Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 01:51:02 -0800


Subject: Re: sanskrit proof of spittin' rabbit

Once upon a time a famous Indian artist and an old Indian storyteller were

visiting the

Cardiff countryside, when the artist noticed an unusual rabbit with 5 legs.

He had

nothing with him, but a small flat rock nearby served as his drawing board

and he etched the image of this rare rabbit into the rock with a sharp rock.

The Indian artist new of the technique of batik-ing and knew that if he chewed a

colored berry and spit it on the rock that he could reproduce the image by


a piece of cloth to the rock which was wet with the berry juice, which made

a good dye. He began selling the reproductions as he travelled to finance

their continued journey as they made their way back to India. He also made a

gold ornament my pouring molten gold over the rock, the first proof of which

he kept for himself and wore around his neck. One day when making the

little cakes which he liked to eat as he was waiting for his bowels to move,

he inadvertently placed some of the cake dough on the rock and after he had

baked it he noticed the impression of the rabbit. He began to make other

drawings on rocks and sold the reproductions and became rather famous. But

he was best known for his spitting image of the rare Welch Rabbit as well as

for the cakes with various themes which he sold to illustrate his many


One day a gang of thieves who had heard about the artist tried to steal the

gold proof from the artist, but he wisely put it in his mouth.

When he realized they would probably search his mouth too, he spit it into a

pudding he was making. After the artist died the storyteller continued to

tell the story about the

smart artist who made the spitting image of the rare Welch rabbit, about the

proof in

the pudding and about the journey cakes. Many years later, after John

Crapper invented the toilet, the fact that the artist liked to eat the cakes

while waiting for his

bowels to move, the journey cakes also came to be known as johnny cakes.

The storyteller often told the story of the artist at a seaside resort on

the Indian

Ocean and sometimes drew a picture of the rabbit on the sand. Sometimes he even

wrote some of the story in the sand to attract tourists so he could sell his


These sand scripts were what the tourists called the language he spoke, but a

French entrepreneur found the story to be a better sell without the script

or sans script, and eventually corrupted the spelling to Sanskrit.

As you can see from the time written, about 4:00 o'clock in the morning that

this all came to me in a dream.


Wittgenstein School of the Unwritten (Sans Script) Word

Coconut Grove, FL


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"?