Sunday, August 13, 2006



Recent essays by Theodore Dalrymple:

Edward Cook at Ralph the Sacred River points out that in ancient times teachers often sat while their students stood. Try that in the modern college classroom! This is a particular application of the general rule that the superior sits and the inferior stands. See Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 2.2.1-10, where the governor of Crete and his father visited the philosopher Taurus. There was one seat, and Taurus asked the father to take it. The father replied that his son should sit by virtue of his rank. Taurus discussed the matter and concluded that in public the father should stand in deference to his son the magistrate, but in private the son should show respect for his father by giving him the seat.

Cf. President Lyndon Johnson and what someone called "his amazing predilection for conducting business while sitting on the toilet doing his business." His aides presumably stood at attention in the fog (or should I say the bog?) and took notes.

Language Log, C*m sancto spiritu:
Yes, another triumph of the iTunes automatic asterisking program: the innocent Latin preposition "cum" 'with' loses its "u" because of its dirty homograph .... This wonderful fact from Barbara Partee, who downloaded "Carmina Burana" from iTunes and was confronted with "Si puer c*m puellula."

Curculio has an amusing collection of Worst Classical Typos, including the first word of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus and the last word of Horace's Ars Poetica.

Linguistic pet peeves:

Deogolwulf at the Joy of Curmudgeonry gives us "mehr Licht" with a post entitled A Little More Lichtenberg, containing a translation of Lichtenberg's Sudelbücher E170:
That one can convince one’s opponents with printed reasons, I have not believed since the year 1764. It is not for that purpose that I have taken up my pen, but rather merely to annoy them, and to give strength and courage to those on our side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.

Among the malapropisms in Dicken's Our Mutual Friend are "Alfred David" for "affidavit" and "diseased" for "deceased." I have actually seen "diseased" for "deceased" in a transcription of legal dictation, and examples can also be found in Google, e.g. from an obituary, "The diseased was an old and highly esteemed citizen of this county."

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