[Ads-l] boiling the frog - a parable

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Sep 18 21:19:48 UTC 2015

There has been some discussion on the ADS list about the metaphor that a frog will not jump out of water if it is boiled slowly enough. As noted in the archives (http://bit.ly/1F7cWMk; Garson O’Toole, Ben Zimmer), there are a Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog) and a Language Log article (Mark Liberman, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1764) on the topic.

Wikipedia essentially says that modern scientists are skeptical about whether a frog will not jump out, but Liberman quotes Kevin Drum in saying it will in fact jump out and therefore the metaphor is false.

As Liberman states, there’s no set way to phrase this metaphor.

Judge Tracy Staab has taken a—err—crack at the problem, stating that a violation of a court order "appears to be an example of boiling the frog,” a phrase summarized yesterday (or at least updated today) to be a parable by Martha Bellisle (http://bit.ly/1LnhWNQ) writing for the AP.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

Learn Ainu! https://sites.google.com/site/aynuitak1/home
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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