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154010.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 3:56 am Reply with quote

Posted by request:

The word moustache, derives from the Middle Greek moustaki, a diminutive of mystax, which in turn is related to the word “mastax” meaning mouth - or literally: “that with which one chews”.

Indeed moustaches, beards and hair in general have a number of interesting associations with the Etiquette of dining.

A moustache cup was a nineteenth century tea-cup, invented by Harvey Adams. It has a slit ledge projecting from the front side of the rim, allowing the tea to flow through while a gentleman’s moustache remains dry resting on the top lip.

Flathead Indians of Montana are one of a number of societies who would wipe their hands on their hair after a meal, however this was thought of as extremely bad manners if the meal was fish.

At an Abbasid Arab feast, all diners wash before eating, but if one guest touched his beard before eating, everyone else had to wait for him to go and wash again before eating.

Edward S. Morse, on his travels around Japan in the 19th century described what he called a “moustache stick” a beautifully carved stick, used to lift the moustache and avoid mess when the heavily mouschaoed Ainus were eating and drinking – it seemed that they had their own version of the moustache-cup.

What he actually saw was a prayer stick, used by the Ainu as a medium of prayer – the sticks were occasionally used to lift the moustache, but that was certainly not their main use.

That the Ainu had specific moustache-lifters is a myth still propagated by people who should know better to this day.

Incidentally, the Ainu were certainly big fans of facial hair: they traditionally tattooed mustaches on their daughters by rubbing soot into small knife cuts.
The Rituals of Dinner – Margaret Visser

154030.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 5:24 am Reply with quote

<< heavily moustached Ainus>>

How do you pronounce that, then?

155286.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:20 am Reply with quote

I've got an interesting contribution here, I think. According to our new rules of "etiquette", will bring it with me on Monday...

155289.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:25 am Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
How do you pronounce that, then?

Well, quite. Since we've pretty much done Uranus to death,

What's the traditional way to tattoo moustaches onto the Ainus in Japan?

suggests itself.

Picture researchers: see picture of girl two posts up - can we get it or something similar?

Molly Cule
155331.  Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:10 am Reply with quote

I remember reading some of Morse's book in the dark ages of QI, he said the Ainus would never knock on each other's door, it was bad manners; if they went to visit someone they would stand outside their door and clear their throat, ahem, ahem, AHEM until their friend inside heard them and came to the door.

Molly Cule
156137.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:30 am Reply with quote

Don't give a green hat to a Chinese man, why not?

Green Hat is Chinese slang for cuckold. It would be quite an insult to give a married Chinese man a green hat as it would imply his wife was cheating on him.

When Celtic signed Nakamura they made a whole range of clothing including a green baseball cap, a Celtic fan wore it to a game in Shanghai and had no idea why people started laughing and pointing at him.

In the old days in china a man working in a brother would wear a green hat. A Chinese film has just been made called ‘Green Hat’ about love and infidelity.

157054.  Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:34 am Reply with quote

"Etiquette is knowing how to yawn with your mouth closed."
Herbert V. Prochnow, American writer, born 1897.
"Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of other persons." /Mark Twain/

A curious quote from "Manners for Men" by Mrs Humphry ("Madge" or "Truth" ), published in 1897:
"At one time it was considered a sign of infamously bad taste to smoke in the presence of women in any circumstances, but it is now no longer so. So many women smoke themselves, that in some houses even the drawing-room is thrown open to Princess Nicotine. The example of the Prince of Wales has been largely instrumental in sweeping away the old restrictions. He smokes almost incessantly."

Can be tied to the smoking ban in the UK to go in force in July 2007!

Also, a lovely "euphemism" for smoking - "Princess Nicotine"!

Frederick The Monk
157066.  Fri Mar 16, 2007 6:51 am Reply with quote

Elizabethan's didn't go in for all this air kissing, preferring to plant a good smacker full on the lips of any member of the opposite sex they were introduced to.

Obviously this didn't include the queen.

s: Greenwood - Daily Life

157088.  Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:15 am Reply with quote

Definitely one for the notes on the bathing question.

158405.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:54 pm Reply with quote

Here's an extract from “Baedeker's Manual of Coversation in Four Languages”, published in 1886 – a precursor of modern phrase books, “Engaging a Servant” chapter:

“How long have you been in the habit of acting as as servant?
“It is now fifteen years, Sir.
“Can you take care of a horse?
“Yes, Sir, and even two or three if necessary.
“Are you given to drinking?
“I like a glass of wine very well, Sir, but I never get drunk.
“What wages do you ask?
“Five francs a day.
“But you have not always had so much as that.
“Oh! Sir, sometimes I have not had more than thirty sous.
“You must always be clean and well dressed. I must tell you before hand, that if I take you into my service, you must be exact in the execution of my orders; and if you happen to get drunk, I shall discharge you at once.
“My masters have always been satisfied with my services, and I hope you will be so too, Sir.
“You may return here tomorrow, as I must make some inquiries before I engage you.”

Not very PC, don't you think?

Among other useful phrases, Baedeker suggests: "The coachman is drunk."

158451.  Wed Mar 21, 2007 2:12 pm Reply with quote

There are some pant-wettingly funny expressions in this article from the New York Times and I would dearly love to know if it was possible to get hold of the actual phrase books used. Do you think these are too good not to have been invented?


You're in a cafe in Albania, talking in Albanian with a waitress. Casting about for something to say during a lull in the conversation, you glance at your copy of "Spoken Albanian" on the table in front of you. You read from Unit 17:

I wanted you to explain to me your customs concerning blood vengeance.

Language primers and phrase books for travelers can be an odd introduction to a foreign country. Blithely insensitive to the subtleties of polite conversation, these tiny manuals re-enforce the xenophobic notion that all foreign travel is rife with unpleasure and mishap. Sometimes the source of this unpleasure and mishap is unspecified -- the reader of "Teach Yourself Catalan," for instance, can only wonder what dire circumstances will require the use of the phrase

I am prepared to raffle the goat.

158888.  Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:54 am Reply with quote

A classic spoof phrase-book sentence (alongside Monty Pythons' "My hovercraft is full of eels", of course) belongs to Serbian satirist Branislav Nusic: "Avez vous vu le couteaux de mon oncle?" - "Have you seen my uncle's knife?"
A couple of other:
from a pre-1917 English-Russian phrase book:
"Don't you think, my friend, that this man is kinder than that one and will give you better alms?"
"It was so cold outside that the invalid had his crutch frostbitten."

Any more?


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