5 September 2017

Dog daie en

While browsing through the differences - this is the sort of way we liturgists spend our time - between the Calendar in the Second Prayer Book of Edward Tudor and that in the First, I noticed that the Second restored a number of Calendrical data which used to occur in Medieval Catholic liturgical Calendars but had disappeared from the 1549 Book. For example, against August 15 the 1552 Book gives, rather suggestively, Sol in virgo. And, on September 5 (yes, I remember that the difference between Julian and Gregorian Calendars will complicate matters) 1552 offers the observation that the 'Dog Daie en' [= Dog Days End].

This reminded me, as I know it will have reminded you, of the bit in Hesiod - it must be somewhere in the Erga kai Hemerai - where the funny old boy claims that at this time of the year, when the Dogstar parches head and knees and dries the skin, "women are most lustful, and men are most feeble [makhlotatai ... aphaurotatoi]". I wonder if heterosexual readers with a scientific bent have ever tested by a controlled experiment the veracity of this archaic generalisation.

But hang on: perhaps I could myself make an evidential contribution. When, six decades ago, at the age of eighteen, I was in Athens during the Dog Days, I was propositioned by an American girl who was spending Daddy's money in the Hotel Grande Bretagne as if there were no tomorrow [if she's reading this now: Hi!]. When I expressed my deep sense of the honour done to me but begged with great respect to decline the favour, she concluded the episode by saying "Gee [am I right in assuming that in American English this is a reverential periphrasis for "God"?], you sure are cute".

I've often wondered about the meaning of that word 'cute'. Is it by predelision from 'acute'? Perhaps American readers can help.

In the County Kerry, the blessed Kingdom of the West, in aeternum floreat, I was once referred to as a cute hoor. What on earth does this mean?

10 comments:

Zephyrinus said...

" . . . I expressed my deep sense of the honour done to me but begged with great respect to decline the favour."

Dear Fr.

Is the above the same as the old News Of The World newspaper's oft-quoted phrase: "I made my excuses and left" ?

in Domino.

Titus said...

am I right in assuming that in American English this is a reverential periphrasis for "God"?

I've never thought of that. It's now an obsolescent term. When common, it was an introductory interjection, more at "Oh!" and less an oath.

Kenneth said...

Dear Father,
As I understand it, the expression "Gee" or sometimes even, "Geesum" is an abbreviation for the Holy Name of Jesus.
"Cute" first appeared in English in 1731 as ashorting of "acute" informally meaning "pretty". Again it appears in 1834 in American English student slang.
Thank you for your always enlightening entries.
Kenneth Kafoed

Seaghan Ó Buadhaigh said...

In Donegal you would have been called a 'cunnin huir'. It's a compliment.

Michael Leahy said...

This Irishman would translate 'cute hoor' as meaning you were 'a bit of a boyo'.

Fr. Thomas Hoisington said...

Here's a definition for the Irish phrase you mention:
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cute_hoor

Romulus said...

"Cute" does derive from "acute"

"Gee" is an abbreviation of the Holy Name.

In my latitude, I consider the dog days astronomically (if not climatically) to end after the first week of August, by which time, if viewing conditions are ideal, the Dog Star is faintly visible just above the pre-dawn southeastern horizon.

gsk said...

Gee is a reverential periphrasis for "God" (that's news!) And bloody is an abridgement for "By Our Lady." And dang, and jeez, and H-E-double hockey sticks still more periphrases for religious items -- is all the good jargon grounded in [anti] faith?

It seems that all that's left to us uber-scrupulous sorts is the procto-stuff the Pope has warned us about. What to do!?

William Tighe said...

"Cute" (short for "Acute") 1. Delightfully pretty or dainty, 2. Obviously contrived to charm, precious, 3. archaic Shrewd, clever.

"Gee" (euphemistic shortening of "Jesus;" see also Gee whiz!) Used as a mild expletive or expression of surprise.

Diane said...

Dear Fr
As to the American girl's comment and the Irish expression "cute hoor" I'm thinking that butter wouldn't melt in your mouth. However I'm leaning towards you being "cute" in both senses....