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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Winter's Tale Queries
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1984  Friday, 10 October 2003

[1]     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Thursday, 9 Oct 2003 10:09:03 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1974 Winter's Tale Queries

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 9 Oct 2003 18:30:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1958 Winter's Tale Queries


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Thursday, 9 Oct 2003 10:09:03 -0500
Subject: 14.1974 Winter's Tale Queries
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1974 Winter's Tale Queries

Tony Burton responds this way:

>First, "out of left field" may not quite fit the definition of a
>mangled
>metaphor or a malapropism.  Perhaps it is merely an ignorant mistake,
>although I detect signs of cross breeding between "out of the [a clear]
>blue [sky]" and "out in left field."  In any event, we can safely ignore
>this red herring; the issue lies elsewhere.

I find it disappointing that serious discussion on the list degenerates
into attacks on language use, especially when the language in question
in no way affects the discussion in question.

Persons who label usages mangled or ignorant usually are only expressing
their own pet peeves and have done little if any research on the words
or phrases that so offend them. Perhaps all of us are conditioned by our
background and education to prefer certain usages and abhor others, and
many of us generalize our own preferences into rules that must be
followed.  Sometimes we need to feel that little jolt of superiority
that comes from being in the inner circle of those who really know
what's right and what isn't.

But what, pray tell, is such behavior doing on SHAKSPER?

For what it's worth, which is nothing in particular, I will offer my own
folk etymology of "out of left field" (which by the way has a variant
not yet discussed ("in from left field"). In the days of my youth, when
the game was a bit less specialized than now, a manager occasionally
didn't want his pitcher to pitch to a particular batter, but also did
not want to remove him from the game. So he would bring in an outfielder
with a strong arm to pitch to a single batter, while the pitcher of
record switched to the outfield.  After the outfielder completed his
assignment, the two would again change places and the pitcher resume his
regular duties. You can imagine the answer to the unfortunate batter's
inevitable question, "Where did that guy come from?"

Yours for more civility and good humor,
Dave

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Thursday, 9 Oct 2003 18:30:51 +0100
Subject: 14.1958 Winter's Tale Queries
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1958 Winter's Tale Queries

>First, "out of left field" may not quite fit the definition of a mangled
>metaphor or a malapropism.  Perhaps it is merely an ignorant mistake,
>although I detect signs of cross breeding between "out of the [a clear]
>blue [sky]" and "out in left field."  In any event, we can safely ignore
>this red herring; the issue lies elsewhere.

A peculiarly unfortunate comparison to choose, since "out of the blue"
is either 'an ignorant mistake' or a development of "a bolt from the
blue".

I'd be reluctant to criticise any contemporary use of this in terms of a
lack of proper knowledge of meteorology.

[Although this is usually cited as originating in the late 19thC, the
phrase seems to first occur in Thomas Carlyle's _French Revolution_
(1837), in the form, "Arrestment, sudden really as a bolt out of the
blue has hit strange victims."   But this is as irrelevant to any
current use or usages of the term as the baseball origins of the term
are to "left field" idioms.]

Robin Hamilton

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