[Ads-l] sherpa

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 12 11:32:00 EST 2017


Nancy Friedman had a nice piece on the metaphorical usage of "sherpa" a few
years ago for the Visual Thesaurus.

https://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/candlepwr/the-ascent-of-sherpa/


On Sun, Feb 12, 2017 at 10:18 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> Well, it does have a history in this use, or something close to it.  OED,
> s.v. _sherpa_:
>
> 2. transf. and fig. A mountain guide or porter; a guide; an official who
> makes the preparations for a summit conference.
>
> 1959   M. Pugh Chancer 137   What was the idea of trying that cliff? Did
> you fancy your chance as a sherpa?
> 1976   P. Cave High Flying Birds iii. 35   ‘O.K.,’ I said. ‘Lead the way,
> sherpa.’
> 1980   Times 23 June 1/2   The seven leaders inevitably based much of
> their comment on the draft communique drawn up for publication after the
> meeting by the seven government officials—known as the ‘sherpas’—who have
> been charged with preparing this summit.
>
> That last one suggests a vector for the metaphorical extension, via one
> who prepares the way for a summit (conference) to one who guides a client
> for stressful vetting for a (mountain?)top position (it is called the
> “Supreme” Court, after all), to a guide over difficult terrain more
> generally.
>
>
> LH
>
> > On Feb 12, 2017, at 8:58 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> >
> > CNN: "She is Judge Gorsuch's confirmation sherpa."
> >
> > She "guides him through the confirmation process."
> >
> > They may think it's related to "shepherd."
> >
> > (I must have been forty before I discovered that "Sherpa" was a tribal,
> not
> > an occupational, designation. But that was then.)
>
>

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