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[Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101
[Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101
Mon, 8 Jan 2007 09:45:52 +0000 (UTC)
pan 0.120 (Plate of Shrimp)
Graham <address@hidden> posted
address@hidden, excerpted below, on Mon,
08 Jan 2007 07:47:19 +0000:
> On Sun, 7 Jan 2007 21:18:07 +0000
> Brad Rogers <address@hidden> wrote:
>> Because it /should/ be "toe the line".
> No, no.
> When you "tow the line" you join the team pulling narrowboats along the
> British canal system on the towpath (note, not the "toe path"). The
> "navvies" (or navigators), the people who actually carved out the canal
> system in the early 18th century used this expression a lot. Later on,
> horses were (sometimes) used for pulling the narrowboats and barges, but
> you still needed to join the team to "tow the line" (pull the rope or
> "line" attached to the narrowboat) or it could not move properly.
> Hence an individual could not do as he wished but had to join the team.
> There were Regulations about how narrowboats could be managed, and these
> were imposed by Acts of Parliament; one of those Regulations includes
> the phrase "tow the line".
> It seems that this phrase was taken up by the military, whether British
> or American, and changed to the crude "toe the line", but its origins
> are quite clear. "Tow the line" is thus the correct early usage.
That's the intuitive explanation, but general sources seem to agree that
it's incorrect. Here are just a few (courtesy of Google). Note that
there's some controversy over whether it was a foot-racing term (aka "toe
the mark"), a prize-fighting term (aka up to scratch) a nautical term
(toe the mark here, too), or referred to the debating lines in the British
House of Commons (this last is commonly agreed to be inaccurate, but see
the Wikipedia entry), but in all cases, it's agreed that the /proper/ term
is "/toe/ the line", and that "/tow/ the line" has become common due to
folks hearing the idiom used well before they see it used in print, and
intuitively develop an incorrect visualization, with the matching
spelling, strong enough it often overpowers the correct form when they
/do/ see it in print.
Wictionary and Wikipedia:
eggcorn database (interesting debate)
answers.com (this one multi-links to other references)
An interesting one with a bunch of other weird usage questions/answers:
Another like the above (look under walk this way):
I could go on at some length... However, if you prefer "tow", go ahead
and use it in your writing (as I do the literal interpretation of "begs
the question"), just be aware it's atypical usage and many snooty types
will think less of you and/or your writing, having seen your use of a
generally considered incorrect and ignorant usage. If you are prepared to
accept that in the context in which you write, few if any will fail to
understand your meaning, since both forms are now common and the idiomic
meaning is similar enough it continues to work.
Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman
Re: [Pan-users] Pan Docs 070101, Darren Albers, 2007/01/01
- Re: [Pan-users] Re: Pan Docs 070101, (continued)
- [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, Graham, 2007/01/07
- Re: [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, Brad Rogers, 2007/01/07
- [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, arndalebilo, 2007/01/07
- Re: [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, fwxgqa302, 2007/01/08
- [Pan-users] Re: Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, Graham, 2007/01/08
- Re: [Pan-users] Re: Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, Brad Rogers, 2007/01/08
- [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101,
- Re: [unclassified] [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, Graham, 2007/01/09
- Re: [Pan-users] Re: [OT] Pan Docs 070101, Tim Kynerd, 2007/01/07
- [Pan-users] Re: Pan Docs 070101, Darren Albers, 2007/01/05
- Re: [Pan-users] Pan Docs 070101, Douglas Bollinger, 2007/01/06
- Re: [Pan-users] Pan Docs 070101, Darren Albers, 2007/01/06