Monday, November 07, 2005

To my surprise...

. . . scholars such as Michael Gilleland, Richard Nokes, and Michael Drout have linked to my post on Tolkien.

I'd rather enjoy all the attention . . . if I weren't receiving it for a post in which I was, basically, sounding the profound depths of my ignorance. Oh well, at least, I ate my humble pie at the offset, so I won't have to eat my words later.

Speaking of edible words, the "humble" in "humble pie" comes from "umbles," which the Free Dictionary defines as:
"The entrails and coarser parts of a deer; hence, sometimes, entrails, in general."
Entrails, eh? Is that stuff edible? The Online Etymology Dictionary tells us more:
umbles: "edible inner parts of a deer or other animal," c.1400, see humble.
Edible . . . well, if you say so. But let's not stop there. Let's follow this to the bitter end and see humble:

humble: c.1250, from O.Fr. humble, earlier humele, from L. humilis "lowly, humble," lit. "on the ground," from humus "earth." Senses of "not self-asserting" and "of low birth or rank" were both in M.E. The verb is c.1380 in the intrans. sense of "to render oneself humble;" 1484 in the trans. sense of "to lower (someone) in dignity."
From humus, eh? That could make for some nice intertextual, cross-lingual puns:
"Adam, ah Adam, man of earth,
T'were best remain a human humble."
But what's this to do with umbles? Just keep reading under "humble" to find out:
To eat humble pie (1830) is from umble pie (1648), pie made from umbles "edible inner parts of an animal" (especially deer), considered a low-class food. The similar sense of similar-sounding words (the "h" of humble was not pronounced then) converged in the pun. Umbles, meanwhile, is M.E. numbles "offal" (with loss of n- through assimilation into preceding article), from O.Fr. nombles "loin, fillet," from L. lumulus, dim. of lumbus "loin."
I see. Given my 'druthers, I'd rather have my humble pie in French. But even in English, better to have humble pie now than eat exultant crow later.


At 10:18 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Perhaps it takes guts to be humble.


At 4:20 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Kevin, I shall strive for the humility that you embody.

But perhaps with all of that hiking up the Namsan, you're getting less humble.


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