Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 11:33:11 EST


Subject: Re: The skinny on PROVE, thanks to my colleague Carl Berkhout

Thanks very much, Rudy (and indirectly Carl). I didn't know that, and was in

fact like probably most of us operating in effect with a second-order folk-

etymology, as with the classic cases of "Welsh rarebit" (which really was

originally "Welsh rabbit") or "journey-cake" (which really was something closer

to Johnny-cake) or, I would argue, "spit and image" (which, if not from

"spittin' image", was as far as I can tell originated as "spitten [past part.]

image"). On the same subject, Carl B's reference to "the proof of the pudding

is in the eating" as an instance in which proof/prove really DOES refer to

'test' rather than 'demonstrate' reminds me of the curious variant of this

expression: "the proof is in the pudding". This illustrates a kind of loss of

transparency also found in "happy as a clam" (originally, if the standard

references are correct [and I'm beginning to wonder!], "happy as a clam at

high tide"). I'm sure someone is going to produce evidence that it really WAS

"happy as a clam", with evidence from Sanskrit. But if not, can anyone think

of other opacified proverbs like "the proof is in the pudding" or expressions

like "happy as a clam"?