Monday, 4 October 2010

I Shall Demonstrate The Reality Of This Dessert


Words change their meanings: phrases survive. Prove once meant test as well as show to be true. The two meanings are so close that they could reasonably interchange. To be tried and tested is to be shown adequate. Nobody says, though I suppose they could, that he was tried and tested... and found wanting.

Proof as test died out. But the phrase The proof of the pudding is in the eating remains, almost incomprehensible to modern ears: cogito ergo tiramisu. Similarly, the exception is still said to prove the rule, which, with the modern meaning of prove, is a statement of delightful fatuity.

Proving grounds are not, of course, places for ambitious epistemologists, but places where you are tested. And so on and so forth until it all proves too much.

It's enough to drive a proof reader to gin, strong gin, maybe 80% proof, and that's not waterproof.

Bullet-proof


P.S. I'm now suffering from lapse of meaning.

9 comments:

  1. Jerry van Kooten4 October 2010 12:19

    What's interesting is that in Dutch it's the other way around...

    One Dutch translation of the English word "test" (proof in the sense of test) is "proef". Pronounced as the English "proof", by the way.

    One translation of "proof" as in showing to be true is "proeve".

    In Dutch, "proeve" has become almost extinct.

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  2. "Similarly, the exception is still said to prove the rule, which, with the modern meaning of prove, is a statement of delightful fatuity"
    Thank you, this has been bothering me for a while now :)

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  3. I've heard another explanation (whether it's sound or not, I don't know) - that it's a principle of legal interpretation: mentioning an exception (farnarkling is permitted here on Tuesday afternoons during summer) indicates that there is a general rule (farnarkling is prohibited at other times).

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  4. A good baker always lets the bread dough prove.

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  5. Though I wasn't thinking about it when I commented earlier (and so demonstrating the fundamental interconnectedness of all things) there are many similarities between Mornington Crescent and the grand game of Farnarkling.

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  6. My sister was in England for a month recently and remarked that no matter the dish, all desserts were referred to as "pudding." As in, "We;re having cake for pudding." I am really quite baffled by it. Is there any logic in it? In America, pudding is most often a chocolate goo, based in dairy, and though bread pudding does exist in the states, it's never anyone's first thought.

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  7. @Abby
    What's logic got to do with it? In the words of the great scholars Page and Plant (1971), 'you know sometimes words have two meanings'. Why the bafflement?

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  8. I feel a post on food courses coming on.

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  9. What's logic got to do with it? In the words of the great scholars Page and Plant (1971), 'you know sometimes words have two meanings'. Why the bafflement?

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