t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Tue Jan 11 00:30:57 UTC 2000
Let's broaden the discussion that began with Jim Carson's question about
"I've got to go see a man about a dog." It's a conventionalism that
has no necessary connection with either a canine or a hominid.
There are Mexican dialects that say the same thing with "voy a cortar
flores" -- I'm going to cut (some) flowers. There usually are no
flowers where one would go next.
My favorite hobby is the eclectic collection of trivia which never will
have much utilitarian value, which may be why I like dialectology in the
first place. In pursuit of that hobby, I once took great care to learn
how to pronounce a sentence in Russian, which I don't speak: "I'm going
where the Tsar walks on (his own) two feet". The sentence is a gender-
specific way of announcing one's intention to urinate.
A long time ago, that sentence came back to haunt me. The very same
sentence, in Russian at that, appears in Tom Lehrer's original recording
of his song about Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky. Lehrer used it as
doubletalk, without translation.
I replayed that section of the record for my wife and told her the
meaning. She said "what's so Russian about that? Germans used to say
'I'm going where the Kaiser goes on foot'."
Any one of these sounds much better to me than "I gotta go to the little
-- mike salovesh <salovesh at niu.edu> PEACE !!!
P.S.: People on this list will know why the conversation with my wife
over how the Tsar and the Kaiser go when they have to go will know why
our focus turned to the /k/ ~ /ts/ ~ /ch/ ~ /s/ dividing lines in the
dialect history of Latin "centum". Some of you will recognize Eric
Hamp's influence when I tell you we ended the conversation laughing at
the "shedule" of the Boston "keltics".
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