Tales
Posted: 18 January 2008 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here’s a term I never came across before, found while getting a little background on this press report on the pressganging, so to speak, of passers-by for jury duty.

They roamed the streets of Greeley Wednesday morning with stacks of paper and an eye out for people they could summon to emergency jury duty.

Weld County and District Court staff handed subpoenas to more than 50 unsuspecting people, telling them they had to report for jury duty Wednesday morning because many of those summoned by mail did not show.

Wikipedia explains.

If additional jurors are not immediately available in the jury assembly area, most jurisdictions permit the court to impanel a tales jury (pronounced tal-ays). A tales jury in one in which the jurors or talesmen are brought to the court under judicial order to law enforcement to pick up qualified individuals from any public place in the community. This is a departure from the more common procedure of selecting jurors randomly from a broad-based list of names.

And OED defines.

tales

Law.

[L. pl. of talis such, in the phrase tales de circumstantibus ‘such (or the like) persons from those standing about’, occurring in the order for adding such persons to a jury; whence used as a n.]

Originally, in plural, Persons taken from among those present in court or standing by, to serve on a jury in a case where the original panel has become deficient in number by challenge or other cause, these being persons such as those originally summoned; loosely applied in Eng. as a singular (a tales) to the supply of people (formerly even one person) so provided. Also contextually applied to the order or act of supplying such substitutes, as to pray, grant, award a tales. In English use now restricted to such summoning of jurors; orig. and still in U.S. of jurors (collectively) and the practice of summoning them.

The word talesmen prompted me to check talisman out of curiosity. It’s unrelated to tales (connected rather to the Arabic tilsam, adaptation of Gr. telesm, completion, performance, religious rite) but ithe search did throw up another talisman, unrelated, it would seem, to the more familiar term.

talisman, 1, obs.

[= F. talisman, of uncertain history; occurring in Fr. and Eng. considerably earlier than TALISMAN2. It appears to be a corrupt or mistaken form of some Arabic, Persian, or Turkish spoken word, imperfectly caught by early travellers. See Note below.]

A name formerly applied to a Turk learned in divinity and law, a Mullah; sometimes to a lower priest of Islam, a religious minister, a muezzin.

Interesting.

[ Edited: 18 January 2008 07:41 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 18 January 2008 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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(pronounced tal-ays)

That’s just wrong: the only pronunciation given in OED is TAY-leez, AHD has TAILZ and TAY-LEEZ, and M-W has for talesman TAILZ-mən or TAY-leez-mən (I’m using a popularized transcription because I’m too lazy to try to reproduce their various systems or use IPA).  I guess I’ll go correct the article.

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Posted: 22 July 2008 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Two unrelated origins of the same word struck me as interesting, too.  At the end of the first entry in the OED, there’s a note saying

[Note. Professor Margoliouth suggests that the word intended may possibly have been ailasn, a form of hood thrown over the head and shoulders, especially by preachers, but also used by doctors of law and others (see Dozy Dict. Noms de Vêtements Arabes 278). The wearer of this might be designated ailasn, and this corrupted into talismn. But evidence is wanting.]

Professor David Samuel Margoliouth was apparently a distinguished Oxford oriental scholar, and this is probably an entry that hasn’t been revised, but nevertheless does the OED often print speculation? 

And there must be many other words in the OED with the same spelling but with different origins.

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Posted: 23 July 2008 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The pronunciation given in the Wikipedia article is roughly what the Classical Latin or Church Latin would be.  I don’t think anybody has ever accused Legal Latin of either of those methods.

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Posted: 23 July 2008 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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but nevertheless does the OED often print speculation

Speculation like this is common in OED etymologies, but it’s always made clear that it is speculation or the opinion of one or a few scholars. I don’t know if current editorial practice allows this in the revisions, but you can find examples throughout the earlier editions.

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Posted: 23 July 2008 05:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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does the OED often print speculation?

Many, maybe most, etymologies are “speculation.” The difference between the OED and a lesser dictionary is that the OED will tell you it’s speculation (and sometimes, as here, who did the speculating) and explain alternate hypotheses; other dictionaries just present the speculation as fact.

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