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10 grammar rules you can forget
Posted: 04 October 2013 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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First time I ever saw or heard of anyone “committing a clanger”.  It used to be “dropping a clanger”, which was a euphemism for “dropping a bollock”, i.e. “committing an egregious blunder”. I don’t know how far back “clanger” as slang for “testicle” goes; I fancy it’s fairly recent.  Does anybody have any cites earlier than WW2? Mind you, it’s the sort of expression that would be much more common in speech than in writing. Sixty years ago, one saw “rude words” in print only in the publications of the Olympia Press and such.

(edited for typo)

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 08:12 PM by lionello ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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”. I don’t know how far back “clanger” as slang for “testicle” goes;
---

I’d be surprised if it goes anywhere. Dropping a bollock seems to be more recent than the WW2 phrase dropping a clanger, which has the simple meaning of something that clangs (hence, figuratively dropping one is an embarrassing mistake.)

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Posted: 04 October 2013 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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As the citation states, it’s from the beginning of chapter 11. The translation is: (either they never come to anyone (lit. to no men) or they steadfastly remain such as they were when they came.)

There seem to be a couple of chapter elevens. King Alfred’s and Boethius’s own.

Here’s a translation of Alfred’s translation: http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/Boethius_Fox.pdf.  It has 42 chapters. Chapter 11 consists of two rather long paragraphs, sections 1 & 2 presumably. The first paragraph contains the quote, around the middle.

There is no chapter eleven per se in the original Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy. There is a Book 3, and it is divided into 12 parts, which might be denominated as sections, chapters, or whatnot. Here is a table of contents showing five books with a proem and an epilogue:  http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/boethius/consolation/contents.html.  The 5 books have chapters which add up to 41. Also, the only “eleven” or “XI” or “11” (which is in Book 3) would not correspond to Alfred’s chapter eleven. This all seemed pretty confusing and actually took some figuring out.

Anyway, my main denouement was in learning in this forum that the “not any” adjectival meaning preceded “none” as a noun by such a long period of time that it probably came before the first syllable of recorded time. I will no longer think of “none” as being a kind of equivalent to “not one” as in: “not one person” etc. The word applies there, but is more flexible and allows for plurals. Thanks.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 11:20 PM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 05 October 2013 01:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Arga - 03 October 2013 04:27 PM


To clarify, ‘to’ and ‘with’ always take on the Dative case, while ‘for’ takes on Accusative. Dative is always whom, etc., while Accusative is who.

Actually, the accusative is whon, or would be if past usage had anything to say about it.

As for the Hemingway title, For Whom the Bell Tolls was taken from the John Donne poem.  Anyone saying the same thing today would have said “Who the bell tools for” as long as you’re asking.

Edit: corrected markup mishap.

[ Edited: 05 October 2013 02:04 AM by Faldage ]
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Posted: 05 October 2013 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Medieval translation is a very different beast than what translators do today. With the exception of the Bible, medieval translators did not feel particularly compelled to remain faithful to the original. (Think of it like a Hollywood adaptation of a book, rather than a translation.) In some places they would be quite faithful, almost word for word, then in other places they would change details or descriptions, add passages of their own or from other sources, combine two different texts from the same writer, delete sections, etc.

For example, in a famous passage Boethius describes the operation of fate as turning like Aristotle’s crystalline spheres of the heavens. The Anglo-Saxons knew nothing of Aristotle’s cosmology, and Alfred changes the metaphor to that of the turning of the wheel of a cart, and he also greatly expands the metaphor, including aspects of fate that Boethius does not mention. (One of my dissertation chapters is on this passage.)

As a result, Alfred’s translation from Boethius is significantly different than the Latin original. And Alfred’s translation exists in two different copies. The Latin is prosimetric, that is it is prose with poetic passages interspersed. The older of the two Old English versions is entirely prose. The prosimetric version was done a bit later based on the prose translation. (There’s reasonable confidence that Alfred himself translated the all-prose version. There’s less confidence that he penned the Old English meters.) The Old English meters, in particular, are very different from the Latin ones. A rough correspondence between the Latin and Old English meters can be drawn, based on subject matter and placement, but the corresponding poems are nothing like one another.

The Old English versions are divided into 42 chapters (the paragraphs are later interventions and will differ from editor to editor). The meters are sequentially numbered 1–31.

The Latin Consolation is divided into five books and each book into sections. Each prose section is followed by its corresponding meter. These are traditionally denoted by the convention Book#/p or m/Section#, e.g., 3p12 is Book 3, prose section 12, or 2m6 is Book 2, meter 6.

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Posted: 05 October 2013 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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I find your post disconcerting, OP Tipping, to say the least. In post-WW2 Britain, “dropping a clanger” and “dropping a bollock” were both in common use (at least among the society I moved in), and both meant the same thing.  The expression one chose to use, depended on the company one was in.  I’ve never heard or seen the term “clanger” used in any sense outside that of dropping one, and I doubt if one could find many unforced examples of such usage.

On the other hand, here’s what i found, on further inquiry, at this site:

http://www.wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5525

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang

DROP A CLANGER/BANGER, TO: phrase [1940s and still in use]: to make a social error, the awfulness of which reverberates around the assembled gathering (cf. ‘drop a brick’). [Standard English: clang/bang]
____________________________________________________________________________________

A Dictionary of Slang by Erik Partridge

DROP A BALLOCK – BANGER – CLANGER – GOOLIE: To blunder badly: Services’ [[meaning a military expression used by the Armed Forces of the Crown]], since circa 1930; the ‘clanger’ version has, since circa 1970, had much more widespread and general use. All are, in this sense, synonyms of ‘testicle,’ and the phrase probably derives from the inoffensive ‘drop a brick,’ itself now almost informal Standard English. Examples occur in , e.g., Gerald Kersh, ‘Bill Nelson,’ 1942; Jocelyn Brooke, ‘The Military Orchid,’ 1948; Hunt & Pringle, Service Slang.’ 1943 (‘goolie’ only).

[[note: Erik Partridge often includes British expressions and synonyms that are not found in American slang dictionaries.]]
____________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, OP Tipping, for reminding me to boldly go to other available sources, before importuning members of this forum with simple questions already answered elsewhere. (Actually, I didn’t ask a question, but simply made an unsupported statement, herewith supported)

Footnote: “goolie” is originally an Indian (dunno which language) word: part of Britain’s Imperial heritage. “Ballock” is the spelling used by Sir Thomas Urquhart in his coruscatingly brilliant translation of Rabelais - or at any rate, in the Everyman edition of Urquhart’s translation. “Bollock”, more often seen nowadays, may be, for all I know, a vulgar modernism ;-)

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Posted: 05 October 2013 10:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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lionello - 05 October 2013 06:56 AM

Footnote: “goolie” is originally an Indian (dunno which language) word: part of Britain’s Imperial heritage.

Hindi-Urdu गोली/گولي golī “ball; a bullet; a marble; a pellet; a globule; a pill”

[ Edited: 05 October 2013 12:29 PM by gooofy ]
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Posted: 05 October 2013 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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I read Anthony Burgess’s Inside Mr Enderby (!963) (about a poet who writes on the lavatory) in about 1978 and was surprised to find ballocks for bollocks which were new to me except for the use described to the strains below (ha ha). Burgess was pretty good at incorporating modern slang in his early novels so maybe ballocks was current in 1963 or he may/might have just liked the older form from his youth.

Just outside the flimsy door of Mr Enderby’s ground-floor flat was the entrance-hall of the house itself. He heard the massive front door creak open and the hall seemed to fill with New Year revellers. He recognized the silly unresonant voice of the salesman who lived in the flat above, the stout-fed laugh of the woman who lived with him. There were other voices, not assignable to known persons but generic, voices of Daily Mirror-readers, ITV-viewers, HP-buyers, Babycham-drinkers. There were loud and cheerful greetings:
“Happy New Year, Enderby
“Prrrrrrrrp!”
The stout-fed woman’s voice said, “I don’t feel well. I’m going to be sick.” She at once, by the sound of it, was. Someone called:
“Give us a poem, Enderby. ‘Eskimo Nell’ or ‘The Good Ship Venus’.”
“Sing us a song, Enderby.”
“Jack,” said the sick woman weakly, “I’m going straight up. I’ve had it.”
“You go up, love,” said the salesman’s voice. “I’ll be after you in a minute. Got to serenade old Enderby first.” There was the noise of a staggering fall against the door of Enderby’s flat, a choirmaster’s “One two three”, and then the vigorous ragged strains of “Ach Du Lieber Augustin”, but with rude English words:

Balls to Mister Enderby, Enderby, Enderby;
Balls to Mister Enderby, ballocks to you.
For he keeps us waiting while he’s masturbating, so -

Enderby stuffed moistened pellets of toilet-paper in his ears. Locked safely enough in his flat, he now locked himself safelier in his bathroom. Scratching a warmed bare leg, he tried to concentrate on his poem. The revellers soon desisted and dispersed. He thought he heard the salesman call out, “That’s the enderby, Enderby.”

By 1977 bollocks were the norm as in the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks trial with John Mortimer (Rumpole) for the defense calling an expert:

Mortimer then said that he wished to call Professor James Kingsley to give evidence as to the meaning of the word bollocks. Mr. Richie objected to the witness being called. However, the chairman said ‘’let’s get it over with’’, and Kingsley was called. Kingsley told the court that he was the Reverend James Kingsley, professor of English studies at Nottingham University. He said he was a former Anglican priest and also a fellow of the Royal Academy. Under questioning from Mortimer he then went into discussing the derivation of the word bollocks. He said it was used in records from the year 1000 and in Anglo Saxon times it meant a small ball. The terms was also used to describe an orchid. He said that in the 1961 publication of Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang, he had not taken into account the use of the word bollocks in the Middle Ages. He said it appears in Medievel bibles and veterinary books. In the bible it was used to describe small things of an appropriate shape. He said that the word also appears in place names without stirring any sensual desires in the local communities. Mortimer said that this would be similar to a city being called Maidenhead which didn’t seem to cause the locals in the vicinity any problems. Mr Kingsley said that Partridge in his books wrote that bollocks remained in colloquial use down through the centuries and was also used to denote a clergyman in the last century. ‘’The word has been used as a nickname for clergymen. Clergymen are known to talk a good deal of rubbish and so the word later developed the meaning of nonsense,’’ he said. ‘’They became known for talking a great deal of bollocks, just as old balls or baloney also come to mean testicles, so it has twin uses in the dictionary’’. (...)

Mr. Ritchie asked him if he was just an expert on the word bollocks to which Kingsley replied that he was an expert on the English language who felt he could speak with authority on the derivation of a word such as bollocks. Mr. Rochie asked Kingsley if the words fuck, cunt and shit also appeared in the Dictionary of Slang from which he had quoted. KIngsley replied ‘’if the word fuck does not appear in the dictionary it should.’’

Mr. Mortimer in summing up the case for the defense said (...) what sort of country are we living in if a politician comes to Nottingham and speaks here to a group of people in the city centre and during his speech a heckler replies ‘bollocks’, are we to expect this person to be incarcerated, or do we live in a country where we are proud of our Anglo Saxon language? Do we wish our language to be virile and strong or watered down and weak? (...)

Upon returning to the courtroom some 20 minutes later the chairman of the bench made this finding:

‘’Much as my colleagues and I wholeheartedly deplore the vulgar exploitation of the worst instincts of human nature for the purchases of commercial profits by both you and your company, we must reluctantly find you not guilty of each of the four charges.’’

Priceless! I remember reading later that Kingsley had assigned his graduate students the task of scouring every dictionary available to them in the university library. It would be easier to research now and the magistrates wouldn’t have known if ballocks was also an earlier form - the guy’s an expert and a vicar so he should know, therefore reluctantly… (Sorry for the length of those excerpts but a bit of levity after ablatives and so on).

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Posted: 05 October 2013 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I find your post disconcerting, OP Tipping, to say the least. In post-WW2 Britain, “dropping a clanger” and “dropping a bollock” were both in common use (at least among the society I moved in), and both meant the same thing. 

lionello: “drop a clanger” and “drop a bollock” mean basically the same thing but it doesn’t follow from this that “clanger” ever meant testicle, despite Partridge’s protestations.

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Posted: 06 October 2013 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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By 1977 bollocks were the norm as in the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks trial with John Mortimer (Rumpole) for the defense calling an expert:

Wonderful reminder that Mortimer, one of the greats of comedic writing, also had a day job as an attorney. His autobiography is worth a read, especially the part about his mother reading highly personal divorce cases in a loud voice to his father--on the train going in to work. His father had gone blind but no one ever referred to it. I don’t think Mortimer mentioned the Sex Pistols case in the book.

[ Edited: 06 October 2013 07:12 AM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 18 October 2013 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Another excerpt from Marsh’s book, this time about sexist pronouns/grammar, etc. and how to deal with it nowadays. Should they be called chessmen when the most powerful piece is the Queen?

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Posted: 18 October 2013 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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venomousbede - 18 October 2013 01:13 PM

… Should they be called chessmen when the most powerful piece is the Queen?

This from the Wikipedia article on chess:

Around 1200, the rules of shatranj started to be modified in southern Europe, and around 1475, several major changes made the game essentially as it is known today.[31] These modern rules for the basic moves had been adopted in Italy and Spain.[34][35] Pawns gained the option of advancing two squares on their first move, while bishops and queens acquired their modern abilities. The queen replaced the earlier vizier chess piece towards the end of the 10th century and by the 15th century had become the most powerful piece;[36] consequently modern chess was referred to as “Queen’s Chess” or “Mad Queen Chess”.[37] These new rules quickly spread throughout western Europe.

Clearly the modernization of chess in Europe from the late 10th century through the 15th was the driving force behind the development of the chivalric code, whereby the knight devoted and subjugated himself to the lady.

[ Edited: 18 October 2013 07:27 PM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 18 October 2013 08:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Here’s a book that deals with the subject: Birth of the Chess Queen, 2004, by Marilyn Yalom.

edit: So as not to mislead people, Yalom does not make a connection between chivalry and chess. She notes that the power accrued increasingly to medieval queens and this happened at the same time as the development of the queen in chess.

[ Edited: 19 October 2013 04:16 AM by Iron Pyrite ]
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Posted: 20 October 2013 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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I was under the impression that the reason the queen in chess is female is the result of a mistranslation: the Persian ferz, meaning ‘minister’, was corrupted to ‘vierge’, after which she lost her virginity and became a proper consort. I don’t know whether this is just a myth, but it does go back a way: http://tinyurl.com/o88dn4k

[ Edited: 20 October 2013 09:21 AM by kurwamac ]
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Posted: 20 October 2013 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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From the book by Thomas Pruen:

Monsieur Freret says, “Men were soon persuaded that the picture of human life would be very imperfect without a woman; that sex playing too important a part not to have a place in the game [...]

If we can know people by what they assume to be true, this is a positive indication of men in 1804 and probably further in the past.

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