1 2 3 4
By the way, I don't think much of Bryson, but I've enjoyed Mario Pei's books.

Pei's not so bad, but like Bryson after him, he was attracted to unsubstantiated linguistic canards. Since he had such a wide readership and authority as a "linguist", those canards have circulated as truth. For instance, I recently offered proof that linking the whole "ghoti" business to G. B. Shaw was most likely the product of Pei's imagination:

http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=40DB3FB3.ACF805D5%40midway.uchicago.edu
I've been told that after I put a lot of effort into compiling my table of distribution of English speakers ... my idea and ran with it. I don't know whether that's what happened or not. I haven't seen the book.

Reason enough for all AUEers to boycott Bryson!
No, but circle jerks were not unknown to college students ... your phrase suggests, when you think about it. Humorous, yes.

College? Where I was, it was more like Jr. High.

Could have been in my locale too, but it was a long time ago, I move in different circles today, and I'm less of a jerk now than I was back then.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
firing

When I was a kid it was Polish. But of course such things are infinitely

adaptable. Right. I have heard the term "circular firing squad", as well as "Mexican standoff", that latter term not being an intended execution plan, but the unplanned outcome of a military campaign.

But unlike the Italian/Polish/circular firing squad, I have never seen "Mexican standoff" adapted to any other ethnicity.
firing adaptable. Right. I have heard the term "circular ... execution plan, but the unplanned outcome of a military campaign.

But unlike the Italian/Polish/circular firing squad, I have never seen "Mexican standoff" adapted to any other ethnicity.

My understanding of a "Mexican standoff" is when two parties or groups both have weapons at the ready and neither party can fire on the other without the expectation of the other firing back. It's adapted to non-weapon usage when the two parties each have something that offsets any advantage that the other has.
Unlike a firing squad, the result is no action.
My understanding of a "Mexican standoff" is when two parties or groups both have weapons at the ready and neither ... each have something that offsets any advantage that the other has. Unlike a firing squad, the result is no action.

But how is that different from a plain stand-off? I've always understood "Mexican standoff" to mean "everybody shot dead". CDB
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
But unlike the Italian/Polish/circular firing squad, I have never seen "Mexican standoff" adapted to any other ethnicity.

The OED has 5 citations s.v. "atand-off," but the AUE-link is in the 6th citation, s.v. schmeer:

1978 /Maledicta/ 1977 I. 282 Eventually, the whole schmeer wasdeclared a Mexican stand-off.
Could have been in my locale too, but it was a long time ago, I move in different circles today, and I'm less of a jerk now than I was back then.

Aren't we all!

dg
My understanding of a "Mexican standoff" is when two parties ... has. Unlike a firing squad, the result is no action.

But how is that different from a plain stand-off?

A standoff might be advantageous for one of the parties. A Mexican standoff never is. If you're trying to get into my house, a standoff benefits me more than you, even if I can't get out. (Until it becomes a siege.) Eventually, you'll give up and go away, which is what I want. In a Mexican standoff, both sides back down and neither gets what it wants.
I've always understood "Mexican standoff" to mean "everybody shot dead". CDB

I've never heard it used that way. It's more "nobody gets shot because everybody knows they'll be shot if they start shooting, so they all just go away".

Evan Kirshenbaum + HP Laboratories >There are two types of people -
1501 Page Mill Road, 1U, MS 1141 >those who are one of the two typesPalo Alto, CA 94304 >of people, and those who are not.

(650)857-7572
http://www.kirshenbaum.net /
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
My understanding of a "Mexican standoff" is when two parties ... has. Unlike a firing squad, the result is no action.

But how is that different from a plain stand-off? I've always understood "Mexican standoff" to mean "everybody shot dead". CDB

That's a good point there really isn't a lot of difference between a "standoff" and a "Mexican standoff." No, it doesn't mean "everybody shot dead."
Merriam-Webster has:
Main Entry: Mexican standoff
Date: 1891
a situation in which no one emerges a clear
winner; also : DEADLOCK
Main Entry: standoff
Date: circa 1835

1 a : TIE, DEADLOCK b : a counterbalancing effect
You could say that two sports teams battled to a standoff, and no guns are involved there. But if you described a Mexican standoff in a movie scene, it would, to me, imply the guns (or some threatening equivalent) pointing at each other, and everyone frozen, just as Tony described.

A random Web hit:
Both men stood no more than four feet apart. Both had guns out and pointed at one another. ... Neither man dared fire, for fear of causing the other to do so at the same time. Both wished to kill the other, but not at the price of killing themselves. Julio Rodriguez broke into a grim smile. "What we have ourselves here," he said in a heat-parched voice, "is what's called a Mexican Standoff, gringo."
Sergeant Hudson's lips twitched. "You could say that."

Best Donna Richoux
Show more