Yes, I HAVE Been Reading Patrick O’Brian, Why Do You Ask?

There’s a major argument in the offing.  I’ve been at loggerheads with a guy who claims that the navies of the 18th and 19th centuries are the source for many terms in common use today, and I really need to take the wind out of his sails.  We were just hanging out, skylarking, when he suggested it.  At first I was taken aback: he should have known when he brought it up that there would be the devil to pay, since, by and large, I know about this stuff.  You can tell by the cut of his jib that this is a guy who just likes showing away; we’ll be fighting about this to the bitter end.  This isn’t the first time he’s done this, by the way, at least according to the scuttlebutt, so I’m not cutting him any more slack.  I used to give him a lot of leeway, but not any more.  Maybe I shouldn’t engage–I know most people give him a wide berth–but his argument is a bunch of bilge.  As someone who knows the ropes about the origin of terms, I think I have him over the barrel on this.  We’ll be really going at it; it’s time to batten down the hatches.  I mean, this guy is a loose cannon.  Seriously, I hate to let the cat out of the bag, but this nipper does this all the time.  Trying to educate me about figures of speech is crossing the line, don’t you think?

Can anyone help me stem the tide of his nonsense so I can take him down a peg?  Shouting didn’t work, so I need to try a new tack.  Anything will do, there are no hard and fast rules, though I admit that asking for help here might be a long shot. If I weren’t so pooped, I’d do it myself, but he’s buoyed up by stupid references.  If we can get enough of a groundswell of evidence to make him founder, I’m sure he’ll cut and run.  I really need to make some headway on this.  I can even pay: I have a slush fund set aside for the purpose.  But it needs to be a strong argument, not something jury-rigged, and then maybe he’ll pipe down and toe the line.  I’m sure he’s reading this, but that’s okay–this should all be above-board, after all.  And, really, we could have a field day with this.  If you all help, we’ll come through with flying colors.

Okay, your turn, if you don’t mind being pressed into service.  (I probably wouldn’t be making this post if I weren’t a bit under the weather from being three sheets to the wind.)

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I play the drum.

16 thoughts on “Yes, I HAVE Been Reading Patrick O’Brian, Why Do You Ask?”

  1. Oh, that was brilliant and quite enjoyable. Just like one of your books, but shorter. Thanks. :)

  2. Aye, me Bucko! Hang ‘im from the yard arm! Scupper his flotsam! Put a peg in his eye and plug in ‘is bunghole– the scurvy dog!

    … oh wait…

    maybe this is what you should write your next book about… “Paarfi goes to Sea”…

  3. (Cracks and shards, I submitted this and got DATABASE ERROR. Retry…)

    @Joel, he’s already done /Orca/… So yes, this should be Paarfian.

    @Mike S.: About the length of one of Paarfi’s modifying clauses.

    Call it The Voyages of Mal deMer.

  4. A broadside of scale to loosen his major and minor premises could set his argument adrift and, thus, make it ripe for a keelhauling.

  5. Hold fast, I say! Don’t let some lubber drive you into uncharted etymological waters! Although, I must confess, something in your argument doesn’t quite jibe… I’m not sure I have the gage of your course. There’s no doubt you are in fighting trim, a but this conflict might be a bit touch and go for you, unless you shape up. It sounds as if your man is loaded to the gunwales.

    Not that I’d dare accuse you of over-reaching, but if you really want this Jack to lay-off, if you don’t want to risk being left dead in the water, lost in the doldrums, then you’ll need to give him a proper dressing down!

  6. Blimey! If the scallywag won’t stow the gab and turn to, it’s time for him to dance the hempen jig and feed the fishes!

  7. You had me at O’Brian, for all love. How Jack would have laughed! Sure I may have had to explain some of the windier passages, of course.

    Oh, I say, Steven, did you catch that? “Windier passages”, ha ha! I may set up as a wit yet! But you smoked it right away, I’m sure.

    At any rate, I did just wish to tell you — I’m not sure but that your argument might not ring a bit false in places. I do hope you haven’t committed yourself too far; if you hang on to the bitter end, you may find yourself laid by the lee.

    But I may be completely at sea here. I’m sure you know best, and by the time you read this you may well have brought him up with a round turn and clapped a stopper over all.

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