WSJ letter on insults to Welsh and Dutch

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon Mar 10 02:35:37 UTC 2003

    The following letter appeared in the Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2003,
p. A15, col. 1; title: "Idiomatic Insults":
   "Tunku Varadarajan writes that the Scots and the French have been
the "favorite targets" of the English over the centuries (de
gustibus, Feb. 21, Taste page, Weekend Journal), but a look at the
Oxford English Dictionary reveals that anti-Welsh and anti-Dutch
sentiments are firmly embedded also.

    "Some of these terms are used with hardly a thought given to their
origins, such as to welsh on a bet or to go Dutch treat (which is no
treat at all, since you have to pay your own way).  In "Tom Jones,"
novelist Henry Fielding used the term Dutch defense--i.e. to
surrender--while the financial community is familiar with Dutch
auctions (which reverse the customary method of auctions and being
with a high price that is lowered until buyers are found).

     "Fortunately for the recipients of this verbal abuse, many of
these terms have fallen into disuse.  Still, if you forget your comb,
you can always use your Welsh comb--your thumb and fingers.
Jay Hoster, Columbus Ohio"

Gerald Cohen

More information about the Ads-l mailing list