tent-pissing follow-up

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Oct 12 01:34:49 UTC 2013

Perhaps a better answer than my previous -- word of the day: "retromingent".

"The male camel urinates backward."
Encyclopaedia Iranica,
http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/camel-sotor  Who am I to
quarrel with the Iranians?

Many other claims of the same.

Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXlCwGij6GI


At 10/11/2013 04:37 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
>Thanks to Joel who back on September 3rd presented an interesting
>pointer to an edition of Dan Simmons, Phases of Gravity that included
>an instance of the saying about urination and tents that was labeled
>an "Old Arab proverb".
>Title: Phases of Gravity
>Author: Dan Simmons
>Quote Page 198
>Date information: Copyright 1989 by Dan Simmons / First e-reads
>publication 1999
>(Google Books Preview)
>[Begin excerpt]
>"A camel pissing out, eh?" said Baedecker, following carefully.
>"What's that?" said Tucker as he crouched in front of the low, round hatch.
>"Old Arab proverb," said Baedecker. "It's better to have the camel
>inside your tent pissing out than outside pissing in."
>[End excerpt]
>The page images in Google Books are from a 1999 edition or later. But
>the first publication for "Phases of Gravity" was in 1989, and I think
>there is a high probability that the text was in the first edition
>though I have not verified this claim on paper.
>Google Books seems to have a citation from a Dartmouth conference
>dialog held in 1988 between U.S. and U.S.S.R. participants. This data
>is from a document in GB restricted snippet view.
>Year: 1988
>Title: Discussion papers
>Source: Dartmouth Conference XVI; Charles F. Kettering Foundation.;
>Johnson Foundation (Racine, Wis.)
>Publisher Location: Dayton, Ohio [etc.]
>Summary description: The Conferences constitute "off-the-record
>dialogue on major issues between leading citizens of the Soviet Union
>and the United States."
>Quote Page 310
>(GB data may be inaccurate)
>[Begin extracted text]
>... I was going to say that I agree with both of you that it is really
>important to try to settle whatever can be settled in this
>Administration. I do not think what you say is wrong. I think it is
>going to be much harder to settle those issues afterwards. I would put
>it very crudely: it is much better to have the camel in the tent than
>to have the camel on the outside pissing in. And therefore, in answer
>to my Soviet colleague's question whether they should just give up and
>relax--the answer is absolutely not.
>[End extracted text]
>Is this a genuine or ersatz "Arab proverb" from the past? One way to
>explore this question involves evaluating the physical plausibility of
>the saying. Can a camel inside a tent urinate outside the tent?
>The link below shows a horse urinating. I used a horse as a proxy for
>a camel. The horse urine seems to land directly below the horse. So a
>horse in a tent will probably urinate inside the tent. If this is true
>for a camel then I think the probability that the saying is a genuine
>Arab proverb is reduced.
>I hypothesize that the saying with a camel was derived from LBJ's
>saying. The quotations ascribed to LBJ do not mention a camel. He
>referred to a male human urinating which makes sense physically. LBJ
>also mentioned a tent. I conjecture that the word tent was a trigger
>that caused someone else to add the embellishment/modification of a
>camel instead of a human male.
>On Tue, Sep 3, 2013 at 10:19 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> > Subject:      Re: tent-pissing follow-up
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > At 9/3/2013 09:42 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> >>Indeed, it is possible that this is not an "Arab proverb". It might
> >>simply be a modern saying that mentions a camel.
> >
> > I am skeptical that LBJ invented a proverb that involved a camel
> > (although someone else might have).  Wouldn't LBJ have picked an
> > animal more common in Texas, such as a sheep or goat?
> >
> > OTOH, I wrote in a previous message that my memory of the allegedly
> > Arab proverb must go back earlier than 1989.  It may actually go back
> > to LBJ's use.  Proving nothing, of course, except that my memory is poor.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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