Cameron to use whales to stop the violence?

Bonus: a rather old cetation/transportacean joke.

A new one for me and for the Real Academia Española from El Universal, Caracas:

El primer ministro británico, David Cameron, endureció el tono, tras una cuarta noche consecutiva de disturbios en el país, al asegurar que “la respuesta está en marcha” y al autorizar el uso “ballenas” para frenar la violencia.

I suppose that this could have been a misinterpretation of the Wales in the reminder from some that the Welsh are racially apart and don’t have riots. No I don’t.

An oldie:

–¿Cómo se llama el marido de la ballena?
–El bus, porque siempre va lleno.


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  1. I guess “hawk and spit” could end up as “birdie kebab” the other side of a machine translator.

    I wondered whether a “ballena” mightn’t be a rubber bullet, which in some incarnations resembles a miniature whale. Could always google it, but nah.

  2. “Emitir una tosecilla repetidas veces a fin de aclarar la garganta y evitar el enronquecimiento de la voz.” DRAE

  3. He’s right, of course, but Friday afternoon is quiet and there’s some devil in the detail.

    Erasmus complains about diners who, not knowing what to say at the table, scratch their heads, pick their teeth, wave their hands around, play with their knives, or cough, hawk or spit–aut tussiant, aut screent, aut expuant.

    Presumably as part of the Latin craze, screo, screare turns up in Renaissance Spanish as escrear, escarrear and possibly more. There’s a nice example in this translation of the works of Bernard de Gordon, a late medieval Montpellier physician, where it is explained that hawking is distinct from spitting because it’s a lung-cleansing activity, so that I think hawking is coughing which involves the expulsion of matter into the oral cavity:

    diferencia ay entre el escupir, y el escrear, porque el escrear se llama lo que propiamente, y naturalmente se echa de los pechos con tos

    That word then seems to die out, but carraspear only surfaces in the 19th century. So what did they call hawking in the interim? Was it assimilated to coughing, toser? Or did they just stop bringing up their phlegm and die of horrible lung conditions?

    The former must be true. There’s a marvellous bit in this life of St Francis Borgia where he stops at an inn and is put in close proximity to an elderly man with respiratory problems, who, thinking that his face is the wall, coughs (up) and spits in it all night, filling it with a pestilent shower of gob:

    quando en una Venta pusieron en un aposento su gergon cerca de el de su Compañero, y como fuera este un Viejo asmatico, no hizo otra cosa que toser, y escupir, y pensando que escupia en la pared, estuvo toda la noche escupiendo en el rostro de Francisco …, y ni le avisó, ni retiró la cara, tolerando la vigilia que incessable tós le causava, y la inmunda pestilente lluvia de sus salivas.

    There’s another, more convincing example here, in which various bishops show their disapproval of what one of their colleagues is saying by hawking and spitting noisily. Unfortunately I don’t entirely get the joke.

  4. Pura mofa de la disputa en sí, o bien del obispo de Aliphi que obtiene en el catarro lo que le es menester según jus divinum.

  5. PS: Synonyms for carraspear: toser, esgarrar, desflemar. Looks like toser is the simplest, but doesn’t have the onomatopoeic value of carraspear, which for this reason is closest to hawk.

  6. @looby: That’s splendid, but unfortunately prone to sect-forming:

    A woman, blind for 9 years, can see again after doctors performed a rare surgery where her own tooth was inserted into eye. How does this procedure work?

    The woman suffered from damaged corneas, and she seemed to have no options if she wanted to regain her sight. Luckily, one of her doctors had heard of a surgery developed in the 1960s in Italy, and in widespread use in Japan. The patient’s tooth becomes the scaffold for an artificial cornea.

  7. “a rather old cetation/transportacean joke”

    Well, that didn’t go where I was expecting. The only cetacean/transportation joke I knew was:

    Where do you weigh a whale?
    At a whale-weigh station.

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