Odie on English

The following is a guest contribution from Odie, who holds a B.S. in English from our fine University.

So I went past this store the other day, and the neon sign in the window said the words “Pink Polish.” I spent three days trying to figure out what kind of Eastern European store this was. I mean, why would Polish people want pink things? It was only when I walked by the same store again that I realized it was filled with nice Vietnamese ladies doing nails.

Of course, the fact that capitalization changes the intent of a word is entirely stupid. But then again, it’s a confusing language. Consider g – o, “go” or “goe” for phonetic purposes, but d – o does not sound like “doe.” Or let’s take the use of a popular insult in the English language. The following is from the Word Detective website.

Dear Word Detective: How did the name of Nimrod, the legendary hunter, become synonymous with “an idiot”?

Answer: Nimrod was indeed a fearless hunter in the Book of Genesis, and “nimrod” has been used as a simple synonym for “hunter” in English since the early 1700s. According to the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, we may have none other than Bugs Bunny to thank for the more modern slang use of “nimrod” to mean “idiot” or “jerk.” In one particular 1940s cartoon, Bugs sarcastically referred to the hapless hunter Elmer Fudd as “Poor little Nimrod.” Although “nimrod” had already been used mockingly for a number of years, Bugs’ popularity probably gave this “idiot” sense a huge boost, and it is now used in contexts that have nothing to do with hunting.

That’s right; our language is based off of a cartoon. What a maroon I have been!

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