Thursday, August 11, 2005

you can tune a piano...

Good morning friends- not sure what all those ads-disguised-as-comments were all about from yesterday- if they continue to pop up and get annoying, I may have to ix-nay the anonymous omments-cay, so those of you who particuarly enjoy your anonymity will have to break down and create a user id. Mostly I said that because I wanted to use the word anonymity. It's a favorite of mine. As is snafu. And crisp. But we won't go there this morning.

Instead, a co-worker Joel, brought up an interesting point this morning. Why is it when talking about a sandwich, we refer to it as "tuna fish." Why not just say, I went to the store to buy a can of tuna- no wait- that's from a theater monologue I did in high school- but no, instead we usually refer to this smelly food as "tuna fish." Of course I am not a fan of tuna fish (or any fish really...), but why ever say "Tuna fish?" Why not just tuna? You call it "swordfish" or "catfish" because there is something other than an aquatic being that shares its name. Otherwise, I might confuse it. Do you have a feline or a fish for a pet? If you just say "cat," I might assume the first- and we all know what happens when one assumes. But really, what if I do have an aquarium in my apartment, and I own a pet catfish? (Aren't their whiskers cute?) I'd have to be specific by saying "catfish." But as far as I know, there is no other tuna by any other name that would smell as sweet. So let's all make a conscious effort from now on to call it by its proper name- Tuna.

Because remember, you can tune a piano... But you can't tune a fish.

5 comments:

Mark Kelly Hall said...

And how many of you young whippersnappers (there's a word whose origins I'd be interested in knowing...and is there any such thing as an old whippersnapper?) identify the band who used that last line as an album title? The year was 1970-something (to borrow a phrase from the writer of the Mark Wills song). My brother had it on 8-track. Hint: the band was named after a car that dated back even further.

winn said...

Ironically, I was thinking about the exact same thing yesterday.

Anonymous said...

... and this is exactly why I'm here: Not merely for fun, amusement, frivolity, and mirth -- but for enlightenment, knowledge, and the occasional dosage of wisdom. That, and www.ask.com --

Not only does this give one possible answer, it also includes the word "crisp", which I think is a triple-word-score bonus today...

Here's what I have found today:

==================================
Dear Word Detective: While surfing on the Web, I found your valuable service. Can you give me the origin of the word "whippersnapper"? The dictionary refers you to "snippersnapper," and gives no etymology. Can you help? -- Roy, via the Internet.

Why certainly, sir. I am a valuable service, aren't I? Neat, friendly, always professional. Most people don't know this, but I actually wear a crisp white uniform and a name tag while I'm sitting at my computer answering readers' questions. I also wear a pith helmet lined with tinfoil, but that's another story.

"Whippersnapper" is a somewhat archaic term, rarely heard today outside of movies, and then usually from the mouth of a character portrayed as chronologically-challenged and hopelessly old-fashioned to boot. A "whippersnapper" is an impertinent young person, usually a young man, whose lack of proper respect for the older generation is matched only by his laziness and lack of motivation to better himself.

One might imagine that the term derives from the understandable temptation among more productive citizens to "snap a whip" at such sullen layabouts, but the whips in question actually belonged to the whippersnappers themselves. Such ne'er-do-wells were originally known as "whip snappers" in the 17th century, after their habit of standing around on street corners all day, idly snapping whips to pass the time. The term was been based on the already-existing phrase, "snipper-snapper," also meaning a worthless young man, but in any case, "whip snapper" became "whippersnapper" fairly rapidly.

Though "whippersnapper" originally referred to a young man with no visible ambition, the term has changed somewhat over the years, and today is more likely to be applied to a youngster with an excess of both ambition and impertinence.
==================================

Send up the E-Signal if you ever need help... I'll be looking... and no need to say thank-you - in the immortal (?) words of Batman, "You'll never have to."

-E-

ps - and not because I knew the band's name, but because I knew where to find it... good trivia question... fun answer...

Bart said...

REO Speedwagon - You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can't Tuna Fish (1978)

Of course, I'm no young whippersnapper, though...

Jenni said...

haha, flashback, i remember that monologue!