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#85412 11/01/02 10:11 PM
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wwh Offline OP
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From the Internet:

For a man untroubled by the need for linguistic purity, President Bush surpassed even himself
yesterday as he sought to portray President Saddam Hussein as a scheming and evasive dictator.

Declaring that Saddam had "crawfished"out of previous agreements with the United Nations, Mr Bush
accused him of "stiffing the world."

In doing do, Mr Bush appeared to ghave invented a word. The verb "crawfish" is unknown even to slang
dictionaries, although it might derive from crawfish, or crayfish, a freshwater crustacean.

According to linguistics experts, such evocative use of the word as a verb has grown in recent years in
the US to describe someone who backs out of a position.

Asked about the Presidentes use of the word, Ari Fleischer, his spokesman, referred to broken Iraqi
commitments to disarm, adding: "This is what Saddam Hussein has tried his best to slither out of, as
the President put it, 'to crawfish out of'.'"

I've seen crawfish shells after racoons ate the meat, but I have never seen a live crawfish in
motion, and so did not know until just now that they move backwards preferably. I used to
see it in cowboy pulps, but didn't know that it was used as a insult, meaning someone
retreated in an unhonorable way.


#85413 11/01/02 11:55 PM
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Oh, yes, I've seen them move backwards. My cousin used to catch them in the creek in Tennessee. This reminds me of what Anu said when his W.A.D. was crabwise: If we were to look up the term `humanwise' in a crab's
dictionary, chances are it would mean `sideways'.

That line just set me off into envisioning a whole underwater scenario, with crabs using their library, etc.!
My husband and son have eaten crawdads (another term for them), but I won't touch one. I really prefer food that doesn't look back at me.



#85414 11/04/02 01:11 PM
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I don't like crawdads so much as other shellfish, except in an etoufee.

My brothers and I spent innumerable hours walking ankle to thigh high in creeks to catch crawdads. Their flight is quick and bursty as would be expected from an animal that flips its tail for locomotion. Skittering from rock to crevice to crack, they move with surprising agility for such clumsy-looking critters. You can try to just snatch'em from behind, but a more effective way to catch the really little ones is to put one hand behind 'em and scare 'em with the other - they'll light right into your first hand. (Expect to be pinched.) Of course, would have to be a damned fool to try this with the bigger ones. If it's bigger than a few inches, the better approach is to distract it with the forward hand and sneak up with the rear hand, grabbing the abdomen behind the pinchers. It's a really good idea to avoid getting snapped by the really big ones. I don't recall any specific experiment in this regard, but I wouldn't be surprised if the chunkier fellows could squeeze off a fair portion of finger meat.

Sometimes we would make out at 7 or 8 in the morning, walk the creek the whole day, and empty them back out into the creek at night around 8 or 9 - hundreds of 'em. Even into our late teens, this was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday.

I doubt they're significantly smarter than houseflies, but they're very well-adapted for vacating dodge at the slightest hint of danger.

k



#85415 11/04/02 01:59 PM
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Their flight is quick and bursty
What a neat phrase, FF. Will you PM me with where you used to hunt them, please?


#85416 11/04/02 08:26 PM
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I think all country kids hunt crayfish. We don't eat them around here, though. More of a hobby.


#85417 11/04/02 08:53 PM
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The verb "crawfish" is unknown even to slang
dictionaries


William Safire, back in September, noted an 1842 citation:

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/abs_news_body.asp?section=Opinion&OID=3901


#85418 11/05/02 04:48 PM
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"see it in cowboy pulps, but didn't know that it was used as a insult, meaning someone retreated in an unhonorable way."


I missed this first time around. I've heard the word used before. Guess I didn't realize there were overtones of dishonor. If I'd heard the word, I'd guess that it means someone is slippery, sneaky, hard to pin down. Wouldn't necessarily associate dishonorable action or intent. But context gives texture to language.


k





#85419 11/05/02 11:34 PM
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Then there is the word "crabbing" (moving like a crab) which describes when a car, after being in a collision, drives with its rear wheels bit to one side or the other as the frame may have been 'rhombused', the rear axel turned slightly off perpendicular to the body, or the front wheels became out of alignment.

'Bursty' could also mean that one ate too much (so I've heard).



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