Doornails (and their mortality) !!! (was: Re: Interlingvo)
|From:||D Tse <exponent@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, July 10, 2001, 14:27|
>ObDrift: Why is a doornail in English more prototypically dead than
>other dead things? Only after its alliteration?
I have a book ("the Joy of Words", Rose, 1995) that has a small bit about
this. I make no claims as to its reliability :)
"A doornail was a nail or bolt with a large head with which carpenters
studded doors (and still do) often through the battens, for strength and
sometimes, for decoration. The nails were clinched, that is, after being
driven they had their points turned over. Such nails could not easily be
withdrawn - they were dead."
The book quotes other expressions (...as a dodo, shotten herring) as
subsequent (but less popular) versions of the doornail thing.
Shakespeare used it in Henry IV, so it *must* be an authoritative
"ma come piove bene sugl'impermeabili ... da da da etc."