Could you please tell me how to get my name removed
form this list.
----- Original Message -----
From: <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2003 11:33 AM
Subject: Re: FW: OT: intersting stuff!
> This is interesting; some of them seem liklier to me than others, but that
probably isn't much of a guide to their accurary.
> I'm reminded of a hilarious essay by Woody Allen -- I think it was in
Without Feathers, but I'm not sure -- in which he offers a series of
explanations for the origins of words and phrases that are presented
straight, and have a certain plausible ring, but somehow emerge as absurdly
funny. Wish I had a couple of examples, but none come to mind. Anyone
recall the bit I'm talking about, or where it appears?
> Tom K
> In a message dated 4/18/2003 10:16:16 AM Eastern Standard Time, Marcia
Karp <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> > Peter Montgomery wrote, in part:
> >> A student sent me the piece below. It's not
> >> documented but it has a ring of truth about it.
> >> Not so boring history!
> >> Here are some facts about the 1500s:
> >> Houses had thatched roofs - thick straw-piled high, with no
> >> woodunderneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all
> >> the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.
> >> When it rained, it became slippery and sometimes the animals would
> >> slip and fall off the roof - hence the saying: "It's raining cats and
> >> dogs."
> >> ~
> >> The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter
> >> when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep
> >> their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh
> >> until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A
> >> piece of wood was placed in the entranceway - hence: a "thresh hold."
> >> Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
> >> When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
> >> It was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon".
> >> Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
> >> sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along
> >> the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They
> >> were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the
> >> family would gather around and eat and drink and wait a nd see if they
> >> would wake up - hence the custom of holding a "wake." England is old
> >> and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury
> >> people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a
> >> bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out
> >> of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they
> >> realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they
> >> would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
> >> coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would
> >> have to sit out in the graveyard all night ("the graveyard shift") to
> >> listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was
> >> considered a "dead ringer."
> >> And that's the truth... (and whoever said that History was
> >> boring)! ! ?
> >Dear Peter,
> > What ring of truth? It sounds like a hundred other emails that
> >people forward, favoring simple-minded ease to the boring truth.
> > Nothing wrong with enjoying jokes, but why not call them that?
> > While you are loth to do any of the work of verification, others
> >might be interested. "Raining cats and dogs" derives from myths of the
> >animals' influence on and symbolism of various weathers. The thresh is
> >to tread or trample; the OED is unsure of the hold . Brewer's thinks
> >bringing home the bacon ("to bring back the prize; to succeed") might be
> >a reference to the Dunmow flitch. I know you'll want to research that
> >so you can educate your student. A wake uses the sense of watch or
> >vigil. A bone house is "a charnel-house; a coffin; the human body."
> >Dead ringer is an American usage, first citation 1891. And it doesn't
> >have anything to do with death or bells.