[lit-ideas] Re: My family and other spiders

  • From: Mike Geary <jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2015 14:08:56 -0600

I suspected as much. Though the web tangled be, them what's got proper
feet need not fear.

On Sun, Nov 15, 2015 at 8:39 PM, Redacted sender Jlsperanza for DMARC <
dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

From Old Jersey!

--- is a variation on a theme by Gerald Durrell, who ran a zoo!

A spadder by any other name

Cryin' for the Carolines

Sherrie shared some commentary on dialect, etc., and I will quote some
passages. Perhaps Geary can provide further commentary.

Since one of my favourite melodies of all time, in a minor key, too, is
"Cryin' for the Carolines" (I've got the recording by Sam Browne with
and his orchestra at the Mayfair) I'll start with the interlude:

----- INTERLUDE: Sam Browne's melodee

Where is the song I had in my heart That harmonized with the pines, Anyone
can see what's troublin' me, Cryin' for the Carolines. Where is the brook
that kisses the lane, Covered with "Glory Vines." Anyone can see what's
troublin' me. I'm crying for the Carolines. How can I smile mile after
There's not a bit of green here. Birdies all stay far far away, They're
seldom ever seen here. Where is the gal that I used to meet Down where
the pale
moon shines. Anyone can see what's troublin' me, I'm crying for the


Sherrie writes "for the observer of America versus the Baltic, and any

"I notice that many longtime local residents of small country towns here in
North Carolina seem to have no awareness when they butchered English
grammar, in fact, could care less."

Loved this. I think once Geary told me that he could NOT care less. And he
puzzled me. He reminded me of the Hatter in "Alice in Wonderland":

Hatter: Have some more tea.
Alice: I cannot have more tea. I haven't had any tea yet.
Hatter: Wrong! Of course you can have more tea. It's very EASY to have more
tea than no tea.

Sherrie notes:

"may not enjoy learnin' anything new at all."

Loved that too! In "Wind in the Willows", there is a lovely passage, that
should relate to the Baltic dweller. After all, in German, 'lehren' sounds
like 'learn', but means quite the opposite: to teach. In Old English,
'learn' was to teach. In fact, I still miss that Old English idiom. I
don't think
King Alfred was on the right track when he started to use 'teach' (a verb
formed out of 'token', a sign -- and so to teach is to 'signal') when he
meant good ole 'learn'.

Sherrie goes on to quote another source:

"The fact that life is slower here than in New York is true."

I wonder about the implicature:

i. Here life is slower than in New York.

Or simpliciter:

ii. Life is slow.

with the attending implicature that

iii. Life is fast in New York.

Not if you're taking 'it' easy on a quiet stroll in Central Park as you
head for a very relaxing time at The Four Seasons!

Popper should be able to analyse what the meaning is of 'speed' or 'sloth'
as they apply literally to life. I don't think the meaning is literal.
Philosophers of antiquity in any case cherrished the sloth of it all!


late 12c., "indolence, sluggishness," formed from Middle English slou,
slowe (see slow (adj.)) + abstract formative -th (2). Replaced Old English
slæwð "sloth, indolence." Sense of "slowness, tardiness" is from mid-14c.
one of the deadly sins, it translates Latin accidia.

The slow-moving mammal first so called 1610s, a translation of Portuguese
preguiça "slowness, slothfulness," from Latin pigritia "laziness" (compare
Spanish perezosa "slothful," also "the sloth").

********** end of interlude.

Sherrie goes on:

"Southern ways are ofttimes snobbishly mocked by onlookers from afar, and
even not so far."

I think Geary identifies as a one 'with Southern ways', but he also says
that the ability to find oneself amusing is not mockery!

"Slack-jawed conversations are found mostly in little country villages
where the headlines of the day are of crops, weather, farm animals, or how
drunk Luther was last night" .... "Oh perhaps there will be such subjects
drunken Luther, from the Duke"

LOVE Duke! Apparently Sir Peter F. Strawson taught there. Duke's daughter
lived in Newport, and love her cottage, but Newport was 'country': town for
Duke was I think Fifth Avenue -- now connected with the arts and the
Metropolitan Museum on Central Park -- a stone's throw away!


"We are divided in three zonal sections: the mountains to the west, the
Piedmont in the middle and the ocean seaside culture to the east."

-- where the English colonists landed. I loved the scenes shot there in
"Elizabeth" with Kate Blanchet, but that's further north, I think.

"Please forgive any such crimes of speech (grammar) by me, by the way."

I wonder how McEvoy (and his Popperian approach to the law) would take this
metaphorical use of 'crime'. I know how H. L. A. Hart would. Or even
Witters. For Witters, meaning = use, so if you use it, it means, and so
the idea
of a 'crime' of what he pretentiously would call 'depth grammar' would be
hard to explain. Hart would point that no recognition rule applies and so
'crime' is figurative. Orwell might not agree!

"Oh, the Ohio/Midwestern dialect of English is the model wanted and used
for all network broadcasters since the 1950's to represent the American
English spoken archetype, as most theater students were and I believe
still are

I think a parallel can be drawn, as McEvoy and Ritchie would testify, with
Auntie BBC. I think it's Oxbridge that (meaning Oxford, mainly, for
Cambridge is unnoticeable dialectwise -- as flat as Norfolk and East
Anglia!) the
'model wanted and used for all network broadcasters'. I'm less sure about
theatre students who will stick to Shakespeare or die! (and by the way,
reminds me of a similar note: the lovely chapter in P. Trudgill's Penguin
softcover, "Language Myths": one of the best chapters is "In the
Appalachians they speak like Shakespare!".

Sherrie goes on:

"Truly there are times when I overhear conversations with long-time
Natives that are completely foreign to my ears. It is Southernese, not

Well, and then there's Northernese -- which, curiously, IS English English:
pa:k rather than paRk, and theatA: and not 'theateR'. But I love
Southernese -- and Northernese -- and then there's zero-ernese, as I once
read in
The New York Times's Metropolitan edition for Connecticut: "In
Connecticut we
don't have any dialect or accent!" (And right they are!) -- but the good
thing about the article is that they tried to provide an explanation for
New Yorkers have an accent, but why doesn't someone from Darien, in
Connecticut, thinks he doesn't? His answer was that he is used to speak a
type of English ('after his frequent trips to Europe for the 'holidays'').

Sherrie goes on:

"I genuinely love dialects"

I once was quite involved with the English Dialect Centre in Sheffield,
England -- they study it so seriously it hurts!


"and there are many diverse levels of same throughout the U.S. And the
world. But when I hear the standard "I seen", from all folks of
multi-locations, I must hold back the urge to whisper "saw"."

Well, Trudgill (again!) in "The dialects of England", a little paperback
published by Blackwell, goes on to note that 'seen' as possibly an East
Midlands Old English relic. The Midlands is my favourite dialect. Most
Englishmen I know, though, seem to think YORKSHIRE is the thing!

"In younger incarnations of self I wouldn't whisper the correction, I'd
loudly project it. [...] now ... have better manners."

Also, if it is dialect, it is correct.

I don't know what Witters would say, because he was wedded to the idea of a
depth grammar (as in "Plying frames can be dangerous"). But if the
following makes sense


A: You seen it?
B: Yes: I seen it.

"with my very own eyes -- both of them," as Geary would expand for comical
effect. If in (C) B understands that B says and means, there's no need to


A: You seen it?
B: No. I SAW it, rather.

This 'no' linguists have written LOADS about. Ducrot called it
'meta-linguistic' negation -- as in, to use one of Geary's examples in
"Work is work"
("She is not a hoe, she's a prostitute" -- Or "She's not different than
him: she is different FROM him". Corrections at different levels: lexis,
syntax, semantics -- can be as Witters would know, a trick: "She's not a
bachelor. She is married!" ("I meant a bachelor in arts, dummie!").

Sherrie concludes her charming post:

"One of our Native southern friends, an educated scholar, now an
Environmental Engineer for the state, tries hard to speak clearly around
us, the
non-southerners. We heard him the other night pointing out the spadders. We
were hard-pressed to know what the devil he was talking about. Frustrated
ran up to the building and pointed to the rather large web and giant
screaming "spadders! spadders! damnit!" "Oh. Spiders". We all laughed."

Well, let's check.

The word is first registered in the late 14th century as "spydyr" -- and
God knows how *that* was pronounced.

It is said to be from an earlier spithre, spithur, spither (14c.), from Old
English spithra, from Proto-Germanic *spin-thron- (cognate with Danish
spinder), literally "the spinner," from *spen-wo- "to spin" + formative or
agential *-thro.

Geary likes this agential and uses it constantly. A guitarist is a
guitar-thro, and so on.

The connection with the root is more transparent in other Germanic cognates
(such as Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Middle High German, German
"spinne", Dutch "spin", "spider").

But this raises the Griceian point that a spider is NOT fortunately, the
only agent that SPINS!

Just as 'deer' in German (or its cognate) means ANY ANIMAL, in English it
got narrowed down to 'cervus' as the 'animal' par excellence. So the spider
is the spinner by excellence. A linguist based his theory on that to build
a "STEREOTYPE semantics" which has a Wittgensteinian overtone to it (vide
his concept of 'family resemblance')

The male spider (or 'spinner', literally) is commonly much smaller than the
female, and in impregnating the female runs great risk of being devoured.

Dawkins's evolution theory (which has Popperian overtones) has some
problems explaining this risk -- but a male spider is a male spider.

The difference in sizes, incidentally, is as if the human female should be
some 60 or 70 feet tall. Witters once said that if a lion could speak we
wouldn't understand it. He does seem to implicate that lions communicate
each other. If a male were to impregnate a 70 ft. tall female, he would
scream: "Giant!" but do we know Spiderese?

"Spinner" was NOT the common word in Old English.

The common Old English word that King Alfred (one of his sons was an
arachnophobe, so we know) was "loppe" -- Midlands "lobbe", also
atorcoppe, and,
from Latin, "renge".

(Typically, the English blamed the Romans for infesting the Isles with

Another Old English word was gangewifre "a weaver as he goes," and Middle
English had araine "spider" (14c.-15c., from French -- as in "Kiss of the
Spider Woman").

In literature, a spinner is often a figure of cunning, skill, and industry
as well as poisonous predation.

In 17c. English 'spinner' was used figuratively for poisonousness and
thread-spinning but also sensitivity (to vibrations), lurking,

As the name for a type of two-pack solitaire, it is attested from 1890.

Spider crab is from 1710, used of various species. Spider monkey is from
1764, so called for its long limbs.

And arachnophobia has a cure!

The fear of 'spinners' can be treated by any of the general techniques
suggested for specific phobias.

The first line of treatment is systematic desensitization – also known as
exposure therapy – which was first described by Joseph Wolpe, whose nephew
was an arachnophobe.

In addition, beta blockers, serotonin reuptake inhibitors and sedatives are
used in the treatment of arachnophobia -- "in the correct quantities,"
Geary notes.

Before engaging in systematic desensitization it is common to train the
individual with arachnophobia in relaxation techniques, which will help
the patient calm.

"Don't show him 3D images of spinners, for once," Geary recommends.

Systematic desensitization can be done in vivo (with live spiders), in
'morto', with dead spiders, or by getting the individual to imagine
involving spiders, then modelling interaction with spiders for the person
affected and eventually interacting with real spiders.

"If you find them," Geary notes (He is making joke of J. L. Austin who said
that 'real', as in 'real spider' - versus 'plastic spider') was the word
that 'wears the trousers'. As Popper would say, a plastic spider is not a
spider, but how can you refute a misuse so widespread as that ("I bought a
plastic spider to scare my cousin!").

The techniques descrbied above can be effective in just one session --
sometimes in 'half a session,' Geary adds ('even if you have to pay for the
full session').

The discovery of the implication of N-methyl-D-aspartate in fear and fear
extinction has led to the use of D-cycloserine—originally developed as an
antibiotic—to augment the results of therapy.

Recent advances in technology have enabled the use of virtual or augmented
reality spiders for use in therapy. These techniques have proven to be
effective -- but not for a Popperian, who looks for 'disproofs', rather
-- or
'refudiations', as a famous Northern Popperian would have it!



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