offscourings
Posted: 20 September 2007 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Came across this odd word while reading a Gideon’s bible in a hospital room to kill time.  The meaning is obvious after looking at it for a while, and is wonderful in a certain way, but still odd to my ears.

On googling, it gets 23,000, but that seems to be because of its Biblical use which is only twice, once in the Authorized Version of the Hebrew Scriptures (Lamentations 3:45) and once in the AV translation of the Greek (I Cor 4:13).  If you google offscouring -bible that gets it down to 1500.

Where is it first used (no help in on-line dictionaries that I could find)?

In its rare uses outside of the Bible, it’s accompanied by “thees” and “thous” and such archaic constructions (see Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles for example.  And yet, in none of the on-line dics is “offscouring” noted as archaic.

*edit: FWIW even the Hardy quote is actually a quote of the Corinthians text.

[ Edited: 20 September 2007 07:38 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 20 September 2007 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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1st OED citation is “1526 Bible (Tyndale) 1 Cor. iv. 13 The of scowrynge of all thinges.” Next is “1564 tr. J. Jewel Apol. Churche Eng. (1859) I. 5 [They] did count them [sc. Christians] no better than the vilest filth, the offscourings and laughing games of the whole world”

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Posted: 20 September 2007 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I wouldn’t call it archaic, since it’s still being used; old-fashioned, maybe.  Here are a couple of recent OED cites:

1989 M. ROBINSON Mother Country Introd. 28 It is the off-scourings of a government-owned factory pouring into the environment of a virtuous and public-spirited nation.

1997 C. FRAZIER Cold Mountain (2000) 58 He.. commenced pulling the trigger out of sheer frustration with the willfulness of these sorry offscourings.

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Posted: 20 September 2007 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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A wonderful word indeed, Oecolampadius, powerful in imagery --- though nowadays perhaps a little old-fashioned, as languagehat says. I’d never encountered it before (not having read either “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” or “Lamentations”, nor yet I Corinthians).

I looked up the word in my Hebrew scriptures. It’s “sehi” (samekh- het- yod - the letter “e” represents a shva after the samekh). This is a noun corresponding to the verb “lesahot”, which my “Megiddo” Modern Hebrew dictionary (not the most powerful one in print) renders as “to scrape clean, scour”. The verb (the noun, too, for that matter) doesn’t appear to be in common use in modern Hebrew (I’ve never heard it in 50 years, not that i’m much of an authority on either Hebrew or scouring) --- my on-line dictionary of modern Hebrew doesn’t even have it.  The NEB uses the same word, “offscourings”, in its translation, on the principle, i guess, of “leave well enough alone” --- after all, neither of us had seen the word before, and yet the meaning of it was plain to us both.  Nowadays i think one would perhaps be more likely to use a word like “scrapings”.

Reb Wlm could undoubtedly give a much more enlightened comment. Right now, i suspect he’s very busy with the High Holidays. Yom Kippur begins tomorrow at sundown.

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Posted: 20 September 2007 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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This is a noun corresponding to the verb “lesahot”, which my “Megiddo” Modern Hebrew dictionary (not the most powerful one in print) renders as “to scrape clean, scour”.

thanks for that.  My sense is that the King James Version (Authorized Version) tends to render the Hebrew as best it can even if that results in a new word.  So, my guess is that this is a coinage by the AV “committee.” Anyone agree?

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Posted: 20 September 2007 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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So, my guess is that this is a coinage by the AV “committee.”

Why credit them when Tyndale used it 85 years earlier?  Granted, he was translating Greek, not Hebrew, but as far as “coining” the term, it seems to me that he should get the credit.

[ Edited: 20 September 2007 04:40 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 20 September 2007 05:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Why credit them when Tyndale used it 85 years earlier? 

good point.  I’ve just spent way too much time trying to discover the connection between Hebrew and Greek via the Septuagint. I don’t see it.  The Greek in I Cor is peripsēma.  I don’t see the connection. 

Perhaps there needn’t be one.

Edit: seems that Tyndale did not translate Lamentations.

[ Edited: 20 September 2007 06:29 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 20 September 2007 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I can’t add much to what Lionello posted.  The Hebrew word root s.ch.h carries the meaning of scrape or scour.  In Talmudic Aramaic s’cheeta and s’choota mean “refuse” or “dirt” “dung”—that which has been scraped off.  See Ezekiel 26:4, where he prophesies against Tyre:  “I will scrape away her soil from her and make her into bare/polished rock.”

My biblical dictionary tells me that this root is related to the Akkadian root nasahu, which means “to root out.”

I have scoured and scraped much in life—having been a dishwasher on a Kibbutz and worked as a painter—and I the only word I can come with for the stuff scraped or scoured off is “gunk”.  Have we discussed the etymology of “gunk”?

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Posted: 20 September 2007 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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No, but in another thread we have discussed “gratin”, which seems to have originally had some of the same associations --- certainly in a culinary sense.

Shanah Tovah, Reb Wlm, and Gmar Hatimah Tovah. *

(BTW: I scoured pots and pans in a kibbutz, too. Long before the day of mechanical aids. You might say that the “sehi” had entered into my soul, which has been “au gratin” ever since)

* (For those who don’t care for untranslated foreign expressions on this board:  New Year greetings.)

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