"sling arms" (not in OED2) -- [1749], 1824

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Apr 18 12:00:20 UTC 2014

On 4/18/14, 12:00 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> Date:    Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:05:35 -0400
> From:    "Joel S. Berson"<Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Re: "sling arms" (not in OED2) -- [1749], 1824
> Amy [see at end],
> At 4/17/2014 08:28 AM, Amy West wrote:
>> >On 4/17/14, 12:00 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
>>> >>Date:    Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:27:24 -0400
>>> >>From:    "Joel S. Berson"<Berson at ATT.NET>
>>> >>Subject: Re: "sling arms" (not in OED2) -- [1749], 1824
>>> >>
>>> >>Dan,
>>> >>
>>> >>I think this is the best interpretation yet.  I don't find "sl?ng*
>>> >>arm*" in the OED or "sling arms" before 1824 ("Constitution of the
>>> >>New England Guards", p. 54, a command) in GBooks.  But John Gittins's
>>> >>"A compleat System of Military Discipline" (1735), p. 14, does have a
>>> >>command "Sling your Firelock" (certainly an Arm) -- hang the firelock
>>> >>and "let fall your Hands to your Sides".
>>> >>
>>> >>Joel
>> >It makes sense as a command for long firearms as they have slings on
>> >them. Not so much for spear & sword, and I haven't heard a command like
>> >that in 1630s pike drill.
>> >
>> >---Amy West
> A good point about no slings for spear and sword ... unless we can
> find an image (in words or picture) of Bellona with a musket ...
> well, Wikipedia, s.v. "flintlock", says "Examples of early flintlock
> weapons can be seen in the painting "Marie de' Medici as Bellona" by
> Rubens (painted around 1622-25)."
Yeah, I can't see the mechanism closely enough to determine whether in
fact it's flintlock or matchlock (or wheelock or doglock. . . )
>   Lots of "impressions" at Google
> Images.  I believe that's a musket, with bayonet, in her left had,
> perhaps resting on a sling at her waist (images are very dark).
Nope. That's some sort of scepter or mace in her left hand.
> In passing, I note that the musket is in her*left*  hand.  Was
> Bellona left-handed?  (Not in many images I see online.)  Or did
> Rubens make the same error as the artist of an early seal of the
> Colony of the Massachusetts Bay, when he portrayed an Indian, now
> right-handed on the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, with the arrow in
> his right hand and the bow in his left? Seehttp://tinyurl.com/pm2gyxx
> Amy, what meaning would you give to our phrase in "Her Cheeks were
> smooth, her Arms were slung"?  All of the interpretations we've
> discussed so far seem absent from the OED.
I think it's brilliantly ambiguous because we've got the "Cheeks" right
before -- implying the body part for Arms -- and then the trumpet in the
next line -- implying weaponry for Arms.

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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