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History

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:05 pm

• history •


Pronunciation: his-têr-ree • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Antiquity, the past, yesteryear, days of yore, bygone times. 2. The record, account, or story of the past. 3. The study of such records, accounts, and stories.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a common word that we think little of when uttering. Yet, it has a variety of offspring that bear considering. The adjective for this word, historical, has the additional meaning of "so important as to make history", as the historical march from Selma, Alabama. Historicism is either the theory that our history is the result of conditions that are beyond human control, or a(n) historicism is an idea that is stuck in the past. Historicity, on the other hand, means "historical accuracy, authenticity", as in "The Bible's historicity has been challenged for ages."

In Play: The past of anything is its history: "Andy Belham lives in a house with a history dating back to the Revolutionary War." Edmund Burke (1729-1797) once wrote, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." This calls to my attention a true story from the annals of the Bucknell University history department: "After a stirring lecture on World War I, a student proudly approached the lecturer and volunteered, 'Thank you, Professor Kirkland. Now I know why they call the other one World War Two!'"

Word History: Today's Good Word has a fascinating, well, history. Greek historia meant simply "learning". Latin borrowed this word and changed its meaning to "account of past events, story". French inherited this word, making it histoire, which English borrowed both as history and story—a reminder that history is simply someone's story of the past. Taking the history of this word beyond Greek, historia was built upon histor "wise man, judge", whom the Greeks thought to be a seer, or one who saw things more clearly than most. We know this because the his in histor came from the same PIE root meaning "see" as vision. This root made it to English as wit, wise and twit. "Twit?" you ask, rightly astounded. This word was shortened from nitwit, made up of nit "egg of a louse" + wit. In other words, someone with the mental capacities the size of a louse's egg. (Thank you, Suzanne Russell, for the historical suggestion of today's really Good Word.)
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Re: History

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:35 am

Then there is historiography:

The principles, theories, or methodology of scholarly historical research and presentation.
The writing of history based on a critical analysis, evaluation, and selection of authentic source materials and composition of these materials into a narrative subject to scholarly methods of criticism.
A body of historical literature. (Am Her Dict)

The top definition may refer to the philosophy of history, which should have become "historiology," but it has never caught on. Less than half the dictionaries that include historiography include historiology. That study is fascinating, comparable to what we do with words on the Agora. Compare, for example, a history of the civil war from a Confederate fan with the same events done by a Yankee. Can there BE an objective history? All such makes for a fascinating discussion.
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Re: History

Postby fredgamble » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:08 pm

Perhaps someone can clarify for me the difference between historical and historic.
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Re: History

Postby Slava » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:48 pm

fredgamble wrote:Perhaps someone can clarify for me the difference between historical and historic.
I found this on dictionary.com:
A distinction is usually made between historic (important, significant) and historical (pertaining to history): a historic decision; a historical perspective.

So you would have a historic building, not a historical one. They are most often interchangeable as far as I can tell, though.
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Re: History

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:47 pm

When in high school we had a set of twins named Witt.
One was nicknamed 'nitwitt' and I forgot the other.
But when you saw one and did not recognize which, he
was called 'half-Witt'. Kids can be cruel.
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Re: History

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Aug 08, 2013 4:27 pm

Remember, the winners write the history.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: History

Postby Slava » Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:41 pm

Philip Hudson wrote:Remember, the winners write the history.

You beat me to it. I kept thinking of how to finesse the idea of Northern and Southern histories of the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression. I think the winners used to write the history, but now that most of us don't wipe out the losers, that may no longer be the case.
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Re: History

Postby David McWethy » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:14 pm

Dr. G’s mention of the the historical march from Selma, Alabama (to Montgomery; March 25, 1965) brought back some long-forgotten memories—and one still-vivid vignette—as I was one of the hundreds in this march, led by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

While it's true that I was one of the marchers, I don't mean to imply that Rev. King was even within sight: I was about a quarter-mile behind those at the front of the line; in retrospect, it was ironic that while the march was a post hoc ergo propter hoc ("before; therefore after") consequence of Rosa Parks refusing to sit in the back of the (Montgomery municipal) bus, the white marchers were required to march at the back of the line.

Not far into the march my addiction to nicotine compelled me to drop out (intending to jog back to my place in line), to return to where I had parked my car (with the pack of Salems still on the seat).

When I got there I found a business card under my windshield; oddly, I remember that for some reason the gut-punch of terror came from the fact that it was that it was an expensive, glossy card, implying wealth and power, rather than something that Bubba and Billy Joe had run off on a mimeograph machine down at the Texaco station; on the back, in black fountain-pen ink, was scrolled "The Ku Klux Klan is watching you". The front was embossed with "Sam Bowers, Grand Dragon of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan".

I'd like to proudly report that I--armed with the courage of righteousness--didn’t let a bunch of in-bred imbecile sheet-heads scare me off, but I had only arrived in Selma the night before, and already (it seemed at the time, anyway) "They" knew who I was, where I was from, and why I was there.

The shameful truth is that I reacted the same way that a large number of liberal whites from “up Nawth” did in similar situations (something not mentioned in any history books I've read): I didn't stop being fixated on the cars in my rear-view mirror until I crossed the Mississippi River bridge at Hattiesburg.

I don't feel anything like a "winner"; on the other hand I'm alive to add this footnote to the mainstream historical accounts.
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Re: History

Postby MTC » Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:49 am

You were indeed a Witness to History, David. I hope your story or vignette has found its way into print. It should.
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Re: History

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:45 am

I will piggy-back on that comment.
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Re: History

Postby gailr » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:54 pm

Does your local library have a historian, or are they in touch with a local historian? These stories need to be recorded for those who have no idea that everyone has reason to fear institutionalized bullies.
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Re: History

Postby bamaboy56 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:13 pm

I was living in Texas when Dr. King and company made the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, but I remember well seeing it televised. Now I live in Bama and it's commemorated every year on the anniversary of the march. They don't actually march all the way from Selma to Montgomery, though (a distance of 50.2 miles by car, or 47.9 miles by foot, according to Google maps). They only march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, in tribute to the beginning of the march. Lots of history there.
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Re: History

Postby David McWethy » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:30 am

I have to confess that I was surprised (and yes, pleased) that my recollection of a tiny slice of the Selma-Montgomery march engendered encouragement. I had not considered it worthy of widespread sharing, but will now at least see if the University has any kind of oral history program.

For those whose appetites I may have whetted: Sam Bowers (whose “calling card” was left under my windshield wiper), Charles Noble, and Deavours Nix were arrested in connection with the 1966 slaying of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer.
Bowers was sentenced to life in prison (one can Google a mug shot of him—or it can be found in any dictionary; look under “malice”) after four trials had ended with hung juries.

Deavours Nix (pronounced in the Mississippi dialect as “dever-(rhymes with “never”) us” was a civic leader and owner of the one posh restaurant in Laurel, Mississippi (which isn’t saying much). I didn’t know of his connection with Sam Bowers when I was given a “good old boy” introduction to him, in late 1965, although in that time and place there was as much an assumption that any given white adult male was, to one degree or another, a “sheet-head” as there was that he (and his family) went to church on Sunday.

In many ways the Ku Klux Klan of the ‘60s was the American equivalent of today’s “radical Islamic terrorists”.

Laurel was the headquarters of the Masonite Corporation, and the whole city smelled like a wet brown paper bag; if the United States ever needs an enema, I can tell tell ‘em where to put the tube.

Nix inadvertently gained a local reputation as a stand-up comic, when he testified during the 5th murder trial of Bowers (which was allegedly the motivation for the movie “Mississippi Burning”) that
“the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi…[w]as a benevolent organization that only existed to give money to the rural poor and pass out fruit baskets at Christmas…[and] that he never even heard the defendant, Samuel F. Bowers, use a racial slur” (New York Times; August 21, 1998).


Nix died September 19, 1998 of lung cancer. Except in my memory.
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Re: History

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:10 am

My grandfather said that when he was converted to Christianity he quit drinking, smoking, the Masonic Lodge and the KKK. He said the Lodge and the Clan were the same. They just met on different nights of the week.

I also have an ancestor who, having been burned out by the North during the Civil War, was burned out by the KKK after the war for hiring black people to pick his cotton.

I love Mississippi, but it has had a troubled past. Things are looking up now.
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