Word Abuse: SPADE

One of the biggest lies we are told is that we are to, “Call a spade a spade”, as though it is a fact that spades were always thus called.    Did our cave-man ancestors call, for example, their digging implements “spades”?    Do you really think that that is likely?

Of course they did not: in Old English a spade was called a “spadu”, that is, a

spadu [1]
and it would be arrogant of us to say that our white British ancestors were mistaken.    In many ways, they were more advanced than us, not relying constantly upon technology to perform every task for them!    If members of the 10th-century Proper English Foundation wanted to tell others not to split infinitives because at that time it was impossible because most verbs’ infinitive forms were single words ending in -an, then our forerunners had to walk physically to the next village and make an announcement to the Anglo-Saxon townspersons loudly, without a website and typewriter!

For these reasons and many others, we at the Proper English Foundation shall henceforth be calling a spade a “spadu” or the Ancient Greek “spáthē”, unlike the Queen’s English Society who set a poor example by using the hackneyed phrase, “call a spade a spade”, unthinkingly obeying the commands of gardening tools.    We, though, are not afraid to have words change their meanings once in a millennium!     As long as it is we who is doing the changing!

conservative QES member Peter Bassett even made the ridiculous claim that, if any word changes its meaning at any point in history,

“we don’t know what we mean.” [2],
which certainly seems to be true of his organisation.    Then again, he said that in 1995, so perhaps he meant the opposite of what we now think he meant.

Don’t say spade!

Next: split infinitives. Vital stuff. >
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