A $5 Standing Bet regarding the Alleged Debate about How many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin

Historians nowadays doubt that medieval Scholastic scholars debated about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. For years academics have found no evidence either for such a debate or a question that dealt with this issue.

In this connection, a funny fact should be added. According to the historian Robert Bartlett, “[t]here is a $5 standing bet for anyone finding any evidence of the question being asked in the Middle Ages” (73n4).

Source

Bartlett, Robert. The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 

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We have to avoid these Unnecessary, Superfluous and Redundant Tautologies – A Short and Brief Definition :)

What is a tautology? Simply put, if we employ repetitive words or repeat a particular idea without adding clarity, we use tautologies. Typical examples are a new innovation, a dry desert, frozen ice or white milk. Tautologies also appear in phrases such as: In my view, I think he is right and correct.

For this reason, I myself, therefore, try or attempt to avoid using, utilizing or employing superfluous, redundant and unnecessary tautologies.:) Seriously, we should avoid using more words than necessary.

Cold Fire, or What Is an Oxymoron?

Usually, we define an oxymoron as a juxtaposition of incongruous or contradictory words. Examples include cold fire (adjective-noun), bittersweet (adjective-adjective) or guest host (noun-noun). By the way, the term oxymoron is itself one since it comes from two Greek words that in English mean sharp (oxy) and dull (moron).

Well-known oxymorons have been created in the context of politics. Here we can point to “left conservative” (Norman Mailer) or “Tory anarchist” (George Orwell). Moreover, an exaggerated use of oxymorons can be seen in Romeo’s speech in Act 1, Scene I of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

“Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,

Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!

Where shall we dine? – O me! – What fray was here?

Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.

Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love:-

Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!

O any thing, of nothing first create!”

Apart from this, we can find, mention or create numerous more oxymorons.

Source

Harmon, William, and c. Hugh Holman. Eds. A Handbook to Literature. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999. 

German as the Official Language of the U.S.A.? – A Brief Look at a Historical Myth

Nowadays, some people claim that the U.S. Congress had the intention of making German the official language of the newly founded U.S.A. at the end of the 18th century. According to these claims, the alleged proposal was eventually rejected by just one single vote. However, this is actually a historical myth. Those days an overwhelming majority (app. 90%) of the inhabitants of the U.S.A. spoke English.

The House of Representatives once suggested that all laws should be published in both English and German because there was a significant number of German citizens in some American states (esp. Pennsylvania). But this proposal was not popular at all and was rejected immediately.

Source

Marriott, Emma. Bad History: How We Got the Past Wrong. London: Michael O’Mara Books Limited, 2011. 

My Plan for the Next Two Weeks

Because the first episode of the final season of Game of Thrones will be aired tomorrow, the next blog posts will be about Game of Thrones or A Song of Ice and Fire. Over Easter  I’d like to focus – among other things – on Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ and related issues. Then, I intend to write about immigration and the decline of conservatism in the West.

A Frenchman must always talking – A Quote by Samuel Johnson

In a quote the famous English writer Samuel Johnson (1709-84) – who was often referred to as Dr. Johnson – summed up his view on the difference between a Frenchman and an Englishman:

“A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing when he has nothing to say.”

Source

Clarke, Stephen. 1000 Years of Annoying the French. London: Black Swan, 2010.