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bear by san

March 2017



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holmes confidence

tomorrow morning there'll be laundry

So I just got distracted for half an hour by a linguistic question raised by a Tom Waits song. Which is to say, What exactly does "walking Spanish" mean, anyway?

Well, thank dog for the future, because in the space of a few Googles, I have determined that it's an idiom dating from the 1800s or earlier, which means (literally) to be frog-marched. In other words, one who is "walking Spanish" is the recipient of a frog-marching, and it describes the tiptoe progress of someone who is being hoisted up by the seat of his pants and propelled forward by pressure of a hand against the nape of his neck.

By extension, it also metaphorically described the progress of someone unwillingly ejected, or forced to carry out a task he does not prefer.

(And shall we even talk about the historical nationalistic hatreds revealed as linguistic artifacts by both "walking Spanish" and "frog-marching"?)

Oh, dear. I appear to have caught the tone of this New York Times article from 1877, describing the idiom and the practice, in the context of the forcible ejection from the halls of government of one Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, for the offense of... wearing trousers.

Well, I guess it can only help me write Doc. And you can bet he's going to be using that idiom some point in the course of it.

*walks Spanish back to the book*


And your distraction turns out to be productive! Tom Waits FTW! The crowd goes wild!
I might be cheating by sharing an idiom from a non-English language, but the comment-hook was about the Spanish, so...

Personal background: just over 2 decades ago I married dear_hubby, who is Dutch. Through him, I learned some of the history of the Netherlands, including a fair chunk of occupation/conflict with the Spanish.

Then, one day when talking to a friend, she commented on how very hot and stuffy the weather had become. The word in Dutch for stuffy is "benauwd" (and nauw is roughly equivalent to "narrow", so it gets used for both lack-of-room, and that thing one's lungs do when there's too much humidity to breath well...) Only, she changed the word slightly, pairing it as "Spaans benauwd." And not because of the famous heat of the Iberian peninsula, either.

Crazy(and babbling at a relative stranger, hope the language geekery makes it forgivable!)Soph
If she had been wearing a skirt, that would have been much more difficult to do.
If you examine the editorial, you will notice it makes just that point.
That song's on the playlist for my WIP, and every time it goes by it distracts me a little bit because I'm curious about the phrase. From the context of the song, I definitely got into the same city that's got that ballpark in it. "Even Jesus wanted a little more time / when he was walkin' Spanish down the hall" pulled from memory, so it might be wrong.

It had thus far only reached the stage of velleity. Now, thanks to you, I won't stop writing because the urge to research has become unbea -- overwhelming.

don't they pray to the same god as we do?

I'm feeding the One-Eyed Jack & The Suicide King monster lots of Tom, and I just HAD to stop and Google. It was a moral imperative.

Glad to be of service.

And they all pretend they're orphans, and their memory's like a train

Oh boy howdy do I know how that imperative goes. I'm currently trying to eat and digest all of the 80's. Gotta pick my battles on the research.

With a title like that, I'd be surprised if it'd eat anything but Waits in portions larger than dressing.
I just heard the term for the first time last week when reading this book:


It's pretty much about an advertising firm during a time of layoffs, and the poor joes that get fired are "walked Spanish down the hall"
Cooool. That article simultaneously fills me with "omg, words from the past!" glee and a desire to use my forward kick upon the condescending little jackass who wrote it.
He needs to take a little Spanish walk... to the FUTURE. Where Dr. Mary has gotten her Medal of Honor reinstated, and he's nobody. <3
Where Dr. Mary has gotten her Medal of Honor reinstated, and he's nobody. <3


Hah! Yes. Good thought.
Huh. Now the only way you can get kicked out of the halls of government is for *not* wearing pants.
The tone of that article is kind of fabulous. I mean, the sentiments aren't, but anything that goes on about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of trousers" and Secretary Sherman's doorkeeper in such fashion puts a grin on my face.
I totally want to lift the rhetorical style. It's contagious.
I wish I could put my finger on what it is about nineteenth-century writing in general that I adore so much. Not necessarily the things they were writing about, be it fictional or non -- but the sentences themselves. There's just something about the word choice and the sentence structure and so on that never ceases to please me.
I'm always struck, as someone who studied Latin and Greek, by how much they stick to classical rhetorical style, even when, like Lincoln, they hadn't studied those languages.
But they *had* studied translations of classical arguments, often.
The formal English of the time as taught in school was modelled on Ciceronian style, so that's not surprising. A lawyer, even an apprentice-taught one like Lincoln, would have followed the formal model, which would have been very closely imitative of classical rhetoric. I wasn't taught the classical languages, but the people who taught me were, and it rubbed off a great deal I'd say.
And on the more flattering side, there's the dressage version of the Spanish Walk.
"To be walked involuntarily," I think. Like, you get somebody (smaller) by the collar and seat-of-of-the-pants, and force-march them out of the room, or to wherever. Like to execution, maybe, or out of the tavern.