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Opinion :: Three cheers and a protonymic tiger for the trails of Googling
· 5:33am February 9th, 2013
Why does Editor Dean, who has always considered “Dungeons and Dragons” as much of a colossal waste of time as Fantasy Football, have a page from the lesser-known role-playing game “The Elder Scrolls” on his computer?
There is, I promise, a logical explanation. But it is a long one.
It starts (naturally, oddly enough) with Abe Lincoln.
After seeing “Lincoln” at the Palace a few weeks ago, I remembered one of the books I first read when I began my journalism career: “Lincoln and the Press” by Robert S. Harper in 1951. That book had lots of insight into how the media treated Lincoln, and how he treated the media. I am working on a column about that for Lincoln’s birthday on Tuesday.
But I better hurry, because those protonymic tigers keep distracting me.
I read “Lincoln and the Press” back in 1990-something, before Google. Then, I would have had to go to a library and try to look up some of the nearly-forgotten people, places and events of that era. I didn’t have that much time, so I just read the book and wondered about names like Whitelaw Reid or the Fire Zouaves.
But now, with Google (and yes I know, there are other search engines that others prefer; you can Google them all), I can find out more about just about every person, place or organization that Robert S. Harper mentioned in that book.
As I type this story, it is no 4:06 a.m.and I have been on a Google trail for more than an hour.
In case you wonder how I started with Civil War newspaper history and ended up at role-playing games, I will explain in detail. I will even link each of these steps to the web sites that I found, so you can follow my cyberspace footsteps.
In Chapter 17 of the book, Harper mentions two newspaper men, Francis Preston Blair, Jr., and Benjamin Gratz Brown. I found their story interesting, so I Googled them.
The Missouri Civil War history page that came up mentioned that Blair had been a member of a group of enthusiastic supporters of 1860 presidential candidate Lincoln who called themselves the “Wide Awakes.”
Of course, I had to Google them.
That search led me to a copy of a page from a newspaper called the Western Reserve Chronicle, and its Oct. 24, 1860, issue. That page contained a story about a Wide Awakes rally that said the group gave “three rousing cheers and a tiger.”
Yep, you know. Google.
I am familiar with “three cheers:” Hip, Hip, Hooray! Hip, Hip, Hooray! Hip, Hip, Hooray!”
But the Tiger?
I had to look at a few web sites before I found out what that meant, and where it began. Apparently it started with the Boston Light Infantry of 1822. Those gentlemen were known to spend their spare time in energetic athletic competitions. One observer saw how intense this was and gave one participant the nickname “Tiger.” Soon, after the three cheers, the soldiers would loudly and forcefully growl, trying to imitate a tiger. That strange tribute spread across the country, so that in Ohio, in 1860, the Wide Awakes gave three cheers then growled like tigers.
In a publication called, “Handy Book of Literary Curiosities,” by William S. Walsh, appears the following sentence: The Tigers by name soon began to imitate the growl of their protonymic.
Of course, I had to Google that word.
A protonym, I discovered, is something that something else originates from. It appears often in biology to describe certain types of species.
As it appeared in that book, the Tiger, the animal, is the protonymic of the Tiger, the member of the Boston Light Infantry.
But the word protonymic in this century only appears on web sites dedicated to the characters of The Elder Scrolls.
They use the word protonymic in a sentence that in no way inspires me to Google it. I reprint that sentence here with the strong hope that you, like me, have no idea what it means: "Daedra cannot be killed. They can only be banished back into Oblivion. To banish a Daedra, their mortal body must be destroyed. The banished Daedra will return to its Daedric Realm of origin, but its personality slightly changes, along with its protonymic. Usually the protonymic is extended with neonymic; obviously this means that a Daedra cannot be banished with the same protonymic twice."
There, my Google trail ended and I returned to Chapter 17, hoping to finish the book so I can write thoroughly about the media and Lincoln for his 204th birthday.
I better hurry, because this is now 4:25 a.m.Saturday and Lincoln’s birthday is this Tuesday.
But at least now you know why it’s taking me so long to read this book the second time.
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