1 of 2
1
HD: 1923 Words
Posted: 05 August 2011 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4693
Joined  2007-01-03

The latest installment

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 August 2011 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  821
Joined  2007-03-01

grind house, n. A grind house was an inexpensive cinema that showed movies, often poor quality ones, continuously, twelve hours a day and sometimes more. The name first appears in Variety in 1923, and may have been coined by the editors of that paper. The grind refers to the work required to show movies continuously all day long.

I’m surprised by this explanation. Surely showing movies all day long isn’t such hard work? I would have assumed that it was a metaphor likening the turning reels of film to mill wheels: you keep them turning in order to grind out whatever it is – flour, coffee or barrel-organ music.

mastectomy, n. The 1923 date here is surprising. The entry is relatively new (third edition, 2001) and should reflect searches of digital archives, but the first modern mastectomy was performed by American surgeon William Halsted in 1882. So either there was a significant change in terminology or the OED can be significantly antedated here.

I’m more than surprised; I’m amazed. Mastectomies have been performed at least since the mid-1st century AD (Halsted’s innovation was the “radical” mastectomy in which the underlying chest muscle lymph nodes of the axilla are also removed along with the breast – it’s rarely performed these days). It seems extraordinary that nobody should have felt the need to give the operation a name in the standard Greek format till 1923.

If anyone wants to know what having a pre-modern, pre-anaesthetics mastectomy was like, and thinks their nerves will stand it, you can read Fanny Burney’s description of how Baron Larrey (Napoleon’s chief army surgeon) removed her breast, here.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 August 2011 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3469
Joined  2007-01-29

Wikipedia says Politburo is “from German Politbüro, short for Politisches Büro des Zentralkomitees”; can someone with access to the online OED confirm this?  One would have assumed (at least I assumed) that it was directly from the Russian.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 August 2011 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  649
Joined  2011-04-10

As for “grindhouse,” I thought the ‘grind’ of the term was a reference to hand-cranking the film, perhaps a reference to the visibly jerky motors driving the cheap but reliable projectors which could be driven by hand-crank if necessary.  I have no data for this other than my memory or possibly my imagination. 

It is interesting that “Popsicle” was at first a trademark.  I bet there is quite a story behind it going wild (public domain).

.
.[EDIT: Striking out the following lines concerning the 1850 cite which turned out to be in error:]

Interestingly, there is a cite for “mastectomy” from 1850 (if the publication date can be trusted--there is only snippet view available):

Hypnosis in medicine and surgery, by James Esdaile, published by Institute for Research in Hypnosis Publication Society, p. xxvi, 1850

‘mast – ectomy’ = mast cells excised.  I expect many earlier examples of use of this word exist. 

This is a ‘medical’ publication—would the OED’s criteria for first use exclude such technical use and cause the editors to want to observe it in commoner circumstances?

[ Edited: 05 August 2011 05:45 PM by sobiest ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 August 2011 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4693
Joined  2007-01-03

The OED says politburo is from the Russian.

That snippet view of mastectomy is suspect. Note that it is from page xxvi, which may very well mean that it is from front matter that was written long after the main text. Given that it’s an 1850 book that isn’t in public domain (hence the snippet view), it looks like that cite may very well be from a recent introduction to older text.

And I would think, although I don’t know that much about the history of projection technology, that 1923 would have been long after the era of hand-cranked projectors.

[ Edited: 05 August 2011 07:54 AM by Dave Wilton ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 August 2011 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3469
Joined  2007-01-29

The OED says politburo is from the Russian.

Thanks, I’ll change Wikipedia.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 August 2011 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  649
Joined  2011-04-10
Dave Wilton - 05 August 2011 07:52 AM

...That snippet view of mastectomy is suspect. Note that it is from page xxvi, which may very well mean that it is from front matter that was written long after the main text. Given that it’s an 1850 book that isn’t in public domain (hence the snippet view), it looks like that cite may very well be from a recent introduction to older text....

I think this ^^ is the case, Dave.  I don’t see it in other versions of the actual text, and at any rate, the snippet view is now broken (at least for me), so I can’t check it any further.  I struck out above.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 August 2011 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1991
Joined  2007-02-19

Thanks, Dave - lots of fun, as usual! The list has an astonishingly “modern” ring, for a list of words already in use nearly ninety years ago.

grind house:

The day of hand-cranked projectors was by no means over in 1923 - certainly not at the domestic level. My father, in his palmy days, was a home movies buff, and owned a clockwork-powered, hand-held movie camera from the early twenties; the movies were shown on a hand-cranked 16 mm projector* (they weren’t at all “jerky”, in the sense of the speed varying; a governor kept the speed very steady). I don’t know what commercial movie houses were doing in the 1920’s, but I don’t see why a low-end movie house should go to the additional expense of a motor on its projector. The projectionist was there already; why should he sit idle, in between changing reels and splicing broken film, when he could turn a crank while he was at it?  “Grind” describes the job very graphically (in the sense of “dreary” rather than “exhausting"), with the whirring of the projector providing further reason for the term.

* That projector continued to function until well after WW2. It brought Felix the Cat, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Mix, Rin-Tin-Tin, and home movies to several generations of my family.

BTW: I wonder at your calling Sarah Bernhardt an “actor”. Is this a slip-up, or a PC thing? If the latter, I protest. So, I think, would Sarah Bernhardt.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 August 2011 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4693
Joined  2007-01-03

The list has an astonishingly “modern” ring

That’s partly due to my selection when paring the list down from several hundred entries for that year. Biases are bound to creep in.

I wonder at your calling Sarah Bernhardt an “actor”. Is this a slip-up, or a PC thing? If the latter, I protest.

It’s a PC thing. One of the tenets of eliminating sexist language is to not use distinct suffixes for women when it makes no functional difference. Actor/actress is a bit tricky as there are certainly distinct roles for the different sexes, but the skills and craft are identical. This non-sexist usage is far from new. The OED3 (November, 2010) has this usage note under actress:

Women did not appear on stage in public in England until after the Restoration of 1660, following which the terms actor and actress were both used to describe female performers. Later, actor was often restricted to men, with actress as the usual term for women. Although actress remains in general use, actor is increasingly preferred for performers of both sexes as a gender-neutral term.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 August 2011 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2313
Joined  2007-01-30

I do understand (and approve of) the move from actress to gender-neutral actor. However I do think it unnecessary to apply it in retrospect. Surely it’s better to adhere to contemporary usage, unless of course it’s grossly offensive (which actress isn’t). Just my two cents.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 August 2011 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4693
Joined  2007-01-03

If I were writing a period novel, I’d use actress, but when writing from a contemporary perspective I see no reason to use period language. Should discussions of Chaucer take place in Middle English?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 August 2011 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1991
Joined  2007-02-19

Thank you, Dave. Protest withdrawn. As for Bernhardt - who can say?

(edited typo)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  14
Joined  2011-07-20

I recently quizzed a female thesp on this point, because it seems to make sense to describe a female actor as an actress, rather than use two words - it doesn’t seem sexist to me at all.

She made the quite reasonable point that if she is describing herself in person, she will call herself an actor, because her gender is obvious, and thus irrelevant. If described in the third person, she is happy to be called an actress - use of her name notswithstanding.

The real test, surely, is whether or when use of gender-neutral terms (which in instances where an individual’s gender is irrelevant, are perfectly reasonable to employ) causes confusion or not? Saying that an actor is playing Juliet, for example, might be considered misleading - talking about the actor playing Viola/Cesario doubly so.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4693
Joined  2007-01-03

The problem isn’t with the word actress, per se. I’m perfectly willing to use it when the sex of the individual is relevant, as in, “it wasn’t until after the Restoration that actresses were permitted on the English stage.” I agree it’s much less clumsy than female actor. The issue is making a distinction when there is no difference.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  821
Joined  2007-03-01

And the existence or otherwise of gendered terms seems quite random.  Why do we differentiate between actors and actresses but have only the unisex term singers? (Logically, a male and a female singer are even less interchangeable than a male and female actor.) For several centuries we had the term doctress for a female physician - why should it have fallen out of use when we quite often need to specify “woman doctor”?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 August 2011 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  333
Joined  2007-02-13

Could the “grind” in “grind house” refer to a hand-cranking motion being identical to the motion of a person operating a meat grinder?  Most people in those days would be familiar with hand-grinding meat, coffee beans, and other items.

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1