Arab & the camel [was Re: Chomsky, Labov, Cassidy,Lakhoff,Dilliard, McDavid,Nixon in 1974.]

Thomas Paikeday t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA
Wed Jan 17 02:03:38 UTC 2001

Doug Wilson,

Many thanks for going out of your way to research this. I just checked
the 1990 database of contemporary American English I used in my
_User's(R) Webster_ and there is evidence of the story's being a
broadcast item, like "[The regulators] fear the federal camel will stick
its nose into the states' tent" (Best's Review, Dec. 1990). Oral
testimony, of course, is much better on this issue.

I too think the Proverbs book (DAP, 1992) missed a whole lot of evidence
(Well, it's not exactly DARE, e&oe).

As for a Greek fable becoming a Malayalam proverb, my speculation is
Greek influence. Ancient Greeks used to trade for spices on the Malabar

Tom Paikeday
"Douglas G. Wilson" wrote:
> >My own explanation is that
> >the MSW not being from Oregon (as in A DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN PROVERBS),
> >he cannot be blamed for making me explain the fable to him, but the
> >prior being from Illinois should probably have known better.
> Now I see (I went to the library). The book gives Illinois and Oregon as
> the distribution of the story. I think this must be wrong or perhaps
> outdated. I can't remember where I heard it long ago but I think Michigan.
> I showed the glossed passage in Tom Paikeday's e-mail to my son (a young
> Pennsylvanian with no Malayalam) and he recognized it instantly, told the
> story and interpreted it as "Even slight evil should not be permitted" or
> so. I didn't tell it to him. I suppose this story has been broadcast; maybe
> it's been used in churches and schools all over; maybe it was on "Sesame
> Street" or something. What do the scholars say?
> -- Doug Wilson

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