The Universe of Discourse

Sun, 16 Jan 2022


Yesterday I related Wikitionary's explanation of why Vladamir Putin's name is transliterated in French as Poutine:

in French, “Putin” would be pronounced /py.tɛ̃/, exactly like putain, which means “whore”.

In English we don't seem to be so quivery. Plenty of people are named “Hoare”. If someone makes a joke about the homophone, people will just conclude that they're a boor. “Hoare” or “hoar” is an old word for a gray-white color, one of a family of common hair-color names along with “Brown”, “White”, and “Grey”.

There is a legend at Harvard University that its twelve residential houses are named for the first twelve presidents of Harvard: Dunster House, Eliot House, Mather House, and so on. Except, says the legend, they were unwilling to name a house after the fourth president, Leonard Hoar, and called it North House instead. The only part of this that is true is that most of the houses were named for presidents of Harvard.

(The common name “Green” is not a hair-color name. It refers to someone who lives by the green.)

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