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alternate derivations...

A discussion of word histories and origins.

alternate derivations...

Postby sluggo » Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:33 am

A bit of silliness (highly frowned upon here at the AA) from one of the internets:

Next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water..

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying . It's raining cats and dogs.

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, Dirt poor. The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway. Hence the saying a thresh hold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme, Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old..

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat..

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying pe ople alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the gra veyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a ..dead ringer..

Disclaimer: Poster is in no way responsible for spelling or punctuation and has left the source unedited and intact, except where the original rendered "1500's" :evil:
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Postby bnjtokyo » Wed May 02, 2007 2:09 am

Sluggo's post contains many dubious assertions.

This comment will focus on the assertion that
"Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous."

First of all, tomatoes are members of the botanical family Solanaceae, which contains many poisonous plants such nightshade. (Other edible members of the family are eggplants and potatoes) According to Wikipedia, the stems and leaves of tomatoes are poisonous, and it was on this basis that John Gerard thought they were poisonous (again, from Wiki), not due to any interaction between the acid in tomatoes and lead in pewter.

Note also that heavy metal poisoning is a slow process. One or two or even many meals with acids (orange juice, wine, vinegar, etc.) and soluble metals will not produce obvious illness or death. Rather, long exposure will merely cause mental impairment. (Thus, mad as a hatter, from mercury, not lead, poisoning.)

Second, tomatoes are a new world plant which means they were introduced to Europeans following Columbus' explorations in 1492. For simplicity, let's say 1500. 1500 plus "400 years or so" is about 1900. Yet according to Wiki, they were widely eaten in Britain before 1800. The oldest known cookbook with recipes for tomatoes was published in Naples in 1692 (Wiki again).

That's all folks, but we should take Sluggo's assertions with a grain of salt. (But not a lead salt)

Cheers,
bnjtokyo
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Postby Perry » Wed May 02, 2007 7:44 am

I never knew that tomatoes and nightshade are from the same family. (Not that it changes my generally positive opinion of tomatoes!)

Sluggo did say it was a bit of sillyness, so he is covered as far as disclaimers go.
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Postby sluggo » Wed May 02, 2007 8:07 am

Actually that post contains all dubious assertions. It's all just jest I passed on from the internets, and that's my only assertion. All seriousness aside.

I had a roomate who refused to eat tomatoes because of their shady family history.
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Postby Perry » Wed May 02, 2007 2:42 pm

bnjtokyo,

One look at Sluggo's avatar should tell you all. :wink:
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