05
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 9:40 am
Theoretically, you and Louis are clearly right (either that or "up" has a different meaning the other side of the equator...), but I found it most peculiar when I heard it from a British commentator.
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 4:48 pm
Phil, your "feeling" is legitimate. One must remember that "purpose" drives all words. The purpose here of holding a totem in the hand of a sumo wrestler with a bite out of it to remind him of his losses, is unclear. It could depend on "Sumo Purpose", where a judge would demote the wrestler and would be notching the judges totem and holding it in His hand. You may have intuited That Miss-match from the construction of the sentence.