Lawyers and birds

I know we’re not meant to read books using CORDE, but we do, and we enjoy it muchly, so we do. Here’s a bit from Diálogo argentino de la lengua by Avelino Herrero Mayor, published first in 1954 with 50 gorgeously anachronistic dialogues teaching the art of talking and writing propane, and then again in 1967 with 50 more:

Pupil: Since they’re both from the same family, I don’t understand why vaca (cow) is written with a short v while buey (ox) is written with the [long] b for burro, donkey.
Teacher: Vaca, according to an ancient etymology, is descended from buey, but took the short v as a result of one of those alterations that can only be explained by false analogies…
Pupil: I remember about abogado (lawyer), which hasn’t kept the originally Latin short v, and…
Teacher: Buitre (vulture), which comes from vultur, with that really short v that some call labiodental, which it is not…

In a variation on the traditional association of lawyers with vultures, an Amsterdam ambulance analyst is dragging a colleague from landridden Drente through the courts (credit: Onze Taal) for calling him a “seagull lawyer,” who “flies up squawking, shits here and there, and goes on his way.” At least they’re spending their own money for a change.

British Francophiles know, of course, that “seagull” is a euphemism for “journalist.”

Alumna. – No comprendo por qué vaca se escribe con v corta, mientras buey se escribe con b de “burro”, siendo ambos de la misma familia.
Profesor. – En efecto: vaca, según una antigua etimología, desciende de buey, pero tomó v corta por una de esas alteraciones que sólo se explican por falsas analogías…
Alumna. – Recuerdo aquello de abogado, que no conserva la v corta de origen latino, y…
Profesor. – De buitre, que viene de vultur, con esa v cortita que algunos llaman labidental y no lo es…

Similar posts

Last updated 05/10/2005

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

Kaleboel (4307):

Natural history (512): Natural history is the research and study of organisms including animals, fungi and plants in their environment, leaning more towards observational than experimental methods of study.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *