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Weekend Google-Print-Search-ology

Recently spotted: A.E. Housman's charming little monograph on a subject otherwise shrouded in mystery until his day—the question of the Latin word for "ass". Apparently it was subject to something like the same problem English used to have concerning the device now called a "toilet".

In English, down to the 19th century, the beast which carried Balaam was generally and almost universally, both in speech and in writing, denominated the ass. It is so no longer: the name ass, except in metaphor as a term of contempt or insult, has disappeared from conversation and from most kinds of print, and survives only in serious poetry and in prose of some solemnity. The name donkey, first printed in 1785 in a dictionary of slang, has usurped its place. It is possible that in Latin, in the 1st century before Christ, an analogous but contrary change befel the usage of asinus...

Heh. Ass.


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Comments (3)


Heh heh.

Toilet? Problems? Don't tease us, Cosh.


Heh, back when I was a household furniture mover I often encountered people who had antique "bathroom" furniture but didn't know what they had. I know that's not what you're referring to, but it is kind of interesting.


Rofl, at the risk of posting too many messages, I should add that most often people use such antique "bathroom" furniture as a part of some dinette!

They do vaguely resemble various styles of dinette furniture, so you can't really blame people. Instead of bedpans it's breadpans, heh.


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