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Sherlock Holmes and English
Posted: 13 February 2013 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 166 ]
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In the USA, the word “dollar” is often regarded as a slightly altered form of the Dutch word daalder

An odd phrasing; why not just “The word ‘dollar’ is from...”?  (It’s actually from Low German/Dutch daler, but let that go.) Does the UK prefer some other etymology?

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Posted: 14 February 2013 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 167 ]
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What I had in mind was the fact that the earliest European settlers in what is now the North-Eastern USA were Dutch, and that the main silver currency in circulation at that time in the Low Countries was the Spanish peso of eight reales, which the Dutch called “daalder”.  So it’s not unreasonable to suppose that the earliest dollars in North America were called “daalder” or “daler”. As for the UK etymology of “dollar” --- who can say? I know no reason to suppose that the English got the word specifically from the Dutch. In the 16th century Britain was involved in overseas trade with both German* and Dutch commercial interests, and I think it’s a tossup whether the word “dollar” in Britain came from the German “thaler” or the Dutch “daalder” (though I guess German and Dutch weren’t at all as clearly differentiated then as they are now). But I guess your query was called for, lh. Maybe I was unnecessarily splitting hairs.

* Today’s bit of etymological trivia: The word steelyard for an asymmetric scale with movable poise (called in many languages a “Roman scale, or balance") derives from the name of the Hanseatic League’s permanent trading post in London, the Stahlhof (English “Steelyard"), which functioned for several centuries till it was shut down in 1597 by order of the Queen.

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Posted: 14 February 2013 09:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 168 ]
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Dave’s “big list” entry for “dollar” seems to split the difference between a Dutch/German ancestry, referring to “daler” as a Dutch / Low German form of “taler” (itself a clipping of “Joachimstaler").

I am inferring from the big list entry that the American colonists borrowed the term “dollar” from British usage (and applied the term to the peso) rather than having independently adopted the term “dollar” from the Dutch settlers.

I haven’t, of course, done any independent research on this, and may also be reading too much into the “big list” entry.

In any event, “dollar” strikes me as an interesting illustration of the difficulty of defining what constitutes a single word vs. multiple words.  Is the British “dollar” (informal name for a crown) a different sense of the same word as the American “dollar”, or are they entirely different words which share some etymological features?  How about “dollar” (for crown) vs. “dollar” (for undefined amount of money) vs. “dollar” (for a Joachimstaler) vs. “dollar” (for a coin that was modeled after the Joachimstaler)?

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Posted: 14 February 2013 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 169 ]
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I am inferring from the big list entry that the American colonists borrowed the term “dollar” from British usage (and applied the term to the peso) rather than having independently adopted the term “dollar” from the Dutch settlers.

That would be my guess as well, since Jefferson noted that this name for currency is already known “south to north” (i.e. not just in the Dutch colonies).

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Posted: 14 February 2013 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 170 ]
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The US dollar is almost certainly not from Dutch settlers. The term was well established as a name for the Spanish coin in the Americas well before the settlement of New Amsterdam by the Dutch.

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Posted: 15 February 2013 01:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 171 ]
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Q.E.D.

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Posted: 15 February 2013 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 172 ]
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Quite Enough Done as my old Maths master was fond of putting it.

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Posted: 24 February 2013 01:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 173 ]
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From The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

1/ “Brought there to personate someone”. Personate, meaning impersonate.

2/ “I think I have touched bottom at last”

I only mention this because I would have guessed this to be a more modern expression.

3/ Likewise, “I blew its brains out.”

4/ The subject of the story is made to wear a beige dress, blue in colour. I didn’t event know beige was a fabric.

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Posted: 24 February 2013 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 174 ]
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OP Tipping - 24 February 2013 01:25 AM

4/ The subject of the story is made to wear a beige dress, blue in colour. I didn’t event know beige was a fabric.

They must have gotten the wool from a blue sheep. Beige

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Posted: 24 February 2013 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 175 ]
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The OED defines it as “a fine woollen fabric used as a dress-material, originally left in its natural colour but later dyed in various colours.”

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Posted: 24 February 2013 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 176 ]
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Hmmm. In “The Musgrave Ritual”, Holmes uses the word aluminum. Though I’m aware that this form was used in British English before aluminium took hold, I had thought the matter had been resolved well before Doyle ever picked up a pen.

Is it this way in all editions?

EDIT: tag fix

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Posted: 24 February 2013 05:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 177 ]
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A character in “The Musgrave Ritual” uses “wonderful” to mean “to be wondered at”, “hard to comprehend” etc.

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Posted: 24 February 2013 05:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 178 ]
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Yes, this is one that will change with the editions. Although the aluminum spelling was common 19th century British usage, so if it’s original it’s not an outlier.

If I have time tomorrow I’ll check the copy of The Strand that is in the library.

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Posted: 24 February 2013 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 179 ]
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In The Stock Broker’s Clerk and in The Reigate Puzzle, the word “crib” is used to mean “home”. So that usage is a good deal older than I would have guessed too.

A phrase Holmes uses is “Cracked two cribs”, meaning “broke into two homes”

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Posted: 24 February 2013 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 180 ]
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The use of crib to mean a low dwelling goes back to Shakespeare:

1600 Shakespeare Henry IV, Pt. 2 iii. i. 9 Why rather sleepe liest thou in smoaky cribbes [...] Then in the perfumde chambers of the great.

The thieves’ slang sense of dwelling is recorded as early as 1819.

Cracking cribs goes back at least to Dickens:

1838 Dickens Oliver Twist I. xix. 320 The crib’s barred up at night like a jail, but there’s one part we can crack.

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