[lit-ideas] Senses should not be multiplied beyond necessity

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2015 20:55:07 -0400

In a message dated 9/13/2015 3:29:24 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx writes:
A: And what is your name?
B: Patsy.
A: Oh excellent. We're always happy to welcome a patsy.

Well, here we have an application of Grice's modified Ockham's razor:
senses should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Because we have two items
here, with two senses, and that's good.

(a) ITEM 1: "PATSY".

From

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:English_given_names

Patricia - Hypocorisms: Pat, Patty, Tricia, Trish, Trisha and Patsy.
Ultimately from "pā̆trĭcĭus", "of the rank or dignity of the patres".

(b) ITEM 2: "PATSY".

a fall guy, victim of a deception," 1903. Allegedly of uncertain origin,
possibly an alteration of Italian pazzo "fool, madman" (cfr. "patch",
meaning, "fool, clown," 1540s, of unknown origin. Possibly from Old High German

barzjan "to rave" [Klein]. But Buck says "pazzo" is originally euphemistic,
and from Latin "patiens" "suffering," in medical use, "the patient", a form
perhaps influenced by folk etymology derivation from "patch", on notion of
a fool's patched garb.), or south Italian dialectal paccio "fool."

Another theory traces "patsy" it to Patsy [cf. Patricia] Bolivar,
character created by Billy B. Van in an 1890s vaudeville skit. Patsy Bolivar
was
blamed whenever anything went wrong.

Thus we read in "A College BOy" by Anthony Yorke, 1899:

"Poor Rogers," Vincent said, still smiling, "he is always the 'Patsy
Bolivar' of the school."
"Yes," Frank answered, "if there are any mistakes to be made or trouble to
fall into, Rogers seems to be always the victim."

---

Grice's point:

If 'patsy' meaning 'fool' derives from "Patsy Bolivar" and "Patsy" is
hypocorism for "patricius' we would have ONE sense; if it doesn't we wouldn't.

Cheers,

Speranza


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