anachronisms

Discuss word origins and meanings.

Re: anachronisms

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:38 am

Edwin F Ashworth wrote:There was less hullaballoo (in fact, I think it was hullaballooless) when...
Today I was watching the episode of The Simpsons in which the people of Springfield audition for a Passion play and hear Ned Flanders (the mild-mannered but devout Christian and inveterate minced-oather) utter a (to me, at least) pretty amusing bowdlerization of 'hullaballoo' -- 'heckaballoo'.

Apparently even 'hull' sounded too much like 'Hell' for someone with Ned's delicate sensibilities.
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:12 pm

aaa
<2008 “The King [[Henry VIII]] had not wanted the buildings [[of Westminster Abbey]] destroyed as they housed the tombs of his father and other royal ancestors; he had squared the circle by turning the abbey into a cathedral.”—Revelation by C.J. Sansom, page 222>
SQUARE THE CIRCLE (also known as quadrature of the circle)

1)To solve an unusually difficult problem. <To get both sides to agree to anything at all meant we had to square the circle.>

2) To engage in a futile endeavor; to undertake an impossible task. <You may as soon square the circle, as to get them to agree to your terms.>
______________

The above quote is from an historical novel placed in the year 1543 and originally referred to the impossibility of constructing a square, in a finite number of steps, with area exactly equal to the area of a circle, using only a compass and straight edge. Its first appearance in print in the figurative sense was in 1624, thus qualifying it as an anachronism. See the posting squaring the circle for further details.
____________________

Ken – August 21, 2012
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:16 am

aaa
<2010 “Prices for bread and meat are going through the roof.”—Heartstone by C. J. Sansom, page 13>
The phrase sounds like it might be old, but would it have been used in 1545?

GO THROUGH THE ROOF (colloquial)

The following two meanings come from the idea of exploding upwards.

1) [1946] To rise unexpectedly; reach extreme or unexpected heights; go beyond the expected limit; become exorbitant. Said especially of bids, prices, sales, etc. <After the war, food prices went through the roof>

2) [1958] To suddenly become very angry; lose one’s temper; hit the ceiling; blow one’s stack; blow one’s top; blow a gasket. <Marge went through the roof when she heard she’d been fired.>

(Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary of Idioms, and American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms)
______________________

So, the expression in the above quote is out of place in time by 415 years, which qualifies it as a stellar anachronism.

The following quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources, refer to the meaning in the above quote (definition #1):
<1946 “The Knapp sales curves were going through the roof.”—Mr. Blandings builds his Dream House by E. Hodgins, viii. page 118>

<1973 “On lots that were rare and undamaged they [sc. prices] went through the roof.”—The Times (London), 30 October, page 19/6>

<1999 “The sales of Perugia shirts in Japan have gone through the roof.”—‘Arry (new edition) by Redknapp & McGovern, xv. page 240>

<2012 “And since this concert is for the really, really young, expect the cuteness factor to go through the roof .”—Boston Globe (Massachusetts), 23 August>
____________________

Ken – August 28, 2012
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by elview » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:33 am

This is not from a novel, and it's from a LONG time ago, when "Little House on the Prairie" was on TV. I believe the series was set in post-Civil War Wisconsin, 1870-75 or so. The year was probably kept vague to give the writers leeway. In one scene toward the end of the series, the actors are dancing to the Sleeping Beauty Waltz, which wasn't written until 1888, and wouldn't have been known in the rural American Middle West for some years after. I'm assuming new music traveled slowly in those days. I certainly sat up and took notice!
Would you call that anachronistic?
Comments?
Post actions:
Signature: elview
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:09 am

aaa
Mary (a.k.a. elview), An anachronism is a something that is chronologically out of order. If the show was placed in 1870-75 and the music wasn’t written until 1888 then the music is out of place in time and is an anachronism or is anachronistic. But anachronisms can also go the other way, an example of which would be the use of a musket in a WWI movie.
____________________

Ken – August 29, 2012
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by elview » Sun Sep 02, 2012 9:08 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:aaa
Mary (a.k.a. elview), An anachronism is a something that is chronologically out of order. If the show was placed in 1870-75 and the music wasn’t written until 1888 then the music is out of place in time and is an anachronism or is anachronistic. But anachronisms can also go the other way, an example of which would be the use of a musket in a WWI movie.
____________________

Ken – August 29, 2012
Thanks Ken - I never knew anachronisms could go both ways. Of course, around here (Amish country) there are old-fashioned things in use that I don't even NOTICE any more as being out-of step with modern society, such as horse-drawn buggys and plows, women in bonnets and long plain dresses, men in home-made suits, businesses lit with skylights only, and the tools of my grandparent's time such as butter churners! We modern people are used to these things and appreciate shopping in the Amish groceries and bakeries...also buying directly from those farms who sell to "Englisch".
Post actions:
Signature: elview
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:52 pm

aaa
A favorite expression of military types and politicians is in harm’s way. The expression was first used during the American Revolution so its use in an historical novel placed in 1545 is definitely an anachronism:
<2010 “She’d never put you in harm’s way. It’ll be another land case, you’ll see.”—Heartstone by C.J. Sansom, page 15> [[The ‘she’ is Queen Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, and the ‘you’ is her lawyer friend.]]
MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY OF ALLUSIONS:

IN HARM’S WAY: In a dangerous place or situation. Particularly applied to the members of the armed services in a war or threat of war.

The phrase comes from America’s Revolutionary War naval hero, John Paul Jones. In a letter dated November 16, 1778, he wrote, “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harms way.’” He was in France at the time seeking a ship; the French offered him several, prizes taken from the British. He finally took the ship he named Bonhomme Richard.
_______________________

Ken – September 15, 2012
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:19 pm

level best / level worst
<1989 “I’ll do my level best to persuade him, and I think he’ll agree.”—Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, page 598>
Some anachronisms are more blatant than others. This story take place in 12th-century England. Clearly, in a modern novel one cannot always reproduce the language of the distant past, but it seems that some effort should be made to at least not use some more recent phrases that just sound ridiculous. But Follett has no such qualms and uses such anachronisms throughout his book.

ONE’S LEVEL BEST [1851] (originally U.S.): To do one’s level best is to do one’s very best; to do one’s utmost; to make all possible efforts; to exert one’s self to the fullest. Its antonym is to do one’s level worst [[which I've never heard]].

Etymology: A 19th-century Americanism, this term has been traced to the days of the California gold rush, when miners panning for gold would shake sand and gravel until it was level and revealed the ore.

(Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary of Idioms, Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés and Allen’s English Phases)

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1851 “We put our horses out at their level best.”—An Arkansas Doctor, page 87>

<1891 “The pony will not do his level worst again.”—Harper’s Magazine, July, page 208/2>

<1920 “Val walked out behind his mother, chin squared, eyelids drooped, doing his level best to despise everybody.”—In Chancery by John Galsworthy, ii. vii. page 186>

<1969 “He did his level best to suppress the views of other members of the embassy.”—The Listener (BBC, London), 24 April, page 556/1>

<1986 “ . . . everybody does their level best to move the plot along.”—Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois), 22 February>

<2003 “The remainder, stretching as far as the ear can hear, is the work of Piddly Diddly, who does his level worst to turn Mary J into just another blank, bland diva . . .”—The Independent on Sunday, 24 August>

<1998 (Headline) “Nuggets are Doing Their Level Worst to Make History”—Boston Globe (Massachusetts), 16 January>

<2012 “. . . Ritchie did his level best to appear grateful . . .”—The Independent (London), 5 December>
________________________

Ken G – December 9, 2012
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by elview » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:57 pm

Good catch Ken!
Post actions:
Signature: elview
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." ~ Winston Churchill

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:39 am

<2000 “Sir Owen had suggested that it might be the Company itself that had tossed me . . . into harm’s way, and that was a possibility I could not ignore.”—A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss, page 325>
The above quote is from a historical novel placed in the year 1719. But three postings up I pointed out that the expression ‘in harm’s way’ originated in a 1778 letter written by America’s Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones. Of course, this is an error of a mere 59 years, a drop in the bucket compared to the 233-year booboo in my above posting. But I loves picking nits!
______________________

Ken – February 10, 2013
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:45 am

.. is nothing or nobody sacred ?? .. even Roald Dahl writing about the "loveable, lascivious greatest fornicator of all time", Oswald in My Uncle Oswald got it wrong AND seriously so .. just how can anybody not get their Chablis Grand Cru vintages correct ?? .. Dahl has Uncle Oswald drinking a 1928 Grand Cru Grenouilles when everybody dahling knows that Grenouilles was not made a Grand Cru until 1935 ..

WoZ popping his cork
Post actions:
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: anachronisms

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Apr 01, 2013 9:21 am

The other day, I was rather tickled when I heard a New Jersey wine maker explaining that in his industry, the wine grape-growing region of his state is officially known as the Outer Coastal Plain American Viticultural Area.

After all, New Jersey does describe itself as 'The Garden State' on its vehicle license plates.

OK: I've never visited New Jersey, so my opinion of the place has been influenced by the usual prejudices and stereotypes, which is clearly not a good thing.

So in that spirit, I think it's time to crack open a bottle of Chateau Dioxin 2004, and let's raise a glass to all of New Jersey's hard-working terroirists!
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:47 am

Is that like agent orange juice?
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:46 pm

Yes, or Love Canal potion. It tastes a little like pesticider.
Post actions:

Re: anachronisms

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:08 pm

aaa
<2013 ‘“Don’t you ever bad-mouth our family again!’ replied Philipp Lettner, the oldest brother.”—The Beggar King (2010, 2013) by Oliver Pötzsch and translated from German by Lee Chadeayne, page 5>

The above quote is taken from a historical novel. The year is 1637 and the place is Germany during the Thirty Years’ War.

I know we have to cut the author some slack – it would be hard to write a novel using only expression current in the 17th century. But the use of the anachronism bad-mouth strikes me as grounds for having the author’s artistic license revoked.

BADMOUTH / BAD MOUTH / BAD-MOUTH transitive verb (originally U.S.) colloquial [1941 and still in use]: To abuse or deprecate verbally; to criticize, slander, or gossip maliciously about (a person or thing); criticize or disparage, often spitefully or unfairly; slander; malign. <Why do you constantly disparage your colleagues?>

Etymology: Probably ultimately from noun phrase bad mouth (1835), in Black English, ‘a curse, spell,’ translating an idiom found in African and West Indian languages.]

(Oxford English Dictionary, American Heritage Dictionary, Online Etymology Dictionary)
______________________________

Hmm! 1941. O.K. So he was off by 300 years – a mere blink of an eye in recorded history. (<:)

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1941 “He bad-mouthed everybody.”—James Thurber in Saturday Evening Post, 5 April, page 9/2>

<1960 “What . . . reason would he have to bad-mouth Jamison?”—Slam Big Door (1961) by D. MacDonald, vi. page 96>

<1977 “They threw matches, they badmouthed linesmen, they hit balls into the stands.”—Times Literary Supplement, 1 July, page 792/1>

<1994 “Finally! A way to catch and document employees who bad-mouth you behind your back.”—Harper’s Magazine, aigist, page 19/1>

<2002 “Ravinder told me that black students, particularly males, would bad-mouth him and act aggressively when they saw him around the building.”—Snakeskin by C. Newland, vi. page 62>

<2013 “. . . “you will be happy that the U.S. government didn't bad-mouth the country that agreed to send you home.”—Washington post, 1 April>
_________________

Ken – April 6, 2013
Post actions:

End of topic.
Post Reply