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LANGUAGE OF ISRAEL: ELIEZER BEN-YEHUDA AND THE FORMATION OF

THE INFORMANT TOLD ME THE STORY OF ELIEZER BEN-YEHUDA, THE MAN WHO
COMPILED THE MODERN HEBREW LANGUAGE. BEN-YEHUDA FOUND THAT THE
JEWISH PEOPLE KNEW THE MEANINGS OF ONLY 7,700 HEBREW WORDS WHEN HE
COMPILED HIS FAMOUS DICTIONARY IN THE 1800'S. BEN-YEHUDA HAD TO
MAKE UP WORDS TO FIT NEW CONCEPTS THAT DID NOT EXIST WHERE ANCIENT
HEBREW WAS USED ("CARRIAGE," ETC.) SO HE COMBINED GERMAN, HEBREW
AND ARABIC TO FORM WHAT IS NOW KNOWN AS YIDDISH.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): ETYMOLOGY ; Hebrew ; Jewish ; Language ; Origin

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Human Being
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

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Entry filtered.

LANGUAGE OF ISRAEL: NO REAL NATIONAL LANGUAGE

MANY YEARS LATER, A PUPIL OF ELIEZER BEN-YEHUDA'S DECIDED TO GO
AND PINPOINT WHAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE USED FOR THEIR NATIONAL
LANGUAGE. SINCE THEY WERE ALL CAREFUL IN ORDINARY SPEAKING, THIS
PUPIL DECIDED THAT THE ONLY WAY TO FIND OUT HOW THE PEOPLE REALLY
SPOKE WOULD BE TO CATCH THEM WITH THEIR TONGUES OFF GUARD. SO ONE
DAY HE WENT TO A JEWISH SCHOOL IN JERUSALEM AND WAITED UNTIL ONE
OF THE SMALLEST BOYS CAME OUT INTO THE PLAYGROUND. THE PUPIL
WALKED UP TO HIM FROM BEHIND AND ROUGHLY KNOCKED THE LITTLE BOY'S
HAT OFF. THE PUPIL EXPECTED THE BOY TO CRY OUT "MOTHER," EITHER
SAYING "IMMA," WHICH IS HEBREW, OR "MAMALE," WHICH IS YIDDISH,
BUT INSTEAD THE LITTLE BOY PICKED UP HIS HAT, FACED BEN-YEHUDA'S
PUPIL SQUARELY AND HISSED "HAMAR" (ASSHOLE), WHICH IS THE SAME
IN BOTH LANGUAGES. SO BECAUSE OF THIS INCIDENT, THEN, WE STILL
DO NOT KNOW IF ISRAEL'S NATIONAL LANGUAGE IS HEBREW OR YIDDISH.

Data entry tech comment:

Beginning of tale is missing.

 

Updated by TRD

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): Culture ; ETYMOLOGY ; Hebrew ; Israel ; Jewish ; Language ; Origin ; Yiddish

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Human Being
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
PROVERB -- V620

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PROVERBIAL METAPHOR

COLDER THAN A WELL-DIGGERS ASS.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT TOLD THIS STORY: BEFORE THE AGE OF MACHINERY WHEN PEOPLE
DUG THEIR OWN WELLS THEIR BACKSIDES WERE CLOSE TO THE SIDE OF THE
WELL WALL BECAUSE THE HOLE WAS SO NARROW. BECAUSE OF THE DAMP GROUND
THE WELL-DIGGER'S BACKSIDE OFTEN GOT VERY COLD.

Data entry tech comment: GOOD GRIEF

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): CLIMATE

James Callow Keyword(s): EUPHEMISM: BACKSIDES

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Air Weather Fire
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
PROVERB -- Blason Populaire
PROVERB -- Proverbial Comparison

Date learned: 03-08-1970

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DOGWOOD BELIEF

THE RED MARKS ON EACH OF THE FOUR PETALS OF THE DOGWOOD FLOWER
ARE CALLED BLOODSPOTS BECAUSE THEY REPRESENT THE PASSION MARKS
OF CHRIST.

Where learned: OHIO ; TOLEDO

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Religious hero
BELIEF -- Plant
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
SPEECH -- Folk Name for Plant

Date learned: 11-12-1969

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SNEEZE BELIEF

IT IS KNOWN THAT WHEN ONE SNEEZES, YOU ARE SUPPOSED
TO SAY, 'GOD BLESS YOU.' BECAUSE AT THAT MOMENT THEIR HEART STOPS
AND THEY ARE CLOSEST TO DEATH.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHGATE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 02-00-1972

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FORMULA SPEECH

GOD BLESS YOU, SAID WHEN SOMEONE SNEEZES.
ORIGIN: PEOPLE WOULD SAY THIS WHENEVER SOMEONE SNEEZED TO FORCE
THE BAD SPIRITS BACK INTO THE PERSONS BODY. THEY
BELIEVED COLDS WERE CAUSED BY EVIL SPIRITS AND THEY COULD
PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM THE SPIRITS COMING OUT IN THE
SNEEZE, BY USING GOD'S NAME.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

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MEANING BEHIND A CUSTOM

WHEN YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE TAKING IT WITH A GRAIN OF SALT, YOU MEAN
THAT YOU DOUBT IT VERY MUCH. THIS GOES BACK TO THE ROMAN TIMES,
WHEN SALT WAS RARE AND COSTLY AND HAD A HIGH VALUE. THEY FELT THAT
IT HAD MAGICAL POWERS AND THEY ALSO USED IT FOR SEASONING. GENERAL
POMPEII THREW SALT OVER HIS SHOULDER BEFORE GOING INTO BATTLE FOR
GOOD LUCK. THE ROMANS ALSO BELIEVED THAT IF SOME FOOD WAS BAD, THEY
COULD NEUTRALIZE IT BY PUTTING SALT ON IT. THEY WOULD ONLY EAT
ANYTHING QUESTIONABLE IF THEY PUT SALT ON IT FIRST. THIS IS WHY WE
TODAY SAY THAT WE TAKE SOMETHING DOUBTFUL WITH A GRAIN OF SALT.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT HEARD THIS ITEM ON A RADIO BROADCAST ON 102 FM WDOK.
WDOK BROADCASTS IN CLEVELAND, OHIO.

Where learned: OHIO ; CLEVELAND

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Mineral
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
PROVERB -- Proverbial Phrase

Date learned: 10-00-1976

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"POETOE" (WHISTLE CAKE)

A VENDER WOULD WALK THROUGH THE STREETS WITH A STEAM-
ING KETTLE INSIDE ONE OF HIS BASKETS. THE BASKETS HUNG
ON LONG STICK THAT WAS HANGING ON HIS SHOULDERS. WHEN
FINDING A CUSTOMER, THE VENDER WOULD MAKE CAKE IN FRONT
OF HIM. THE KETTLE WOULD HAVE BAMBOO SHOOTS COMING OUT
OF IT. IN MAKING THE CAKE, THE VENDER WOULD PUT IN RICE
FLOUR, AND BROWN SUGAR. AFTER THE CAKE WAS IN THE
BAMBOO SHOOTS FOR A WHILE, THE VENDER PUSHED IT OUT.
THE VENDER WOULD THEN SPRINKLE FLAKES OF COCONUT ON IT.
THE NAME "WHISTLE CAKE" CAME FROM THE WHISTLING SOUND
OF THE KETTLE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; Sterling Heights

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Manner of preparation
Food Drink -- Pastry Sweet Dessert
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
SPEECH -- Onomatopoeia

Date learned: 04-00-1979 ; 00001930-1950

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RACING, CHASING GAME: PICKLE

THIS GAME IS PLAYED ON THE FRONT SIDEWALK. THERE ARE TWO CATCHERS
AND TWO RUNNERS, ONE STARTING AT EACH END OF THE FRONT WALK.
THE RUNNERS MUST GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE BASES WHILE THE TWO
CATCHERS THROW THE BALL BACK AND FORTH BEING CAREFUL NOT TO BE
CAUGHT OFF BASE. IF CAUGHT OFF BASE, THEY WOULD BE TAGGED OUT.

Submitter comment: THE GAME WAS CALLED PICKLE BECAUSE THE TWO CATCHERS WOULD OFTEN CATCH
THE RUNNER BETWEEN THEM, PUTTING HIM IN A BIND, OR AS WE CALLED IT, A
PICKLE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SAINT CLAIR SHORES

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Racing Chasing Fighting
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Special Object or Implement
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: 04-11-1979

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HOW NOVI, MICHIGAN GOT ITS NAME

ACCORDING TO MY LATE FATHER, THE CITY OF NOVI, MICHIGAN GOT
ITS NAME BY ACCIDENT. ACCORDING TO THE STORY, A MAP MAKER
MISTOOK A SURVEYOR'S NOTATION ON A ROUGH, EARLY MAP OF THE AREA.
THE SURVEYOR HAD MARKED "NO. VI" ON THE MAP, DESIGNATING THE
LOCATION OF STAGE COACH STOP NUMBER SIX ON THE RUN BETWEEN
DETROIT AND CHICAGO. THE MAP MAKER THOUGHT THE NOTATION WAS A
WORD AND RAN ALL THE LETTERS TOGETHER. THUS, "NO. VI" BECAME NOVI.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: Favorites
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: 00-00-1968

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THE ORIGIN OF THE SANDWICH

DID YOU KNOW THAT WHAT WE CALL A SANDWICH TODAY IS NOT REALLY A
SANDWICH? IT'S A SHREWSBURY} I'M SURE YOU HEARD THE STORY ABOUT
THE EARL OF SANDWICH INVENTING THAT DELICACY,
BUT THAT STORY IS FALSE, IT WAS INVENTED BY THE DUKE OF SHREWSBURY,
TO CELEBRATE HIS INVENTION, THE DUKE INVITED ALL OF THE NOBILITY
FROM FAR AND NEAR TO A BANQUET, WHERE HE WAS GOING TO INTRODUCE
THE SHREWSBURY. HE HAPPENED TO INVITE THE EARL OF SANDWICH.
THE EARL RECOGNIZED WHAT A GOOD THING THIS WAS, SO HE INVITED
THE DUKE OVER TO HIS CASTLE THE NEXT DAY.
WHEN THE EARL SAW THE DUKE ABOUT TO ENTER THE CASTLE, HE LIFTED UP
THE DRAWBRIDGE, AND THE DUKE FELL IN THE MOAT. HE THEN PULLED THE
PLUG AND THAT WAS THE LAST ANYONE SAW OF THE DUKE. THE EARL OF
SANDWICH TOOK THE INVENTION AND MADE IT POPULAR AND THAT IS WHY WE
CALL IT A SANDWICH.

Submitter comment:

THE INFORMANT HEARD THE STORY FROM SOMEONE AT WESTERN MICHIGAN
UNIVERSITY, WHERE HE IS A STUDENT. HE WAS NOT SURE OF THE FELLOW'S
NAME, BUT HE KNEW THAT HE WAS FROM MASSACHUSETTS.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: LOCATION NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR

Keyword(s): FOOD ; Invention ; NAME ; Origin ; Sandwich

Subject headings: Food Drink -- Pastry Sweet Dessert Bread, rolls, etc.
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: 04-10-1965

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BACHELOR

IN THE DAYS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, THE ANCIENT ROMANS WERE CONTINUALLY
BICKERING WITH THE GAULS, CARTHAGINIANS, AND OTHER YOUNG LADS; SO
THEY WERE ALL DRAFTED INTO THE ROMAN LEGIONS. THIS LEFT ONLY THE
CHILDREN TO SERVE AS COWHERDS. THEY WERE CALLED BACCALARIUS,
FROM BACCA (COW). HOWEVER, WHEN THEY BECAME MARRIED, THIS NAME WAS
DROPPED. IT WAS SHORTENED TO BACHELOR, FOR UNMARRIED BOYS.

Keyword(s): ORIGIN OF WORD

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR

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COMPANION

IN ANCIENT ROME, IT WAS AN UNWRITTEN LAW THAT IF ANY TRAVELER DESIRE
FOOD AND SHELTER, THE HOUSEHOLDER MUST WELCOME HIM WITH CORDIALITY.
THESE CHANCE ENCOUNTERS MIGHT BRING MEN TOGETHER ONLY ONCE IN THEIR
LIVES, BUT THE FACT OF BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER MADE THEM FRIENDS
FOREVER. LITERALLY OUR WORD "COMPANION" COMES FROM THE LATIN WORD
"COM" (TOGETHER) PLUS "PANIS" (BREAD).

Keyword(s): ORIGIN OF WORD

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR

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NICKNAME

NICKNAME BUFFALO CAME ABOUT WHEN A BELGIAN MAN WAS BEING TEASED BY
SOMEONE, HE CHARGED AT THE MAN, RAMMING HIM WITH HIS HEAD LIKE A
BUFFALO.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM HER FATHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; ROSEVILLE

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Explanation of a name
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: 02-16-1980

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KWANZA

KWANZA IS AN AFRICAN HOLIDAY. IT IS CELEBRATED
DECEMBER 26 THROUGH JANUARY 1. IT IS AN EVENT WHICH
IS CELEBRATED ANNUALLY AND IS BASED ON AFRICAN
HARVEST CELEBRATIONS. KWANZA MEANS THE FIRST FRUIT.
THE PURPOSE OF KWANZA IS THE THANKING OF OUR ANCESTORS
IN ORDER TO INSURE A GOOD HARVEST FOR THE ENSUING YEAR.
DURING THE HARVEST CELEBRATIONS, THERE ARE
FEASTING, DRUMMING AND DANCING. STORY_TELLING
IS HEARD. FAMILY TIES ARE STRENGTHENED
AND ENCOURAGED.
MOST HOLIDAYS HAVE SYMBOLS WHICH ARE IDENTIFIABLE
WITH A PARTICULAR CELEBRATION. KWANZA DOES ALSO.
THE SYMBOLS OF KWANZA ARE: MEKA (STRAW) THE MHUMA (CANDLE),
ZAWADI (GIFTS) AND MAHINDI (CORN). THE CORN
REPRESESENTS ALL THE CHILDREN IN THE HOUSEHOLD.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THERE IS THE KIKOMBE (UNITY CUP).
COMMUNITIES AND HOMES ARE DECORATED, HOWEVER, EMPHASIS
IS ON THE USE OF NATURAL THINGS.
THE COLORS OF RED, GREEN AND BLACK ARE USED.
THEY ALSO SYMBOLIZES THE BLOOD SHED BY AFRICANS
IN THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM AND PEACE.
THESE COLORS REPRESENTS BLOOD, LAND AND COLOR.
BLACK IS FOR THE AFRICAN SKIN COLOR. GREEN IS FOR FERTILITY.
EMPHASIS IS PLACED UPON THE CHILDREN WHO RECEIVE
MOST OF THE GIFTS AND ARE ASKED TO MAKE A COMMITMENT.
A CHILD MIGHT ASK FOR BETTER GRADES IN SCHOOL.
IF THE CHILD GRADES HAS IMPROVED CONSIDERABLY, HE IS REWARDED.
THE REWARDS ARE CLOTHING, EXTRA FOOD OR A VISIT OUT OF TOWN.
TRADITIONALLY, THE STRENTH OF THE AFRICAN FAMILY
HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE FAMILY. BECAUSE OF THIS, THE FAMILY
IS THE FOCAL POINT OF THE CELEBRATION.

Submitter comment: THE MEANING OF THE WORD FAMILY HERE CONSIST OF
THE FATHER, MOTHER, CHILDREN, AUNTS AND UNCLES.
FAMILY MEANS THE EXTENDED FAMILY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 26 Boxing Day St. Stephen's Day
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 28 Holy Innocents
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F123
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 31 New Year's Eve
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Autumn Fall Harvest Thanksgiving
BELIEF -- Color
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

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THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND'S EYE

THIS TERM WAS ORIGINATED IN SAILING. IF YOU HAD THREE JIB SAILS
UP AND THEY WERE ALL AT THE WRONG ANGLE TO THE WIND, THE SHIP
WOULD STAGGER DRUNKENLY UNTIL THE PROBLEM WAS CORRECTED. THE
MOVEMENT OF THE SHIP WOULD BE FROM SIDE TO SIDE.

Submitter comment: THIS COLLECTION STARTED BECAUSE I WAS HAVING A DISCUSSION WITH
MS BOW ABOUT THE SLIDE RULE DINNER HELD BY THE ENGINEERS YEARLY
FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT. I TOLD HER OF COMMENTING TO A
STUDENT THERE THAT HE LOOKED LIKE HE WAS THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND.
HE REPLIED THAT HE WAS FOUR (SHEETS TO THE WIND). MS. BOW THEN
RESPONDED BY SAYING, DO YOU KNOW WHERE THAT TERM COMES FROM? SHE
TURNED OUT TO BE A MARVELOUS SOURCE OF ITEMS FOR THIS COLLECTION.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Folk etymology

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ZOO NIGHT

IT IS A TRADITION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT THAT THURSDAY
NIGHT IS BAR NIGHT. THIS TRADITION WAS STARTED MANY YEARS AGO WHEN
"THE TWENTIES," A BAR ON LIVERNOIS ACROSS FROM THE CAMPUS, USED TO
OFFER SPECIALS ON THURSDAY NIGHT. THERE WERE EXTRA SPECIALS
FOR ANY GREEKS THAT WORE THEIR LETTERS AS WELL. SINCE THE PLACE
USUALLY BECAME QUITE ROWDY IT SOON GOT THE NAME OF "ZOO NIGHT."
THE TWENTIES NO LONGER EXISTS, AND THE RATHSKELLAR DOESN'T
OFFER ANY THURSDAY SPECIALS, BUT THE TRADITION OF GOING TO THE
BAR EVERY THURSDAY HASN'T BEEN FORGOTTEN.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- School
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Week Day Hour
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: 00-00-1979

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MILITARY EXCLAMATION

AMONG MILITARY PARACHUTISTS, IT IS SAID THAT "GERONIMO"
BECAME A TRADITIONAL SHOUTED EXCLAMATION DURING THE EARLY
YEARS OF AIRBORNE TRAINING. IN 1940, THE SAFETY OF
PARACHUTING, AS WELL AS THE SANITY OF THOSE PARTICIPATING,
WAS IN DOUBT. AN UNKNOWN YOUNG VOLUNTEER IS SAID TO HAVE
SHOUTED "GERONIMO" UPON JUMPING FROM AN AIRCRAFT, IN ORDER
TO PROVE TO HIMSELF, AND ANYONE WHO WOULD BELIEVE HIM,
THAT ONE COULD JUMP FROM AN AIRCRAFT IN FLIGHT AND NOT
BE INSANE. THE ASSUMPTION WAS THAT IF ONE COULD RECALL
A NON-SEQUITUR SUCH AS "GERONIMO", ONE'S REASONING
CAPABILITIES MUST BE INTACT. HOWEVER, NO ONE HAS EXPLAINED
WHY A MAN, WHO HAS JUST SHOUTED "GERONIMO" IN MID-AIR,
SHOULD BE CONSIDERED SANE.

Submitter comment: THERE WERE ONLY 48 MEN IN THE FIRST AIRBORNE CLASS IN 1940.
THREE 250-FOOT TOWERS, FROM WHICH PARACHUTISTS COULD BE
DROPPED, AND WHICH HAD FORMERLY BEEN USED AT THE NEW YORK
WORLD'S FAIR, WERE PURCHASED AND ASSEMBLED AT FORT BENNING,
GEORGIA AS TRAINING AIDS. THE VOLUNTEER RATE BECAME VERY
HIGH AFTER THE INITIAL SUCCESSFUL JUMPS. IN FACT, MORE THAN
1000 MEN WERE WILLING TO ACCEPT A DEMOTION IN RANK IN ORDER
TO BECOME MEMBERS OF THIS NEW KIND OF UNIT.

Where learned: GEORGIA ; FORT BENNING

Subject headings: SPEECH -- Folk etymology
SPEECH -- Vocabulary of Special Group
SPEECH -- Formula

Date learned: 08-00-1981

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LEGEND OF THE FIRST LANGUAGE EVER SPOKEN

IN SAINT JOHN'S GOSPEL HE BEGINS WITH THE WORD WHICH WAS
IN THE BEGINNING. GOD MUST HAVE USED WORDS TO COMMUNICATE,
SO GOD, IN ORDER TO CREATE A LANGUAGE, USED ARAMAIC. HISTORY
RECORDS THAT ARAMAIC IS AN ANCIENT LANGUAGE USED DURING
THE FIRST CIVILIZATION IN HISTORY IN MESOPOTAMIA IN THE
AREA OF THE TIGRIS-EUPHRATES RIVERS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
SPEECH -- Folk etymology

Date learned: 10-17-1983

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PEOPLE WHO HAVE A GAP BETWEEN THEIR TEETH LIE A LOT. THIS IS
WHERE THE PHRASE "YOU'RE LYING BETWEEN YOUR TEETH" COMES
FROM.

Submitter comment: SPACE BETWEEN TEETH
"YOU'RE LYING THROUGH YOUR TEETH."
SHE HAS A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; PITTSBURGH

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
SPEECH -- Folk etymology
PROVERB -- Proverbial Phrase

Date learned: 10-11-1984

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