April Fool
Posted: 25 April 2018 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This one’s a few weeks late...

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Posted: 25 April 2018 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well done, Dave!

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Posted: 25 April 2018 11:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Excellent!

It’s interesting that both the Lechmere and the Congreve citations imply that 17th-century English April Fooling consisted specifically of sending people on a fool’s errand, as it has consistently done in Scotland.

In one of Allan Ramsay’s poems published in 1728 he makes Hermes exclaim that Jove has sent him ‘to hunt the gowk (cuckoo)‘; the 1813 edition of Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain spells out that ‘in Scotland, upon April Day, they have a custom of “hunting the Gowk” as it is termed. This is done by sending silly people on fools errands, from place to place, by means of a letter, in which is written: “On the first day of April / Hunt the Gowk another mile”.’

And in the 1950s, when Iona and Peter Opie were researching for their Lore and language of Schoolchildren, they found that ‘In Scotland the day is generally known as Huntigowk Day’ and that the specific procedure and a version of the rhyme described by Brand were still in use, as well as the simpler dodge of sending someone to the shop or store-room to ask for a long stand, a left-handed screwdriver, striped paint, smooth sandpaper, et cetera. It would be interesting to know if this is till so, or whether half a century of mass media has imposed the English name and custom, just as it has brought Santa Claus (who was barely heard-of by the average British child in the 1950s) to Britain and almost completely killed off Father Christmas.

Is there a resident of Scotland in the house to tell us?

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Posted: 27 April 2018 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hi Dave,
I guess this crosses over with the “Middle French Translation Thread” but will post here.

French is not the focus of this forum, but thought you might want the info in case you update the Big List entry.

The History of Poisson d’Avril is not quite right here.  The earliest recorded use is from 1466 “Doctrinal du temps prĂ©sent” by Pierre Michault, described as a “go-between, intermediary, young boy responsible for delivering his master’s love letters” (my translation, so beware!).
Not at all clear if this is already a deliberate conflation/play of the words for pimp and mackerel, no solid explanation for the term as a messenger.

But even so, how it arrived at it’s modern “april fool” use is equally murky.  Maybe as the jokes were originally to send the victim on a stupid errand?

Also the translation of “vien tost a moy”, I would suggest “come soon to me”

As for April Fool itself, another conjecture is that is arose out of other odd religious traditions around that time of year, even going back to the Roman “Hilaria” equinox celebrations which also had a “comic” element.

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Posted: 03 May 2018 01:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Syntinen Laulu - 25 April 2018 11:08 PM

Excellent!

It’s interesting that both the Lechmere and the Congreve citations imply that 17th-century English April Fooling consisted specifically of sending people on a fool’s errand, as it has consistently done in Scotland.

In one of Allan Ramsay’s poems published in 1728 he makes Hermes exclaim that Jove has sent him ‘to hunt the gowk (cuckoo)‘; the 1813 edition of Brand’s Popular Antiquities of Great Britain spells out that ‘in Scotland, upon April Day, they have a custom of “hunting the Gowk” as it is termed. This is done by sending silly people on fools errands, from place to place, by means of a letter, in which is written: “On the first day of April / Hunt the Gowk another mile”.’

And in the 1950s, when Iona and Peter Opie were researching for their Lore and language of Schoolchildren, they found that ‘In Scotland the day is generally known as Huntigowk Day’ and that the specific procedure and a version of the rhyme described by Brand were still in use, as well as the simpler dodge of sending someone to the shop or store-room to ask for a long stand, a left-handed screwdriver, striped paint, smooth sandpaper, et cetera. It would be interesting to know if this is till so, or whether half a century of mass media has imposed the English name and custom, just as it has brought Santa Claus (who was barely heard-of by the average British child in the 1950s) to Britain and almost completely killed off Father Christmas.

Is there a resident of Scotland in the house to tell us?

No longer resident, I’m afraid, but I go back regularly to visit with family and friends, and I do vaguely remember this kind of nonsense when I was a kid, just to young to be able to know it was April 1 - or even know what date it was altogether! - and get asked to do weird things by my (elder) sisters mainly, and also at school.

But I think the BBC with its spaghetti-tree story helped turn it into a free-for-all fake story day, even in Scotland.

BTW, thanks to Dave et al for the Poisson d’avril background, always puzzled me that name, I did recognise ‘maquereau’ as something to do with a go-between in matters of love from reading 18th C books concerning courtly affairs (for my studies, God!).

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