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"Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us." Apocrypha, Ecclesiasticus 44:1.
This week we focus on the latter: the common man, the man of the streets.

hoi polloi – the common people generally
    So that VIP visitors [to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair] ... would not be forced to tour the Fair grounds on foot with the hoi polloi, the Fair Corporation purchased a fleet of white sedans, and set up a chauffeurs' pool in which there were often scores of men sitting around waiting for their next assignment.
    – Robert A. Caro, The Power Broker : Robert Moses and the Fall of New York

    Life offers regrettably few opportunities to laugh at billionaires, so it's a shame that so few Americans are following the America's Cup ... At least three of the world's richest men are about to be publicly humiliated in the waters off Auckland. Such a delightful spectacle should not pass unnoticed. For the hoi polloi, the perennial appeal of this periodic regatta is that it attracts egomaniacs who spend freely and then lose badly.
    – Mark Lewis, Regatta de Blank; The joy of watching billionaires lose the America's Cup, Slate Magazine, Dec. 5, 2002
And as long as we're in Greek words: demos – the common people; the populace
    A week after Election Day, Americans still were wondering who the 43rd president would be. And the rancor over the voting results only intensified as the charges and countercharges flew in all directions. ... the ancient Greeks might have noted that Demos seemed to be buckling before Chaos.
    – Michael Rust, One for the History Books - election 2000 Insight on the News, Dec. 4, 2000
 
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I thought hoi polloi was what Alexander Graham Bell proposed for the telephone greeting.

And isn't hoi the definite article in Greek? So shouldn't it either be "on foot with hoi polloi" or "on foot with the polloi"? How did this article manage to stow away on this word in first place? I notice demos isn't still dragging its article around.
 
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And isn't hoi the definite article in Greek?

Yes, the masculine nominative plural one at that.

So shouldn't it either be "on foot with hoi polloi" or "on foot with the polloi"?

Hard to say. Russian has no articles, so should we eschew the when speaking about the intelligentsia, some apparatchik, or the KGB? Probably not. I'm also torn about whether to decline Latin or Greek nouns depending on their function in English sentences.

How did this article manage to stow away on this word in first place? I notice demos isn't still dragging its article around.

Ah, here's the interesting question. Note sure, but it did.
 
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third estate – the commons (especially in Britain or France) viewed as forming a political order having representation in a parliament
    {B}efore the Reformation they [the clergy] were an estate, separate from the once military and now landed aristocracy and gentry and from the third estate of lay citizens, dedicated to serving God first and only secondly representing the community by prayer and supplication more than by preaching and the cure of souls.
    – Harold Perkin, Book review of The Professions in Early Modem England, 1450-1800 by Rosemary O'Day, Journal of Social History, Fall, 2002

    John Gower fills a substantial part of his copious verses with nostalgia for a bygone age when, in stark contrast to the aftermath of the Black Death, not only did the higher estates obey God's prescription, but the third estate also knew its place. In the Mirour de l'omme, written before 1378, Gower rebukes the labourers of the present day for their laziness and for receiving wages three times more than their work deserved.
    – John Hatcher, 14th century AD, in Past & Present magazine, August 1, 1994
 
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quote:
Hard to say. Russian has no articles, so should we eschew _the_ when speaking about the _intelligentsia_, some _apparatchik_, or the _KGB_? Probably not.

I never hear anyone say 'the le mot juste', but perhaps that phrase hasn't been picked up by hoi monolingual polloi.
 
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[double-post deleted]

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I never hear anyone say 'the le mot juste'

I just got back from shopping at the El Cerrito Plaza Shopping Center. Nota the double definite articles bene. And you hear people speak of the Alhambra in Spain all the time. It's probably on a phrase by phrase basis. (And in the news, notice that when Ukraine gained independence from the old USSR, they forced everybody to stop saying the Ukraine.)
 
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I always laugh at
The La Brea Tar Pits, which would translate to The the tar tar pits . . .


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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I just got back from shopping at the El Cerrito Plaza Shopping Center. _Nota_ the double definite articles _bene_. And you hear people speak of the Alhambra in Spain all the time. It's probably on a phrase by phrase basis. (And in the news, notice that when Ukraine gained independence from the old USSR, they forced everybody to stop saying the Ukraine.)

Yeah, but these have become names. I can't think of any other foreign word that comes with its article. I can think of phrases, like la dolce vida and le mot juste, but no other words.
When I was in Ukraine I was told that 'Ukraine' comes from the word for outland, and that 'the Ukraine' implied the outlands, relative to the despised Moscow, presumably. 'Ukraine' is a name, 'the Ukraine' is a point of view.
 
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Ukraine means border area or buffer zone. It's like the German / English word Mark / March.

About El Cerrito vs hoi polloi is that most Californians can identify the 'el' as the definite article in Spanish, but not many would be able to identify the 'hoi' in hoi polloi as an article, definite or indefinite. El Cerrito means the little hill in Spanish, and there's an El Cerrito Hill nearby.
 
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Originally posted by neveu:
I can't think of any other foreign word that comes with its article. I can think of phrases, like la dolce vida and le mot juste, but no other words.
Alcohol, and some similary words such as alchemy. The al- prefix is the Arabic definite article, "the".

Curious that that particular group seems to have come over into English with the article included. neveu is correct that it's an unusual phenomenon, and I wonder why the unusual seems to have happened quite a fair bit in this particular case.
 
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Curious that that particular group seems to have come over into English with the article included.

It's not English's fault. The words were mainly borrowed from Spanish, either directly or via French.
 
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proletarian – of the commonalty, of the lowest class of people; hence, mean; vile; vulgar. (noun: a member of the working class). proletariat – the laboring class; the poorest class of wage earners
[Latin proletarius, of the lowest (propertyless) class of Roman citizens. Akin to the word prolific. The concept was that their only use to the state was to breed the next generation of soldiers, for they were unneeded as workers (for slaves can do the work), and useless for anything more. ]

There are so many interesting quotes today that I cannot stop at just one or two. (ellipses omitted).
    Admiration of the proletarian like that of dams, power stations, and aeroplanes, is part of the ideology of the machine age.
    – Bertrand Russell, "The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed," in Unpopular Essays (1950).

    I am told that today rather more than 60 per cent of the men who go to university go on a Government grant. This is a new class that has entered upon the scene. It is the white-collar proletariat. They do not go to university to acquire culture but to get a job, and when they have got one, scamp it. They have no manners and are woefully unable to deal with any social predicament. Their idea of a celebration is to go to a public house and drink six beers. They are mean, malicious and envious. They are scum.
    – W. Somerset Maugham (Sunday Times, Dec. 25, 1955); ellipses omitted

    Nobody thinks in terms of "human beings." Governments don’t, why should we? They talk about people and the proletariat; I talk about the suckers and the mugs. It’s the same thing.
    The Third Man (movie, Orson Welles, 1949, based on Graham Greene's novel; Harry Lime speaking)

    Exploration belongs to the Renaissance, travel to the bourgeois age, tourism to our proletarian moment. The explorer seeks the undiscovered, the traveler that which has been discovered by the mind working in history, the tourist that which has been discovered by entrepreneurship and prepared for him by the arts of mass publicity. If the explorer moves toward the risks of the formless and the unknown, the tourist moves toward the security of pure cliché. It is between these two poles that the traveler mediates.
    – Paul Fussell, From Exploration to Travel to Tourism, Oxford University Press (1980)
 
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salariat – the class or body of salaried persons usually as distinguished from wage earners.
[presumably a take-off on proletariat]

Yesterday's quotations included W. Somerset Maugham's reference to a "the white-collar proletariat". Today we see the "white-collar salariat".
    Just as insecure in its masculinity was the emerging middle class, white-collar salariat, consisting of clerks, professionals, engineers, and managers in the new corporate bureaucracies. Unlike the old "petty bourgeois," these men were not self-employed and controlled no productive property. Instead they were subordinates in an elaborate hierarchy, and their initiative was strictly limited by their superiors.
    – Stephen H. Norwood, The student as strikebreaker: college youth and the crisis of masculinity in the early twentieth century, Journal of Social History, Winter, 1994
 
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plebeian – one of the common people or lower classes; also, a coarse, crude, or vulgar person. (adj: of or pertaining to the common people; also, vulgar; common; crude or coarse)

Samuel Johnson, on the importance of using proper words rather than plebeian words:
    Truth indeed is always truth, and reason is always reason; they have an intrinsic and unalterable value, and constitute that intellectual gold which defies destruction: but gold may be so concealed in baser matter, that only a chemist can recover it; sense may be so hidden in unrefined and plebeian words, that none but philosophers can distinguish it; and both may be so buried in impurities, as not to pay the cost of their extraction.
    – Samuel Johnson, "The Life of Cowley," English Poets
 
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As today's two words are somewhat slippery in meaning, I have "massaged" the definitions.

lumpenproletariat – 1. the lowest stratum of the proletariat (that is, of wage-slaves)
2. the most degraded underclass, on the margins of society: vagrants, street-criminals, prostitutes, the homeless [But see notes below.]
[from Marxist theory, using roots from two separate languages. Lump is Ger. rags, ragamuffin; while proletariat is from F and ult. from L.]

The first quote illustrates the meaning well. The second shows that in usage, though not in the dictionaries, you can find this word in the sense of lumpen2-3,: degraded or alienated folk, not necessarily low-class.
    Every society has a group of people who can only be described by the German word "Lumpenproletariat." There is no equivalent English word for the brutal louts. The Nazis and the communists in pre-Hitler Germany understood the "Lumpen" can be a political force. ... When the "Lumpen" are awakened, as in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, they commit horrible atrocities. I thought we had learned this from history. Hopefully we will not have to learn it again.
    – Herbert Romerstein, The Washington Times, Nov. 9, 2004

    [Review of the animated movie "The Incredibles"]: ... his litigious, small-minded fellow citizens get it in their heads that the good guys are menaces to society. So Mr. Incredible and his superhero brethren are ordered to renounce superhero activities for a nice quiet life in the suburbs. Mr. Incredible and his wife, the rubber-limbed Elasti-Girl, become Bob and Helen Paar, upstanding members of the lumpen proletariat, with three children ... Bob is lost in a fog of middle-aged disappointment.
    – Wallace Baine, Santa Cruise Sentinel, Nov. 5, 2004
lumpen (from lumpenproletariat) – 1. adj. or noun: of the lumpenproletariat
2. degraded, stupid, boorish, and uninterested in improving (also, vulgar or common)
3. of persons (not necessarily low-class) cut off from their normal economic/social class: lumpen intellectuals, jobless PhD's forced to drive a taxicab
4. (perhaps influenced by 'lumpy'?) lumpy, heavy and misshapen


Notes:
1.The Marxist term has the sense of "lacking in class identification and solidarity", a sense that persists in lumpen3.
2. Many dictionaries speak of "lowest proletarians, such as vagrants". I disagree. "Proletarian" refers to wage-earners (not to lower-class) and thus excludes "vagrants and criminals".

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Babylon 5 has a great word "Lurker". It was used to describe the homeless, poor, stranded people who inhabited the under areas of the space station, an area with much crime. This is a good word, I think.
 
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I think it's a great word too, but pardon my ignorance ... what's Babylon 5?
 
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Gilbert and Sullivan, Iolanthe:
    Our lordly style
    You shall not quench
    With base canaille!
    (That word is French.)

    Distinction ebbs
    Before a herd
    Of vulgar plebs!
    (A Latin word.)

    'Twould fill with joy,
    And madness stark
    The hoi polloi!
    (A Greek remark.)

    One Latin word, one Greek remark,
    And one that's French.
 
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Originally posted by Hic et ubique:
I think it's a great word too, but pardon my ignorance ... what's Babylon 5?


Sci-Fi tv show . . . read here.


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~Dalai Lama
 
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