Rodents and Philology

I mentioned to Linus in email that in my earlier ramblings on mice and men I had actually left out one layer, which had put me on the track of musculus: in older French slang, a bulge on the biceps is called une souris, i.e. “a mouse”. Latin had two words for mouse -mus, which is related to both “mouse” and “muscle”, and sorex, which means mouse but not muscle (as far as I know), and is the origin of souris.

To which Linus replied within minutes:

In Yiddish, of course, this is spelled “tsuris,” because if you have one of those mouse-like bulges of muscle then clearly you haven’t been eating enough of your hard-working Mother’s meals, so maybe you think food leaps out of the stove already done, and not like someone has to stand there in the hot kitchen stirring and cooking it, but then what would a prince like you know about the hard life your mother leads putting food on the table and clothes on your back and making sure you have enough so you can go out and fool around with those friends of yours who aren’t even mostly Jewish?

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One Response to Rodents and Philology

  1. Linus says:

    And all that in just two syllables. It’s a language of nuance…

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