Thursday, December 22, 2011
Learn something new everyday, they say. I try to do this. I did today. I drive by these cattails in the Stroudwater Marsh most days when I enter the city. I grew up knowing them as cat o' nine tails. That's what Mom always called them things growing along the marshes and swamps near our house. Now, I find that the cat o' nine tails' was something altogether different. It was a type of whipping device, used throughout history in Great Britain. Flogging has quite a history throughout the world. In the song "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor", there's a line "Give 'em a taste of the Captain's daughter" where the 'captain'r daughter' is the cat or a whip. Ever hear the expression, "not enough room to swing a dead cat in"? Right, the cat refers to the 'cat o' nine tails'... a whip if you will. I love the twists and turns language takes. And I do really wonder if Mom knew what the heck she was saying? You say potato; I say 'patattah'. You say cattails; I say cat o' nine tails... let's call the whole thing off.