This week's theme will be "Words from Politics". Your author, a US'n, hopes that others can contribute from their countries' political lingo. Arnie, no doubt you Brits have a long and distinguished history of political words?
gerrymander: To divide (a State) into districts for the choice of representatives, in an unnatural and unfair way, with a view to give a political party an advantage over its opponent.
Coined in May 12, 1813 when Massachusetts Spy reported that the legislature, under governor Elbridge Gerry, created a strange, salamander-shaped district. gerry + salamander = "gerrymander".
"An official statement of the returns of voters for senators give[s] twenty nine friends of peace, and eleven gerrymanders." A famous political cartoon, by showing that district as a reptilian beast, made the word "gerymander" into an unforgettable image.
Click here for more etymology.
what do you call it that the lords and commons did when thatcher was trying to talk in parliament? they were jeering and making rude noises? that was hilarious.
"fillibuster"; what a sweet word, wildflowerchild. The movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (James Stewart) is centered on a filibuster, where the lone good-guy takes on "the establishment".
mugwump: a political turncoat.
The dictionary gives a complimentary definition: "a person who acts independently or remains neutral, especially in politics." But Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary (1911) makes clear that (whatever he thought of political independence), the word was used as a negative. He wrote: "MUGWUMP: In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt." And that perjorative use is heard the old joke that a mugwump is a person sitting on the fence, with his mug on one side and his wump on the other.
The word's history confirms that it is a derisive term. Paraphrasing quinion:
Mugwump, originally the Algonquian Indian word meaning "great chief", was brought into English as a humorous term for a boss, bigwig, grand panjandrum, or other person in authority. It hit the big time during the 1884 presidential election, when some in the Republican party refused to support their partys nominee, changed sides. The New York Sun labelled them little mugwumps. Almost overnight, the sense of the word changed to turncoat. Later, it came to mean a politician who either could not or would not make up his mind on some important issue, or who refused to take a stand when expected to do so.
We call it jeering and making rude noises.
In short, a typical day in Parliament.
wfc mentioned filibuster. It means, of course, to use obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, trying to delay legislative action.
The word comes from the Spanish flibustero, freebooter, pirate. That word in turn comes from the Dutch word vrijbuiter. vrij means "free" and buit means "booty". Thus a freebooter is one who frees booty.
Do you consider jingoism to be the same thing as chauvinism? Some sources do; but my read it that jingoism adds the element of bellicose, agressive behavior. Your thoughts?
jingoism Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy.(from a doggerel song which was popular during the Turco-Russian war of 1877 and 1878. The first two lines were as follows: We don't want to fight, but by Jingo if we do, We 've got the ships, we 've got the men, we 've got the money too.)
chauvinism fanatical patriotism; or "absurdly vainglorious or exaggerated patriotism." (from Fr. chauvinisme (1843), from Nicholas Chauvin, soldier, possibly legendary, of Napoleon's Grand Armee, notoriously attached to the Empire long after it was history. Popularized in Fr. 1831 through Cogniard's vaudeville "La Cocarde Tricolore" )
Note: "To have a generous belief in the greatness of one's country is not chauvinism. It is the character of the latter quality to be wildly extravagant, to be fretful and childish and silly, to resent a doubt as an insult, and to offend by its very frankness." --Prof. H. Tuttle.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Tue Aug 6th, 2002 at 22:01.]
That would be my take on the difference, too. Both show the unacceptable face of patriotism. A jingoist is a pugnacious sabre-rattler, whereas a chauvinist clings to his patriotism as a shield against the truth. The latter has become demeaned by the unfortunate phrase "male chauvinist", and some people take the word to mean anyone who holds views that are not politically correct at present.
"Jingo", by the way, was a nonsense word used by the author of the Victorian music-hall song to avoid using an oath. In the same way that "heck" really means "hell", "Jingo" means "Jesus".
This is a word that comes from Irish politics in the nineteenth century. The word is an eponym, and comes from an Englishman, Charles Boycott, who was the estate agent of the Earl of Erne in County Mayo. The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland. Boycott was chosen in 1880 to be the test case for a new policy advocated by Charles Parnell, an Irish politician who wanted land reform. Any landlord who would not charge lower rents or any tenant who took over the farm of an evicted tenant would be given the complete cold shoulder by Parnell's supporters. Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected his tenants. At this point members of Parnell's Irish Land League stepped in, and Boycott and his family found themselves isolated; without servants, farmhands, service in shops, or post.
Boycott's name was quickly adopted as the term for this treatment, not just in English but in other languages such as French, Dutch, German, and Russian.
If someone is "sent to Coventry" then they are shunned by their fellow citizens and friends. The phrase's meaning is similar to "boycott".
Coventry is a city in the English Midlands, in the county of Warwickshire, near Birmingham. I have heard four differing explanations for this phrase:
i heard that sent to coventry phrase a lot when i lived in london. i worked for a large firm in whose dept. we were all being seconded out, dept. nearly dissolved. it's nice to have choices all laid out on the table like that about the meaning. better than the drunken explanations i received from co workers down the pub.
#3. men can face death, but being denied female companionship is something so unthinkable that it would be an expression to last a few hundred years, definitely.y
quote:My agreement with wildflowerchild's wisdom was well-phrased in Porgy and Bess (under this chorus: De t'ings dat yo li'ble / To read in de Bible / It ain't necessarily so).
To pre-empt Museamuse, the Greeks knew all about it. Aristophanes' play Lysistrata was written 2,400 years ago. In the play, Athenian women, fed up with the Peloponnesian War, barricade themselves in the Acropolis and go on a sex strike to force their husbands to vote for peace with Sparta.
It should be noted that the women in Lysistrata had considerable difficulty from strike-brakers within their ranks.
Unfortunately the women couldn't send the offenders to Coventry, as would modern-day activists, as Coventry hadn't been built yet.
Ostracism (similar to being sent to Coventry, as arnie discusses) goes back to the ancient Athenians, who would periodically vote on whether an man should be banished temporarily (for ten years) as being dangerous to the state. Each ballot, on which the voter scratched the name of any person he felt should be ostracized, was a broken piece of pottery or tile -- an ostrakon (related to "oyster" and "bone" [osteo]). A similar practice in ancient Syracuse (with banishment for five years) was by writing names on olive leaves, and thus was called petalismos.
My websources indicate that ostracism was not a meant as group denunciation, but simply to tone down political rivalry that might evolve into civil strife (prevention of "flame wars" if you will), or to prevent excessive power from accumulating in one man's hands. Ostracism did not carry with it the stigma that conviction of a crime against the state did, and the ostracized person did not lose his political rights or have his property confiscated.
carpetbagger: An outsider, especially a politician, who presumptuously seeks a position or success in a new locality. A generalizition of the original meaning: "scornful appellation for Northerners who went South after the Civil War seeking private gain or political advancement is first attested 1868, Amer.Eng., formed from carpetbag, 1830, a travelling bag made from carpet fabric."
The term is highly negative. For example, only opponents of New York Senator Hillary Clinton (a recent New Yorker) would call her a "carpetbagger".
Did I hear my name called?
i attended an auction tonight, downtown. rep. john lewis, who was a lieutenant of MLK and a civil rights brave person was there. believe it or not, a photo of Leo Frank hanging by the neck dead (having been lynched about a mile down the road from my house in 1920's? because they thought he killed the little girl mary phagan) was auctioned and sold for $225 usd. can you even believe that? and a woman near me told me it was inauthentic, a photo of a photo, and it still went for that. i mention it because he was a jew from up north and a successful guy. that was probably his only crime and they i am sure called him a carpetbagger.
Was it this picture?
watergate: Effective at noon on this day, 28 years ago, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency of the United States.
The word watergate is used to refer to that specific political scandal. But has anyone heard it used to refer to political scandal generally, much as "Waterloo" has become a general term, as in "He met his Waterloo"? I could not find that usage of watergate in a dictionary, but it seems familiar to me. Some google worke produced this example from the nationally syndicated column Media Beat of last June:
I can't think of any examples offhand where "Watergate" is used as a generic description for a political scandal. Some newspapers here do have the annoying habit of appending "-gate" to a word when describing a real or perceived scandal. The only example I can think of was "Irangate", about an arms scam. There have been others, though.
*Edited to add: Hey! I've just discovered that this is the first thread to run over two pages! Do I get a prize?
yes, you win a prize.
an all-new, expense-paid, tax, tag and title, mini-jumbo bonus question:
ready? what was the name of the real political prisoner tuttle was mistaken for in the film "Brazil"? hint: it rhymes with tuttle.
disclaimer: broad hinting and giveaway, too-easy-for-babies question is not, i repeat not, valid outside the united states. void where prohibited.
ok, now i have seen the other page, i didn't know how to get there. i'm pretty witless still on the websites.
yes, that is the picture, arnie. i hate it for myself that i have grown up amongst the offspring of those "things" standing around there, around the body.
well, on to happier thoughts. answer the mini-jumbo bonus quiz question and win this brand new truck! er, i mean, link: web page of: wildflowerchild.
or many fabulous other prizes such as james joyce links, butter-powered battlebots and more.
pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.....
Know-Nothings - those who take a reactionary political position based on bigotry, ignorance, and emotion. [source: MW Dictionary of Allusions]
As immigration increased in the 1840's US, many nativist secret orders arose. They met any inquiry from managers of the older political parties with the response that "they knew nothing" -- hence the Know-Nothings. By the early 1850's they were organized nationally under the official name "American Party", striving to elect only native-born Americans and to agitate for a 20-plus year residence qualification for citizenship. Thet were anti-catholic, viewing the Pope as a powerful foreign prince with political control over a large following.
For a time it seemed as if the Know-Nothings would be the main US opposition party. They won more than 21% of the 1856 popular vote -- but that marked their high point. Like the Whigs before them, they split and splintered over the slavery issue, and by the 1860 election they were no longer a national force.
Hmm.. I've never heard that interpretation of the phrase. It is probably an American-only usage. To us, a no-nothing is just that: someone who knows nothing.
genocide - a word notable for variations . Note the confusion of whether it includes targetting a religious group or a political opposition.
Genocide is the attempt to exterminate:
The true reason for the omission is that the USSR rejected any legal restraint on its right to go after internal political opponents.
The US did not ratify this UN Convention until 1967.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sun Aug 11th, 2002 at 10:03.]
marguerite duras wrote an account of reviving her husband when he was found at one of the camps after the nazis had fled. it is very personal, very disturbing, but i believe everyone should read it. perhaps 12 years old is not too soon. at 12, i was shown the doc footage of auschwitz at school. i couldn't eat for a week. i brought it up until my parents were about to call the school. i think this would be better for most children because it is a personal account and i don't believe my fellow students gave the auschwitz doc another thought.
i think the story was part of a set of short stories, non-fiction. you may remember she also wrote The Lover and Hiroshima, Mon Amour..
wfc mentioned filibuster early in this thread. This afternoon I came across this in the Caro book I've mentioned:
quote:As far back as 1604 the British Parliament adopted a rule that it could vote on a "cloture" motion to "call the question" and thus end a filibuster. By 1948 such a rule was quite common in legistive bodies throughout the world, and in the states of the US as well -- but the US Senate had dropped it in 1806. Our Senate had no way to cut off a filibuster for 111 years, until 1917 -- and even the rule adopted in 1917 had key loopholes, easily exploited.
As a result, the US Senate was the home of the filibuster, blocking any progressive legislation. It was the "Do-Nothing Congress" that Harry Truman attacked to pull off a stunning upset victory in the 1948 presidential election.
oh well, i tried.⁄
[This message was edited by wildflowerchild on Sat Aug 17th, 2002 at 20:05.]
this is a word i have been pondering over lately. a church nearby has on their marquee the phrase" "you can't have the rainbow without the rain". i thought of "...for the rain falls on the just and the unjust...".
justice, as a word, is defined in vastl y different ways by different people. with september 11 coming up, i think it's an appropriate word to reflect on. what does justice mean to the american national psyche, to the islamic world, to God? what do we feel in our hearts is justice? what might justice be objectively? is that ever possible to define, because a favorite philosopher said it can never be. a buddhist woman i met reminded me that indifference is the key to surviving the world. justice is not indifference.
in one of my favorite books, "The Uses of Enchantment" the author Bruno Bettelheim talks about how when something bad happens in a fairytale, there are 2 ultimatums: justice and forgiveness. adults like forgiveness because they know they err and would want that for themselves. but t hat children love justice. comments? opinions? anecdotes?
What an absolutely fabulous question, WFC!
Alexander Pope wrote, "To err is human, to forgive Divine." I so agree with that. I believe we, as a society, are far too hard on each other. As a member of the medical profession, I see many extra procedures performed, merely to avoid lawsuits. Oftentimes doctors or nurses won't come forward if there is a public medical emergency for fear of being sued. It really is sad.
I found an interesting website abour human errors:
thank you kalleh. i agree. we are too hard on each other.
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but as one who researches medical errors, this subject is close to my heart. I surfed the net for some examples, and while finding none, I did find this good governmental source giving the statistics and causes of medical errors.
However, I know of a good case, long, but elucidating....
In October of 1996, in Denver, Colorado, a tragic medication error resulted in the death of a newborn. The intriguing part of this case was that 3 nurses not only were sued and lost their licenses, but they were indicted on criminal charges--negligent homicide.
When reviewing the case, more than 50 different errors, involving many people, occurred. The physician should never have ordered the medication (Benzathine Penicillin G) in the first place; there was no urgent clinical reason for it. Furthermore, his writing of the order was incomprehensible. The pharmacist misread the order as 500,000 units/kg, rather than 50,000 units/kg. Therefore, 2.5 mL, rather than 0.25 mL, of medication was sent up to the unit to be given intramuscularly into the baby. However, a baby's muscle will only take 0.5 mL at a time (which the pharmacist should have known) so the nurse would have had to have given 5 separate shots. She contacted her 2 supervisors. The nursing supervisors consulted a medication source which was nebulous about the routes of administration of the various penicillins. Therefore, they directed the nurse to give the dose intravenously, rather than intramuscularly, to avoid giving 5 injections. This particular drug is never to be given intravenously (though it was not labeled as such), and the baby died immediately.
The nurse giving the medication pleaded innocent and was acquitted. The 2 nursing supervisors pleaded guilty and were able to plea bargain. The pharmacist and physician were not charged. This was the first case where nurses have been thrust into the criminal arena for fatal medications errors, many of which were system errors.
Was this justice? Are medical errors big problems in other countries, too? And--thanks for humoring me with this long post!
Kalleh, this is absolutely fascinating and enlightening. As I have a newborn granddaughter, I am always questioning the doctor when I take her to appointments. We all need to ask questions, of our own doctors too.
My personal physician, at my last check up, changed two of my medications. There was a period where I had to be weaned from one medication to the new one to replace it. Then after a week, change another to the new drug. I made sure my doctor wrote down exactly what dates to start the new medications, and what her instructions were.
I, personally, am very careful of all my meds. When I pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, I look to make sure the pills look like the last ones I received. I have received the wrong medication on three separate occasions. Each time, I realized the pills were wrong, and brought it to the attention of the pharmacist.
We all must be careful. Know your doctor's instructions, if they are confusing, have the doctor write them out. When receiving a new script, make sure you can read it and understand the instructions. Look at your medications before you leave the pharmacy. It is ultimately your responsibility for what you take.
a woman doctor prescribed an antibiotic that was dangerous for my mother again, after the drug had put her in shock. i doublechecked with the nurse, sure enough it was on the chart "no cipro". i told her i felt uncomfortable about the doctor doing the impending surgery on my mother, when she was negligent about the medicine. the doctor flew into a rage, cancelled the surgery and told me off. and guess what? she said the nurse had lied, there was no such note on my mom's chart.
there is no justice in the world.
Morgan and WFC, you are both right: patients should be vigilant about their medical care. WFC, the physicians who respond like that are more often the older ones who were trained that they are "God"--and no one, especially the patient, should question them. Hopefully, the medical profession is changing. We all need to remember, the physician is OUR employee, and we have every right to fire him/her. I hope in your mom's case, WFC, that is exactly what happened.
- Benedict Arnold: Ubiquitous noun for traitor. So labelled in response to the 18th century American royalist of the same name.
- "Normalcy" (adj., myth) : As far as I know, this word was conjured by the 1916 Woodrow Wilson campaign. Don't know why they objected to the quicker and correct 'normal'.
Boy, this thread was started a long time ago...remember wildflowerchild and thunderchicken? I miss them!
In the U.S. now there is a big discussion about retaining the filibuster as a way of blocking judge appointments. Below is arnie's discussion about it here in 2002, and today I read something similar, saying it is from a Dutch word meaning "pirate." Makes sense. While I am with the Democrats in the current discussion, literally that would mean that they are trying to pirate the votes.
It was good fun reading this thread again. Thanks for reviving it, Kalleh! I remember wfc fondly (who doesn't who was around then?), but I must confess that ThunderChicken doesn't ring any bells. I see from his profile that we were recommended by museamuse, so he came to us with good credentials.
However, looking back at some of my old posts, I'm afraid I do come over as rather pompous!
Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
Arnie, the word "pompous" could never describe you!