Tuesday, September 14, 2010


DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.
As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet
Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet,
Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him,
Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him;
So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him,
Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him,
Grieves at his debt and studies to evade it,
And finds at last he might as well have paid it.
—Barlow S. Vode
2010 Update: Consent and cement.


Ariel the Thief said...

You are teaching us that creditors do not make the debt, consent and cement do.

Mo'a said...

Consent and cement...priceless.

the amoeba said...

What, Moa? Are you accusing the Dawg of being a debt merchant? MasterCard - get one, and it becomes your master.

You would think that the English meisters would make an important word like debt a showcase of clarity and simplicity, instead of one of its basket cases. Go ahead, try explaining to the non-native speaker how come a word with a B in it gets pronounced "det". Only thing I can think of is that they're saving up the "B"s for when the debt burden finally drives the debtor 'round the bend, and the lip-buzzing starts ...


Jim said...

Reminds me of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing,
"Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store"

From Wikipedia:
"The word comes from the French dette and ultimately Latin debere (to owe), from de habere (to have). The letter b in the word debt was reintroduced in the 17th century, possibly by Samuel Johnson in his Dictionary of 1755— several other words that had existed without a b had them reinserted at around that time."

So think of (always)
debere (to owe), from de habere (to have).

Sure, :)

TLP said...

I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.

Oh! Wait! That was then. This is now...aah...retirement is wonderful. Don't get in debt while you're young. Otherwise you'll never know the joy of drinking coffee, doing the crossword, and checking out blogs in your pj's at 11 AM.

Anonymous said...

DEBT, n. - Free. Don't I wish.

cooper said...

Consent and cement, that's ingenious.

Nessa said...

I believe your update comes straight from New Jersey.

Doug said...

Ariel, I am just sharing what I, myself, have been taught.

Grateful for the smile, Mo'a.

Amoeba, that's a really good questiobn.

One of my favorite songs, Jim. My right fist's iron and the left one's steel/if the left one don't get you the right one will.

TLP, I could have used a blogmama like you when I was young. Now my only hope is to get real old.

You and me both, Thom.

Thanks, Cooper. And stylish.

Nessa, I did kind of have The Meadowlands in mind.

Nicole said...

Kuwait version: Something to be forgiven and annulled by the Amir.