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Puzzling/Nonsensical expressions.

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1384744.  Wed Jul 07, 2021 1:32 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
Erm... Alistair MacLean was Scottish.

The book was set in the USA! Hardly surprising that he would have used US terminology - there wouldn't really have been a British equivalent of American government "czars" at the time.

EDIT: This 2013 Guardian article suggests that they may have started with the Blair government:

"Ministers have appointed nearly 300 'tsars' since 1997, to look at an enormous range of issues. The coalition government is even more enthusiastic than the previous Labour administration, having already appointed more than 100 tsars."

EDIT[2]: According to Wikipedia, John A. Love, appointed Director of the Office of Energy Policy by President Nixon in 1973, was the first to be widely styled as "Energy Czar". The term continued to be used throughout the Nixon and Ford administrations, but fell out of use under the Carter administration when the post of Secretary of Energy was created.

So I think it's pretty clear where Alistair Maclean took it from.

1387974.  Sat Aug 21, 2021 6:21 am Reply with quote

During the media coverage of the events in Afghanistan, I've heard the phrase "blood and treasure" used on a number of occasions. It's fairly obvious what it means - "lives and money" - but I can't recall having ever heard it before. A quick Google search suggests it may come from a speech by King George III before Parliament on the subject of the rebellion in the American colonies:

"The object is too important, the spirit of the British nation too high, the resources with which God has blessed her too numerous, to give up so many colonies which she has planted with great industry, nursed with great tenderness, encouraged with many commercial advantages, and protected and defended at much expense of blood and treasure."

Other citations seem to come from the US Civil War, though. Is this a phrase that crossed the Atlantic and has now come back again?

1387976.  Sat Aug 21, 2021 7:37 am Reply with quote

I can take the European usage back a little further.

Here's a report from The Caledonian Mercury, Edinburgh, 21st Sept 1721, which appears to recount a letter from the French Regent to George I:

We are advised from Paris, That upon the Meeting of the Council of Regency on the Subject of the Marriage of the Most Christian King with the Infante of Spain, the Duke of Orleans delivered to the King a Letter from his Catholic Majesty, setting forth in general, That he was extreamly well pleased, that in his last two Letters, written with his own Hand to his Most Christian Majesty, he has an Opportunity to signifie, That he always remembring the Sentiments instilled into him by the late King his Grandfather before he left France, and God having blessed him with a Daughter; he thought he could not give a better Proof of the strict Union he always wish'd to maintain, with a Nation wherein he took his first Breath, and which had exhausted its Blood and Treasure for his Sake, than in offering his Daughter to the Most Christian King for a Wife.

Here is an Instance of a Turn given to Affairs, in a small Compass of Time; but, notwithstanding the Union that may be cemented between the two Crowns, by the Ties of the afore-mentioned Marriage, there can be no Reason to doubt, but the Renunciation, for which Great Britain has spent so much Blood and Treasure, will be inviolably observed. Mean time some, in their Remarks on that Subject, wish that the Princess of Spain were not so very young as she is; by reason, it will require several Years for consummating the Marriage.

(any transcription errors mine)

1387979.  Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:02 am Reply with quote

Make that 1614:

The late Kingdoms of England and Scotland have contended for it from Age to Age, with too great a Price of Blood and Treasure to be given for the Purchase of any other Blessing; but laid out Parsimoniously, when we consider they have transmitted this to their Posterity.

1387980.  Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:12 am Reply with quote

A study of the usage of the phrase here:

1387986.  Sat Aug 21, 2021 8:46 am Reply with quote

Oh, so Trump popularized it, did he? Thanks for those links.

So basically I was right - we sent it to America and they've sent it back to us. That's why it sounds unfamiliar.


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