KOOKY INTERNET ENGLISH AND OTHER TRIVIA (April 24/98)

In the 70s my favourite newspaper columnist occasionally ran a piece with odd, interesting and little-known facts he said he had discovered by chance. The columnist usually explained that while researching he happened to find trivia he believed would be of interest to readers.

I mention this columnist because like him I occasionally come across interesting information unrelated to the topic I’m working on. Along with a bit of Internet humour, this column contains some of these discoveries – the trivia I found while looking up other things. But first some kooky English I discovered in my e-mail box recently.

“If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed and dry cleaners depressed?

“Even more, bedmakers will be debunked, baseball players debased, landscapers deflowered, bulldozer operators degraded, organ donors delivered, software engineers detested and musical composers will eventually decompose. On a more positive note, perhaps we can hope (some) politicians will be devoted.”

While looking up Nova Scotia history on the Internet I made note of this first for Kings County: “The earliest recorded attempt at organizing agriculture in Nova Scotia came in 1789, with the first farmers’ organization, the Colonial Societies, in Horton.” This tidbit from the Department of Agriculture and Marketing added that the purpose of the Societies included marketing of crops and maintaining a circulating library.

In a recent column on the Acadian expulsion I mentioned that Eaton’s History of Kings County may not be accurate regarding details of the Noble massacre. I based this comment on a discrepancy between Eaton’s description of the massacre and research work noted author Will R. Bird did for a provincial government publication called Historic Nova Scotia. Eaton Gives the number of New England militia killed as 100 with 15 wounded and 50 taken prisoner. Bird writes that the number killed was 75, with 60 wounded and 69 taken prisoner.

Ever wonder how the four card suits – hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds, got their name? Here’s what I discovered while looking up a non-related topic in reference books at Acadia University:

Some 600 years ago card makers in France decided to design cards to represent the four classes of people in French society. Hearts, represented the heart of the community, the clergy; spades, the points of spears, represented the military class (it was the English who later called this suit “spades”); clubs has its roots in the picture of a clover leaf representing farmers and peasants; the diamond was chosen to represent the middle class, mostly made up of merchants who in that period used diamond-shaped tiles as exchange.

Re the “Mac” and “Mc” discussion in a recent column, a reader, Lad Javorek, has thrown a different light on the topic. Lad tells me that when his wife was growing up in Sydney, Cape Breton, she was under the impression that “Mac” in a surname usually meant the person was Protestant, while the “Mc” surname was Catholic. The Javoreks tell me this wasn’t a hard and fast rule, however.

Welch’s grape juice concentrate (red not white) has been moving fast from grocery store shelves lately after the announcement that it’s high in flavonoids, a substance that supposedly helps ward off heart disease. While flavonoids may prove to be another of those miracle substances that fizzle out, there’s no need to buy expensive grape juice concentrate if you want to be on the safe side and take a daily dose. A local pharmacist tells me that plain old tea is also a good source of flavonoids.

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