Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 10 22:34:34 UTC 2009

PS: Yes, I know--PS is supposed to follow the signature. But I wanted to
bring the question I posed somewhere in the body to the front--in a vain
attempt to spark interest.

Would it be fair to say that the old "grow" gloss had a perfectly
legitimate life of its own before the snowclon-ish new meaning came along?

At the risk of ending up with both feet in my mouth, a couple of
comments. First, the "waxing" has gone full circle and made it back to
its literal meaning (at least, as applied to body hair):


That post also has the added benefit of using "homogenous" for
"homosexual" in one instance (perhaps he really meant "the public show
of homogenous strength" to be "homogenous"). Intended or Cupertino?

But going back to Whitman's post (first link -way- below), he points to
a shift from "wax poetic" et al. to "wax poetically" et al. to, quite
shockingly "poetically was" et al. with the corresponding shift from
"grow" meaning to "communicate". That's aside from the "waxing on" bit,
as that earned a separate post (as a follow-up).

But, not so fast! Googling up "nostalgically waxing" from Whitman's link
gives 1) the link to the post itself, 2) link to "nostalgically waxing
on"--which properly belonged to Whitman's second post, and 3)
"nostalgically waxing lyrically", which is the animal of a different
sort that I wanted to bring up (in fact, even before following Whitman's
link I wondered how many hits would look like that).

Here's the link for (3)

> >I _will try not to nostalgically wax lyrically_ to the beat of a
devilishly red tune for too long however this thread is about a living
welsh(ish) legend and no, the tune isn’t “what’s new pussycat” – Abu
Esa, you know you were probably playing that song as part of your ’set’
since it was released about the time you were desecrating vinyl.

[This is actually a comment well down from the original post on Ryan
Giggs. In fact, the whole paragraph in this comment has some quirky
syntactic constructs.]

But, back to "waxing A". A could be "weird". [Aside from "wax*
nostalgically" above, I used search patterns that turned out to be
completely distinct from Whitman's.]

> >And for those who can't get behind a honky-tonk humorist _waxing
weird_ on the Gloved One's legacy, Fulks is ready to lose their loyalty.

[Contrary to popular expectations, the first Google page on "waxing
weird" misleadingly contain only irrelevant hits. The real ones begin on
page 2.]

Will any other adjective do? Let's try "blind".

> > Now Reubens dons a mullet to play a blatantly sighted actor waxing
blind in Butterflies Are Free -- with his erstwhile Miss Yvonne, Lynne
Marie Stewart, doing a hilariously blowsy, middle-aged take on that
play's ingenue.

How about "raw"? Oddly enough, a good Google Books hit from 1856--The
Church Historians of England, p. 344:

> > After that, the old wound, waxing raw again, began to burst out and
gather to a head; ...

Unlike the "blind" and the "weird" examples, this one actually fits
fairly well into the "grow" mold (which Whitman points to as
"semi-archaic"--a fitting description in this case).

For something more contemporary, the next one on the list is from Korea:

> > One of the pioneers of modern hip-hop, the Jungle Brothers, will be
_waxing raw deluxe_ this Friday in Apkujong, southern Seoul, at local
organizer Afroking's seventh hip-hop party.

This one is clearly in the "communicate" mold rather than "grow".

"Waxing dull" gets plenty of hits--going back to 1849 (and earlier). But
one is interesting:

> > DO NOT ALLOW (REFUSE WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT) your hearing waxing dull,
in Jesus’ Name. Keep your HEARING SHARP!!! I pray that you have your
EARS circumcised and that YOU NEVER resist the Holy Ghost, NEVER (see
Acts 7:51)!

I was all ready to claim "X wax[ing] A" to be a snowclone[let], when
this one came along! It's not someone, but "hearing"--totally fitting
under "grow". So it's not quite as archaic as initially claimed.

Would it be fair to say that the old "grow" gloss had a perfectly
legitimate life of its own before the snowclon-ish new meaning came along?

> > I _admit to waxing trite_ on more than one occasion on here and I
assure you that today will not be an exception.

Note that this is not a "wax on" example, even though "waxing trite" is
followed by "on". Compare this to Agnes Rollo Wilkie's Rosa from 1882
(p. 46)

> > With wonderful charity you cover over these multitudes of civilized
evils, and _wax glowing_ in declamation of the barbarous Hindoo.

Can it get worse? You betcha!

> > [original line breaks preserved]
somewhat thankful
am i for it
now i serve it
in a war-torn land
distant and strange and unnecessary
where i just might die for it
or so the newspapers shall say
_gallantly waxing trite rhetoric and hollow pomp_
i’ll just be dead - - small comfort for my next-of-kin

Poetic license aside--and it _is_ a poem--this one managed to pile
together all of the combinations. To be honest, I can't even tell if the
"waxing" line modifies "say" or "die".

Perhaps it's just me, but my experience with "waxing" qualities has been
more ironic or even sarcastic than literal. Someone's being described as
"waxing poetic" makes me suspect that he is spouting incoherent
nonsense. This also seems to be an artifact of time--older examples seem
to be of straight use of wax/grow, utterly devoid of irony. The new ones
seem to be mostly snarky irrespectively of whether they fall under
wax/grow or wax/communicate.

On that note, I'll retire to await the forthcoming foot-stuffing.


M Covarrubias wrote:
> On Apr 19, 2009, at 4:35 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>> Alison Murie wrote:
>>> 'But his overall tone is a gentle one, as he tries to demystify his
>>> diet by devoting a chapter to "A Day in the Life of a Vegan," in
>>> which he characterizes himself as "cooking-challenged," while waxing
>>> about the nutty flavor of organic avocadoes.'
>>> --from an article in Salon on Jeffrey Masson.
>>> Subtle effort to engage the reader by making him(her) supply the
>>> "eloquent" or "poetic" or whatever??
>>> AM
>> -
>> Seems to me this "wax" has been mentioned before but I can't find it
>> in the archives.
>> The post-literati apparently have heard (I was about to say "read"
>> ... I suppose that's possible too) things like "wax eloquent", which
>> is assumed to mean "talk eloquent", thus "wax" must mean "talk". Or
>> something like that.
>> One can Google <<"waxing on about">> and see hundreds and hundreds of
>> examples with "wax" apparently meaning "talk"/"babble"/"rant"/etc.
>> One can switch to G. Books and see dozens of published examples of
>> this collocation, mostly in recent years (since the books have
>> stopped being edited, I suppose, or since the editors have come to be
>> chosen from the post-literati?).
>> -- Doug Wilson
> neal whitman has written about this on his blog
> http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2006/06/21/waxing-eloquently/
> http://literalminded.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/waxing-on/

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