ERDNASE

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Bob Coyne
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 11:44 am

Brad Henderson wrote:Bob, many people use the phrase ‘palm off’ in the context he uses for literary hucksters and I’m sure most have no understanding to its connections with gambling. (Just like many use the term on the square without being aware of its freemasonry connections.) That was my point - that this ‘turn of phrase’ was in the public eye and it’s not particularly relevatory that he uses it that way.

However, I am curious if the use of ‘palm off’ as erdnase used to describe sleights is perhaps uncommon compared to just ‘palm the top card’.

If erdnase uses palm off when the contemporary magic practice would be to use just ‘palm,’ we would have a signature at least by which to compare him to other magic writers who might be candidates.


Interesting question about whether Erdnase use of "palm off" vs just "palm" is a signature of sorts. Though it seems unlikely that the phrase would have acquired its public use in the form "palm off" unless it was first used in that way in its literal sense earlier. In which case, it wouldn't be tied to Erdnase.

Sanders' figurative use of "palm off" is similar to saying someone is "dealing from the bottom of the deck" as in this sentence (grabbed from google books search): "Underpaid workers resent union members, when in fact it is management dealing from the bottom of the deck who have deprived them of COLA"

In both cases, the phrases are meant figuratively but simultaneously understood literally. Apparently we disagree, but I think everyone would know what palming or bottom dealing is, at least in a vague sense. Terms like "bottom dealing" and "palming off" when used figuratively retain a relatively strong connection to their literal meaning. And it's the literal sense that anchors and gives meaning the metaphorical use. So it's really the predilection to use gambling-related phrases (especially when done repeatedly by Sanders) that is significant and shows a certain mind-set.

The exact balance and obviousness of the literal component can vary quite a bit from phrase to phrase. So the obscure derivation of "on the square" from freemasonry is really not comparable, since it's not how someone would normally think of that phrase (or even know about). i.e. It's become divorced from its literal original meaning. Instead it's now strongly and primarily attached to gambling (as it's default literal meaning) and by extension to honesty more generally (as its figurative meaning).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 9th, 2019, 11:55 am

‘On the barrel head’ is a phrase commonly used without understanding of the specific game to which it is referred. While WE read palm off and assume it must be speaking to a sleight of hand procedure, I would like to have that confirmed.

It may have had nothing to do with cards but with skimming a till or some other practice that gambling related per se.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 9th, 2019, 12:16 pm

http://wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=21220

I found a blogger who believes palm off originated from the magicians term but they offer no sources.

The yellow background sections of the site above list some of the origins of the term and it’s sister phrase - pawn off.

I think we have to prove that ‘palm off’ originated as a gambling idiom/reference prior to suggesting that it’s use by sanders is equivalent to, say, shell game references

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 12:33 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:http://wordwizard.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=21220

I found a blogger who believes palm off originated from the magicians term but they offer no sources.

The yellow background sections of the site above list some of the origins of the term and it’s sister phrase - pawn off.

I think we have to prove that ‘palm off’ originated as a gambling idiom/reference prior to suggesting that it’s use by sanders is equivalent to, say, shell game references


Here's another language usage site that describes the literal and figurative meaning of "palm off" in the context of how various phrases are commonly misused etc. In this case the differentiation is made between "pawn off" (incorrect) and "palm off" (correct). No additional background info is given, but it ties "palm off" to the sleight of hand sense and at least represents how it is perceived by someone who studies language but presumably isn't a magician or gambler.

PAWN OFF/PALM OFF

Somebody defrauds you by using sleight of hand (literal or figurative)
to "palm" the object you wanted and give you something inferior instead.
The expression is not "to pawn off," but "to palm off."


https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/135 ... orsRTF.txt

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 9th, 2019, 12:40 pm

If you look into the link I provided you will see that pawn off has been in use for some time - appearing 10 years after palm off - and there appears to be subtle differences in use.

I have yet to see any documentation that establishes this phrase has its root in palming as used by magicians or gamblers. I’ve seen two people (now) make that claim, but without support.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby chetday » March 9th, 2019, 2:19 pm

I don't think the links below add much (if anything) to the "palm off" discussion, but I'll post them anyway on the off chance that they might be helpful somehow:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/palm_off

https://www.etymonline.com/word/palm

I was going to snoop around in the OED to try to help clarify derivation of the phrase, but, alas, a subscription costs $90 a year and I'm currently saving my dollars to renew my Genii subscription because my magic budget got blown to bits by two fantastic purchases: Richard's DeLand book and Juan Tamaraiz's Magic Rainbow.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 2:52 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:If you look into the link I provided you will see that pawn off has been in use for some time - appearing 10 years after palm off - and there appears to be subtle differences in use.

Right, whether "pawn off" is incorrect (as that site claimed) isn't really relevant, though it's certainly possible that it initially emerged as a bastardization of "palm off". But over time, such things can become just as valid and accepted as their initial source.

Brad Henderson wrote:I have yet to see any documentation that establishes this phrase has its root in palming as used by magicians or gamblers. I’ve seen two people (now) make that claim, but without support.

I agree it would be useful to see substantiation for the claim that "palm off" as used figuratively in the public sense is derived from the literal gambling/cheating/magic meaning (i.e. palming) and not some other unrelated source. But the fact that the claim is being made at all shows that the term is perceived by some as such. So unless those people are complete outliers, I think it's pretty safe to say that "palm off" has some generally understood card cheating or sleight of hand connotations (much like "dealing from the bottom" and variants).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 9th, 2019, 3:12 pm

If we want to believe it’s use by sanders is significant because it adds to the list of known gambling references made by him, then its connection/derivation from gambling/sleight of hand jargon must be established.

Oil one’s palm was in use (If I understood what I just read correctly) since the 1600’s to describe bribery.

Perhaps that was the source of the phrase, not the magicians move. That would presume palming as a magicians technique was well entrenched in the public’s collective knowledge by the early 1800’s.

Was it?

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 9th, 2019, 3:39 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:
Brad Jeffers wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote: Martin Gardner speculated that Mark Twain might have written Erdnase

“Nothing seems to please a fly so much as to be taken for a currant; and if it can be: baked in a cake and palmed off on the unwary, it dies happy.”
― Mark Twain

I guess the above quote adds one more notch to the Mark Twain theory.


No it does not. Mr. Twain has not left behind a cumulative trail of evidence pointing to the The Expert as we see in the case of Sanders.

Well that's not fair, now is it?

You want to ascribe the use of the term "palmed off" in his writings as one more bit of evidence to suggest that Sanders might be Erdnase,
but you won't afford the same thing to Mark Twain!?

What about other candidates such as James Dewitt Andrews or Edwin Summer Andrews or Edward Gallaway?

Suppose it's found that one of them used the term "palmed off" somewhere in his writings? Should that not be used to bolster his case in exactly the same way it's being used for Sanders?

How big the cumulative trail of evidence is for one candidate over another is irrelevant.
If the using of the term "palmed off" is evidence for one candidate, then it is equal evidence for all.

If there were 100 pieces of evidence pointing to Sanders, now there are 101.

If there were 2 pieces of evidence pointing to Twain, now there are 3.

Or better yet, let's totally disregard the using of the term "palmed off" in both cases, as it is really evidence of nothing.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 4:36 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:If we want to believe it’s use by sanders is significant because it adds to the list of known gambling references made by him, then its connection/derivation from gambling/sleight of hand jargon must be established.

Rather than establishing it as 100% true (which would be nice), I think it's fine to say (based on incomplete information) that it's probably true and therefore significant. If more information turns up then the level of significance can be adjusted.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 9th, 2019, 5:38 pm

Why would this ‘probably be true’?

I’m not asking for 100% certainty. I just think we should have one academic source that establishes that gambling/sleight of hand was the origination of this turn of phrase.

I find it doubtful that enough of the public was familiar with the magicians term palming at this time to allow it to transmute into an idiom. Further, the acts most often described as ‘palming off’ don’t really fit what actually happens with the term. Palming off in the idiom speaks to Misrepresentation, not stealing away.

Could this be another clue? Yes. Can we say it is - not until you can establish the proper lineage of that phrase.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 5:58 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:Why would this ‘probably be true’?

I’m not asking for 100% certainty. I just think we should have one academic source that establishes that gambling/sleight of hand was the origination of this turn of phrase.

I find it doubtful that enough of the public was familiar with the magicians term palming at this time to allow it to transmute into an idiom. Further, the acts most often described as ‘palming off’ don’t really fit what actually happens with the term. Palming off in the idiom speaks to Misrepresentation, not stealing away.

Could this be another clue? Yes. Can we say it is - not until you can establish the proper lineage of that phrase.

Ok, just sounds like we have different sense of how the term is/was understood (and hence its significance). i.e. you find it "doubtful" while I find it "likely". I think that's fine. If I found it "doubtful" I wouldn't assign any significance to it either. One other way to remove (or add doubt) would be to ask some current day laypeople (i.e. not "cardpeople" or especially "cardmen" :-) ) how they understand the term and see if a reasonable number are aware of the sleight of hand connotation.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 6:09 pm

Ok, to keep things interesting, here's something more speculative... some intriguing potential evidence that Sanders wrote under multiple aliases! If nothing else, it perhaps provides another road of investigation.

The excerpts below appear in Contributions to the Montana Historical Society, Volume 3. This was published in 1900, very shortly before EATCT. Sanders had left his post as Librarian for the Historical Society of Montana by this time. A letter from Sanders to the Society is included in this Volume that details some unfinished work that needed to be done. The Volume also included extended footnotes containing biographical sketches of two historical figures (Major John P. Bruce and Thomas Josiah Dimsdale) along with their actual writings. These sketches were attributed to a "Thomas Baker" from the Rocky Mountain Magazine.

A remarkable set of parallels with Sanders/Erdnase appear in these passages, suggesting that perhaps Sanders at one point also wrote under the name of "Thomas Baker." This is augmented by the high density of correspondences (given the brevity of the passages -- 130 and 140 lines respectively) and the fact that they all happen to appear in a published work from an organization that Sanders was recently and intimately involved with. It's also worth noting Sanders also wrote biographical sketches of his classmates in his college class reunion writings, so it was a form he seemed to enjoy.

The correspondences below include gambling references, unusual phrases, word choices, metaphors, anecdotes, topics of interest to Erdnase/Sanders, and even a biographical connection.

---- passion for play/gaming
Baker: PASSION FOR GAMING
Erdnase: PASSION FOR PLAY

---- bucking the tiger
Baker: in a hand at poker or BUCKING THE equally seductive "TIGER" (i. e.. playing FARO.)
Erdnase: We BUCKED THE TIGER voluntarily, and censure no one for the inevitable result.
Sanders: Make simple FARO, poker plays

---- dalliance with a deck/pasteboards
Baker: often found deep in DALLIANCE with the mystic pasteboards in a HAND AT POKER
Erdnase: DALLIANCE with the DECK is allowed [p60]
Erdnase: when the company will stand for DALLIANCE at all
Sanders: to tread the primrose paths of DALLIANCE and joyance.

---- cognomen [echoing Sanders' and Erdnase's interest with names and lexical derivations]
Baker: Major Bruce gained the popular APPELLATIVES of the "'war horse" and "wheel horse" of the republican and democratic parties respectively, COGNOMENS which will not die
Sanders: ERNEST JULIUS HYACINTH AMY...a name which served the double use of his COGNOMEN and our own mark of affection, for he was never known to us by his FRONT NAME or any of them.

---- many a...joke/prank/...
Baker: MANY A COVERT DIG was made and PRACTICAL PLEASANTRY PERPETRATED AT HIS EXPENSE... playing a JOKE upon him
Sanders: and enjoyed MANY A MERRY LARK and JEST and PRANK.

Note also the alliteration in both of these. And in particular the similarity between Baker's "practical pleasantry perpetrated at his expense" and Sanders' (elsewhere) "positive, probable, and possible" and "placed the passage presents a pleasing appearance." Erdnase also used similar alliteration in "passion for play," "pretensions of piety," "purified prodigals," and "presumptuous plebeians." Baker, himself, alliteravely titled his sketches with "Pencil Pictures of Pioneer Pencillers" (see below)

---- more (of a anecdote/letter/tale) "might be" said, but not here/now
Baker: a VOLUME MIGHT BE FILLED with ANECDOTES illustrative of his peculiar characteristics, but THESE MUST SUFFICE FOR THE PRESENT.
Sanders: More of the LETTER MIGHT BE GIVEN, BUT I REFRAIN.
Sanders whereby hangs a TALE which Sanders says is TOO LONG AND BOLD TO relate here
Erdnase: the back palm once helped us out of a difficult situation BUT THAT IS ANOTHER STORY.

--- pen/pencil pictures
Baker: PENCIL PICTURES of Pioneer Pencillers [title of Baker's Rocky Mountain Magazine biographical sketches]
Sanders: it would be in the possession of PEN PICTURES so graphic as to be of absorbing interest.
See link: https://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewco ... ontext=etd

--- parenthetical punctuation
Baker: and the paper's magnanimous (?) abstinence from unpleasant remarks about them brought ducats to the treasury and...
Erdnase: careless (?) dealer
Erdnase: when his error (?)
Sanders: innate and in(co)herent modesty
Sanders: We were fed fit for princes (?) stuffed with veal without the veal

--- unbiased (impartial | fair minded ) writer/engineer
Baker: reputation as an UNBIASED and IMPARTIAL POLITICAL WRITER.
Sanders: a perusal of the following excerpts from the text will convince any FAIR MINDED UNBIASED MINING ENGINEER

--- practice and proficiency in using a gun to hit a target
Baker: sallying forth to PRACTICE with the unwonted WEAPON; and how elated he was when he got PROFICIENT enough in HANDLING THE GUN to be able to HIT an oyster can at ten steps once in ten times!
Erdnase: PROFICIENCY in TARGET PRACTICE is not the sole qualification of the TRAP SHOOTER. Many experts with the GUN who can nonchalantly ring up the bull's eye in a SHOOTING GALLERY could not HIT the side of a barn in a duel.

---- characterization of young girls
Baker: and blushing like a SCHOOL GIRL when receiving praise
Erdnase: is to him much the same as a Saratoga trunk to a SUMMER GIRL

--- presenting/furnishing (with sequence of hyphenated adjs)
Baker: friends PRESENTED him with an IVORY-HANDLED, SILVER-MOUNTED pistol as a testimonial of appreciation of his work
Sanders: (the historian assumes that he is safe by a comfortable margin) in FURNISHING a CLOSE-FITTING, PLUSH-LINED, BURGLAR-PROOF biographical sketch
Sanders: a peculiarly fit subject for one of our patent NON-COLLAPSIBLE DOUBLE-RIVETED reinforced obituaries

We also find a biographical link . Baker describes how Bruce died (in 1866) in the arms of his long-time friend Col W. F. Sanders, who just happened to our Sanders' father! And this information is conveyed in a very knowing way ("and it may be said"), as though the writer was intimately connected with the event (which Sanders would have been, as a boy living at home).

---- biographical
Baker: in his sickness, his long-tried and staunch friend, Col W. F. Sanders, was an almost constant attendant at the bedside, and it may be said that the departing journalist literally died in the arms of his friend.

These and other examples of correspondences between Baker and Sanders/Erdnase are given here (http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~coyne/erdna ... html#baker).

Also of relevance is that Thomas Baker's name appears in the list of Honorary Members of the Society in an opening section of Volume 2 (which Sanders edited/published in 1896). So it's also possible that Baker was a real person who Sanders used as a conduit. One further avenue of research would be to see what else, if anything, was written/published by Thomas Baker and whether he was a real person or not.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » March 9th, 2019, 6:55 pm

This is a fantastic find, Bob! It may have been possible that Sanders used the alias of Thomas Baker for other endeavours.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 9th, 2019, 7:52 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:This is a fantastic find, Bob! It may have been possible that Sanders used the alias of Thomas Baker for other endeavours.

Yes, it raises various new possibilities lines of inquiry. One other thing that just occurred to me is that Sanders was convicted as part of a conspiracy for stealing ore in 1897. Perhaps the end of his tenure as Librarian for the Historical Society in 1896 is related to this event as is the adoption of an assumed name to continue writing (if his own name was under a cloud).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 9th, 2019, 10:38 pm

chetday wrote:I was going to snoop around in the OED to try to help clarify derivation of the phrase, .

The OED doens't have an entry specifically for "palm off".
For the verb "palm":
palm, v.
Pronunciation: Brit. /pɑːm/, U.S. /pɑ(l)m/
Origin: Formed within English, by conversion.
Etymology: < palm n.2 With branch II. compare Middle Dutch palmen to catch, grasp, lay hold of (Dutch palmen to pull hand over hand), Italian †palmare to grip or stroke with the palm of the hand (1598 in Florio), French paumer la gueule (à quelqu'un) to strike (a person) on the face (1649; now arch.), French regional (Paris) †paumer to slap (c1670).
orig. colloquial.
I. To conceal in the palm; to deceive, etc.
1. transitive.
a. To conceal (an object) in the palm of the hand, esp. in order to cheat at a game, or in the course of a conjuring trick. Also (occasionally) intransitive. Cf. palm n.2 6.
1671 [implied in: R. Head & F. Kirkman Eng. Rogue IV. xviii. sig. R*5v When late at night and the company grows thin and your eyes dim with watching then is the time for false Dice to be put on the ignorant then also is there a security in Palming, Tobping, Slurring, &c. (at palming n.2 1a)].
1680 Dryden Kind Keeper iv. i. 39 I think in my Conscience he's Palming and Topping in my Belly.
1680 C. Cotton Compl. Gamester (ed. 2) xv. 96 He palms them as much as he can, nimbly passing the last Card.
1706 Phillips's New World of Words (new ed.) To palm, to juggle in one's Hand; to cog or cheat at Dice.
a1732 J. Gay Fables (1738) II. xii. 112 Is't I who cog or palm the dice?
1755 Freethinker's Catech. 16 To use my Hands to palm an Ace or cog a Die.
1877 W. H. Thomson Five Years' Penal Servitude ii. 119 The warder..watches that the prisoner does not ‘palm’ anything—in other words, practise some legerdemain trick to conceal any contraband article.
1882 Sat. Rev. 54 629 You may show a dozen men how to ‘palm’ a card, yet not one of them will be able to do it.
1911 Chambers's Jrnl. Mar. 201/1 Then they palmed the scorpions and made them reappear.
1966 F. Herbert Dune I. 53 It had been easy to palm Dr. Yueh's sleeping tablet, to pretend to swallow it.
1990 W. Stewart Right Church Wrong Pew (1991) ii. 10 You can crackle a five-dollar bill in your hand in full sight of the congregation before palming the five, substituting a one, and sealing it in the envelope.

"palm off" is mentioned, though:
2. transitive.
a. Originally: to impose (something) fraudulently on, upon, etc., a person. Now chiefly with off: to pass off by trickery, fraud, or misrepresentation; (orig. U.S. Law) to sell or display (the product or property of another) as one's own.
1679 J. Crowne Ambitious Statesman iv. 59 Thinking you cou'd pawme such stuffe on me.
1711 J. Addison Spectator No. 117. ¶4 She..has made the Country ring with several imaginary Exploits that are palmed upon her.
1755 T. Smollett tr. Cervantes Don Quixote II. iv. iv. 356 My lord duke has palmed his lacquey upon us, in lieu of my lawful husband.
1822 C. Lamb in London Mag. Mar. 284/1 Have you not tried to palm off a yesterday's pun?
1851 H. Melville Moby-Dick lv. 295 As for the narwhale, one glimpse at it is enough to amaze one, that..such a hippogriff could be palmed for genuine upon any intelligent public of schoolboys.
1880 Federal Reporter 1 37 It is sufficient that the court is satisfied that there was an intent on the part of the respondent to palm off his goods as the goods of the complainant.
1910 Encycl. Brit. I. 407/1 Butchers have palmed off upon their customers imported fresh meat as home-grown.
1973 N.Y. Law Jrnl. 17 Apr. 4/5 A claim that Borden attempted to ‘palm off’ its dried soup package as that of Lipton's.
1990 N. Gordimer My Son's Story 131 My mother's relatives..run fruit and vegetable stalls and palm off to the blacks produce that's gone bad.

b. To fob or put (a person) off with something.
1830 J. W. Warter tr. Aristophanes Acharnians 21 The Chorus..should stand by like fools, that I may palm them off with diminutive words.
1894 Idler Sept. 168 The public..cannot always get the books it wants..and is frequently palmed off with other books which it does not in the least care about.
1934 Punch 30 May 592/3 I lost seven holes running this morning absolutely and entirely because I had been palmed off with a little swine who sniffed whenever I was about to strike my ball.
1960 B. Kops Dream of Peter Mann iii. 66 We couldn't have our Superstore just yet and we were palmed off with promises.
1994 A. Gurnah Paradise (1995) 223 Yusuf refused to be palmed off with what he thought was an evasion.


Note the 1822 quotation, which Brad mentioned earlier. It's not difficult to antedate that:
_The Leeds [England] Intelligencer_ 11 Dec 1770 p 2
"Be careful to ask for Slack's Memorandum-Book, lest some paultry Imitation of it should be palmed off in its stead."

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 9th, 2019, 11:01 pm

Brad Henderson wrote: I just think we should have one academic source that establishes that gambling/sleight of hand was the origination of this turn of phrase.


Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that the origination of a phrase like this could be established with certainty. The best that lexicographers and etymologists can do is to find examples in print, like I did above, and make inferences from them. And the fact that it was trivial for me to push the phrase back by 50 years shows that the existing data isn't very authoritative. As more printed material becomes digitized and searchable, it is very likely that even earlier cites can be found.

When magicians and gamblers palm something they often are removing it from play -- they are taking it and concealing it. To "palm off" has the opposite connotation -- it is to get rid of something, to pass it to someone else. I'd be inclined to look for origins in other examples of palming. Consider how you might slip a maitre d' a ten-spot to get a good table, by giving it to him as you shake his hand.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 10th, 2019, 9:46 am

Bill Mullins wrote:When magicians and gamblers palm something they often are removing it from play -- they are taking it and concealing it. To "palm off" has the opposite connotation -- it is to get rid of something, to pass it to someone else. I'd be inclined to look for origins in other examples of palming. Consider how you might slip a maitre d' a ten-spot to get a good table, by giving it to him as you shake his hand.

That's a good point...that "palm off," as used in this public/colloquial sense, refers to using palming and sleight of hand to secretly unload something concealed in the palm. Whereas in magic/gambling, the phrase is generally used to refer to the action of secretly loading something into the palm.

So both are referring to sleight of hand and covertly having something palmed, just for a different part of the action. As long as that's the case (i.e. it's understood as ultimately referring, literally or figuratively, to sleight of hand palming), then I think Sanders' use of the phrase is significant. However, if the phrase used colloquially is conceptually divorced from any sleight of hand meaning (as Brad thinks), then it's mostly irrelevant. That can be tested to some degree by seeing what modern people (those untainted by magic) think.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 10th, 2019, 10:59 am

It doesn’t matter what modern people think.

What matters is what people in sanders time thought.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 10th, 2019, 11:09 am

Brad Henderson wrote:It doesn’t matter what modern people think.

What matters is what people in sanders time thought.

They're correlated. So it's a proxy. In fact, one would generally expect the literal derivation of a meaning to fade over time. So if moderns are aware of the literal meaning from which it's derived then people back then would be more likely to be aware of it.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 10th, 2019, 11:41 am

Bob Coyne wrote:
Brad Henderson wrote:It doesn’t matter what modern people think.

What matters is what people in sanders time thought.

They're correlated. So it's a proxy. In fact, one would generally expect the literal derivation of a meaning to fade over time. So if moderns are aware of the literal meaning from which it's derived then people back then would be more likely to be aware of it.


btw, Here's a definition from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable - giving the derivation, source, or origin of common phrases, allusions, and words that have a tale to tell. by E Cobham Brewer. 1870

to palm off wares, tricks, etc, upon the unwary. The allusion is to jugglers, who conceal in the palm of their hand what they pretend to dispose of in some other way. These jugglers were sometimes called palmers.

Note that in this definition, as in Sanders, the term WARES is used to describe what is being palmed off onto the unwary/public. So it closely matches Sanders' usage in its figurative sense as well as establishing the literal reference to sleight of hand.

btw, he also provides the derivation of "juggler" (with its sleight-of-hand implications).

Juggler means a player on a jongleur a sort of hurdy-gurdy. These jugglers accompanied the minstrels and troubadours, to assist them, and added to their musical talents sleight-of-hand, antics, and feats of prowess, to amuse the company assembled. In time the music was dropped as the least attractive, and tricks became the staple of these wandering performers.

https://books.google.com/books?id=XvUIA ... 22&f=false

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 10th, 2019, 2:21 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:It doesn’t matter what modern people think.

What matters is what people in sanders time thought.


Here are 600+ examples of the use of the phrase "palm/palmed off" from 1895, when Sanders used it. I'm not going to go through all of them, but of the first forty, none of them explicitly are in reference to sleight of hand. All of them carry a figurative meaning, along the lines of "substitute something that is inferior for something that is of good quality." Usually it is used in an advertisement, but sometimes in editorial text, always with that meaning. So the phrase does carry a connotation of deception, but not of sleight of hand. And this usage is completely consistent with how Sanders used it.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 10th, 2019, 3:00 pm

How about the word skinned in that context? Same source, same page.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 10th, 2019, 3:02 pm

Leonard Hevia wrote:This is a fantastic find, Bob! It may have been possible that Sanders used the alias of Thomas Baker for other endeavours.

After some more investigation, it looks like Thomas/Tom Baker was a real person...a newspaper person in Montana. So unless theres some reason to believe otherwise, it seems likely that the biographical sketches quoted were in fact written by him (rather than Sanders as I speculated). Here's a reference to him as a newspaper man.

The Madisonian. Virginia City, Montana oct 17 1896.
Wicked Thomas Baker, whose thinker has produced more funny things than that of any other newspaper man in Montana, was in the city this week for the purpose of refreshing his memory with reference to the mineral resources of this region.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 10th, 2019, 7:08 pm

Thomas Baker born in England in 1837, died in Helena MT in 1919. Definitely a real person. He edited the first daily newspaper in Montana, The Montana Post.

That it is so easy to assume that articles which seem similar in style and vocabulary are written by the same person, when it can shown that they are not, should give us pause in thinking that Erdnase was Gallaway or Sanders for the same reasons. I think that stylometry may end up providing the answer, but it should be based on quantitative results, using controls and other recognized techniques. Not "X and Y both share the same uncommon words, they must be by the same author."

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 10th, 2019, 7:14 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:
Brad Henderson wrote:It doesn’t matter what modern people think.

What matters is what people in sanders time thought.

They're correlated. So it's a proxy. In fact, one would generally expect the literal derivation of a meaning to fade over time. So if moderns are aware of the literal meaning from which it's derived then people back then would be more likely to be aware of it.



No. Not at all

It doesn’t matter what moderns believe at all, because there is no reason for those beliefs to be considered reflective of anything beyond what moderns believe.

We use tons of phrases the actual derivation thereof we don’t know. Just because someone thinks they know what it means today doesn’t mean they have any idea of what it meant then.

You might recall the case of the administrator fired for using the word ‘niggardly’. The moderns believed it must be racist. It’s wasnt.

You’re making some very large leaps, bob. Just because something looks like it might have a connection to magic and gambling doesn’t mean it does. Just because a word looks racist, doesn’t mean it is.

I like sanders as a candidate, but bad scholarship helps no case.

Your position requires that the concept of palming be so well known to people of all walks of life in the early 1800’s that it is being used in popular idioms.

I’m not convinced.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Leonard Hevia » March 10th, 2019, 7:20 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:That it is so easy to assume that articles which seem similar in style and vocabulary are written by the same person, when it can shown that they are not, should give us pause in thinking that Erdnase was Gallaway or Sanders for the same reasons.


Except that there were reasons beyond stylometry that drew Sanders to David Alexander's attention.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Ray J » March 10th, 2019, 7:34 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:Just to add one more data point, I am 58, an English teacher and writer, and I went to Blarney Castle in Ireland and kissed the Blarney stone. And I have never heard or read "the gift of the gab." I have only ever heard of "the gift of gab." Not sure if that's part of what you all are arguing about or not.


My wife and I have been watching a series called "800 Words" on dvd. It is set in New Zealand. A recent episode had two characters uttering the phrase "Gift of the gab". Assuming one writer might have written the entire dialog, but it shows that at least some folk use the debated phrase currently.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 10th, 2019, 8:22 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:Thomas Baker born in England in 1837, died in Helena MT in 1919. Definitely a real person. He edited the first daily newspaper in Montana, The Montana Post.

That it is so easy to assume that articles which seem similar in style and vocabulary are written by the same person, when it can shown that they are not, should give us pause in thinking that Erdnase was Gallaway or Sanders for the same reasons. I think that stylometry may end up providing the answer, but it should be based on quantitative results, using controls and other recognized techniques. Not "X and Y both share the same uncommon words, they must be by the same author."

Though I certainly didn't claim that they must be the same author. In fact I prefaced the Baker idea as "speculation" for that very reason. It was an intriguing/wild idea which didn't pan out but seemed worth investigating. In general, I think it's good to test out ideas and not get too attached to them and to see where the evidence runs.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 10th, 2019, 8:39 pm

Not sure what you are arguing for with the phrase "palm off" in the erdnase text. To my eye the phrase appears inconsistently along with other phrasings of "palm" and a few instances of "skin". For example:
Now it may be a matter of opinion, but we think it would appear quite as natural if the performer were to shuffle the deck himself, immediately when the card is replaced in the middle, then palm off and hand the deck to the spectator to shuffle.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 10th, 2019, 11:28 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:It doesn’t matter what moderns believe at all, because there is no reason for those beliefs to be considered reflective of anything beyond what moderns believe.

We use tons of phrases the actual derivation thereof we don’t know. Just because someone thinks they know what it means today doesn’t mean they have any idea of what it meant then.

You might recall the case of the administrator fired for using the word ‘niggardly’. The moderns believed it must be racist. It’s wasnt.

You’re making some very large leaps, bob. Just because something looks like it might have a connection to magic and gambling doesn’t mean it does. Just because a word looks racist, doesn’t mean it is.

The default assumption should be a) that the meaning of terms will remain relatively stable over time, and b) the connection between an idea and its origins will fade over time rather than strengthen. So people long ago might have known that a "glove compartment" in a car had that name because it stored the gloves for turning the crank to start the car and/or for the gloves to keep hands warm while driving. But over time it just became a compartment that had that funny name. People can infer that it was originally for gloves, but it just mostly became a name for storing car manual etc, without the idea of gloves springing to mind. The strength of the literal connection faded over time. This is a general pattern.

Of course there are cases when a new meaning comes out of nowhere (for whatever reason) to attach itself to a term. Your example of "niggardly" is a good example of that. But this is less common in the timeframes in question, and therefore less probable (the fact that we can read/understand old texts illustrates the point that meanings remain relatively stable for the most part). The exception proves the rule.

Again, it's all really just about what's likely, not what's certain (unless and until something can be proved one way or another). It seems very likely that "palming off" came from covertly palming an object (i.e. hiding it in the palm of your hand associated with secretly loading or unloading it). That's the explanation expressed in the modern blog articles we found, as well as in the past (e.g. in the 1870 book, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, I cited earlier). And I think if you ask people today who are familiar with the phrase, they'd give a similar explanation...I asked a couple and that was the case. Anyway, unless there's evidence for either some other derivation or evidence that people in practice understand it in a substantially way (which is the real issue), I think the default assumption should be that "palming off" alludes to palming.

I actually think a stronger argument against "palming off" is not the one you're giving. Instead, it's one of relevance. i.e. one could argue that the figurative meaning dominates vs the literal one. If so, then Sanders' choice to use a phrase with sleight of hand connotations doesn't really mean much, since it is used most often in the figurative sense. I would agree to some extent. But I think "palming off" still has pretty strong literal connotations to general notions of palming...that things can be concealed in the palm. So unless the literal meaning is completely opaque, it fits into the larger pattern of Sanders' multiple references to gambling and strengthens the overall case to some degree. So it's a question of to what degree rather than all or nothing or one of certainties.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 11th, 2019, 12:21 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Not sure what you are arguing for with the phrase "palm off" in the erdnase text. To my eye the phrase appears inconsistently along with other phrasings of "palm" and a few instances of "skin". For example:
Now it may be a matter of opinion, but we think it would appear quite as natural if the performer were to shuffle the deck himself, immediately when the card is replaced in the middle, then palm off and hand the deck to the spectator to shuffle.

The argument is not to establisth a direct correspondence with Erdnase text. Instead it's a case of Sanders using an idiom that refers to a sleight of hand move. It adds to other instances of other gambling terms he used elsewhere. Bill correctly pointed out that Erdnase uses "palm off" to refer to loading into the palm, which I think you're saying too. Whereas the idiomatic sense used by Sanders references the unloading of the secretly palmed item. So it's the same basic sleight but a different part of the overall action. But it really doesn't even matter that it's the same sleight. What matters is that it's a sleight of any sort (to the degree that the literal meaning has enough valency vs the figurative sense).

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 11th, 2019, 9:09 am

The Sanders evidence looks more like Americanization of "fob off" https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/fob-off.html
Greene is best known as a contributor to the pamphlet A Groats-Worth of Wit, which is widely interpreted as an attack on Shakespeare. Nevertheless, Shakespeare was happy to pick up 'fobbed' (as 'fubd' in his original manuscript) and used it in a speech by Mistress Quickly in Henry IV Part II:

I have borne, and borne, and borne, and have been fubbed off, and fubbed off, and fubbed off, from this day to that day, that it is a shame to be thought on.

So, if you want phrase derivations we are here for you, don't be fobbed off with tour guide stories.

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dicti ... h/palm-off into American use.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Brad Henderson » March 11th, 2019, 9:12 am

Bob. You don’t seem capable of objectivity. You want to assume palming off has something to do with the sleight because it sounds like it might coming from your personal experience and desires.

The idiom (as I pointed out early on) isn’t an accurate usage of the term if we want to believe it refers to the sleight as well. To palm off something idiomatically is to misrepresent - not steal away.

Just as one can assume glove box was a reference to keeping gloves and be right does not keep someone from assuming the word niggardly has racial connotations and be wrong.

When the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. When your a magician, everything looks like a sleight.

Your argument in this case is weak. Your defenses are as desperate as some of chris’s

Be better than that

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 11th, 2019, 10:07 am

Brad Henderson wrote:Bob. You don’t seem capable of objectivity. You want to assume palming off has something to do with the sleight because it sounds like it might coming from your personal experience and desires.

The idiom (as I pointed out early on) isn’t an accurate usage of the term if we want to believe it refers to the sleight as well. To palm off something idiomatically is to misrepresent - not steal away.

Just as one can assume glove box was a reference to keeping gloves and be right does not keep someone from assuming the word niggardly has racial connotations and be wrong.

When the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. When your a magician, everything looks like a sleight.

Your argument in this case is weak. Your defenses are as desperate as some of chris’s

Be better than that

Brad, I really don't want to get into an argument over whether I'm being objective or not, or in any sense "desperate." In general, you seem to be interpreting things (both the evidence itself and my claims about it) in black and white when we're dealing with gray.

The evidence (in the 1870 phrase book, modern blogs, and default assumptions based on the established meaning of "palming" on its own) points towards it being understood as referring to sleight of hand (covertly hiding something in the palm). Many laymen have a vague sense of what palming is, so arguing about whether secretly loading or unloading matches how the phrase "palming off" is used literally vs idiomatically is not very relevant. What matters is that it's commonly interpreted as some sort of sleight of hand. If that's not the case, then I'd readily admit that I'm wrong. Aside from the written/documented interpretations, which support the sleight of hand interpretations, asking moderns how they interpret the literal meaning of the phrase is probably as good a proxy as we can have for how it was understood 120 years ago. Your blanket rejection of the relevance of that is puzzling.

So to connect the dots a little more... I'm sure some people who use the idiom wouldn't make a connection to sleight of hand, but a good number would, both then and now, for the reasons given. So in the absence of other evidence, its usage by Sanders has significance, since the case is made on likelihoods and an accumulation of evidence. The degree to which it buttresses the case depends on how you assign the weights etc above, and how much relevance it has as a result, is surely open to debate. But it's not a debate that deals in absolutes.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 11th, 2019, 10:29 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:The Sanders evidence looks more like Americanization of "fob off"

Seems unlikely to me given that "palming" (irrespective of "palming off") has fairly well known meaning and will hence anchor the interpretation. Also, while "palm off" is not a common phrase, "fob off" is way more obscure. Though, interestingly, both it and "pawn off" (which one blog article claimed was an incorrect bastardization of "palm off") seem to have gained some currency lately. So there's probably some interaction between the three terms. e.g. people who don't attach to the literal meaning of "palm off" might use "pawn off" or "fob off" to express the same figurative meaning more or less.

See google ngram viewer below comparing "palm off" vs "fob off".

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?c ... ff%3B%2Cc0

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Zenner » March 11th, 2019, 11:31 am

Hmmmm - I have just come across this on the Internet -

https://iase-web.org/icots/10/proceedin ... 0_C278.pdf

So, students have obtained grants to study The Expert at the Card Table. Messrs Galloway and Benedict are included and yet neither The Genii Forum, Chris Wasshuber or myself have been credited. Plagiarism? Hmmmm.
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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 11th, 2019, 11:58 am

Zenner wrote:Hmmmm - I have just come across this on the Internet -

https://iase-web.org/icots/10/proceedin ... 0_C278.pdf

So, students have obtained grants to study The Expert at the Card Table. Messrs Galloway and Benedict are included and yet neither The Genii Forum, Chris Wasshuber or myself have been credited. Plagiarism? Hmmmm.


The primary author of the linked paper, David Holmes, has been part of the active Erdnase research community since 2011, when his article (co-written by Richard Wiseman) using modern stylometric techniques to analyze the authorship of Expert appeared in Genii.

And since the linked article didn't copy any of Wasshuber's or your own work, or anything that appeared on the forum, I can't see how plagiarism is even considered here.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bob Coyne » March 11th, 2019, 1:07 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:
Brad Henderson wrote:When the only tool you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail. When your a magician, everything looks like a sleight.

It could be. Or it could be that some people are aware of palming and connect the idiom to that meaning. The question is how many interpret it that way.

So far I've asked three non-magicians who were familiar with the idiomatic meaning of "palming off" what literal meaning they thought it referred to. Two connected it to some sort of covert action of hiding an object in the palm (i.e. sleight of hand), but the latest one thought it might have something to do with palming a basketball (an interpretation that probably would be less common 120 years ago). Anyway, it would be interesting to know the distribution of interpretations that emerge in a larger sample (also how that varies with age and other demographics). While it would surely be somewhat different than Erdnase's era, it would still give a general sense of how the idiom tends to be understood.

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Re: ERDNASE

Postby Bill Mullins » March 11th, 2019, 1:21 pm

Bob Coyne wrote:The evidence (in the 1870 phrase book, modern blogs, and default assumptions based on the established meaning of "palming" on its own) points towards it being understood as referring to sleight of hand (covertly hiding something in the palm).


The "evidence" you've mentioned isn't all that good. The 1870 dictionary doesn't match contemporary usage of "palm off" (i.e., it is wrong), and modern blogs and default assumptions don't apply to the late 1800s. The best scholarship in lexicography is found in historical dictionaries like the OED. A word's meaning is derived from its usage. If people use "palm off" to mean sleight-of-hand, then that's what it means. If they use it in another sense, then it doesn't mean sleight-of-hand. So you have to find examples of usage and from context, derive the meaning. (This is why the OED includes so many quotations that use a word or phrase).

If "palming" in the phrase "palming off" has the same meaning as "palm" in the-sleight-of hand sense, that would substantiate your argument. But the evidence doesn't support that.
- The common usage in the 1895 newspapers don't show any significant usage of "palming off" with a sense of sleight-of-hand. The examples don't even show that things being "palmed off" were ever in one's hands.
- The OED puts "palming off" in the transitive verb entry for palm, where "palm" as magicians understand the term is an intransitive verb. Yes, the two terms are spelled the same and derive from a common origin, but by 1822 (or 1770), when "palm off" becomes a phrase with its own meaning, the two terms are lexicographically different words.

If you could show significant usage in the late 1800s where people said or wrote "palm/palmed off" and clearly meant it to mean "I concealed something in my palm and got rid of it," then the argument that Sanders was referring to sleight of hand would become stronger. But I don't think that such usage exists. When people said "palm/palmed off", they meant to pass on something without the receiver being aware of the nature of what was being passed. The act of passing was not secret (as it would be if it were palmed in the sleight-of-hand sense); it was overt. The deception was in the thing being passed.

You've done significant work in finding other places where Sanders's language usage is parallel to Erdnase's. This isn't one of them.


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