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Why is it called crabgrass?
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2014/03/05
11:07am
HughVandivier
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I can find nothing on the origin of why this weed is called crabgrass. Any ideas or theories?

2014/03/05
8:22pm
deaconB
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I would assume it is because it’s crabbed,that is,ill-formed and drawn.

2014/03/06
8:50am
Glenn
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deaconB said

I would assume it is because it’s crabbed,that is,ill-formed and drawn.

The Online Etymology Dictionary guesses the same thing as you do. Online Etymology Dictionary: crabgrass

2014/03/06
11:37am
faresomeness
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My theory is that if it’s green, and you can cut it, it’s a lawn, but my wife hates the stuff. For “crab” our old Websters has “a malignant growth, a cancer.” (Obsolete and rare)

Perhaps that’s a related meaning? I mean the stuff does take over!

2014/03/06
5:50pm
Robert
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Top of all that is capricious of the human mind must be the association of the poor crab to disease.  There is but the vaguest hint at  blood vessels on skin inflammations- that’s about it !   Any basis in ancient myths even- as disease ?  None.     But bad mind habits die hard.

Back to crabgrass,  if you think ‘take over,’   wait till you see the lovely asian bamboo.

2014/03/07
2:35am
deaconB
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? My theory is that if it’s green, and you can cut it, it’s a lawn, but my wife hates the stuff.

I will demur: Canadian thistle is green and can be cut.

>For “crab” our old Websters has “a malignant growth, a cancer.” (Obsolete and rare) Perhaps that’s

> a related meaning? I mean the stuff does take over!

 

“Take over”is invasive, not malignant.

2014/03/08
2:19pm
Lyle
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From “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast” by Pojar and MacKinnon “…might allude to the long creeping stems that freely root at the nodes, which bear some resemblance to crabs.”

2014/03/08
5:30pm
polistra
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I tried googlebooksing to trace the word backwards.  An interesting transition showed up.  Before 1840 it was considered to be a useful type of hay.  After that it gradually became more weed than feed. 

 

Note this reference from 1815, before the transition:

 

“The crab-grass or crop-grass promises to be a valuable acquisition to our West India Islands: it bears one or two cuttings during the
season, and attains the height of two or three feet….”

Crop-grass to crab-grass seems a reasonable phonetic shift as the attitude toward the plant changed.

 

1815 from this page:

http://books.google.com/books?id=41pFAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA381

2014/04/01
12:30pm
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polistra said

I tried googlebooksing to trace the word backwards.  An interesting transition showed up.  Before 1840 it was considered to be a useful type of hay.  After that it gradually became more weed than feed. 

The High Plains Journal has classified advertisements and article(s) about different varieties for forage.

BTW, it keeps my lawn greener in July and August when the cool-season fescue is dormant.

Emmett

2014/04/02
12:57pm
deaconB
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faresomeness said
For “crab” our old Websters has “a malignant growth, a cancer.” (Obsolete and rare)

The decade and a half that I lived in Pennsylvania, people kept insisting that I try crab cakes from various vendors.  I would assert that definition is NOT rare, but rather endemic,  in kitchens near the mid-Atlantic coast.  There are very few foods that I dislike, but crab cakes are to food as Gregorian chant is to music.

2014/04/02
2:52pm
New River, AZ, USA
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deaconB said: …crab cakes are to food as Gregorian chant is to music.

HA! I feel the same way about crab cakes. Tried them once, and that was enough for me. Same with squid and escargot.

Reminded me of an interesting Q&A I had with a teacher (nun) back in grade school. We had to learn Gregorian chant in Latin (which none of us kids spoke, obviously, though the altar boys had picked up a little). I asked the teacher why what rhymed in English (translations were included in the score) also rhymed in Latin. Her answer was something to the effect of “That’s the way it always works in any language.”

I’ll never know if she was just blowing off a question from a precocious student, or didn’t really know herself. Only much later did I learn about the “latitude” exercised by translators when it comes to poetry. Must still be a difficult task, even for an expert translator, to preserve both meaning and rhyme.

2014/04/03
3:38am
Glenn
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Not to mention meter!

When discussing poetry proper as opposed to lyrics, it is even more difficult. Hymn lyrics tend to use plainer language than poetry, with simpler imagery and more direct propositional thoughts.

In translating artistic poetry you often have to concern yourself even more with tone, cultural references, extended imagery, sequences of sonorities, and register of language, all while making it come out as artistic.

2014/04/03
6:10pm
RobertB
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deaconB said: …crab cakes are to food as Gregorian chant is to music.

That makes me want to try crab cakes.  I own a Gregorian chant CD (as commercialized music CD), mighty good. Haven’t seen Buddhist chant CD yet.

2014/04/03
9:10pm
Ron Draney
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Heimhenge said

I asked the teacher why what rhymed in English (translations were included in the score) also rhymed in Latin. Her answer was something to the effect of “That’s the way it always works in any language.”

Hah! Reminds me of the time I watched the same episode of Sesame Street twice in succession, once in English and then in Spanish. Most of the sketches and animations were essentially the same between the two, but one cartoon segment in the Spanish version was missing from the English. The reason was probably that they would have had to translate the punchline as “T is for Shark!”

2014/04/04
1:13am
Glenn
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I haven’t seen it, but it might have been funny to say “T is for Tiger — Tiger SHARK!!”

2014/04/05
1:13pm
New River, AZ, USA
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Ron Draney said: …they would have had to translate the punchline as “T is for Shark!”

Glenn said: …it might have been funny to say “T is for Tiger — Tiger SHARK!!”

That’s funny! But of course, I had to check Google Translate, and “tiger shark” is “tiburón tigre” in Spanish. So I guess that has the letter “T” covered.  :)

I do not speak any language beyond English fluently. I could survive with what I know of German and Spanish if I had to, but living here in Arizona, I’ve always wanted to learn more Spanish. Really helps when dealing with contractors. Been thinking about buying that Rosetta Stone course, and would be interested in hearing the opinions of any forum members who have actually tried it. Is it as good as the ad hype claims?

2014/04/05
1:42pm
Dick
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Ron Draney said

  The reason was probably that they would have had to translate the punchline as “T is for Shark!”

I think you said this backward and it has confused all the comments since.  The video is what is not changed and it has a big “S” with a picture of a shark, so the spoken punchline translation would have had to be, “S for tiburon!”  So adding tiger or tigre would not have been a solution.

Maybe they could have saved it with a Spanish adjective that begins with “s.”  I don’t know Spanish well enough to make a suggestion.

 

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