Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50

A co-presentation by popular poker pixie Victoria Coren featuring special-interest guest researcher Jo Brand who worked as a psychiatric nurse prior to tackling the rather less stressful environment of live stand-up comedy, the show sets itself the challenge of demonstrating holes in the etymologies provided by the Oxford University Press in the various editions of its Oxford English Dictionaries.

Tonight's travels through the world of dogmatic faux-amis and pre-computer-era resourced research results took in terms such as "moron", "cretin"*, "bonkers", "durbrain", and finally "bananas".
The panel of austere-looking experts in smart-casual clothing accepted some of the predated usages but
still seemed set in a bubble of Albionic altruism where the question of usgaes having crept in from overseas was concerned the most notable example of which
was their etymology of "bananas".
The official line cited from Ivory Towers, when presented with a Gershwin number from 1938 which made use of the word as the second couplet for a rhyme was drearily sequential in its analysis and made no allowance for the time-honoured poetic poser of "but nothing rhymes with oranges!"
Oranges are known to grow quite nicely on the Eastern seabord' of North America and, indeed, the area's age- old Spanish cultures as evident in names such as "Los Angeles", "San Francisco", and "San Andreas" suggests that oranges would been one fruit they've been growing there for years.
How is this relevant? Well, a quick consultation of any reliable English-Spanish lexitome shows that to this day the Spanish word for "oranges" remains "naranjas". And, in all fairness, naranjas does kind of rhyme with bananas, albeit in a firmly Anglophone manner.
As such I move that their off-the-cuff and we-know-best account of the inclusion of the word "bananas" in the song at all - namely that it was chosen simply because it rhymes with "Polyannas" - is rather putting the cart before the horse and, indeed, the reverse is true.

Obviously this does not mean that they were "wrong" in the sense that "Gershwin chose it simply to fit a sense of meaning 'nonsense'", but nor is it suggestive they should give the matter no further consideration.

Sources to check would include Gershwin's diaries, and also traditional Carribean Krio/Patois usages as well as Merriam Webster and the contemporary music press particularly given the archipelago's proximity to orange-growing regions and its traditional association with banana plantations in the age of the steamship.

As we now have "Polyanna" as the word which was
chosen to fit the rhyme we can forget the plummy and rather twee values in the film of the same name and look for cues in contemporary American culture as
to whether this was an established usage already.
As the song is a song about the states of mind which orbit love, "Polyannas" is used in a semi-derogative sense to imply naifete, and the states akin to madness associated with "love" were already well-documented, it suggests that they, perhaps, should feel free to be as dismissive as they like at their peril.
G DAEB
* - entirely possibly literally what James Joyce meant.

COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 SIPSTON

...and this is why I bother with copyright declarations.
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Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50 A co-presentation by popular poker pixie Victoria Coren featuring special-interest guest researcher ... were already well-documented, it suggests that they, perhaps, should feel free to be as dismissive as they like at their peril.

Which diaries, and which Gershwin?

John Briggs
Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50 A co-presentation by popular poker pixie Victoria Coren featuring special-interest guest researcher ... possibly literally what James Joyce meant. COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 SIPSTON ...and this is why I bother with copyright declarations.

I wouldn't bother meself. Not likely that anyone's gonna want to nick anything from this drivel!
* - footnotes are entirely pointless if there is no corresponding indication of to what they refer!
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50 A co-presentation ... free to be as dismissive as they like at their peril.

Which diaries, and which Gershwin?

Oh, you're just teasing! Everybody knows about the famous Gershwin Diaries written by Samuel F. Gershwin from 1826 to half past six!
Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50 A co-presentation ... ...and this is why I bother with copyright declarations.

I wouldn't bother meself.

I'm really not suggesting for a moment
you should bother yourself.
* - footnotes are entirely pointless if there is no corresponding indication of to what they refer!- Hide quoted text - - Show quoted text -

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Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50

referring to an edition of "The letters of James Joyce".

G DAEB
COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 SIPSTON
Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50 A co-presentation ... free to be as dismissive as they like at their peril.

Which diaries, and which Gershwin? John Briggs- Hide quoted text - - Show quoted text -

Ira, IIRC, whichever one wrote the lyrics out of
George & Ira Gershwin combo.
G DAEB
COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 SIPSTON
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Balderdash and Piffle, BBC2 14 MAY 2007 23:20-23:50 A co-presentation by popular poker pixie Victoria Coren featuring special-interest guest researcher ... possibly literally what James Joyce meant. COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 SIPSTON ...and this is why I bother with copyright declarations.

Supporting considerations are the phallic shape of the banana and the word's possible onomatopoeism for the practice of solo male masturbation.
This makes a chain link into the Shakespearan usage of "playing pricksong" in Romeo and Juliet, all the more of a reasonable consideration given its setting mirroring anti-miscegenistic views throughout human history.

It also nicely underscores the idea of "madness" as opposed to "nonsense" especially with the traditional connotations of both the play and classical humours.
G DAEB
COPYRIGHT (C) 2007 SIPSTON
This makes a chain link into the Shakespearan usage of "playing pricksong" in Romeo and Juliet, all the more of a reasonable consideration given its setting mirroring anti-miscegenistic views throughout human history.

"Pricksong" is composed music - as opposed to "plainsong" or chant.
John Briggs
Ira, IIRC, whichever one wrote the lyrics out of George & Ira Gershwin combo.

Yes, that would be Ira :-)

John Briggs
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