7.0412 Rs: Moses and Horns; OED (3/80)

Fri, 14 Jan 1994 18:04:05 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0412. Friday, 14 Jan 1994.

(1) Date: Thu, 13 Jan 94 09:26:51 CST (38 lines)
From: "Jim Marchand" <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: horns

(2) Date: Thu, 13 Jan 94 08:01:21 -0600 (9 lines)
From: Alan D Corre <corre@convex.csd.uwm.edu>
Subject: Moses

(3) Date: Wed, 12 Jan 1994 21:26:22 -0500 (EST) (33 lines)
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (W. McCarty)
Subject: OED on CD-ROM

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 94 09:26:51 CST
From: "Jim Marchand" <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: horns

Since this thread has gotten quite long now, I thought you mgiht be
interested in the raisonnement given by Kluge's Etymologisches Woerterbuch
der deutschen Sprache. I just looked up its entry for Hahnrei `cuckold' and
got the following, which I translate:
"Hahnrei `cuckold', masc. Middle Low German (16th century) _hanerei,
hanreyge_; brought into Early New High German from Lower Saxony from the 16th
Century. The point-of-departure meaning is `castrated rooster, capon'. From
this arises the Modern German meaning `betrayed husband', as in the
expressions: `to put horns on someone, to wear horns': in order to
distinguish them from the others, one put the spurs of a capon in his comb,
where they grew and formed a sort of horns. The (impotent and therefore)
betrayed husband is thus sneered at as `capon'. This is why the spouse of
the unfaithful wife is called in French _belier_ `ram' (actually `castrated
ram'), _cerf_ `horned one' (actually `stag') and _cocu_ `cuckoo'. The second
part of _Hahnrei_, which must mean `castrated one', is explained by East
Frisian _hanrune_ `capon, betrayed husband'; here _rune_, Modern Dutch _ruin_
`castrated horse' is the second part (see _wrinschen_)... Further information
in Dunger, Germania 29, 62ff.; Zeitschrift fuer deutsche Wortforschung 1, 64;
3, 228; 14, 166."
The OED2 (another thread; see `horn') seems to accept Dunger's etymology,
although under `cuckold' it seems to lean towards the theory that we use that
particular word because the cuckoo lays eggs in others' nests.
On the horned Moses, those who would like more information ought to look
at R. Mellinhoff, The Horned Moses in Medieval Thought and Literature (1970).
As to the horns being on Moses because he was a Jew ... I don't think
people in the Middle Ages in general stressed Moses' being a Jew. He was a
favorite of medieval Christianity, as the number of depictions of him will
show. He was also often looked upon as a prefiguration of Christ, and the
legislator/dator par excellence. Horns are not always bad things, cf. the
cornucopia, the horn of salvation, the horn as a symbol of epiphany,
anointing, etc. A large book could easily be written on the applications of
Jim Marchand.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------22----
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 94 08:01:21 -0600
From: Alan D Corre <corre@convex.csd.uwm.edu>
Subject: Moses

The recent admirable set of contributions on Moses's horns convinced me of
something I have long suspected, namely, that any statement ending with the
peremptory, univerbal, totally unbritish sentence "Period." is almost
invariably wrong. Period.

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------49----
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 1994 21:26:22 -0500 (EST)
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (W. McCarty)
Subject: OED on CD-ROM

I suspect that the OED on CD-ROM that provoked the severe criticisms
is not the OED on CD-ROM that I use daily, i.e. the CD of the 2nd
edition that for MS-DOS runs only under Windows. It is the most
impressive scholarly tool on CD that I have seen, worth every penny of
its not inconsiderable cost. A friend of mine, a lexicographer of
Renaissance French dictionaries, told me after using it for a week
that it made him wish that he worked in English. I have a bone to pick
with its query language, which I can never remember the syntax of and
is the only reason that the manual remains at my side, but otherwise
it is an utterly intuitive tool. Another friend of mine, a computer
scientist who works with dictionary software, says harsh things about
the way it cannot remember that it has already looked up a word, but
being undereducated in CS I don't notice.

After a microcomputer entered my house, I never opened up my
typewriter again, not even to type an envelope. (Ok, I admit to using
the typewriter in the office once or twice....) Since I installed the
OED on CD-ROM, I have not once opened up my copy of the micro-edition.

But I am puzzled: what OED on CD-ROM is the infelicitous culprit? The
first one, based on the 1st edn. of the OED? If so, then I can

Willard McCarty / Centre for Computing in the Humanities
University of Toronto / mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca