Rule of Three--(in Crime and Punishment)

David Bergdahl bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Mon Feb 9 16:09:24 UTC 2004

On the culture-side, let's not forget that both Christians and Muslims have
special regard for the number 3. Or is it folklore that traditional divorce
in Islam is accomplished by the husband (but not the wife) saying "I
divorce you" thrice?

Karl Menniger's Number Words and Number Symbols is a good source for the
linguistics of numbers.  Menniger reminds us of the three-ness of "tribal"
and "drill' (a cloth), "tribute" and "testament." Apparently there was an
arithmetic "rule of three" in mid-15thC ... so we may need to go further
back to find the basis of "practice, practice, practice."

--On Monday, February 9, 2004 9:31 AM -0600 Gerald Cohen <gcohen at UMR.EDU>

> This is from memory.  In Dostoyevsky's _Crime and Punishment_
> Marmeladov's wife is distraught at the way things are going and says
> in the midst of an outburst: "This thrice-accursed life!" That's the
> exact Russian translation, but of course it isn't smooth English.
> The translator was up to the task, though, and rendered her statement
> as "Damn, damn, damn this life!"
> Gerald Cohen

"Practice random acts of intelligence and senseless acts of self-control"

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