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Eponyms Redux Login/Join
 
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Let's return to a favorite theme that we haven't done for a while: eponyms, or words from people's names.

Labanotation – a system of recording bodily movement, used to make a record of dance: "Labanotation is specific enough to record the flutter of an eyelid." (Joseph Menosky)
[after Rudolph Laban (1879-1958), Hungarian choreographer and dance/movement theorist, who developed it]
    She tried to work, … hunching over the graph sheet of choreographer's charts. But Labanotation was merely a Jackson Pollock jumble of arcane hieroglyphics to her today instead of the careful representation of eurhythmics she had studied four years to perfect.
    – Harlan Ellison, The Whimper of Whipped Dogs

    Terry Teachout's comment, "Dance notation is so complex and inexact," arises from two misconceptions about notation. Notation is not complex -- dance is! As a Labanotator of nearly 40 works I know each score is unique with, yes, various levels of "complexity" depending on the work, not on the notation. As to being "inexact," I am as aware as the dancers of what must happen so that the choreographer's intentions are preserved in a manuscript that will inform dancers for generations to come.
    – Sandra Aberkalns, letter to editor, Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2009 (ellipses omitted)
Bonus Word:
eurhythmics
or eurythmics – the art of interpreting musical compositions by rhythmical, free-style bodily movement
 
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The visual is fascinating:
http://media-2.web.britannica....923-004-2D8EF2DE.gif

Clearly meant to convey structured information, and not just emotion like a Pollock painting.

No more dense than the accompanying music...


RJA
 
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Rube Goldberg (adj.) – accomplishing by complex means what could be done simply
[after Reuben Lucius "Rube" Goldberg (1883-1970), American cartoonist who devised fantastically complex gadgetry (example here, at p.1) to accomplish simple tasks]
    Instead, the politics and intense pressures of the time gave rise to an awesome Rube Goldberg system of [oil] price controls, entitlements, and allocations …
    – Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power

    The furnace wheezes like an aging jet engine and looks alarmingly Rube Goldbergesque -- all tubes and wires and banged-up sheets of metal. But with two blindingly white, criss-crossing plasma rays, it can concentrate one megawatt of energy on a surface the size of a dinner plate. All that energy produces an astounding heat, topping 30,000 degrees Fahrenheit. By comparison, the surface of the sun is thought to be about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
    – Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2009
 
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Economic application here:

http://forums.wsj.com/viewtopi...179f81f5388da72ee0c9

(seventh comment)


RJA
 
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The UK equivalent is Heath Robinson.


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.
 
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stent – a short narrow tube inserted into an artery or other anatomical tube, to keep it open

The usual theory is that this is from English dentist Charles T. Stent (1807-85), who personally had nothing to do with stents. In 1856 he invented a dental-impression compound. Sixty years later a Dutch plastic surgeon used the compound to make a form for facial reconstruction. References to Stent's compound as support for facial tissues grew the eventual use of stent to open various bodily structures.
    On Tuesday, she had gone into the hospital to have a stent installed in her thigh in hopes of preventing further amputations. Thursday, the wound went septic. She lapsed into a coma …
    – Christopher Buckley, Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir
 
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An obscure one today.

Maecenas (pronounced mīSĒnəs] – a generous patron of literature or art
[from Gaius Cilnius Maecenas (died 8 B.C.), Roman statesman, patron of Horace and Virgil. Note: Maecenas is a character is Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, but this is separate.]
    It is well, nay, essential for the progress of the race, that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization, rather than that none should be so. Much better this great irregularity than universal squalor. Without wealth there can be no Maecenas.
    – Andrew Carnegie, The Gospel of Wealth (1889)
 
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If anyone wishes to become a Maecenas for my poetry I'll happily discuss terms.
 
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Yesterday we had an obscure word from a man's name. Today we have a very familiar word needing no definition, but you may not know that it comes from a man's name, or that that man was historically very important – due to his malfeasance. The word, though, comes from a minor part of his life. People can be remembered for the oddest things.

England's Navy was emasculated, for eleven-plus years before and during the American Revolution, by the corrupt mismanagement of the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718–1792). If Sandwich – and other British lords in power – had performed responsibly, Americans might be drinking tea and warm beer to this very day.

Historian Barbara Tuchman explains the man.
    Hearty, good-humored and corrupt, he used his control of appointments and provisions for the Navy for private profit. … [H]is inveterate jobbery left dockyards a scandal, provisioners defrauded and ships unseaworthy. The condition of the Navy, when revealed by the war with America, was to earn him a vote of censure by both Houses. Socially he was a crony of Dashwood's Hellfire circle and so addicted to gambling that, sparing no time for meals, he would slap a slice of meat between two slices of bread to eat while gaming, thus bequeathing his name to the indispensable edible artifact of the Western world.
    – Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly
Another source provides an interesting, more thorough description of the man's role in the Hellfire circle, also known as the Mad Monks of Medmenham.
    Montagu was a key member of a social club known as the Mad Monks of Medmenham. Medmenham was a semi-ruined abbey … refurbished in pornographic splendor. Montagu loved Medmenham's "garden of lust," which featured shrubbery pruned to resemble a woman's private parts. He loved the stained glass windows that contained indecent pictures of the Twelve Apostles, the chapel ceiling with a huge pornographic fresco, the library said to contain the country's largest collection of pornographic books, and the London prostitutes who came to the abbey and dressed as nuns.
    – Marvin Olasky, The American Leadership Tradition
 
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galvanize – to arouse to action; to spur (a figurative usage, from the biological sense)
[also: biology: to stimulate (a muscle) with an electric current
. . . . .metallurgy: to coat (iron or steel) with rust-resistant zinc]

[from Italian physician Luigi Galvani (1737–1798). He discovered and investigated the effect that frog muscles twitch when struck by a spark. The name "galvanism" for this phenomenon was coined by Alessandro Volta, and Volta's name is similarly memorialized in our word volt.]
    … she also had Mammy, who could galvanize the most shiftless negro into energy.
    – Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

    I told you that's what I like about Bacon. He galvanizes people who want to challenge the power structure.
    – Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities
In the Wolfe quote above, the word "galvanize" is uttered by a character named Albert Vogel. Could Wolfe have been punning on the name of Alessandro Volta?
 
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Tom Wolfe was not the first Thomas to pun on "galvanize". Thomas Hood so punned to tell us that "love is blind, and a lover is blind to his loved one's faults. (Love Has Not Eyes, said Hood's title.) In doing so, Hood used another interesting eponym.

Tobit – a blind person¹
[from the "biblical" character Tobit, who became blind.]
[The Book of Tobit is part of the Catholic and Greek Orthodox bibles, but is apocryphal in Protestantism.]
    Of all the poor old Tobits a-groping in the street,
    A Lover is the blindest that ever I did meet,
    (chorus) For he's blind, he's blind, he's very blind, — He's as blind as any mole!

    He thinks her face an angel's, although it's quite a frump's,
    Like a toad a-taking physic, or a monkey in the mumps. (chorus)

    Upon her graceful figure then how he will insist,
    Though she's all so much awry, she can only eat a twist! (chorus)

    He'll swear that in her dancing she cuts all others out.
    Though like a gal that's galvanized, she throws her legs about. (chorus)
No dictionary includes this usage of "Tobit", as far as I know, and that raises the knotty question, "Why not? What qualifies as a 'word'?" Admittedly this "Tobit" usage is very rare – in fact, the Hood example seems to be the sole instance – but OED includes many other 'words' that are one-time-only usages. Granted, you could says that Hood is using "Tobit" as an allusion, not as a word. But the usages of the word "Maecenas" are just as allusive and almost as rare, yet OED considers "Maecenas" to be a '"word".


¹ Note: "tobit" also has a technical meaning in economic statistics and modeling, technical far beyond my understanding! E.g., "Even when there is no heteroskedasticity, the consistency of the Tobit estimates requires that the distribution of errors be normal, and biases can occur ." Apparently this is also an eponym, named for James Tobin (1918–2002), prominent US economist.
 
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I have been wondering what makes it an eponym, rather than just being a metaphor. In the Tribune today they talked about a coach pulling a "Wanny" (related to Bears coach Dave Wannstedt). Now unfortunately I am not into football and don't know what a "Wanny" is, but since it hit the national papers, it has at least been translated to the national sports world. But it's a metaphor, right? When would it become an eponym?
 
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Here's a good eponym: Lothario

And here's a wonderful article about one.

[It took awhile to figure out how this is relevant to a word/language board. Wink]
 
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I wonder if he's going to come unglued.


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I read one the other day: Being "madoffed" which now means being "ripped off." I think it will stick.
 
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"Ponzi scheme" is an eponym. Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme.


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.
 
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There are two books out about Madoff that have been just reviewed by the NY Times, and I perused (the common definition) them in the bookstore. One of them said that as time goes on it just may be that Madoff will become a more popular term than Ponzi. I doubt it, but who knows.
 
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I've just read that Madoff was being investigated by two different branches of the Securities and Exchange Commission, each without knowing about the other's interest. How did they find out? Madoff himself tipped them off by informing one of the examination teams that he'd already supplied the information they asked for to the other team. Sigh. Eek


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To talk someone out their money: Ponzificate


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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I know...these could go on forever (thus adding to our million words). However, Kathleen Parker in her column today talked about Joewilsoning as in, "OMG, he Joewilsoned right in the middle of the sermon!"

For those of you who aren't Americans, Joe Wilson was the South Carolina representative who yelled out "You lie" as President Obama was addressing Congress. Some of the commentators likened it to what goes on in Parliament in England. However, for us it was quite a shock. He immediately apologized, but now the Democrats are calling for another apology.
 
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I had assumed that the way that our MPs behave during debates was common to all similar debating chambers. Basically the Laws of libel do not apply in the House and MPs can say (and often do say) just about anything they like under the rules of Parliamentary Privilege.

Indeed, according to Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_privilege - the USA does have similar rules.


Richard English
 
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What does get our MPs hot under the collar, though, is to call another member a liar, as I understand happened in Joe Wilson's case. They can and do imply that other MPs get up to all sorts of nefarious activities, but to accuse another member of lying is beyond the pale. See Unparliamentary language.

BTW, who calls out "You lie!" these days, anyway? Surely "You're lying!" or similar is more idiomatic?


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quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
BTW, who calls out "You lie!" these days, anyway? Surely "You're lying!" or similar is more idiomatic?


Someone who has rehearsed his "spontaneous" outburst and thinks it sounds more dramatic.
 
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I believe it is in order to suggest that an Honourable Member has used a "terminological inexactitude".


Richard English
 
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Richard, ROFLMAO!
 
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