The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 7, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We include the below letter to the editor of this date because one has to admire someone a little who would spend an hour or so composing a 527-word theme objecting to one person's believed creation of a single word--only then to be dashed after all of that with the advice that the word to which he objects existed independently of the supposed creator to whom he attributed it.

...Never mind.

But it is, together with "After Manton" and "The Gentle Wolf", a good reminder that everywhere there's lots of inhabitants of the habitats of which the writer writes.

And--we mean this affectionately--many literary gents live in one, too, especially in their studies.

The London Times Literary Supplement of February 29, 1936 put it this way: "She contrasts the spoilt young things in luxurious homes with the free young things in Chelsea piggeries." The latter likely wrote while the former argued over whether "piggery" was really a proper word, deary. (Here's one on the Q.T.: We once had a college assistant instructor who put a big question mark next to our use of the word "encapsulate" on a theme paper, asking, "Is this a word?" We hadn't quite the pluck then to say it, but we had thought to respond something like, "Let us simply say that encapsulating your familiarity with rather common English vocabulary, madame, was not the least failed of encapsulation most probably also by that of poor Yorick and Gordo, each of whom at different times, though properly encapsulated, died upon re-entry--as did, too, France's Felix the Cat, whose quintessence of dust had once undoubtedly embraced a fine, bony mazardous encapsulation, suitable in range of idiom and diction beyond that even of the encapsulates of Gordo and Yorick." But, since we wouldn't have wished to sound like someone raised in a priggery, as we weren't, we refrained.)

We must stop now, for we've a sty in our eye.

And therefore must we haste thence to clean it up.


Sty Or Piggery?

A Note Concerning Literary Gents

Dear Sir:

Irving D. Tressler, writing in the last issue of now-defunct Scribner's Magazine, invents a word that may be of some importance to North Carolinians.

Tressler says the "place where a sow lives" is a "piggery."

It is obvious that Tressler is not a hog-raiser. A man who has lived on (or near) a farm knows that the place where a sow lives is a sty. And any snub-nosed boy who has toted slops to her knows that "sty" is the right and best name for her domicile.

It represents as few other sounds could the atmosphere, the pattern, and the situation about the hog pen. Certainly it is far more honestly suggested than Tressler's "piggery."

But here we have a distinguished literary man inventing a new name for this old, familiar farmyard sub-division, and his suggestion must be considered. He's following a good literary tradition: giving artificial names to farm things. There have been great schools of writers--pastoralists--from time to time who have tampered with farm life.

In this country, in England and in France, writers have created fanciful rural settings where the grass was always green and juicy, the animals always clean, and the farmers always conversing in iambic pentameters about Greek philosophy.

So Tressler has a whole army--most of it underground--that will defend a literary man's right to make a new name for pigsty right out of thin air.

It's easy to see how Tressler made his word. Webster's dictionary says the suffix "--ery" signifies a place where something is done (as baking in a bakery) or kept, as English rooks in a rookery.

But carry Tressler's process further: a stable becomes a "mulery," a dairy becomes a "cowery," and a chicken coop becomes a "chickenery."

It just can't be done. You can't make up a language mechanically for live people. Making up a new word, you have to exercise reason, judgment, tact.

Now "sty" is an Anglo-Saxon word. The Angles and Saxons were German tribes living on a primitive plain in Britain before 1000 A.D. There is every reason to suppose that they were swine culturalists. The stock was wild and plentiful, and once caught domestication was simple. The people, being Germans, didn't have to prepare special food for the hogs, simply sharing their own provender.

We can't finally condemn Tressler's "piggery," for time may show that "piggery" is superior to "sty." Many times words have slipped into the language over such protests as this because they please the mass of the people.

And then, too, whether "piggery" is generally accepted or not, Tressler has done his fellow literary men a service. He has added one more word to the English language.

The greatest beauty of our mother tongue is its variety and quality of growth. We have literally hundreds of thousands of words of every meaning and connotation: synonyms by the hundreds, taken from every language, in all times, to make English the repository of the world's most beautiful, most powerful expression.

If every man, like Tressler, could add one word to it, there would be no limit to its sweep and life.



[Note: We are always pleased to get communications of this sort and this one is very interestingly written. However, in the spirit of service we are bound to advise the reader that it contains an error. Mr. Tressler didn't invent "piggery." It is a standard word much used in England, and listed in the standard dictionaries. In Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, Page 2,880, col. 3, the thirteenth word down, it appears as follows: "Piggery, n. pl. piggeries. 1--Place where swine are kept or bred; a pig sty, also pigs collectively." --Editors, The News.]

After Manton

The People Who Gave Him Bribes Should Get Theirs, Too

A year ago Judge Manton was the highest ranking judicial officer in the country, save only the justices of the Supreme Court. And he had been seriously urged for that bench. But now he has been convicted as a common criminal, and is probably going to jail for a year or two. However, his greatest punishment will be in the loss of the high esteem and respect he has enjoyed, and in the fact that his name is going into history as the first American judge of his rank ever to be convicted of corruption.

But there is much comfort for the nation in that last fact. Now and then a Federal judge may stumble, but by and large they have been and remain a body of men whose integrity is of the first order. A Manton is merely the exception to prove the rule.

And now that Manton has been convicted of accepting bribes, what about those corporations and persons which paid him? Their identity is clear enough. And if a Federal judge of great rank can be got at, so can they. Or if they can't, then there is something seriously wrong with our system of justice. And while they are being taken care of, there are some members of the bar who should be attended to also. For apparently lawyers sometimes serve as "fixers" in the case. The offering and giving of a bribe is at least as grave a crime as accepting one.

The Gentle Wolf

Mr. Hitler Explains Why He Helped Spain Into Fascism

Mr. Hitler came right out in the open yesterday and boasted that he had helped Franco from the beginning of the Spanish trouble. Mr. Franco, he said, was facing in July, 1936, "a conspiracy which was fed from all parts of the world." The conspiracy of which he speaks was of course the efforts of the legitimate government of Spain, duly elected by democratic process, to put down a rebellion. And all Mr. Hitler is doing is repeating the old lie that it was a Communist government. There were Communists in Spain all right--there were even some in the Government--and as usual, they were busily trying to stir up trouble--succeeded beyond their best hopes. But that the Government was dominated by them is a proposition which simply will not stand up on examination.

Yes and Mr. Hitler said that his giving of Fascist rule to Spain and the taking over of all the mines, factories, etc., that he had an eye to, not to say some nice naval bases, was a reward to Spain for having remained neutral during the World War despite the blandishments of England. The Wolf to Little Red Riding Hood: "Because you were a nice girl, honey, and wouldn't play with that nasty old lion, I'm going to save you from the possibility that a nasty old bear might eat you up by eating you here and now myself."

And in conclusion cried Mr. Hitler, "Long live Spain!" Well, it is eminently likely that Spain will outlive both Mr. Hitler and Mr. Franco and all of their sort, but it's a cinch that a lot of Spaniards won't. The AP reported yesterday that since Franco's victory, at least 15,000 people are reported to have been arrested in Madrid alone, and that military tribunals are working night and day condemning them to death. It is very wicked, you see, for the Reds in Russia to murder kulaks and generals as "criminals," but it is quite all right for the Fascists to murder their enemies.


Who Had Best Establish First If He Has A Following

Hats are flying through the air these days, a full year in advance of the national conventions, and landing in the Presidential ring. First came Senator Vandenberg saying that he would not turn down the call if it came. Jack Garner, the Texas Bearcat, was next out into the open; and yesterday reports had it that Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace was about to become an avowed candidate.

It may be that in these maneuverings among Democrats (a broad term which will have to serve even though it does not apply to Henry Wallace any more than New Dealer applies to Garner) are only a means to the end of controlling convention votes to be thrown to some other candidate. We hope so. We hope so indeed in the case of Secretary Wallace, for here is a very earnest young man who has made a notable failure of a very hard job; who has continually had to pack up his theories and flee before obstinate reality; who has, in company with his grreat friend in the White House, lived up to the definition of a liberal by raising doubt and indecision to the level of principles, with precisely the result that was to be expected.

Henry Wallace could never hope to get the city vote, since he is primarily the farmers' man. And he had best not count heavily upon the farm vote. Not even that "gentle rain of checks" has broken the long drought in farm prosperity.


Of Very Bad Manners By The Republicans

Monday in the House died a bill providing for the acceptance of President Roosevelt's offer to donate his library, his papers, and twelve acres of land and the buildings on that land, to the nation. Perhaps the President was a little forward in wanting to establish a Roosevelt shrine--which is what the property would have become had it been accepted--at this stage of the game. Nevertheless, there is not the slightest doubt that he is going to bulk very large in the histories of the Republic. And the Government maintains shrines of one sort or another for nearly all the Presidents who have been before him--including that tremendous Republican, Warren Gamaliel Harding. Moreover, the scheme would have greatly aided scholars in getting access to his papers and in estimating his Administration, which was one of the prime purposes in the offer.

At any rate, there was no real objection to accepting the offer--save among the Republicans in the House, with the Hon. Ham Fish at their head. Or was it only the Republicans? That bill died strangely. 229 men voted for it, 139 against. But the vote was taken under a suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds vote for passage. All the men who voted for it were Democrats, all those who voted against it were Republicans. The Democrats would have won had most of the Democratic members been in their seats. They weren't. By accident or design?

Anyhow, the case of the Republicans is plain. Do you think they all voted that way out of profound conviction that it was best for the Republic? Of course they didn't. The Hon. Fish lives in the same New York County with the President, and hates him with partisan venom. He voted as he voted simply by way of slapping the President and the United States in the face, and so, almost certainly, did the rest of the 139. In political circles that is called being loyal to the party. Elsewhere it is called simple boorishness.

Note On Virtue*

After All, Red Crimes Are Worse Than The Purple

The Irish Republican Army is a terrorist, murderous outfit of super-patriots who hate England. John Russell, chief of the IRA, is at present in the United States--in fact, at the moment he is a Federal prisoner in Detroit, held in disregard of a man's right to be accused of a specific crime before being locked up and his further right to bond.

Russell was picked up by the officers solely because his arrival in Detroit was feared to have some ominous connection with the arrival of the King and Queen of England at Windsor across the river in Canada. And the percussion will seem utterly justified to anyone who knows the nature of the IRA. Still, it does not at all jibe with our accustomed treatment of individuals, much less travelers from abroad who are here on a proper passport.

And that, we believe, is the explanation to the extraordinary measures which were taken and certainly should have been taken to prevent any incident or worse concerning the King and Queen. This country is capricious in admitting visitors. It bars ladies of questionable reputation, such as the Countess Cathcart, and admits Sean Russell, a man of known violent political propensities. And, after all, one woman can do but so much damage to our virtue, whereas a potential assassin could cause irremediable harm.


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