sand-blind /gravel-blind

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Tue Jan 26 22:28:53 UTC 2010

OK, how about this for a working hypothesis:

1)  Shakespeare coins the term "high-gravel blind" in Merchant (printed in
1600), and links this to "sand blind".

2) "sand blind" is well-attested in the OED -- one cite from the 15thC and
three others in the 16thC even before Merchant is cited there.  (Date given
in the OED as 1596, which I'd feel was about on the extreme edge of how
early Merchant might have been written).

3) For "stone blind", other than the stray c1375 cite, the OED begins with
Greene's _Second Part of Coney Catching_ in 1592, with no other 16/17thC
citations.  [more on this later].

4) Whether or not Robert Greene coins the term "stone blind" there,
ConeyCatching2 was pretty popular, and it's more than likely that
Shakespeare would have read it.  [Or Dekker, on which, etc.]

5)  So we have Shakespeare have Launcelot G. generate the term "(high)
gravel blind" out of the traditional and familiar "sand blind" and (without
overtly mentioning this) Greene's "stone blind".

Sand ... Gravel ...  Stone ...   Beginning to sound a bit like a game of
Paper, Scissors, Rock.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 4:46 PM
Subject: Re: sand-blind /gravel-blind

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: sand-blind /gravel-blind
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> An interesting juxtaposition of "sand" and "gravel" in the
> Shakespeare.  Does that suggest that "sandblind" did NOT come from
> "sam" or "semi" blind?  No, it seems:  the OED claims "gravel-blind"
> is "Orig. high-gravel-blind, in Shakes. a jocular intensive synonym
> for SAND-BLIND. Hence used by later writers for 'nearly
> stone-blind'." and gives the same MofV quote.  (Reminds me of the
> discussion of "mote" and "beam".)
> For "sandblind, the OED's etymology seems a little ambivalent -- one
> the one hand, sam- = semi, half.  On the other, "Cf. Johnson's
> explanation: 'Having a defect in the eyes, by which small particles
> appear to fly before them'.", for which "small particles" suggests
> sand.  Or does "cf." in the OED mean what "attributed in" means in
> the YBQ -- "probably incorrect"?
> Joel
> At 1/26/2010 04:24 PM, Robin Hamilton wrote:
>>>>I'd guess the former (I seem to recall it comes up in Shakespeare
>>>>somewhere), but I *am guessing.
>>>Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene II:
>>>Launcelot Gobbo: ... this is my true-begotten father, who being more
>>>than sand-blind, high-gravel blind, knows me not ...
>>Thanks, Arnold, that was the quote I was ineffectually trying to remember.
>>MV isn't published till the folio of 1623, but was probably written and
>>staged about 1599, give or take a couple of years either way.  So (FWIW)
>>about eight years after the (mis-dated by a year in the OED) Greene use of
>>"stone blind" in ConeyCatching2.
>>"Daddy's more than sand-blind [but less than stone-blind] -- he's
>>high-gravel blind."

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