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Today I learned

  1. Jul 8, 2018 #2476
    Speaking of pasta, I learned on the 4th of July that the song "Yankee Doodle" owes something to pasta. I always wondered why Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni. Here's the story.

    A Yankee is of course named after the Dutch "Jahnke." Apparently the Dutch used it to refer to the English newcomers who were encroaching on New Amsterdam in the early 1600s.

    A "doodle" is another word for a "dandy," in other words a pretentious fellow who wants to show off his sophistication by dressing in what he thinks is an upper-class style. The word "doodle" eventually was shortened to "dude."

    Many young Englishmen who could afford it did the Grand Tour. They traveled from England to some of the great cities of the Continent, including Rome. In Italy they came across pasta, which was not known in England. They fell in love with pasta and brought the taste for it back to England. Advertising one's enjoyment of pasta was seen as another pretentious act by the dudes of that time.

    In other words, what the Brits were saying in the song is that the American colonists were a bunch of pretentious upstarts. Which I suppose we were, from the British perspective.


    p.s. huge and elaborate "macaroni wigs" were also popular among some.

    Last detail: there was a so-called Macaroni Club in London at the time. It's not clear to me if it was the nickname for a real club, or just a term used to insult English doodles. I've learned that "macaroni" was a disparaging term for a reason you can look up. So actually, if we dig even deeper into Yankee Doodle, it seems to express the British sentiment that the American patriot colonists were a bunch of clueless, unsophisticated, pretentious upstarts, who engaged in conduct that was morally unacceptable at that time.

    I find this whole subject highly amusing, in part because like most I learned this song when I was a little child, I heard it everywhere on the 4th of July, and it's considered one of the best known symbols of the USA. But I would wager that most Americans have no idea what it means.


    I was just thinking "doodle dandy" is redundant if doodle means dandy. So I checked and according to Wikipedia "doodle" has another meaning: "The term Doodle first appeared in English in the early seventeenth century and is thought to be derived from the Low German dudel, meaning "playing music badly", or Dödel, meaning "fool" or "simpleton"."

    I'm out of time or I would look up "dude." I wonder what is meant by calling someone "dude." It seems to be multipurpose, depending on the intonation.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
  2. Jul 8, 2018 #2477

    jim hardy

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    "With the girls be handy.." suggests same.
  3. Jul 8, 2018 #2478
    I'm catching up on TIL. Here's the last one I can think of for now. Then it's back to work.

    I learned something about the life of George Green.

    I've watched several videos from the Sixty Symbols channel and enjoyed them all very much.

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