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CHAT of vests & tortoises (was: Spelling pronunciations)

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 6:57
On Monday, November 8, 2004, at 01:54 , John Cowan wrote:

> Ray Brown scripsit: > >> again /@'gejn/ or /@'gEn/ (so also with _against_) >> ate /ejt/ or /Et/ > > I have only /@gEn(st)/ and /ejt/. /@gejn(st)/ seems British to me,
It may well be - and not all Britishers use it, but it is common.
> and > /Et/ comes across as an archaic vulgarism, the sort of thing my father > (1904-1993) said when he was being funny.
Oh dear - I'm archaic and vulgar ;) [snip]
>> I've been talking all the time about 'British waistcoats', which you >> LeftPondians quaintly call 'vests'. > > By "quaintly" do you imply that "British waistcoats" were once called > "vests" there as well, as trousers were once (and still by us) called > "pants"?
No. I meant it sounds odd to us when you refer to a garment which is clearly meant to be seen by a word meaning "wife=beater". The older, now obsolete, meanings in English were 'garment', 'article of clothing' (which is exactly what Latin _uestis_ means); 'robe', 'dress'; an ecclesiastic vestment. In fact over here those of us that speak of such things still talk of a priest _vesting_ meaning that he is putting on vestments, and when he has finished he is said to be _vested_. But the noun is no longer used to mean 'vestment'. As far as I can tell, the word seems to have acquired its current meanings separately on each side of the Atlantic. [snip]
>> Over here, as I guess you know, 'vest' always means >> what you call an 'undervest' > > Recte "undershirt".
Sorry - confused by the 'pants' ~ 'underpants' business.
> Now undershirts come in two varieties, those which > are essentially T-shirts (but with short enough sleeves that they are > not visible even under short-sleeved shirts), and those which have mere > straps running over the shoulders, in current slang called "wife-beaters" > for reasons too disgusting to go into. > > I would conjecture that by "vest" you Rightpondians mean primarily the > latter type, and only secondarily (if at all) the former type?
You conjecture correctly. The former type is just a T-shirt AFAIK - but is not uncommonly worn under a shirt. In fact in the summer, the wife-beater type is often worn by certain types under nothing at all :)
> I can > see the comparison between the latter type and actual waistcoats/vests, > but it seems to me the essence of a waistcoat/vest is its sleevelessness, > whereas T-shirts most definitely do have sleeves. (I hope this is clear. > )
> >>> I've also heard a Frenchified [-wAz] in British English. >> >> Ach!!!! How pretentious & ignorant can a person get?! > > Well, to be fair, some who use it are probably p. & i., and others just i.
Maybe - but not entirely i. otherwise they wouldn't know that -oise is [waz] in French; just ignorant enough, I suppose, to think that 'tortoise' must be a French word 'cause it ends in -oise :)
> >> I think the second syllable got changed through the influence of >> _porpoise_. > > So it seems, yes. > >> The French for _tortoise_ is in fact _tortue_ <-- late Latin _tortu:ca_ > > This "tortuca" itself has an interesting etymology; it's from _tartarucha_
Hence Italian _tartaruga_ :)
> 'of Tartarus (fem.)' < Greek, distorted (:-) by _tortus_ 'twisted', > referring to the animal's feet.
I see the Spanish _tortuga_ is also from _tortu:ca_. But I had not realized the etymology of _tortuca_ till you told me - and only discovered the Italian after reading your email. (But Italian also has _testuggine_ from the 'proper' Latin word - see below) In fact the Greek adjective _tartarouchos_ meant "controlling Tartaros [the netherworld]" <-- tartaro- + -ech- (the root of echo:/ekho: = I have) . In the best ancient Greek the feminine was the same as the masculine. In fact, I guess it was originally _he: tartaroukhos khelo:ne:_ = the tartaros-controlling tortoise, referring to one variety of tortoise and that it was shortened to _tartaroukhe:_ and Latinized as slang term *tartaru:c(h)a and applied to all tortoises. I wonder why it was associated with Tartaros - the land of the dead. I suppose because it burried itself in the Autumn/Fall and came back from Tartaros in the Spring. But it seems very silly of the late Latin speakers when Latin had a perfectly good word of its own for the animal, namely _testu:do:_ (gen. testu:dinis). But then ancient Greek also had a perfectly good word of its own, namely: khelo:ne: (fem) which, now pronounced [CE'lOni], is still used in the modern language. Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]


Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>