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Cousin Stinky? You bastards!

Today — as part of ongoing festivities — we did something we’ve been meaning to do for a while: visit Rudyard Kipling’s house. Bateman’s, it’s called. It’s not far away. I don’t know why we never got around to it, since we’re both huge Kipling fans.

His daughter left the whole thing, contents and all, to the National Trust, and they’ve kept it exactly as it was. His study, his bedroom, all the original furniture and books and carpets.

It’s Jacobean — 1630-something — so, you know, lots newer than Badger House. But still it has its charms. Actually, it was a lovely house, and yet there was something very sad about it. Impressive from the outside, but somehow quite small and intimate on the inside.

More pictures when I manage to offload them from the camera (oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to pinch some of Uncle B’s. He’s a much better photographer than I am, damn his eyes).

Meanwhile, this here is a wolverine carpet from Kipling’s study. Wolverines are, of course, members of the weasel fambly. What’s weird is, this one was quite a light blonde color. I thought (and a quick look at Google images confirms) that wolverines are mostly black, or dark red.

Somewhere in there is a “what’s dumber than it is mean?” joke.

sock it to me

Comments


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 5, 2010, 11:41 pm

OK, I SWORE I wasn’t going to post again tonight, but I can’t resist. Fellow Kiplers! Excellent!

“We’ve sent our little Cupids all ashore–
They were frightened, they were tired, they were cold.”
–to my mind one of the great love poems in the English language.

Have you ever seen this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/30250943/Rudyard-Kipling-s-Mark-Twain-Interview
(Please, please, pretty please, don’t let me have first come across that on this blog! Please!)

That rug is kindof unnerving, though.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 5, 2010, 11:47 pm

No! I’ve never seen that before, Can’t hark. Thank you.

I’ll have to put some pictures up on Flikr or something, so you can see Bateman’s in color. We’re going to go back later in the Summer — the daffodils were done but the roses hadn’t started up yet.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 5, 2010, 11:59 pm

Welcome. Happy Natal Day, when it arrives!

And any time you feel like trading Kipling quotations, and Uncle Badger isn’t available. . .I’ve encountered few Americans who know his poetry as well as I (although I’m weaker on the prose, by a long shot), and, well. . .

 


Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: May 6, 2010, 12:00 am

That was interesting, can’t hark. I like Kipling too. Thanks.

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 6, 2010, 12:49 am

I can’t thank you enough, Can’t Hark!

I hadn’t read that interview before and, now that I have, I feel shriven. Kipling commits my favourite ‘error’ of punctuation, over and over again (henceforth no longer an error) and his reverence in The Presence exorcises another haunting.

Speaking of which, today’s visit was one I would not have missed and yet… I wouldn’t wish to spend a night in that house. Nor, really, any longer than I had to, to say ‘thank you’.

Which leaves the eternal question. Which had the upper hand – Bateman’s, or the life lived there?

 


Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: May 6, 2010, 12:54 am

That’s a big ass wolverine! Careful when you step over him that his slicey things don’t pop out.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:06 am

Having embarrassed myself over numbers in the last thread, I am now quite chirked over having given pleasure to more than one with that link–and Uncle Badger, I’m now going to have to go reread it to figure out the punctuation issue;(less’n, of course, y’all are willing to share).

I will say, as a general sort of comment about punctuation, grammar and usage, that I have recently been participating in various forums, blogs and groups (hum that to the tune of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”?) on grammar/usage, which have forced me to go look stuff up in Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition (which is actually Sir Ernest Gowers) and Garner’s Modern American Usage. . .and on occasion the OED and Webster’s Third New International. And many of my beliefs about correct grammar and usage have been shattered. . .much to my pleasure, I may say. So. . .in all likelihood, the rule that has been cramping your soul is actually one of those pointless shibboleths elementary school (hm, grammar school? I’m not sure of the British equivalent) instructors inflicted on their students because they got so TIRED of reading essays in which every sentence started with a conjunction. . .

How I do go on. But, well really, share? Please?

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:25 am

Oh, just the nuclear force of commas and conjunctions, Can’t Hark. I’ve spent my life (career even! Ha!) tipoeing around that territory, afraid of where I might tread only to see Kipling stomping all around as if don’t matter. And it don’t.

Fowler is great on the split infinitive, too. Another shibboleth cast to the well-deserved pit.

Only.. damnit… I still wince when I see one.

I’m too old to feel liberated. But I do.

As I think I’ve just demonstrated.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:35 am

I long ago concluded that trying to come up with a coherent rule for comma usage is silly; it is very much an idiosyncratic process. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we can probably agree on certain minimal understandings, but really–I could punctuate the same sentence three different ways, with little or no influence on meaning. . .and all would be correct.

(“There are nine and sixty ways/Of constructing tribal lays./And every single one of them is right.”)

On split infinitives–yeah, that was the article (in Fowler, and then as amplified in Garner) that really pushed me down the path of going and LOOKING IT UP before accepting the picky little rules of my grade school teachers. I’m afraid I’ve been basically a discussion-killer on my LinkedIn group on such subjects. Sigh.

And, yes–I nonetheless still find myself restructuring sentences to avoid the split infinitive, in as unobtrusive a manner as possible.

When I read that essay, I could hear Beetle, from Stalky & Co. in every line of it; I’m currently rereading The Lord of the Rings, but as soon as that’s finished, I think I may have to go dig out Stalky.

Oh! I knew there was something about comma usage! Have you read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves?

 


Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:48 am

I like Kipling too. Just for the record. :)

 


Comment from Obligatory Bad Grammatical Joke
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:49 am

“Do you like Kipling?”

“Can’t say. I’ve never kippled.”

 


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:51 am

Well, Kipling was ok, but he never did come out with such a wonderful turn of phrase as:

“By temperament, which is the real law of God, many men are goats and can’t help committing adultery when they get a chance; whereas there are numbers of men who, by temperament, can keep their purity and let an opportunity go by if the woman lacks in attractiveness.”

or

“There are some natures which never grow large enough to speak out and say a bad act is a bad act, until they have inquired into the politics of the nationality of the man who did it. And they are not really scarce, either. Cain is branded a murderer so heartily and unanimously in America, only because he was neither a Democrat nor a Republican. The Feejee Islander’s abuse of Cain ceased very suddenly when the white man mentioned casually that Cain was a Feejee Islander. The next remark of the savage, after an awkward pause, was: “Well, what did Abel come fooling around there for?”

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:03 am

‘K. First–just because one author is wonderful doesn’t mean another can’t be equally wonderful. And Twain & Kipling were both, par excellence turners of wonderful phrases–and wielders of the rapier of wit. I’ll have to think a bit about the adultery one–Kipling tended to speak well of monogamy. And I know this isn’t directly connected to the political one, but. . .see for yourself:

Natural Theology
Rudyard Kipling
PRIMITIVE

I ate my fill of a whale that died,
And stranded after a month at sea….
There is a pain in my inside.
Why have the Gods afflicted me?
Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith!
Wow! I am sick till I cannot see!
What is the sense of Religion and Faith?
Look how the Gods have afflicted me!

PAGAN

How can the skin of rat or mouse hold
Anything more than a harmless flea?…
The burning plague has taken my household.
Why have my Gods afflicted me?

All my kith and kin are deceased,
Though they were as good as good could be.
I will out and batter the family priest,
Because my Gods have afflicted me.

MEDIAEVAL

My privy and well drain into each other
After the custom of Christendie….
Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother.
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
The Saints are helpless for all I offer–
So are the clergy I used to fee
Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer,
Because the Lord has afflicted me.

MATERIAL

I run eight hundred hens to the acre.
They die by dozens mysteriously….
I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker.
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
What a return for all my endeavour–
Not to mention the L. S. D.!
I am an atheist now and for ever,
Because this God has afflicted me!

PROGRESSIVE

Money spent on an Army or Fleet
Is homicidal lunacy….
My son has been killed in the Mons retreat.
Why is the Lord afflicting me?
Why are murder, pillage and arson
And rape allowed by the Deity?
I will write to the _Times_, deriding our parson
Because my God has afflicted me.

CHORUS

We had a kettle, we let it leak;
Our not repairing it made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week….
The bottom is out of the Universe!

CONCLUSION

This was none of the good Lord’s pleasure,
For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free;
But what comes after is measure for measure
And not a God that afflicteth thee.
As was the sowing so the reaping
Is now and evermore shall be.
Thou art delivered to thy own keeping.
Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:18 am

‘K. First–just because one author is wonderful doesn’t mean another can’t be equally wonderful. And Twain & Kipling were both, par excellence turners of wonderful phrases–and wielders of the rapier of wit. I’ll have to think a bit about the adultery one–Kipling tended to speak well of monogamy. And I know this isn’t directly connected to the political one, but. . .see for yourself:

Title: Natural Theology
Author: Rudyard Kipling [More Titles by Kipling]

PRIMITIVE

I ate my fill of a whale that died,
And stranded after a month at sea….
There is a pain in my inside.
Why have the Gods afflicted me?
Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith!
Wow! I am sick till I cannot see!
What is the sense of Religion and Faith?
Look how the Gods have afflicted me!

PAGAN

How can the skin of rat or mouse hold
Anything more than a harmless flea?…
The burning plague has taken my household.
Why have my Gods afflicted me?

All my kith and kin are deceased,
Though they were as good as good could be.
I will out and batter the family priest,
Because my Gods have afflicted me.

MEDIAEVAL

My privy and well drain into each other
After the custom of Christendie….
Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother.
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
The Saints are helpless for all I offer–
So are the clergy I used to fee
Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer,
Because the Lord has afflicted me.

MATERIAL

I run eight hundred hens to the acre.
They die by dozens mysteriously….
I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker.
Why has the Lord afflicted me?
What a return for all my endeavour–
Not to mention the L. S. D.!
I am an atheist now and for ever,
Because this God has afflicted me!

PROGRESSIVE

Money spent on an Army or Fleet
Is homicidal lunacy….
My son has been killed in the Mons retreat.
Why is the Lord afflicting me?
Why are murder, pillage and arson
And rape allowed by the Deity?
I will write to the _Times_, deriding our parson
Because my God has afflicted me.

CHORUS

We had a kettle, we let it leak;
Our not repairing it made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week….
The bottom is out of the Universe!

CONCLUSION

This was none of the good Lord’s pleasure,
For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free;
But what comes after is measure for measure
And not a God that afflicteth thee.
As was the sowing so the reaping
Is now and evermore shall be.
Thou art delivered to thy own keeping.
Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:25 am

Oh, yeah! The YOUNG Kipling had some acerbic comments to make about marriage. . .

But, in the spirit of not making people scroll forever to get past stuff they aren’t interested in. . . I’m gonna link to some poems. AFTER I post, in the hopes of fooling Akismet.

http://www.mail-archive.com/sundial@uni-koeln.de/msg03121.html

http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_domino.htm

http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_post.htm

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:27 am

Rats. I just fell victim to Akismet–even though I added my links AFTER originally posting, during the edit period. Bah!

 


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:30 am

I am just gratified to see that my neffarious plan to stir the pot has already born fruit…. 😉

(What can I say? I get bored easily at work)

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:50 am

Yeah, well, if bad things happen to my better self while lost in there, I’m holding YOU responsible!

And I am busily engaged with my Definitive Edition of Kipling’s verse, coming up with good stuff. . .which I won’t actually post here because this is, after all, Stoaty’s blog. But I’ll have it in reserve!

Of course, that volume is already so bristling with bookmarks and such. . .and I’ve lost track of the meanings of various markers. Oh, well. But if you are really bored, you might go poke around and read some of his stuff.
http://www.kipling.org.uk/bookmart_fra.htm

Honestly–if you like Twain, there’s a real good chance you’ll like Kipling equally. Thing about authors is–the more you are familiar with, the more glorious language you will be able to find to warm you as your life force cools. . .

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:51 am

As Ingersoll said, Can’t Hark : “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are only consequences.”

The Great Stoat has gone to her bed and I am about to follow. No doubt Akismet will be bearded in the morning.

And yes, I agree. So many ways, so many nuances….

 


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:52 am

Just a couple of fun ones:

ON SATAN

Adam was not alone in the Garden of Eden, however, and does not deserve all the credit; much is due to Eve, the first woman, and Satan, the first consultant.

ON HISTORY

It is not worthwhile to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man’s character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible.

ON EQUALITY

There are many humorous things in the world: among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:52 am

Grin. I expect I’ll survive!

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 3:10 am

Mm. Not responding to all, but. . .first consultant : first reviewer

The Conundrum of the Workshops

When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”

Wherefore he called to his wife and fled to fashion his work anew–
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;
And he left his lore to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain
When the Devil chuckled: “Is it Art?” in the ear of the branded Cain.

They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: “It’s striking, but is it Art?”
The stone was dropped by the quarry-side, and the idle derrick swung,
While each man talked of the aims of art, and each in an alien tongue.

They fought and they talked in the north and the south, they talked and they fought in the west,
Till the waters rose on the jabbering land, and the poor Red Clay had rest—
Had rest till the dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: “It’s human, but is it Art?”

The tale is old as the Eden Tree—as new as the new-cut tooth—
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: “You did it, but was it Art?”

We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yolk of an addled egg,
We know that the tail must wag the dog, as the horse is drawn by the cart;
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: “It’s clever, but is it Art?”

When the flicker of London’s sun falls faint on the club-room’s green and gold,
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mold—
They scratch with their pens in the mold of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start
When the Devil mutters behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it art?”

Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the four great rivers flow,
And the wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept, and softly scurry through,
By the favor of God we might know as much—as our father Adam knew

 


Comment from JuliaM
Time: May 6, 2010, 11:26 am

If that’s a really old rug, it’s probably that it’s just faded on exposure to the light. A lot of the pre & post Victorian era hunting trophies are susceptible to this, as you’ll see the more English country houses you visit.

Sometimes, it isn’t easy to see what species they are (were)!

 


Comment from St. Feargal Fitz-Ferret, The Irish Mustelid
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:30 pm

…Le Grande Stoate having curled three times over and covered her nose with the tip of the tail…

Can’t believe none of you pseudoliterate posers mentioned “If” and “White Man’s Burden”.
These ought to be read every morning.

On the day of the Britisher “elections”, I thought I’d ask whether Enoch Powell was on the ballot.

 


Comment from David Gillies
Time: May 6, 2010, 4:49 pm

Et Dona Ferentes is one of my favourites, although I’m not sure if our martial spirit is what it used to be (however the Daily Mail has a story today of a young sniper in Afghanistan wasting five Talibs in 28 seconds at a mile with his Lapua .338 Magnum.)

The split infinitive rule is just a stylistic pronunciamento. Someone, can’t remember who (although it sounds like Kingsley Amis) said that it made no more sense than to call the phrase ‘the red door’ a split nominative.

 


Comment from St. Feargal Fitz-Ferret, The Irish Mustelid
Time: May 6, 2010, 5:20 pm

Mr. Gillies,
it would appear that the waning of martial spirit is matched if not exceeded by other contemporary symptoms of your merry land’s (searching for le mot juste) transformation.

http://web.orange.co.uk/article/quirkies/Britains_worst_art_exhibition

Luckily, UK imported at least one artistic Colonial Stoat and the gin seems to be ladled down on regular basis, so perhaps not all is lost yet.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 5:34 pm

David, Ed Dona Ferentes is another of his poems I treasure, as are. . .

No. Everything must end sometime, and the list of Kipling’s splendid verses that most folks have never heard of is just too long. Which is why it would seem pointless to drag up the old chestnuts that everyone already knows about (although even that list is longer than two).

Oh, and, apologies to all for the redundant post I committed. I did ask for the second iteration to be deleted, and for awhile it was hidden, but. . .Oh, well. Sorry, I’ll try never to do it again.

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 6, 2010, 9:43 pm

Huh. I tried to make a point in front of the class one day, when I was maybe twelve. I couldn’t quite get my thoughts together, so I hung saying “I’m trying to not…to not…to not…”

The repetition of the split infinitive eventually made the teacher’s head explode. I’d never heard of one before that day, but I cringe at them ever since.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 6, 2010, 11:20 pm

I just this day embarked on reading Style: Lessons in Clarity & Grace (10th ed., Joseph Williams & Gregory Colomb [Colomb edited and updated the 10th edition, Williams wrote the first 9]) because a commenter in a grammar blog I’ve been dipping into praised it. And I think it is going to be good (it’s the kind of book where I find myself nodding and mumbling “yeah, OH yeah!” a lot.) In view of Stoaty’s grammar nightmare, (as opposed to her Vincent Price nightmare) I wanted to share this comment by the author:

“I could cite a dozen examples where the violation of a rule of Standard English reflects a logical mind making English grammar more consistent.”

Immediately before this remark, the author examines the Standard English useage “aren’t I?” (which, if you eliminate the contraction and use the full form, would be “are I not?”) in comparison to “ain’t I?” which he links back to what would seem to be the obvious contraction: “amn’t I?” Enthusiastic head-nodding, finger-snapping and yeah-mumbles here. . .

Shame on your 7th grade teacher!

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 6, 2010, 11:47 pm

Glad you dug that one up, Can’t Hark. ‘Aren’t I?’ has had me troubled since I was a wee badger cub.

You still get regional weirdness here, like in the West Midlands where ‘am’ is used in phrases like ‘you’m going to the gig, Wednesday?’

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 7, 2010, 12:29 am

Well, I know that I encountered “amn’t” in something my parents read to me as a child; that is pretty broad territory, though, including Twain, Alcott, Milne, Grahame. . .but I think “amn’t” was probably Alcott. Been awhile since I reread Little Women; if only there were more hours in the day.

And regional weirdness is the very soul of language. “There’s my sister Jean, she’s not handsome or goodlooking;/Scarcely 16 and the fellows she was courting./Now she’m 24 she’ve a son and a daughter,/Here am I, 44, and I’ve never had an offer.” And like that. (A microregionalism in one of our local communities is “and onto that,” used as a general interjection in place of “and so on,” or “etcetera.” I have no idea where it came from. . .)

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: May 7, 2010, 12:40 am

I’m still wrapping my head around Stoaty’s ancestral “y’all”, Can’t Hark. One of her clan looked me in the eye and explained to me why it made sense.

And, do you know, for a moment, it did.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 7, 2010, 1:02 am

[Shuffles feet, rubs chin, whistles and looks up at the sky]
Well, it actually makes a lot of sense to me–but then, my parents were from East Texas.

You. All. A plural (where my folks grew up, y’all was NEVER used in the singular).

My favorite East Texas dialect story: When my father was a boy he went to visit rural relatives (he and his parents lived in a TOWN, you see). Supper time on the first day (um–I’m sure you are aware that in the American South, dinner is served noonish, and the evening meal is supper. Yes?) the family gathered around the table laden with vittles (now, there’s a word whose etymology I’d love to chase sometime!) After grace, the Oldest Male Relative, he-who-sat-at-the-head-of-the-table, turned to my father and said “Now, Richard, I want you to make yourself to home. Any time you want to, you just lean right over and [suiting the action to the word, he stabbed with his fork at a remote location on the table] retch yourself a biscuit!”

Yup. Southern roots.

 


Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: May 7, 2010, 2:59 pm

(…y’all was NEVER used in the singular).

As opposed to the “all y’all” or “all o’ y’all” which now denotes the plural.

…table laden with vittles…

The etymology of “vittles” from the Latin “victuales” is an interesting trip. The Old French morphed it to “vitailles” (no doubt so they could claim they weren’t *really* speaking a Romance Language), which hopped the Channel with Bill the Conquerer and burrowed its way into Middle Englyshe as “vittals” (no doubt so the Anglo-Saxonish could claim it as an honest Englyshe word). And somewhere along the line, some unsung lexicographer probably grumpfed that Englyshe already had too many homographs, decided that “vittals” looked too close to “vitals” and scribbled “vittles” for posterity…

Or not.

 


Comment from lauraw
Time: May 7, 2010, 4:04 pm

retch yourself a biscuit!”

Ha ha ha! I think I just did.

 


Comment from Gilded Splinters
Time: May 7, 2010, 4:37 pm

Twain, speaking of Kipling:
“Between us we encompass all knowledge. Kipling knows everything worth knowing and I know all the rest.”

 


Comment from Lipstick
Time: May 7, 2010, 5:13 pm

My grandmother would serve dinner around noon, right after she red up the room.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 7, 2010, 9:48 pm

Yup. And after the family had et dinner, she probably warshed and renched the dishes raht away. . .I know mine did!

 


Comment from Ric Locke
Time: May 8, 2010, 12:41 am

It is well to carefully and judiciously split the occasional infinitive, and sometimes a preposition is the right word to end a sentence with.

Regards,
Ric

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 8, 2010, 1:27 am

The Naughty Preposition
Morris Bishop

I lately lost a preposition;
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And agrily I cried: “Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!”

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: “What should he come
Up from out of in under for?”

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 8, 2010, 1:35 am

Oh. Yeah. Thank you, Bill(what percentage from where was that again?)T. Most interesting.

And, um, did I need to gloss the “retch yourself a biscuit” story by mentioning that in the American South biscuits are not sweet or crunchy? Except, of course, that I understand Maryland beaten biscuits are crunchy. But not sweet.

And no biscuit I know of among English-speaking peoples is actually twice-cooked; unlike its etymological cousin the biscotti, which actually lives up to its name.

Oh, my, I do LOVE language!

 


Comment from Gilded Splinters
Time: May 8, 2010, 1:56 am

Can’t Hark
East Texas roots here,(Goodrich)… retched out for many a biscuit with my Boardinghouse Retch. Your folks still say they’re “fixin’ to” do something?

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 8, 2010, 2:08 am

Ah, no! They moved to the Northeast (and elsewhere), and lost their East Texas accents. I grew up speaking standard-American-college-educated in an era when that was still uncommon. To the point where I have been accused of having no regional accent of any kind. Not true–but not worth fighting about.

Kilgore and Denton. During the oil boom (they were both born during the Depression, but cannot truly be said to have lived through the Depression, because where they grew up, it wasn’t happening!) My maternal aunt was a Kilgore Rangerette. And for a while my father was parented by his maternal aunt and her spouse in Brownwood. And my paternal grandparents retired to a ranch in Lampasas (central Texas).

‘course, on the other hand (with respect to the Depression)–there were oil derricks on the high school lawn. But to be honest, some of my school district clients would probably be glad to sink wells on even their elementary campuses if it would allow them to balance their budgets.

Sigh. TMI, no doubt. But I do love visiting East Texas and listening to the speech, from my increasingly tiny pool of relatives.

 


Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: May 8, 2010, 2:22 am

I was referred over here from ACE OF SPADES blog, who mentioned the Twain-Kipling interview. I am saving that for last, like dessert, as I go through this thread. Just thought I would toss this in, in reference to Can’t Hark My Cry’s comment on biscuits not being “twice cooked”. Good American biscuits, of course, are not. However, have you ever encountered hardtack, also known as “ship’s biscuit”? I do living history re-enacting, and I have made it to give to the school kids where we do presentations. It is indeed twice cooked, hard as a rock, and from what I understand the French phrase for the process is the origin of the word.

Now it is time for dessert. Thank you for reminding me of Kipling. It is time to pull the old volumes down again, after I finish the interview.

Subotai Bahadur

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 8, 2010, 2:42 am

Subotai Bahadur–

Always a pleasure to hear from another Kipler. “As I pass through my incarnations/In every age and race,/I make my proper prostrations/To the Gods of the Marketplace.”

As I understand it, Maryland beaten biscuits (which I referenced in that post) are essentially comparable to hardtack. However, I think in that case it is not because they are twice-cooked, but because they are run through the wringer BEFORE cooking. More or less literally. Beaten with an axe on a stump, originally, but the article I referenced (yeah, sorry, I didn’t bookmark it but I think it was a Wikipedia entry) mentioned a machine that sounds to me a lot like the pasta rollers thing I have with which I never actually MAKE pasta.

French phrase? (I do truly love language–so am always open to new stuff!) bicuit/biscotti: both involve the roots for twice and cooked; what’s the French?

 


Comment from Gilded Splinters
Time: May 8, 2010, 4:29 am

Can’t Hark,
My Great-aunt Meg ran the dormatory where the Rangerettes lived. She and Uncle also owned a boarding house where Van Cliburn lived. I too recall all the wooden derricks in Kilgore. I’m 3rd gen oilfield, Mom and Dad met as kids at a Shell compressor plant in Douglas.

 


Comment from Gilded Splinters
Time: May 8, 2010, 4:34 am

Dawns on me that none have pulled out this old chestnut:

“Do you like Kipling?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never kippled.”

 


Comment from Lipstick
Time: May 8, 2010, 3:29 pm

Can’t Hark, oh yeah, Grandma warshed the clothes in the warshtub, for sure. One thing my Mom says that I can’t figure where it came from: “Look in-under the bed”. ?

She’s from western Pennsylvania with a Mennonite background and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else use in-under for under.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 8, 2010, 10:56 pm

Gilded Splinters–yeah, Van Cliburn played (as an elementary student) for a high school assembly when my parents were in high school. He wasn’t yet a certified child prodigy, but the local community was impressed. I’m resisting the urge to share additional family details. . .at some point they would spill over into identifiability. But, lovely to check in with someone who knows Kilgore!

Lipstick–Yup. Not one I can remember running across, but the beauty of language is its local/regional eccentricity. Many years ago, as a twenty-something, I lived and worked in Manhattan. As I was walking home one evening it started to rain, and I offered to share my umbrella with someone walking near me–who immediately exclaimed (while accepting the invitation) “You must be from the South!.” Apparently, in saying “umbrella,” I had placed the accent on a syllable Northerners don’t accent, and Southerners do. At this remove, I can’t remember which (I don’t use umbrellas anymore, and if forced to speak of one, I’ll take refuge in bumbershoot, or even parapluie); but I had a similar experience with insurance. I like “in under”; might come in handy some time.

And don’t even get me started on depot and route. . .

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 8, 2010, 11:49 pm

UMbrella. INsurance. Know them both well. As a Tennesseean who lived in Rhode Island for thirty years, I learned what not to say pretty quick.

Not that RI didn’t have plenty of its own linguistic peculiarities. “So don’t I” was a favorite. And “side by each” was another.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 9, 2010, 12:13 am

Yeah, ok. I say “insurance” a lot as part of my work, and always (now) accent the second syllable; and I suspect that if I said “umbrella,” I’d do the same. I’ve never actually lived in the South. But somehow, I guess there were a handful of words that, in my childhood, I’d never actually heard said out loud by anyone but my parents, and all of those transitioned into adulthood with the Southern pronunciation.

Um. “Side by each” I’ve encountered before (and actually like). “So don’t I” meaning “I don’t either?” Or something more esoteric?

 


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: May 9, 2010, 12:22 am

The most embarrassing one I picked up from my parents by osmosis was “whelps” instead of “welts” — that led to another “stupid thing I said in front of a classroom” moment.

I’ve always assumed “side by each” was Portuguese, just because there were a lot of them about in RI and they contributed a lot to the flavor. And yes, “so don’t I” was me neither.

 


Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: May 9, 2010, 12:29 am

Oh, man, now that is a quinkydink! I’d never previously encountered the substitution of “whelp” for “welt,” and therefore considered this post to be fairly weird. Guess not, huh?

And I’m not sure where I encountered “side by each.” I read a LOT of fiction, and I love regional stuff. Do you know the Rogue’s Isles mysteries by Thomas Gately Briody? Of course, having escaped, you may not want to be reminded.

 


Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: May 10, 2010, 6:34 pm

Can’t hark my cry:

Sorry I did not get back to the thread till now. The French have two words; one modern stolen back from the English which I am sure greatly annoys the Official Savants, for what we call a biscuit, spelled the same as us, but pronounced bis*kwee. The original word is spelled biscuité and pronounced bis*kwee*tay. “Twice Cooked” referring to the double baking process in making what we call hardtack, or “soldiers bread”. [Evil stuff that. Has to be soaked and/or broken up to eat it. Lasts bloody near forever. The last Civil War hardtack in government inventory was issued to troops of the American Expeditionary Force in France in WW I. I am not sure if they ate it, or threw it at the Germans.]

Oh, I am engaged in a search for a copy From Sea to Sea; Letters of Travel that the interview with Twain came from. Now look what y’all have done *smile*. It may also be in a volume called A Diversity of Creatures; Letters of Travel 1892-1913 ISBN 13: 9781146430944. The game is afoot!

Subotai Bahadur

 


Comment from Can\’t hark my cry
Time: May 12, 2010, 1:27 am

Most interesting. I knew that biscuit (like biscotti) came from roots meaning “twice cooked,” but good to know what the French word was.

One place you might look (although on a quick pass, I don’t think a book is there containing that text) is http://www.gutenberg.org
They have an amazing store of works in the public domain, free for the taking, subject to acknowledging (in any use you make of them) the source. Seems to me a fair trade off.

And–forgive me if you are already familiar with Project Gutenberg and I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs!

 


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Time: November 17, 2011, 8:45 pm

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