Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 12 00:44:51 UTC 2010

Good one!

But it reminds me of another story and a complaint.

The year was 1956. The school was Washington University in Saint
Louis. For frosh English we had to read The History of Tom Jones, A
Foundling, and write a paper of our own devise about it it. Since the
book is about as long as the Bible, there are any number of things to
write about. Well, in one of the chapters, Fielding describes a fight
over Tom between two girls. It's a real killer! The language that
Fielding uses is a parody of the language that Homer uses to describe
the combat between Achilles and Hector, if you were to translate that
passage into English word-for-word, making no attempt whatsoever to
make it read like something originally written in more-or-less
colloquial English.

It cracked me up! I thought that I would never stop laughing!

So, I wrote my paper on this.

The prof gave me an A and explained that he was doing so because he
didn't feel that he in good conscience give me any other grade. He had
never read Homer in the original Greek. Hence, he had no way to
evaluate any of the claims made in my paper.

WTF?! This prof - a *very* nice guy and a great lecturer - was
devoting a semester to teaching a book that he was incapable of fully
understanding, for lack of sufficient educational background?! And
what about the students? Even if the prof had been fluent in reading
Homeric Greek, how could he have explained to the class what was funny
about this particular section, given that the only thing that makes it
funny is having a clear knowledge of what's being parodied. He hardly
had the time to teach the class Homeric Greek. OTOH, if the class had
been familiar with Homeric, no explanation would have been necessary.

If I had command over creation, I'd forbid the teaching of the book,
unless both the teachers and the students knew Homeric. Schools would
have to teach the movie.

And you know what *really* blows? My own high school no longer offers
four semesters of Homeric Greek as a *requirement*. It now offers two
semesters of Classical Greek as an elective.

Yet, the textbooks that I used during 1952-1954 are still in print,
after all these years. I wonder what school uses them?


On Sun, Jan 10, 2010 at 8:32 PM, Dave Hause <dwhause at> wrote:
> Kind of reminds me of junior year in college (I was 28) and an English
> professor who was reviewing my request to comp out of 2nd semester freshman
> English.  He wanted to see examples of research papers and I offered him
> that semester's production, one in Comparative Anatomy and one for a
> chemistry seminar (on something to do with high explosives, as I remember.)
> He accepted them and I comped out and graduated a year later - with my
> lifetime production of term papers remaining at two (unbeknownst to the
> professor.)
> Dave Hause, dwhause at
> Waynesville, MO
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Sunday, January 10, 2010 12:01 AM
> Subject: Re: Sandscript-eggcorn?
> It's hard to believe that anyone could even conceive of the idea that
> _Sanskrit_ is derived from English "sand script," let alone that he
> could actually believe it!
> OTOH, in my students days, I was well aware, when writing a paper
> that, if you picked an aspect of the topic with which the prof was not
> intimate, you could throw in any kind of bullshit and get away with
> it. I got my come-uppannce when a prof was so blown away by a paper of
> mine that he wanted to submit it for publication in a refereed
> journal. Persuading him not to present me with this obvious honor that
> the average undergraduate would kill for was one of the most painful
> thing that I've ever had to do. But having a paper rejected  as
> unworthy is far superior to having one rejected for plagiarism.
> The paper had to do with Nabokov's translation of Lolita, originally
> written in a, for him, foreign language, into his native language.
> Though the part having to do with the actual act of translation was
> original - it had to be, since, AFAIK, nobody has done this to this
> very day - again, I leaving the researching of this claim as a project
> for the reader - the intro concerning the theory and practice of
> translation was by no means original and didn't contain proper
> attribution of its concepts. I ripped off Roman Jakobson, knowing that
> the prof was too unhip to catch this. But I couldn't assume that the
> same would be true of the editors of a journal of Russian literature.
> No doubt, some are thinking, "You asshole! Why did you do that?! You
> could have tossed in the cites and been home-free with a publication!"
> Well, as the guy said, when the doctor asked why he had stripped
> himself naked and then jumped into a cactus patch, "I don't know. It
> seemed like a good idea, at the time."
> "Old too soon, smart too late," to coin a phrase.
> -Wilson
> On Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at>
> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail
>> header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: Sandscript-eggcorn?
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On Jan 8, 2010, at 6:46 AM, Joel S. Berson 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: Sandscript-eggcorn?
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> At 1/8/2010 01:25 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>>> I ran across "Sand Script" today in an artist's statement, clearly
>>>> referring to Sanskrit. This is in the eggcorn database, but I also found
>>>> this:
>>>> Some Sanskrit (Sand script) texts talk of coriander's cultivation in
>>>> ancient India nearly 7,000 years ago although there are but a few
>>>> plant fossils exist to back up the literature.
>>>> (
>>>> Surely there is no basis for this, is there?
>>> Which assertion -- that coriander was cultivated 7,000 years ago, or
>>> that there exist a few plant fossils from then, or that Sanskrit
>>> texts exist from 7,000 years ago, or that they talk about coriander
>>> cultivation, or that Sanskrit was written in sand?  :-)
>> LOL. Thank you for helping me to pull my head from the, er, sand.
>> Is there any reason for someone to claim that "Sand script" is valid.
>> Here's someone that clearly knows that the language is Sanskrit, but
>> kindly shows us that it is a sand form of writing as well.
>> BB
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> --
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> –Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
–Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

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