the dissappearing "awe" sound (UNCLASSIFIED)

Tue May 26 21:54:22 UTC 2009

        The story of King Canute or Cnut commanding the tides derives
from Henry of Huntingdon, who does not refer to any courtiers, but
instead has Canute acknowledge that only God can command the tides,
after his own attempt to do so failed.  It is not clear in Henry's
account whether Canute thought he actually could command the tides, or
staged the attempt to do so to make a theological point.  According to
Wikipedia, "Later historians repeated the story, most of them adjusting
it to have Cnut more clearly aware that the tides would not obey him,
and staging the scene to rebuke the flattery of his courtiers; and there
are earlier Celtic parallels in stories of men who commanded the tides,
namely Saint Illtud, Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd, and Tuirbe, of Tuirbe's
Strand, in Brittany."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Mark Mandel
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 5:11 PM
Subject: Re: the dissappearing "awe" sound (UNCLASSIFIED)

On Tue, May 26, 2009 at 3:43 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC
<Bill.Mullins at> wrote: [quoting Tom Zurinskas]
> King Canute Zurinskas can order the tide, but it will still ebb and
> flow as it sees fit.  Likewise, you can continue to say "this is how
> English should be" and it will make no difference.

Bravo! (With the one historical, or legendological(?), quibble that King
Canute knew the sea wouldn't obey him and was making a point to his
flattering courtiers.)

m a m

The American Dialect Society -

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