[lit-ideas] Re: Serious vs Modern

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 08:48:24 -0600

A careless critic might go haring off in search of a definition of
"modern," which could lead to a very far-ranging discussion, indeed.

I'd not come across "haring" before. I wondered did John mean "harries" as in pillaging or harrassing, but that sounds so unphilosophical, perhaps then he meant running about like a hare -- then why didn't he say: "running about like a hare", or did he mean 'hairing', meaning possibily (and imaginitively) 'splitting hairs'. So I looked up 'haring' on the outside chance that there's the use of a word I'm not familiar with. Lo and behold! Merriam Webster has: "to go swiftly ". So, being a protege of JL, I checked out the etymology on the Online Etymology Dictionary -- my OED. It tells me:

O.E. hara "hare," from W.Gmc. *khasan- (cf. Du. hase, O.H.G. haso), possibly with a sense of "gray" (cf. O.E. hasu "gray"). Cognate with Skt. sasah, Afghan soe, Welsh ceinach "hare." Hare-brained is from 1548, on notion of "flighty, skittish;" hare-lip is from 1567.<

a look at the cognate hasu (O.E. 'gray') tells me (under hazy):

1625, hawsey, nautical, of unknown origin. Some connect it with Ger. hase "hare," an animal which plays an important part in Gmc. folklore, with many supernatural and unlucky aspects in medieval times (among the superstitions: a dead hare should not be brought aboard a fishing ship, and the word hare should not be spoken at sea). Another suggestion is O.E. hasu, haswe "gray." Haze (n.) is from 1706, probably a back-formation. Sense of "confusion, vagueness" is 1797.The Eng. differentiation of mist, fog, haze is unmatched in other languages (where the same word generally covers all three and often "cloud" as well), and may be a reflection of the Eng. climate.<

I have to wonder, of course, if the connection between 'hara' and 'hasu' is one of color or that the hare is usually seen only as a gray blur as it hares about. I also found a verb use definition recorded also in Dictionary.com (which says the verb is chiefly British), it is recorded as well in American Heritage Dictionary and the New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary, but in not my Random House Webster's College Dictionary. So much for a college education.

That speakers of English alone know about fog and mist haze and even clouds, astounds me. Non-English speakers are really stupid when it comes to the misty-moisty. But, of course, we don't hold a candle to the Eskimos when it comes to snow.

Mike Geary
thinking JL would be proud

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