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Port Out, Starboard Home: The Fascinating Stories We Tell About the words We Use (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. September 2005

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Michael Quinion's World Wide Words is the web authority on English etymology (word origins) and usage-come here for definitive information on some of the most interesting, amusing and downright weird words and phrases in the English language. (Cambridge Dictionaries Online web site (February 2003))


Can it really be true that 'golf' stands for 'Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden'? Or that 'rule of thumb' comes from an archaic legal principle that a man may chastise his wife, but only with a rod no thicker than his thumb? These and hundreds of other stories are commonly told and retold whenever people meet. They grow up in part because expressions are often genuinely mysterious. Why, for example, are satisfying meals 'square' rather than any other shape? And how did anyone ever come up with the idea that if you're competent at something you can 'cut the mustard'? Michael Quinion here retells many of the more bizarre tales, and explains their real origins where they're known. This is a fascinating treasure-trove of fiction and fact for anyone interested in language.

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Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
It is great to read about the history of the phrases we use so often without much thought to their origin. It is always interesting to share with English students, both native and non/native speakers.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9044e9f0) von 5 Sternen 5 Rezensionen
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HASH(0x90424588) von 5 Sternen You'll enjoy this book 6. September 2004
Von P. Higgins - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Chances are you've received via e-mail one of the many lists of the etymological origins of words and phrases. As you have probably learned from more respected sources than your e-mail buddy, most of these putative origins, although interesting and clever, are nevertheless false. One of the most vibrant and entertaining of the respected sources is Michael Quinion, researcher and contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary and writer on words.

In Port Out, Starboard Home and Other Language Myths, Quinion reveals the true origins of some well-known words and phrases, as well as the not-so-obvious associations between one common word and another (for example, "barbecue" and "buccaneer").

Quinion tracks the trail wherever it may lead, and we are happy to follow along. From the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer to Irving Berlin, Quinion finds the gem. He manages to locate the most obscure texts ever written (Where does he find these things - and how does he know to look in that particular text?) to unearth the very first instance of publication of a given word or phrase. Then he brings us back to our modern-day term with a better understanding of how it came to be. Conjecture, speculation, and personal opinion are all clearly stated.

Been "called on the carpet"? Is your car "on the fritz"? Got a "bug" in your computer program? Find out the origins of these terms and learn why it's likely that most of the explanations you've heard are probably false. This is an absorbing book that would be of interest to anyone with a curiosity about the origins of words and phrases. The only problem is that it's too short - and Quinion never tells us how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x904247d4) von 5 Sternen `The fascinating stories we tell about the words we use.' 30. Juni 2008
Von Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I have two shelves full of books about the English language. Each is different, each has its own strengths, weaknesses and quirks. Michael Quinion's book is one of those to which I turn if I'm looking for some insight into common language myths.

The issue of accuracy and authenticity is one I'll leave for the experts. I don't need to be as definitive as they would prefer to be. For me, words are tools to be enjoyed, considered and used.

There is, of course, one shattered myth that has caused me personal discomfort. That relates to the origin of CABAL (cabal). Imagine my momentary distress at learning that this was not (as I'd long thought) an acronym formed from the names of the five preeminent leaders in Charles II's government of 1667-1673. Still, it is of little consequence: I'll consider it a mnemonic instead. Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley and Lauderdale may have even had a far greater impact on language than they did on Charles II's government. And the real origin of cabal? Well, apparently, it came into English via the French `cabale' from the medieval Latin `cabbala'. And there's more ...


Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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HASH(0x90424a14) von 5 Sternen Demythologizing folk etymythology 25. Februar 2014
Von Ralph Blumenau - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
People often wonder what is - or rather, what may be - the origin of certain words and phrases; and some of the answers to these questions are as various and as ingenious as they are wrong. More often than not, Quinion is not certain of the correct answer himself, and then engages in his own speculations while making it clear that there is no hard evidence for them. (One of the few phrases of whose strange origin he is certain is to “curry favour”.) But what he does do regularly is to dismiss false attributions - what he calls “folk etymology” - for one reason or another, quite often because the date of the phrase’s first appearance does not tally with the explanation. He writes, for instance, that there is “absolutely no evidence” for the popular idea that the origin of the word “posh” was that wealthy passengers travelling by boat to India booked their cabins on the cooler and therefore more expensive Port side for the Outward journey and the Starboard side on the journey Home. Disproving attributions, even if they figure in some dictionaries, seems to be the main purpose of the book, so that if you read it straight through, the impression it leaves of the author is one of a scholarly but a distinctively fault-finding character. But whether they are right or wrong, attributions of origin are fun to read, we learn some interesting bits of history, and the book will entertain many readers.
HASH(0x90424d74) von 5 Sternen Dissapointing 6. Oktober 2014
Von J. Duker - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
The concept was better than the execution. A lot more of debunking myths than actual explanations.
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HASH(0x90424f90) von 5 Sternen POSH �Port Out, Starboard Home�. by Michael Quinion 11. Juli 2004
Von John P. Maher - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
J. P. Maher Ph. D. Professor Emeritus of Linguistics
Oxford University Press editor Angela Blackburn told me in 1984 that "etymology doesn't sell." Michael Quinion's. POSH should sell. It is a better than average refutation of a lot of "etymomythology". True, but not new is Quinion's debunk of the myth that HM colonials sailing off to the Raj in India took cabins "port out, starboard home"- to be on the shady side of the ship. I wish Quinion more success than a Chicago Tribune reader had in 1980 with the same debunk. Dear Editor phoned the author to say he had received over twenty protest letters defending the nautical apocryphon. For "balance", Dear Editor printed a "rebuttal", probably written by himself or a flack posing as a visitor to our fair city, selflessly taking time out from his busy architecture tour to pen the magisterial letter.
Quinion debunks well, but fails to recognize the source of POSH, although he includes it among his range of possibilities.
No Britisher who uses the term is alluding to ocean voyaging or the far flung Empire. The source of "posh" lies in the name of Quinion's city of residence, Bristol. The L is spurious there. The spelling ought to be Bristow, with W - not L - as in the surname. The W to L shift is clear in the name of John Cleese's anti-hero, Basil, as Fawlty is over the hill; both "faulty" and forty-plus. Phoneticians Elmer Fudd and Lewis Carroll manifest the vagaries of Ls and Rs and Ws. "We called him Tortoise because he taught us."
When English folk fix up their place, they say they have it "all poshed [= polished] up"; they have "poshed digs". Though he mentions "polish", Quinion is not up to taking the phrase, rather than the disembodied word, as the circumstances out of which "posh" emerged. The final sound of "posheD" gets swallowed up by the initial sound of the following word, "Digs." For God sake. -- Newest posh-wrinkle is recent Riming Slang "Posh and Becks", meaning "sex", from Victoria Adams(Posh Spice Girl) & hubby footballer David Beckham.
Yankee. Hanks is presumably Quinion's source for the claim that Yankie from Dutch Janke "Johnny," is a surname commonest in the Hudson valley, though Janke - Johnny is a forename, not a surname. H. L. Mencken 1941 and Whitney 1889 looked to Scotland for the source. The West Virginia White pages have a lot of families by the Yankie ~ Yankey ~ Yankee, some acronyms from German Janke, but most of these Y-folk Scotch-Irish. New England Yankee appears in the yellow pages, not the white pages. Copious evidence on the uses of Yankee and "Yankee Notions" is found in 19th century periodicals (primary sources, unlike dictionaries). The Yankee homeland is Northern England and Lowland Scotland. More to follow. Watch this space.
Kibosh [sic]. Cockney origin was argued - rightly - by Cockney scholar Julian Franklyn. Maven Safire mulled over the word. It has no Yiddish source, nor was there ever any weird Irish ritual "cap of death". Quinion and co-maven Jesse Sheidlower misspell the Gaelic phrase in question. Kibosh code-breakers only need to know how we mis-spell English. In the National Spelling Bee the game master pronounces a word. The contestant wins if the word and its standard spelling are both in memory. Otherwise, the contestant composes a "phonetic" spelling. My downfall in 8th grade was "paroxysm". The spelling "kibosh" is a phonetic (mis)spelling. See medieval English: "I caboched my beast" - that is, I cut off the head of my venison. Then, in heraldry (duly noted by Quinion) there is "a caboche", the frontal view of an animal's head cut off behind the ears. You will discern on coins of the realm, in profile, the "caboche", disrespectfully speaking, of the royal head. Which is why John Cleese opened his audience with HM the Queen, "I've seen your head."
"Crap". The source of the toilet word Crapper, Quinion notwithstanding, is indeed the surname Crapper. The source of that name is the noun (not verb) "crap ~ crop", the taxman's term for a reaper. Ken Grabowski has interviewed all of Thomas Crapper's surviving relatives. They say they never encountered any "sniggering" about the name. The name Crapper would never have been emblazoned on public fixtures - Her Majesty would not have been amused - if England had then known "crap" as a common term for defecation. Reyburn's hilarious "Flushed With Pride: the story of Thomas Crapper" (1969) is no hoax, but just a bald-faced farce. Hoaxes are meant to deceive, not amuse; hoaxes are done with a straight face, as Dawson's Piltdown Man. In another farce Reyburn invented an inventor of the bra, "Bust Up: the Uplifting Story of Otto Titzling" stories. Otto never existed. Thomas existed, and his plumbing products bear the family name, cast in iron. Thomas Crapper & Co. held the royal warrant for installing flush toilets in HM shipyards and barracks. Thomas Crapper saved lives, low and high: Victoria's consort Prince Albert died of typhoid fever from the foul water in HM palaces, and her son the prince of Wales (and then King Edward VII) nearly met the same end. Windsor Castle plumbing fixtures were Crappers.
No evidence of a verb "crap" (for defecation) has been adduced that antedates the plumbing business of Thomas Crapper & Company Ltd. Only after World War I did the snickering start in America. Quinion wrongly takes "crop" and "crap" chronologically, as before and after. But the difference is geographic; "crop" is south English, while "crap" is north English, Scotch and Scotch-Irish. Thomas Crapper was a Yorkshireman. Thereupon Quinion mistranslates northern dialect "crappin' ken" in effect as s `defecation shed'. The reference instead was to the "crap = crop" - of leaf or grass - "harvested" for wiping.
One million doughboys passed through those places of easement. Quinion contends wrongly that no published evidence exists of American soldiers in WW I using the terms "crap" and "crapper. Ken Grabowski has tracked down and will publish the earliest loci attesting the WW I toilet verb and noun "crap" in soldiers' literature published after the Great War.
So, if you're on your maiden word maven voyage, buy Quinion's POSH, though 20 bucks is kind of steep for the slim volume. If you're an old hand at word books, skip this one.
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