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Jul 12, 2020
This week’s theme
Shirts and pants as metaphors

This week’s words
bloody shirt

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AWADmail Issue 941

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Everyday Words and Phrases That Have Racist Connotations

Languages Will Change Significantly on Interstellar Flights
Universe Today

Image: 1jux.net
From: Ronnie Raviv (raraviv99 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--redshirt

There’s a relatively new definition of redshirt: the sacrificial lamb (but with a more cynical tone). From Star Trek, where the landing party would often involve Kirk, Spock, Bones, and an ensign or some other crew member, often in a red shirt, who would die, thereby demonstrating the peril our heroes are in.

There’s an excellent novel, somewhat satirical and metaphysical in nature, called Redshirts by John Scalzi based on this concept (told from the point of view of the anonymous, interchangeable, expendable crew members).

Ronnie Raviv, Chicago, Illinois

From: Sandra J. Kisner (sjk3 cornell.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--redshirt

I’m sure you’ll get lots of responses to this asking where Star Trek is. I must admit it was interesting to see how much older the term is, and how different the meaning. However, the dangers of wearing a red shirt on a Federation star ship were, shall we say, skewed by the simple fact that there were a lot more of the crew who wore that color in the first place (as opposed to gold and blue). An article in Significance magazine (archived here). Also see “According to Math, the Worst Color Shirt to Wear on Star Trek Is Actually Yellow”. An article at Fandom goes into even greater detail. Red shirts are indeed bad, especially if you worked in Security, not a surprise!

Sandra Kisner, Ithaca, New York

Email of the Week -- Brought to you by Wise Up! -- the family that plays together stays together

From: Bill Young (billsplut gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--redshirt

I’m sure I’m just one of many people telling you about the Star Trek redshirts, the unfortunate slobs most likely to be eaten by a Mugato or fried by a Romulan. Some quick research / lazy googling finds that while red shirts overall only die at about a rate of 10% as a percentage of the ship’s crew, 33% get curb-stomped by a Klingon if they actually appear onscreen. It seems that the best protection is to not get your character named in the script.

Or current “Captain” would certainly call 33% dead “SO GREAT, let’s you guys all beam down to the Planet of Scorpion Hell Monsters and open our economy! I’ll stay here. The Holodeck ain’t gonna golf itself!”

Bill Young, Vernon, Connecticut

From: Todd Main (todd_main steris.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--redshirt

The Star Trek sense of redshirt is so prevalent now that if you’re at a con and there are redshirts riding the elevator, most people wait for the next car.

I know I use “Well, at least I’m not a redshirt” when I talk about potential pitfalls.

Todd Main, Erie, Pennsylvania

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Redshirts

The followers of Italian freedom fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi were known as redshirts, named after the red shirts worn by Argentine slaughterhouse workers, obviously the colour of animal blood abundant in the abattoirs of Buenos Aires. While in exile from Italy, Garibaldi lived in neighbouring Uruguay, where he acquired one of these shirts.

In the 1840s he returned to his homeland to fight for its liberation from foreign rule and for the unification of the country that he originally envisaged as a Republic on the American model. There are several cities on the American continent named after him, one in British Columbia, another in Oregon, yet another in Brazil.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Judy Sabatino (memectp neo.rr.com)
Subject: Redshirt

My father did the exact opposite when it came to entering me into kindergarten. My birthday is in late December, but dear old Dad decided that I should go to school at the age of 4 anyway. I am convinced he was doing me no favors with this approach to education. I was withdrawn and shy, and an easy target for ridicule and bullying. I disliked school from start to finish, even though I graduated in the top third of my class. Without much effort.

Judy Sabatino, Girard, Ohio

From: Robert A. Rushton (reloquent gmail.com)
Subject: redshirt

My younger brother and I were born 13 months apart, and my parents were adamant that we not be placed in the same grade. Rather than delaying my brother for a year, which would have made him the oldest student in his class, they petitioned to enroll me in first grade at 5 years old. If “redshirting” is the term for sending a child to school later, what would be a word for early enrollment?

Robert A. Rushton, Brookline, New Hampshire

From: Sean Ennis (ennis1 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--redshirt

Hehe... I’m probably not the first to point this out today, but in the geek/fandom world there’s an entirely different meaning to redshirt. See LitterboxComics.

Sean Ennis, Winnipeg, Canada

From: John Schwanbeck (jrschwan tiac.net)
Subject: Shorts

Then there are red shorts.

John R. Schwanbeck, Brookline, Massachusetts

From: Tonda Marton (tonda martonagency.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--smarty-pants

I love how the Brits have a different construction: they’d say smarty boots. Or clever books. Or sly boots ...

Tonda Marton, New York, New York

From: Nancy Meyer (antares11 juno.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--smarty-pants

A smarty-pants need not be obnoxious. See this endearing video (1 min.) I first saw in 2009.

Nancy Meyer, Mundelein, Illinois

From: Tom Koehler (tvkoehler lakeconnections.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--sansculotte

When I was a high-school student, more than a half-century ago, girls were not allowed to wear pants...trousers..; dresses or skirts were mandated for them. Ha! Some girls started wearing culottes, cut or styled in such a manner that the garment appeared to be a skirt if the wearer were standing still. I am not an astute observer of fashion, so I do not know if such a thing is current any more.

Tom Koehler, Two Harbors, Minnesota

From: Carlos Cueto-Rejas (ccuetor941 hotmail.com)
Subject: sansculotte

We in Peru also have this expression “sin calzon” to indicate we will be discussing frankly about the subject. However, this expression is not used in mixed company. I am sure that the root of the phrase had its origins also from the French Revolution as “calzon” were those pants worn down to the knees. Today, they refer to underclothes and that’s why we never use it in mixed company!

Carlos Cueto-Rejas, Lima, Peru

From: Paul Calico (paul_calico ca6.uscourts.gov)
Subject: All Things Pants

Greetings from Pandemica! As always, I am enjoying your selection of this week’s theme words. The focus on pants, and particularly today’s explanation of the history behind sansculotte, brought to mind the Gaelic term triubhas (trews), meaning trousers, which the British once required the Scots to wear rather than kilts (because kilts featured the clans’ tartans and were thus considered tribal and an affront to the Crown).

In 1745, following years of exile, Prince Charles Edward Stewart, “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, returned to Scotland. His supporters launched a campaign to dethrone King George II of England and to restore the Scottish throne to the Royal House of Stewart. England and Scotland were at war. While the Highlanders held their own for a good while, the English army routed the vastly outnumbered Highlanders at the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746. Thereafter, the English Parliament enacted the Act of Proscription, which banned the proud Highlanders from wearing tartans and playing bagpipes.

When the Act was repealed, the Highlanders, joyously resumed wearing their kilts, no longer bound to the unmanly trews of the lowlanders. This bit of history today finds expression in the Scottish Highland dance known as the Seann Triubhas -- pronounced shon-TREWS and roughly translated as “old trousers”. It is a staple of Highland Dance competitions around the world. For a video of three bonny lasses dancing the seann triubhas, see here (2 min.). The dancers’ kicking and sweeping leg movements are said to mimic the act of shedding the hated trousers so they could once again don their beloved kilts. For more, see here.

Paul Calico, Cincinnati, Ohio

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Sansculotte

Sans-culotte was not the only item of clothing that was adopted by the revolutionaries. Another was the carmagnole, a short jacket imported from Italy, which derived its name from the Piedmontese town of Carmagnola, and gave its name to a song that became popular not only in the Revolution of 1789, but in many subsequent French Revolutions.

Incidentally, we are only a week away from the celebration of this history-making event that has radicalized the perception of the world we live in. In a sense, we are all children of the French Revolution.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Nidia Edfelt (nidia.edfelt comcast.net)
Subject: descamisado

This word took me back to my country of origin, Argentina, where I grew up in the 40s and 50s. I remember the long speeches given by Perón, addressing his followers, many of them the working poor, as “mis trabajadores” or “mis descamisados”. To signify that he was like them he would take off his coat and roll up the sleeves of his shirt; in turn, every man in the audience would do the same, to signal their support. In her passionate speeches Evita also addressed the people as “my beloved descamisados”.

Nidia Edfelt, Saratoga, California

From: Ron Greenman (rongreenman gmail.com)
Subject: descamisado

My Italian mother’s most common expletive when I, or someone else, or something, or the dog, or my father, or even she messed up was, “Santa Maria, senza camicia!” Essentially, Saint Mary without a shirt or Shirtless Saint Mary.

Ron Greenman, Gig Harbor, Washington

From: Jeff Gaynor (jeffreytoddgaynor gmail.com)
Subject: descamisado

Reminds me of a Tolstoy short story with a twist: The King and the Shirt. The Czar orders his wise men to find a man who is happy and to bring the Czar his shirt. After a long fruitless search a man is heard laughing heartily in a small hut. Knowing for sure a happy man has been found, they go in, only to find that the man has no shirt.

Jeff Gaynor, Ann Arbor, Michigan

From: Michael Wiesenberg (queue shaw.ca)
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--descamisado

The Official Dictionary of Poker has:

(n) In Spanish-speaking countries, REBUY. The word literally means shirt, and comes from what one generally does after losing one’s shirt. “Camisa!”
(n) What someone in a Spanish-speaking country calls when rebuying. rebuy
(v) 1. In many tournaments, players are allowed to buy in again if they go broke or if their chip accumulation falls below a certain level, usually only during a predetermined amount of time, say the first hour of play or the first three levels. To do so is to rebuy.. -- (n) 2. The chips represented by performing the preceding action. “The tournament has one rebuy and an add-on.” 3. The act of rebuying, or the point in a tournament at which players can rebuy.

Michael Wiesenberg, Calgary, Canada

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bloody shirt

From Encyclopaedia Britannica:

Bloody shirt, in US history, the post-Civil War political strategy of appealing to voters by recalling the passions and hardships of the recent war. This technique of “waving the bloody shirt” was most often employed by Radical Republicans in their efforts to focus public attention on Reconstruction issues still facing the country. Used in the presidential elections of 1868, 1872, and 1876, the strategy was particularly effective in the North in attracting veterans’ votes.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Joel Berg (jbergx gmail.com)
Subject: bloody shirt

As you know, La Marseillaise contains the line “l’etandard sanglant est levée!” -- “the bloody flag is raised!”

Joel Berg, Henderson, Nevada

From: Nancy W. Rosman (nwrosman comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bloody shirt

The truth is that every morning war is declared afresh. And the men who wish to continue it are as guilty as the men who began it, more guilty perhaps, for the latter perhaps did not foresee all its horrors. -Marcel Proust, novelist (10 Jul 1871-1922)

Cf. the song “Universal Soldier” (video, 2 min.) Last lines:
“His orders come from far away no more. They come from him and you and me, and buddy can’t you see, this is NOT the way to put an end to war.”

Nancy W. Rosman, Schwenksville, Pennsylvania

From: Gerry Cotter (gerrycotterbooks gmail.com)
Subject: Shirts and shorts

What you said about shirts and shorts reminded me of an exchange in P G Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters. Bertie Wooster has come up against Roderick Spode (‘Big chap with a small moustache and the sort of eye that can open an oyster at sixty paces’), would-be Dictator, founder of the Saviours of Britain, a Fascist organisation better known as the Black Shorts. Bertie’s friend Gussie Fink-Nottle tells Bertie about him.

“When you say ‘shorts’, you mean ‘shirts’, of course,” queries Bertie.
“No. By the time Spode formed his association there were no shirts left. He and his adherents wear black shorts.”
“Footer bags, you mean?”
“How perfectly foul.”
“Bare knees?”
“Bare knees.”

The book was published in 1938, so it’s clear what Wodehouse thought about Oswald Mosley.

Gerry Cotter, Lancaster, UK

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: sansculotte & smarty-pants

Here, I’ve depicted Trump putting on the regal airs of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, but clearly not his britches. He’s literally sansculotte, in the fashion of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, in which the emperor was so self-besotted that he was oblivious to his nakedness. Yet all his subjects and courtly aides were so fearful of him that they did not dare to point out the obvious.
Indecent Exposure! Budding "Stable Genius"?
I surmise that from a young age Trump came off to his peers as a self-absorbed, pompous know-it-all. A genuine smarty-pants. From schoolyard bloviator to the presidential bully-pulpit divider, the self-proclaimed “stable genius” has boasted that he knows more than his generals, physicians, and everyone else. Moreover, that his vocabulary is encyclopedic, claiming “I know so many words.” Smart Alec... Smart Donald... same difference?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Anagrams of This Week’s Words

Shirts and pants as metaphors
1. redshirt
2. smarty-pants
3. sansculotte
4. descamisado
5. bloody shirt
1. sport nonparticipant
2. damn sassy, smart ass
3. radical; has shed shorts
4. destitute
5. hot red symbol
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)


To give him an edge in Pre-K,
His entry his parents delay.
But where will it end,
This red-shirting trend?
With sixth-graders shaving, I’d say.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

He hoped his tuition would be
athletics or ROTC.
He knew it wouldn’t hurt
if he were a red shirt
if that’s how he could earn his degree.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Said Ernie, “At last we can wed, Bert;
No longer must marriage we redshirt.
It’s time that our critics
Took lessons in civics;
To hide all these years made my head hurt.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In Provence, in the southernmost part of France,
I met a jeune fille at an arty dance.
From her cute little lips
Flowed such bons mots and quips,
That I soon fell in love with the smarty-pants!
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

She appraises his folks at a glance.
“Nice mother and uncles and aunts.
But unfortunately,
your dad seems to be
a bit of an old smarty-pants!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Our teacher would grade on a curve,
Delighting the know-it-all Irv.
That smarty-pants jerk
Would say with a smirk,
“I’ll get the A+ I deserve.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

You’ll find at an old folks’ home party dance,
Curmudgeonly uncles and arty aunts.
Do not act too haughty
Or they’ll think you’re naughty,
And label you “that stuck-up smarty-pants”.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

The colony -- cultured and arty ants --
Decided to clothe for a party dance.
The duds cut the mustard
‘Til one ant chick blustered,
“You look kinda tarty, you smarty-pants!”
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

His purported vast knowledge made Roff
treat colleagues with sneers and a scoff.
But when he crossed the line,
his bosses showed some spine
And told smarty-pants where he got off.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Her mom said, “Be Miss Smarty-Pants
and you’ll never get asked to the dance.
Earn all As and that’s great
but won’t get you a date.
Brains for girls ain’t the road to romance.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

They met at a party dance,
And she thought him a smarty-pants.
But, he pursued her
Till he had wooed her.
She’s happy that she took a chance.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“You homeowners think you’re such smarty-pants,”
The crabgrass declared. “But we’re hardy plants.
Though you shout, ‘Kill the weed!’
While you’re sleeping we breed;
In the moonlight, we do an Astarte dance.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You may call me a damned sans-culotte,
or any misnomers you’ve got,”
he declares.” Yet I’ll strive
to remove Forty-five,
for a competent leader he’s not!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

A sansculotte he really was not.
He chose to go along with the lot.
A radical life
Caused far too much strife.
He’d rather not be put on the spot.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

Back in far-off days, a drunken sot
Sat ‘round thinking of times he got shot.
While he slugged down his ale,
His old friends he’d regale
With his tales as an old sansculotte.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

The French Revolution was fought
By radicals called sansculotte.
It means without pants,
After all it was France.
But, they wore pantaloons, I forgot.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

He burst on the scene as a sansculotte,
Then on tape said he uses his hands a lot.
Says Stormy, “They’re teeny,
And so is his weenie;
To Guinevere, he’d be no Lancelot.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

As I rambled in old Colorado
I was told by a poor desperado,
“At a terrible cost
In the market I lost
My damn shirt. Now I’m descamisado.”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

“Alas,” cries the descamisado.
“I was down to my last avocado.
it was stolen from me
by a fruit-eating, mean desperado!”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Felipe, a descamisado,
had a life that was muy deprivado.
Though he sometimes lacked food,
he could lighten his mood
with a smile and an air of bravado.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The band had a lot of bravado
And its members dressed descamisado.
They played out of tune
In a Rio saloon
Where their best song was Desafinado.
-Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma (pgraham1946 cox.net)

In the Renaissance art at the Prado,
You see many a descamisado.
Too poor to buy clothes,
They’d for Titian pose
In the nude with a show of bravado.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If injuries you would avert,
be sure that your loins are well-girt
before venturing near
any folks who appear
to be waving a bold bloody shirt!
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

“My hordes I excite with a bloody shirt,
Then at night have ‘em send me a slutty flirt,”
Said Genghis. “Her shoes
At the door she must lose;
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a muddy yurt.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


As styles evolved, chic tea dresses were replaced by smarty-pants.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

Several of the beachfront parcels were shaded by tall trees. They were known as the “sans’ culottes”.
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

“Did you see the clever saying written on that woman’s blouse?”
“Yes, I redshirt.”
-Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina (jde31459 gmail.com)

Returning home from assignment in the USSR, the journalist said, “It’ll feel good to be back on American turf after all descamisado, yeah!”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

Though they had tried practicing the withdrawal method, Lucy gave birth to Little Ricky nine months after Descamisado her.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Sign in an English pub: “No bloody shirt, no bloody shoes, no bloody service!”
-Bob Webb, Central Lake, Michigan (rhw3fl aol.com)

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Trump’s Foibles & Follies: Nostratrumpus

Trump, the fortune teller, foresees COVID-19 vanishing (again and again and again)

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. -R. Buckminster Fuller, engineer, designer, and architect (12 Jul 1895-1983)

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