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refer unto others as you wish others to refer unto you

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New camera still hasn’t arrived yet. This is getting a little silly. While we’re waiting, how about a few more howlers from the Referer logs? These are the links that other people have followed to get to a page on this site, almost all being the results of searches, so the URI of the referer page includes the keywords they were searching for:

  • Nude pictures of Megan Mulally (Karen from Will & Grace)? Perish the thought.
  • What happened to Andy Gibb? Does it matter, as long as the Bee Gees stopped singing?
  • Cheerleaders, Chloroformed? Huh?
  • Why the heck would I be able to describe a speed drinking technique?
  • The lyrics to the Jackass Sand Vagina song? No.
  • OK, I was a little simplistic in my definition of the word gratinated; it’s not just about cheese, it might involve breadcrumbs too.
  • how did this lead here?
  • No, I still don’t know whether Matt Le Blanc is circumcised, or where to get samples of Jimmy Saville’s voice!
  • Is Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy’s character, a Freemason? Highly unlikely, with his Jesuit education and anti-bureaucratic attitude.
  • Billy Connolly, then? I mentioned him in that context back in Feb 2003, after hearing him talk about it on stage. No, he’s not a Mason, he sees the whole concept as ludicrous, i.e. good comic material.

Connolly has been getting a rough ride in the media recently, after some insensitive remarks about Ken Bigley, one of the hostages held in Iraq, was murdered; he was bemused as to why the whole of England seemed to be upset, people with no connection to the family. He may have had a point, but he didn’t have to make comedy material about it, did he? Not that anyone’s going to stop him, of course.

In a survey released today, Connolly’s voice was among Britain’s favourites, and also among its least favourites – I presume he is appreciated more in Scotland than in England. Sean Connery is at the top of the favourites list. In the UK; for some reason, mild Scots accents are perceived as “trustworthy”, and can be heard often in news reports or in commercials for financial products, and more. The accent has to be mild, perhaps Edinburgh rather than Glasgow, and not too broad.

Something in the report led me to wonder about the different words used to refer to my countrymen, Scots, Scotch, or Scottish? I grew up associating Scotch with whisky, and knowing the other verb meanings of the word, such as to “scotch a rumour”, and as a synonym for “squash” or “injure”. Two centuries ago, writers such as Scott and Burns happily used the term Scotch in poems and and novels, such as this excerpt from a Burns poem:

But bring a Scotchman frae his hill,
Clap in his cheek a Highland gill,
Say, such is royal George’s will,
An’ there’s the foe!
He has nae thought but how to kill
Twa at a blow.
— Robert Burns
The Author’s Earnest Cry And Prayer To the Right Honourable and Honourable Scotch Representatives in the House of Commons.

The Penguin Reference Library has this to say on the change in usage:

Since the second half of the 19th century, the idea has taken root that it is incorrect or impolite to use Scotch, except in certain compounds such as Scotch whisky and Scotch mist, so that Scottish and Scots have become the generally preferred forms. This change of usage is signalled by, for example, the change of name of the Scotch Education Department to the Scottish Education Department in 1918; or by the adoption of ‘The Flying Scotsman’ as the official name for the locomotive plying between London and Edinburgh, whereas since the 1870s trains on this route had usually been nicknamed `The Flying Scotchman’. The avoidance of Scotch originated among Scots who found it derogatory, probably because it was originally a contracted form of Scottish used in England; but Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, among others, used Scotch freely, and some Scots today consider the general use of Scottish affected. (“I’m pure Scotch … the correct term is Scottish but that sounds so pompous” — Margaret, Duchess of Argyll.)
— Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library
Copyright (c) 1996 Helicon Publishing and Penguin Books Ltd

This confirms what I suspected: Scotch was originally an English corruption of Scots, which was only temporarily fashionable. Burns and his kin grew up with the English domination of Scotland’s cultural life, and his use of the “Scotch Dialect” was a more substantial act of defiance than any quibbling over the exact word used to describe it. Is Scottish affected? I’ve been using both Scots and Scottish interchangeably on this site, which shows you how concerned I am in real terms. Some closing quotes, after four hours of on-and-off typing:

  • What you do not want done to yourself, do not do unto others. — Confucius, Analects
  • Do unto others that which you would have done to yourself — Jesus, The Bible
  • No man is a true believer unless he desireth for his brother that which he desireth for himself. — Azizullah, Hadith 150 (Islam)
  • This is the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you. — Mahabharata 5,1517 (Sikhism)
  • Do unto others before they do unto you — the New York Golden Rule
  • Do unto others, then Split — the New Jersey Golden Rule
  • Do unto others before they undo you — Usenet tagline
  • Do not do unto others as you would they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same. — George Bernard Shaw
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Written by brian t

January 17, 2005 at 8:00 pm

Posted in humour, internet

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