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One of the Good Word editors, Paul Ogden, came across a collection of quotable quips on the subject of politics which I thought we all might enjoy.
The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
—Henry Cate, VII
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these election speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become Prime Minister or Premier; I’m beginning to believe it.
Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.
Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.
I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about them.
—Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952
A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.
I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.
—Charles de Gaulle
Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.
Paul Ogden found this amusing bit of fun about laughter and expressing it in print in the New Yorker: “Hahaha vs. Hehehe“.
Mark B. Duwel sent me this bit of Southern culture which I thought you might enjoy. When a southern mother asks her child, “Show me where the Yankees shot you,” the well-educated Southern child will pull up his or her shirt/skirt and show you their…belly button. That is a signal for the parents to begin tickling the child.
In response to the Good Word collop, Nicholas Leonard sent me this followup. I thought some of you might enjoy it, too:
Collop in the Irish Language, Gaeilge, is colpa. It was and is still spoken in some regions as a unit of grazing for various farm animals, the grazing habits of a cow being the yardstick for the rest. Of course, the quantity and quality between grazing on poor land and on rich land varied greatly, so a collop could be, in effect, a variable unit according to the quality of the land.
The following extract illustrates the vital importance of the collop in old Ireland as explained by the Tailor Buckley to Eric Cross (from The Tailor and Ansty, by Eric Cross, Mercier Press reprint 1972: Chapter 5, page 31):
“Well, collops was the old style of reckoning for land, before the people got too bloodyfull smart and educated, and let the Government or anyone else do their thinking for them. A collop was the old count for the carrying power of land. The grazing of one cow or two yearling heifers or six sheep or twelve goats or six geese and a gander was one collop. The grazing of a horse was three collops.”
“I tell you, that was a better style of reckoning than your acres and your yards. It told you the value of a farm. Not the size of it. An acre might be an acre of rock, but you know where you are with a collop. There is a man over there on the other side of the valley has four thousand acres of land and barely enough real land to graze four cows in the whole lot. But you would think he had a grand farm when you talk of acres. The devil be from me! But the people in the old day had sense.”
Colpa was also a term for the calf of the leg as well as for the handle of a flail or cudgel—two essential implements in olden times.
Today I received an e-mail from an old e-friend in South Africa, Chris Stewart. The Good Word restive brought returned a memory from his childhood…but wait, let him explain it.”
“I trust all is well with you? Here we have been having blazingly hot clear summer days, interspersed with days of lightning storms and sporadic torrential rainfall.”
“Today’s good word touched a nerve. As a child, I spent a term at home in quarantine due to having contracted hepatitis. It was frustrating and boring, so I read everything I could find in the house, including an entire set of encyclopedia cover to cover.”
“Then, there was a singular book called (if I remember correctly) The Encyclopedia of Games, Sports and Pastimes. This very comprehensive and wide ranging volume, which has sadly been lost to the family, took some effort to define terms.”
“A distinction which has stuck in my mind ever since, is that sports (which can indeed be engaged in purely for fun and entertainment) have a component tied to survival whereas, by contrast, games are merely for fun, even if they do teach you something.”
“I don’t recall the exact distinction between games and pastimes; perhaps it has to do with rules or the absence thereof. So, hunting, fishing, archery, swimming, wrestling and so forth are clearly Sports, whereas Rugby, tennis, soccer and the like are games. While I would consider the purpose of the card game solitaire to be a pastime, it must surely be a game.”
“So what is it that galls me? Seeing games (such as football, usually involving a ball) being referred to as sports.”
An interesting distinction you make between games and sports. I have never heard the distinction before, so it must belong to your idiolect alone.
However, having said that, there is a distinction that I have always thought the Olympic Committed should make between those sports that have inherent scores and those that must be judged, like ice-skating. I have often noticed that scores in figure-skating always reveal the native lands of the judges: they always score skaters from their country higher than other judges. If a skater is so unfortunate as to have no judge from his or her country, they do not have that prejudice built into their score.
I think sports that have no inherent scoring, should be excluded from the Olympics in order to exclude this sort of prejudice in scoring. Maybe we could fit this characteristic in your distinction. Sports would then include activities with no inherent scoring, while games would include those that do. Hunting, fishing, solitaire, wrestling would therefore quality as sports, while basketball, football, and baseball would qualify as games. Not far from the distinction you make.
We would have to have a third word for those activities that have winners without scoring. These would include racing, such as swimming, track, biking, all revolving around timing, times. We might include them with games that could be included in the Olympics without ruffling my feathers.
Here is a sentence in Dutch composed of 10 instances of the word bergen which someone identified only as Adriaan contributed to our Dutch Tongue-twister page.
Als bergen bergen bergen bergen bergen, bergen bergen bergen bergen bergen.
When lots of mountains deposit lots of mountains, lots of mountains deposit lots of mountains.
I don’t speak Dutch, but it seems at least to be grammatical to my German ear if bergen can mean “lots of” and “deposit”.
Can any of yall confirm my inclination? Is it grammatical?
Here are maps of where all the world’s languages are spoken: http://www.muturzikin.com/
George Kovac wrote today in response to our Good Word hilarious, “Bob, and of course, there was Pope Hilarius, who reigned from 461 to 468. You cannot make up material this good.”
“I was disappointed the current Pope chose ‘Francis’ instead of reaching back to revive this name, so that when someone says, ‘This new pope is kind’, I could respond, ‘Yes, he’s Hilarius 2.'”