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Picture of Hic et ubique
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Let me preface this by saying that I am not a regular reader of detective stories. As a lad I read almost all the Sherlock Holmes tales, but since then I've read only a very few stories of this genre, probably no more than half a dozen. Among them are a Lawrence Block book or two, at CW's recommendation, in which the protagonist is not a detective, but rather the criminal, a cultivated jewel-thief.

Recently I stumbled upon much earlier detective fiction from this point of view. I'm enjoying (in translation) The Extraordinary Adventures of Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar (1910), by Maurice LeBlanc, and I'm looking forward to the final tale, Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late. Here is a sample, the hero, from prison, sending a letter to Baron Cahorn.
    … he opened the envelope. It contained a sheet of paper, bearing this heading: Prison de la Santé, Paris. He looked at the signature: Arsène Lupin. Then he read:
    . . ."Monsieur le Baron:
    . . ."There is, in the gallery of your castle, a picture of Philippe de Champaigne, of exquisite finish, which pleases me beyond measure. Your Rubens are also to my taste, as well as your smallest Watteau. In the salon to the right, I have noticed the Louis XIII cadence-table, the tapestries of Beauvais, the Empire gueridon signed 'Jacob,' and the Renaissance chest. In the salon to the left, all the cabinet full of jewels and miniatures.
    . . ."For the present, I will content myself with those articles that can be conveniently removed. I will therefore ask you to pack them carefully and ship them to me, charges prepaid, to the station at Batignolles, within eight days, otherwise I shall be obliged to remove them myself during the night of 27 September; but, under those circumstances, I shall not content myself with the articles above mentioned.
    . . ."Accept my apologies for any inconvenience I may cause you, and believe me to be your humble servant,
    . . . . . . . . .Arsène Lupin"
    "P. S. – Please do not send the largest Watteau. Although you paid thirty thousand francs for it, it is only a copy, the original having been burned, under the Directoire by Barras, during a night of debauchery. Consult the memoirs of Garat.
    . . ."I do not care for the Louis XV châtelaine, as I doubt its authenticity."
Just to make this a word-post:
gueridon – a small round table (from Gueridon, character in 17th century farces and popular songs. In other words, an eponym)
châtelaine – 1. a woman in charge of a large house 2. a clasp or chain worn at the waist for holding keys, a purse, or a watch (??? Does it mean something different in French?)
 
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according to my Funk & Wagnalls, châtelaine is a key-chain.

but just to get this back to The Written Word, I find the mystery genre to be generally dull, formulaic and hackneyed. however, I do enjoy some of the hard-boiled detective sub-genre (e.g., Michael Connelly's 'Harry Bosch' stories, John Sandford's (Twin Cities set) 'Lucas Davenport' tales); and the spy thriller sub-genre really turns my pages (e.g., John le Carre, Martin Cruz Smith).
 
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Picture of Caterwauller
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I've read about chatelaines (the keychain kind) in Regency novels, too. In looking for pictures of them online, I found this fairly modern one, along with a definition of SWAG which makes perfect sense, but I didn't know it.

Here are some more traditional chatelaines.


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a definition of SWAG which makes perfect sense, but I didn't know it.
I suggest you forget it, as well. Any definition of a word that purports to come from an acronym older than about fifty years is almost certain to be an urban myth. See Michael Quinion's World Wide Words.


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The last mystery novel I read was "The Riddle of the Traveling Skull" by Harry Stephen Keeler:

quote:

Sweet that kiss, like our butter-cream-center bar. And blonde she was, like our Crispo Taffy. With eyes as blue as jelly bean No. 18 - which goes in the jelly bean mixture No. 9. Dressed all in pink silk, as pink and as crisp as our Silko-Spun Crunch.

----

Were I poetic, like - well - like Abigail Sprigge, I might say it swept over me like the spray of Niagara over honymooners: instead, I prefer to say it trampled over me like a drunken mule with elephants' feet grafted onto his ankles.

----

The red bristlefaced man was now on me.
"Om lak to halp yu elf yu vassen findin' grey vat yu lokking for. Om Misder Hvralek, grevyard sopperintendunt."
"Lithuanian?" I asked shrewdly.
"Czecho-Slav," he replied modestly.
 
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RE: swag again... Loved that Quinion excerpt, Arnie, thank you. I would add-- as a periodic crime/detective/suspense fiction junkie (I think you call that a binger?)-- that the word continues to be used daily in its old sense as booty within mob circles. Now I'm giving away the particular predilection of bingers like myself, who like to believe that, purely as a byproduct of their fictional and occasional TV habits, they are "on the inside." he, he. The word popped up frequently in Henry Hill's testimony (as reported in 1985 by Nicholas Pileggi in the newspaper and in his book Wiseguy), and still can be heard routinely on TV mob soap The Sopranos
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Hic et ubique:

...gueridon – a small round table (from Gueridon, character in 17th century farces and popular songs. In other words, an eponym)...
Just adding a fillip here. The reason the table was named after the character... the "guéridon" was originally (mid-17thc., appropriately) a 'pedestal table' (or candelabra) wherein the 'pedestal' consisted of a sculptured human figure of an 'exotic', a 'savage' or 'Moor'-- in other words, a black slave figure from Africa/the Americas/ the West Indies. Meanwhile, just as 'sambo' is an obsolete, now-insulting term which once was a similar 'character', so, then, was the name "Guéridon." Later, the guéridon caught on bigtime; pedestals might be represented as grecian columns, sculpted Gr. myth. characters, three carved legs, etc.


quote:
châtelaine – 1. a woman in charge of a large house 2. a clasp or chain worn at the waist for holding keys, a purse, or a watch (??? Does it mean something different in French?)
It should only be noted for clarification, I believe: a châtelaine is not a concierge of a castle with a giant ring of keys (although chatelain is correctly translated as an ornament from which keys are suspended). She is the lady of the castle, a wealthy aristocrat. (ref.)
 
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I always thought chatelain, chamberlain, and castellan all referred to someone in the employ of the owner of the castle or house and lands. Since their job was to run the house, they were in a most trusted position.


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MJ, you may be right that the word has acquired that connotation in English usage, I'm not that familiar with it. I'm just going by what the frogs themselves say about the way you would use the word in French (see post #'s 2 & 6 in that "ref." URL above). Looks like that sort of position (to judge from the Wiki, para 2) evolved into one of independent power and prestige in France, which would explain it.
 
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I suggest you forget it, as well. Any definition of a word that purports to come from an acronym older than about fifty years is almost certain to be an urban myth.


Although I've never seen it, I am sure there must be research that has identified the oldest acronym.

The oldest I have heard of is probably RADAR (RAdio Detection and Ranging) but it might be that some of the other WW2 ones are older.


Richard English
 
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quote:
I suggest you forget it, as well. Any definition of a word that purports to come from an acronym older than about fifty years is almost certain to be an urban myth. See Michael Quinion's World Wide Words.

Yes, and it was a little to "pat" for me. It was great to read Quinion's article. Thanks!

Isn't SNAFU a WW2 word, too?


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Isn't SNAFU a WW2 word, too?

I believe it is - and I also believe it's a US one - though I've not done any research.


Richard English
 
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Acronyms are relatively new in English, but some ripe old ones exist in other languages: e.g., Latin SPQR Senatus Populusque Romanus (i.e., the Roman Senate and People); ΙΧΘΥΣ ('fish' in Greek, standing for Ιησους Χριστος Θεου Υιος Σωτηρ, i.e., Jesus Christus, God's son, savior'; INRI (i.e., Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum. Governmental bureaucracies seem attracted to their use, and the Soviets had some good examples: e.g., GPU (i.e., Государственное Политическое Управление НКВД РСФСР 'State Politcal Directorate', 1922, followed by the KGB). The US FBI (i.e., Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1935, and earlier BOI, Bureau of Invesigation, 1908) seems an earlier candidate for initialism or acronym in US English. Some say the acronyms SNAFU (i.e, situation normal all fucked up) and FUBAR (i.e., fucked up beyond all repair) existed before the Second World War amongst electronics engineers.

[Fixed mistake.]

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Wow, I had no idea that the concept of acronyms was so old, even though in other languages. Do most languages have acronyms?
 
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Indian languages do something interesting with acronyms. This photo of a box from the Lakshmi Sweet Shop has the Hindi लक्ष्मी मिष्ठान भण्डार which is romanized as lakshmi mishthan bhandar (lakṣmī miṣṭhān bhaṇḍār in IAST). So the letters LMB are an acronym formed from the first letter of the romanization of the Hindi phrase.

Some Indian business cards have the person's initials spelled phonetically - but they use the English pronunciation of the romanization, and spell it phonetically in the local script. For instance the name S V Khan would have the first two letters spelled "es vee" in the local script. If that makes sense.

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quote:
gueridon – a small round table


In the restaurant business, a gueridon is the rectangular cart that the captains/waiters wheel around from table to table. It's stocked with extra silverware, etc., and generally has a burner of some sort plus a cutting board for tableside service of racks of lamb, for example.
 
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Some publications make a distinction between an acronym, which is pronounced, e.g., NASA, and an intialization, which is not, e.g., CIA. An acronym is printed in small caps.
 
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Hic, on your recommendation, I have begun to read Adventures of Arsène Lupin, and it is excellent. I am going to suggest it in WoBoGro. It's funny, fast reading, and has lots of great words that we often talk about, like frisson (recently discussed) and prestidigitator. It has lots of French references, so I found it particularly interesting because we were in France in October.

The series was first published in 1910, and the last printing was 1970, so you'll probably have to get it through your library, as we did. I can't imagine somebody not liking it. Anyway, the next time you are at the library, check one of these books out. They are just great!
 
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This sounds like fun beach reading, Kalleh & Hic, & I've been looking for something French. I was able to find 3 old Arsène Lupinpaperbacks on ebay.fr, & hope to receive them before long. I haven't been able to find the exact same one you're reading, Kalleh, but I'll be reading the one called Les Confidences d'A.Lupin, which may turn out to be the same thing. I'm also getting A. Lupin v. Herlock Sholmes, & a title which would mean 'an explosion of shrapnel.'

By the by, Kalleh, have you picked up 100 yrs of Solitude again? I read it too quickly, & am going over bits & pieces of it. I loved it, & feel like there's a lot more to think about.
 
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We studied Arsène Lupin at school as part of our French lessons.

I seem to recall that I didn't find the works all that interesting and haven't read any of them since. Maybe I should.


Richard English
 
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No, Bethree, I haven't. I must, though, because I was thoroughly enjoying it. I have a habit of losing books that I enjoy, especially when I am traveling a lot. I once lost the same book twice and ended up buying 3 blasted copies! In fact, I lost the third, too, and had to go back to the airport and get it!
 
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Maybe you should register all your books with Bookcrossing. You might be able to keep track of who found them, especially if you leave them in public places.
 
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