Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's time we called a spade a spade

We all know what a spade is.  It's a short handled shovel used for turning garden dirt.  It is also (but not in general use anymore) been used as a derogatory term for a person of African descent.  A Los Angeles councilman was famously attacked for stating that he was going call a spade a spade, at which point his opponents accused him of racism, ignoring the fact that the phrase dates back to 178 BC and comes from the Greek word ligo, long before it was ever used as a racial slur, which apparently dates to about 1928.

So why am I bringing this up?

Well, recently I inherited some of my grandfather's tools, including what I referred to as a "pitch fork".  It has his initials carved into the (short) handle and is pretty darn cool. 

My uncle proposed that I call it by its proper name, a spading fork, and mentioned that he has the matching short handled shovel.  Apparently I have now been put on the list to receive that as well.

I am a firm believer in the idea that you learn something new every day, if you are paying attention. I never knew that there was such a thing as a "spading fork".  I thought that anything with a handle and tines shaped like a fork was called a "pitchfork".  Makes sense, though.  No one is going to pitch anything with the short handled version, but they might "spade".

Per Noah Webster and his compatriot Merriam:

verb: :  to dig up or out or shape with or as if with a spade
So here's my follow-up question?  If my uncle has a "spade" that belonged to my grandfather, and my implement is officially called a "spading fork", why isn't the other half called a "spading spoon".  Just makes sense to me.


Stevenp715 said...

" learn something new every day..."

Cool. "...I call it by it's proper name..." should be its.

It's means It is.

heresolong said...

Duly noted. Unfortunately that can't be my "something" today as I knew that one. Typo rather than punctuational error. Thanks for stopping by the blog, though. Hope you enjoyed it.