[Lexicog] "googly" and metaphors of deception

Kenneth C. Hill kennethchill at YAHOO.COM
Sun May 23 21:18:48 UTC 2004

Fritz's comment on "master" (below) applies not just to the period from
the Middle Ages to the 17th century. "Master" in colloquial Mexican
Spanish has two forms: maestro [maéstro], a term of respect, as in
reference to a symphony orchestra person, and máestro (which I hear as
[máistro]), which is appropriate in address to an artisan (especially, in
my experience, a mason) or schoolteacher, the polite presumption being
that the person is skilled at his/her trade/profession.


--- Fritz Goerling <Fritz_Goerling at sil.org> wrote:
> Ken,
> That is an interesting inversal of roles: the coyote not just as the
> trickster but also the fool. Probably as the trickster tricked.
> That also happens in African "rabbit" stories where the rabbit
> is tricked by the squirrel or spider once in a while.
> Here is a Western European "jewel." It is the translation of the French
> poet Lafontaine's famous poem "The Raven and the Fox". The translation
> was done by a friend who wants to stay anonymous:
> Master* Raven perched on a tree,
>    was holding in his beek a bit of cheese.
> Master Fox, attracted by a milky odor,
>    expressed himself something like this:
>      "Hey! Good afternoon, most illustrious Raven.
>       You're so pretty! You're so beautiful to me!
>           No lie! If your song
>           matches up to your plumage,
> You'll be the Phoenix** of the forest dwellers!"
> With those words the Raven felt no joy.***
>       And to show his beautiful voice
>   He opened his large beak, and let fall his prey.
> The Fox seized it and said: "My good man.
>           You must learn that every flatterer
>            lives at the expense of the one who listens:
> This lesson applies well to a bit of cheese, no doubt."****
> The Raven, humiliated and confused,
> swore, but just a little late, never to be tricked again.
> *Master: name actually reserved for lawyers, notaries, attornies,
>  but was widely used from the Middle Ages to the 17th century to
>  refer to people of average means.
> **"Phoenix": fabulous bird, the only one of its kind, who after a
> century
> of life, dies being consumed by fire, then is reborn immediately from
> its ashes. By extension: to be unique of its kind; to be the most
> remarkable.
> ***"Felt no joy": lose the feeling of the effect of joy, is beside
> himself
> (with anger)
> ****"No doubt": without ANY doubt.
> In most of the languages of the American west and Mexico the coyote is
> the
> trickster/fool. The languages I've worked on in which this is the case
> include Cahuilla, Cupeqo, and Serrano in California, Hopi and O'odham in
> Arizona, and Nahuatl in Mexico. I have heard that the raven fills this
> role in the northwest/Canadian west and Alaska.
> The indigenous folkloric coyote provided the basis for the coyote figure
> in the coyote and roadrunner cartoons. It may be of interest that the
> roadrunner is not an important folkloric figure.
> --Ken
> --- Wayne Leman <wayne_leman at sil.org> wrote:
> > coyote: Cheyenne
> >
> > > In different cultures deception and cunning behavior are associated
> > with
> > > certain animals. The animal metaphor is often applied to a human
> > > trickster.
> > >
> > > rabbit: Africa and America
> > > fox: German, Dutch, French
> > > jackal: Arabic
> > > (o)possum: US
> > > spider: Africa
> > > squirrel: Africa
> > >
> > > Fritz Goerling
> >
> >
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