Monday, October 16, 2006


Monday Miscellany

From languagehat I learned about the existence of Trésor de la langue française informatisé. This is a rich resource for those interested in lexicography. I don't know anything comparable on the Web for the English language.

Dave Lull passes along a link to an interesting article on the etymology of gringo. There is a classical connection.

I received a flyer in my mailbox from the City of Saint Paul, Public Works Department, about snow emergency plowing. The flyer was printed in English, Somali, Amharic, and Arabic.

At the Department's web site there are also translations of the flyer in Spanish, Hmong, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Nuer, and Oromo.

Back in the days when Swedish immigrants inhabited Saint Paul's Swede Hollow neighborhood, were city announcements translated into Swedish at public expense? I somehow doubt it.

Every few years a new fad sweeps the world of business. Remember the book Who Moved My Cheese? Some companies actually bought copies of that book for all their employees.

Dennis Mangan at Mangan's Miscellany alerts us to the latest bit of corporate silliness -- lovemarks, which are brand names of products especially beloved by consumers. And I always thought a lovemark was a reason for wearing a turtleneck sweater to school or work the morning after.

At the Lovemarks web site, I submitted a nomination (with testimonial) for Phillips' Laxative Soft Chews (Chocolate Crème flavor). The web site is moderated, and for some inexplicable reason my submission was not accepted.

Matthew 3.10:
Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Cf. Luke 13.6-9:
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
Of course the parable is about us, not just about a barren fig tree. Apuleius, Apologia 2.23 (tr. H.E. Butler), also compares worthless fellows to trees without fruit:
But as for you, Aemilianus, and ignorant boors of your kidney, in your case the fortune makes the man. You are like barren and blasted trees that produce no fruit, but are valued only for the timber that their trunks contain.

tu vero, Aemiliane, et id genus homines uti tu es inculti et agrestes, tanti re vera estis quantum habetis, ut arbor infecunda et infelix, quae nullum fructum ex sese gignit, tanti est in pretio, quanti lignum eius in trunco.

In my post on footprints in the sand, I quoted Shakespeare's "High'st queen of state / Great Juno comes; I know her by her gait." (The Tempest, IV, I, 101-102). Fr. Gerard Deighan points out that Shakespeare is probably recalling Vergil, Aeneid 1.405 (tr. T.E. Page):
By her gait she was revealed true goddess.

vera incessu patuit dea.

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