anachronisms

Discuss word origins and meanings.

anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:37 pm

aaa
When reading historical novels, I often run across the use of anachronisms. As discussed earlier (see below), there is nothing particularly wrong with anachronisms in novels, but it is fun to take notice of them. So, here is a place to park any choice examples you may come across in novels or elsewhere.

Anachronisms were previously discussed in the postings anachronisms in translations and an example was discussed in the posting like shooting fish in a barrel.
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ANACHRONISM noun [1617]: [[Out of place in time]]. 1) An error in chronology; especially, a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other. 2) A person or a thing that is chronologically out of place. (Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary).
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In a novel I’m now reading, the following quote was uttered by one of the characters in the year 1540:
<2006 “He [[Henry VIII]] forgives their trespasses and at the same time makes it clear that if those oaths are broken they can expect no mercy. Carrot and stick, that is how one deals with donkeys like these.”—Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, page 102>
Although the expression has the appearance of being quite old, out of curiosity, I thought I’d check it out.

Anachronismwise, the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms dated carrot and stick from the late 1800s. But to add insult to injury, Jonathon Green (author of Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang) came up with the following in our own Ask the Wordwizard:
CARROT AND STICK

The image of the carrot being dangled over a donkey's head as a means of urging him forward dates to around 1895 and was used in this citation as an image of promises being made to electors, were they to vote for a given candidate; the addition of the stick, to beat him if he refuses to work merely for a reward, does not appear until the late 1940s. As in so many popular phrases there seems to be no specific moment of coinage, simply a figurative use that, following one coiner's inspiration, has permeated the language.
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So, 1540 versus late 1940s does qualify carrot and stick as a certified anachronism. And, not that it’s any big deal, but in doing some further checking I found a source that pushed the date back slightly to an earlier appearance in 1943:
<“A riddle that seems to have confounded many students of language is the origin of the carrot and stick expression. Research in Aesop’s Fables, the Uncle Remus folk tales and other such sources didn’t turn up any answers. Then we found that it was said by Winston Churchill in a press conference, May 25, 1943: ‘We shall continue to operate on the Italian donkey at both ends, with a carrot and with a stick.’ But the suspicion would not die that the expression was not original with him. . . .”—Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, page 114>
The following quotes are from archived sources:
<1953 “The Democratic donkey plans to reverse the usual role and try the ‘carrot and stick’ treatment on people.—New York Times, 14 December>

<1974 “London apparently has adopted a carrot-and-stick approach to Pretoria--tough on support for Rhodesia, gentle on other issues.”—Christian Science Monitor, 25 October>

<1991 “The carrot-and-stick approach would reward states that adopt the proposed limits by increasing their share of Medicare and Medicaid funds, while penalizing those that don’t with corresponding reductions in those federal payments.”—Spartanburg Herald-Journal (South Carolina), 14 May, page A4>

<2012 “The U.S. prefers the carrot-and-stick approach of talks aimed at convincing Iran to stick to a peaceful nuclear regime, combined with increasingly harsh economic sanctions to punish Iran as it improves its current program.”—Associated Press Worldstream, 8 July>
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Ken G – August 8, 2012
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Re: anachronisms

Post by trolley » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:53 pm

Mel's belted plaid in the movie "Braveheart".
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Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:21 am

aaa
John, Wow! I had to look that one up. You know your kilts or pre-kilts! According to Wikipedia, “The belted plaid was a standard item of men's Highland dress from the late 16th century until the middle of the 18th century. It was also the precursor of the modern tailored kilt.” Also from Wikipedia on the movie Braveheart, “Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England.”

Was that a visual anachronism that you recognized or did they actually use the expression belted plaid in the movie?
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Ken – August 8, 2012
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Post by trolley » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:47 am

I just remembered the hullaballoo from all the experts when that movie came out. Apparently, during that period the Scottish soldiers would have been wearing bright yellow (horse urine soaked) tunics. The blue (woad) face-paint was depicted a few centuries later than it should have been and his kilt was a few centuries early. Aside from that, I'm sure everything else in the flick was bang-on for accuracy ;-)
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Re: anachronisms

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:01 am

There was less hullaballoo (in fact, I think it was hullaballooless) when Blag (Howard Lew Lewis) came out with something like "Oh yeah, Paulinius with his new leaf-sprung chariot. Saw it on the telly last night..." (Chelmsford 123 - available on 4 on Demand and well worth watching).
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Post by Bobinwales » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:04 am

I like Virginia Mayo in King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) who said "Oh, fight, fight, fight! That's all you ever think of, Dickie Plantagenet!".

Or John Wayne in the Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) who mumbled "Truly, this man wuz the son of gawd!
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Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:03 pm

Yes, perhaps not the Greatest Telling.
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Post by Wizard of Oz » Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:33 am

.. Simon Garfiled in his book, Just My Type. a book about fonts, quotes the following examples of font anachronisms ..
How could a story set in Peru in the nineteenth century possibly have a sign on a restaurant door that had been composed in Univers from 1957? How could the film Ed Wood, set in the 1950s, use Chicago, a font from the 1980s, as a sign at the entrance to a studio? And how did the props team of a movie set at the start of the Second World War get the idea that it would be okay to print a document in Snell Roundhand Bold, when Carter, watching in the multiplex, would recognize the face as something he himself created in 1972?
.. I find this amazing that a person could be so familiar with fonts that he could pick an out of time font in a brief glimpse in a movie ..

WoZ who is a font of some knowledge

PS .. this book is a very good read ..
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Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:49 am

aaa
In the same historical novel (placed in 1540) in which the ‘carrot and stick’ appeared above, I came upon another expression that I thought might be an anachronism:
<2006 “‘I told you, my parents have no money for a lawyer.’ ‘I would do it for nothing, pro bono, as we say .”—Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, page 366>
PRO BONO adjective [[and adverb]]: Done without compensation for the public good: a lawyer's pro bono work. [Latin prō bonō (public), for the (public) good : prō, for + bonō, ablative of bonum, the good.] (American Heritage Dictionary)
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So, could a mid-16th century lawyer have used the term pro bono? The answer is no. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest example of the term pro bono is from 1774. However, the Latin adverb, pro bono publico appeared in 1640, but that’s still 100 years too late . So, I would say we have an anachronism here.

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1771 “You will remember you thought Earle & Co. pro bono and of the first consequence . . .”—Joshua Johnson's Letterbook (1979) by J. Johnson, page 121>

<1846 “If my letters are opened to the public, then the public may pay the postage! . . . So Mr. Keen does not get them, at least pro bono.”—Something for Every Body by B. R. Hall, lvi. page 209>

<1983 “Maxwell may have been able to find a private attorney who would represent him pro bono.”—California Law Review, Vol. 71, page 1371>

<2012 “‘My wife and I were actively looking for an interesting pro bono project. We knew we wanted to travel and we hoped we could do some good at the same time,’ the Boston-based professional photographer explained.”—Boston Globe (Massachusetts), 9 August>
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And as a bonus, I have a second possible anachronism from the same historical novel (placed in 1540):
<2006 “‘If he got wind I’d worked out what Titulus meant, our lives might be worth little.’ ‘Dead men tell no tales, eh?’ ‘I wouldn’t put it past him.’”—Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, page 374>
DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES: It may be expedient to kill somebody who would betray a secret or give information about the criminal activity of others. (The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs)
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This proverb was first recorded in 1664. Well, a 124 years is a long time to wait for a good proverb like this one to get into print. So I’m going to say that we definitely have an anachronism here also.

The following quote are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archive soured:
<1664 “Twere best to knock ‘um ‘I th’ head. . . The dead can tell no tales”—Andronicus Comneius, i. iv. by J. Wilson>

<1702 “Ay, ay, [b[Dead Men tell no tales[/b].’’—The Inconstant by G. Farquhar, v. ii, page 76>

<1850 “Where are the stories of those who have not risen . . . who have ended in desperation?. . . Dead men tell no tales.”—Alton Locke, Taylor and Poet by Charles Kingsley, I, iv. page 67>

<1974 “‘There was only one sure way to do it.’ ‘To kill him?’. . .‘Yes. Dead men, they say, can tell no tales.’”—Appleby’s Other Story by M. Innes, xv. page 122>

<1996 “Dead men tell no tales. Neither do dead old ladies.”—Washington Post (D.C.), 28 June>

<2012 “One aspect of the law -- essentially an end run around due process -- perhaps should be called the ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ clause. . . It appears doubtless that part of Zimmerman's success in avoiding arrest stemmed from the apparent absence of eyewitnesses who might have contradicted Zimmerman's claim of self-defense.”—OpEds.com, 25 March> [[Traver Martin murder case]]
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Ken – August 12, 2012
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:30 am

I suppose this all means we can’t have archaic and eat it too.
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Post by tony h » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:21 pm

Edwin F Ashworth wrote:There was less hullaballoo (in fact, I think it was hullaballooless) when Blag (Howard Lew Lewis) came out with something like "Oh yeah, Paulinius with his new leaf-sprung chariot. Saw it on the telly last night..." (Chelmsford 123 - available on 4 on Demand and well worth watching).
One of my all time favourites. I didn't realise it was being repeated.

And thank you for bringing up "anachronism" it was one of those words which ill defined in my mind.

I suppose it provides the opportunity for describing a bride, enceinte in white as an anachronism.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:38 pm

aaa
The question is, is the expression your name is mud, which is discussed in an earlier posting here and which is used in the following quote, an anachronism?
<2006 “You’ve got some brains, lawyer. I’ll give you that. Though after losing those papers your name will be mud among those who rule us. . . .”—Sovereign by C. J. Sansom, page 209>

ONE’S NAME IS MUD: One is in trouble, disgraced, discredited, defeated, embarrassed, or has lost favor, etc. <If they found out I broke it, my name will be mud.>

The expression was first recorded in England in 1823, whereas the above historical-novel quote is from 1541. In England the term apparently originated in the British Parliament in the early 19th century, when it was used for any member who disgraced himself, through either a singularly bad speech or an overwhelming defeat in an election. However, the name of the physician, Samuel Mudd, who was convicted as a conspirator after he set the broken ankle of President Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in 1865, helped popularize the expression.

So, in the novel Sovereign, we have an expression which appears 282 years too early – it is of place in time – qualifying it as a heavy-duty anachronism.
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Ken – August 18, 2012
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:27 am

aaa
The following appeared in an historical novel placed in 1543:
<2008 “I do not know but I wondered . . . whether there might have been any other killings. We are on the borders of Kent and Surrey here. The coroners do not always liaise and are not always efficient.”—Revelation by C. J. Sansom, page 153>
LIAISE (lē-āz’) intransitive verb (originally Services’ slang): To effect or establish a liaison. (American Heritage Dictionary)

LIAISON noun [1816]: a) Communication for establishing and maintaining mutual understanding and cooperation (as between parts of an armed force). b) One that establishes and maintains communication for mutual understanding and cooperation. (Merriam-Webster.com)
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Liaise Liaze is one of those mildly irritating verbed nouns that I would guess was first invented by lawyers, politicians, or business types in the late 20th century. But a 16th-century word? – no way! How about 1928. Sounds a bit early, but there is an OED quote to prove it. So that’s 385 years out of place in time – that’s my personal best for a nontranslation anachronism. Of course, my all-time, personal best was the “shooting fish in a barrel” translation (see above link), which was off in time by over 3000 years!

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources”
<1928 “[Lord Fisher said in 1916] ‘I want a soldier . . . to keep in touch with the Navy and so ‘liaise’ or exchange inventions which may be suitable.’”—Story of a North Sea Air Station by C. F. S. Gamble, xiii. page 221>

<1942 “To ‘liaise’ . . . was at first frowned on by the pundits: its usefulness . . . soon came to outweigh its objectionableness.”—New Statesman (London), 1 August, page 75/1> [[Was it a frown or a sneer?]]

<1959 “He would expect absolute obedience from his subordinates. . . It remains to be seen whether he could also ‘liaise’ successfully.”—The Guardian (London), 15 October, page 10/7>

<1974 “ It would seem that the Government statisticians do not: (a) Liaise with other departments, [etc.].”—The Times (London), 18 February, page 20/8>

<1986 “Among those who have used liaise as a verb without harm to the English language are Louis MacNeice (Holes in the Sky) . . .”—The Nation, 18 January>

<2012 “It is obvious the Eisteddfod needs a visionary in the visual arts to oversee the selection process and to liaise with the art scene in all its guises . . .”—Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales) 17 August>
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Ken – August 17, 2012
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:29 am

Liaze is one of those mildly irritating verbed nouns...
I haven't previously encountered this spelling, Ken. Is it a typo, or a rare variant?
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Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:43 am

aaa
Thanks Erik. I like to think of it as a rare typo. (<:)
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Ken – August 19, 2012
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