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Biden on CNN just now: "Tinker's DARN"

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 08:15 AM
Original message
Biden on CNN just now: "Tinker's DARN"
Joe, it's perfectly OK and acceptable to say "tinker's dam".
It's a dam, not a damn.

In days gone by, tinkers went around from village to village repairing pots. They were tin pots. The pots were worn through. You got holes in the pots. The tinker literally built a dam of wet bread around the hole. When he poured the molten tin to fill the hole, the wet bread acted as a dam around the hole so that the tin wouldn't spread across the whole base of the pot. The phrases "tinker's dam" and "not worth a tinker's dam" speak to the rather less than best quality of those tinkers who would use but bread for that dam when the molten tin was poured in to fill the hole. So "not worth a tinker's dam" and "to not give a tinker's dam," as the tinker didn't when he was soldering or retinning that pot, means to care little -- t-i-n-k-e-r-'-s d-a-m, as in Hoover Dam.
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Ripley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 08:22 AM
Response to Original message
1. See, this bothers me.
Why do the Dems always have to move so fricking far right? That is childish as well as ignorant on Biden's part.

I hear repubs always saying "H-E-double hockey sticks". And I think, are they imbeciles or do they think they're teaching nursery school instead of being a representative of the government responsible for killing people on a daily basis in a W-A-R?
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Gin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 08:33 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I just listened to Biden on the 18th or 19th in a hearing and he cursed
Edited on Tue May-25-04 08:34 AM by Gin
several times....maybe the censors got to him. Oh hell!
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Norquist Nemesis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 08:49 AM
Response to Original message
3. Tell it to the FCC
You're right, but I can't blame him for being cautious enough to not hand the RW another non-issue to scream about.
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AngryAmish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
4. Tinker is a slur
They prefer to be called "Traveling People" or such.

My mother always threatened to sell me to the Tinkers when I was bad.
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Unperson 309 Donating Member (836 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #4
9. I think you're referring

to Gypsies or the Romani...

A tinker is a tin-fixer or tin utensil repairer, hence the name.
It's tin-ker, not tink-er.

By the way, a 'tinker's dam' referred to the dog that followed the tinker's wagon. Being impoverished, tinkers, bone and ragmen and other itinerant folks usually had a cur or mongrel dog that guarded the wagon and followed them about. Since female dogs were more of a liability than males (puppies, etc), they were worth even less.

Since the name for a female dog (bitch) is not usually used in polite society, they substituted "dam" meaning a mother. "Not worth a tinker's bitch" became "Not worth a tinker's dam" instead.

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Bridget Burke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. The Travellers (formerly Tinkers) are not Rom
They are a small minority in Ireland & also found in the rest of the British Isles & the USA. Their lifestyle is similar to the Gypsies but they aren't blood relatives.

There are a number of theories as to the origin of the Irish Travellers. Their secret language, Shelta, and the evidence of various historical references to them would seem to indicate that they are the remnants of an ancient class of wandering poets, joined by those who were pushed off the land during different times of social and economic upheaval such as Cromwell's campaign of slaughter, the Battle of the Boyne (1690) and the Battle of Aughrim (1691). Many of the Travellers may also be the descendants of people who were left homeless as a result of the Irish potato famines of the nineteenth century.

I've got no opinion on the "dam" phrase, but folk etymology is fun.

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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 08:58 AM
Response to Original message
5. Biden is not a smart man.
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ramblin_dave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 09:17 AM
Response to Original message
6. Is it really dam? Not necessarily so says this source:

Tinker's Damn

Not worth a tinker's damn is a phrase that is often uttered, although most people who say it nowadays have no idea what a tinker is. There is also considerable confusion over the word damn in this phrase, which is often spelled dam.

A tinker was an itinerant tradesman who mended pots and pans. The name could derive from either the sound of a bell that the tinker rang to announce he was in the neighborhood (perhaps the name Tinkerbell from Peter Pan is an allusion to this practice), or it could be an onomatopoeic phrase for the tinking sound he made as he worked on the pots and pans. This explanation first appeared in 1440, and Samuel Johnson in his 1755 dictionary agreed with it.

Many etymologists agree with Dr. Johnson, but there are those who disagree as well. The earliest cite in the OED2 dates from 1265 and is a surname, "Editha le Tynekere." This one is also of interest because it refers to a trades woman not a man. Other sources date the surname Tynker as early as 1252, and the Scottish form, tinkler dates to 1175. The verb to tink meaning to mend a pot dates only to the fifteenth century, and the words tink and tinkle, referring to the bell or metallic sound, date only to Wyclif's translation of the Bible in 1382, 1 Cor 13:1:

I am maad as bras sownnynge or a symbal tynkynge.

Presumably the verb would have come first, but it could have existed outside the surviving literature or it could be a backformation from tinker.

It is possible, and perhaps probable, that the word comes from the word tin, the material with which the tinker worked.

But what about the damn? Some say that it should be spelled dam because it is not a curse, but rather a term for a method used in mending pots. The tinker would use a piece of bread, or other soft material, to plug the hole he was mending to prevent his solder from flowing all over and escaping. This dam was worthless after the pot was mended, and was discarded. Therefore, a tinker's dam was a worthless bit of detritus. Brewer's notes this explanation, but does not take a position. The OED2 calls this a "baseless conjecture."

This explanation seems strained. Also, Rawson notes that the earliest use of the spelling dam in the phrase dates only to 1877, while the phrase tinker's damn was used in 1839 by Thoreau, and the OED2 cites usage of tinker's curse as early as 1824. Dam is probably a Victorian bowdlerization, and the explanation followed to justify it.

Similarly, some have suggested that the dam is a reference to the tinker's horse, usually a worthless nag. Not only does this explanation share the problem with dates, but dam does not mean horse; it means mother. A horse has a sire and a dam--a father and a mother.

The origin of the phrase is most likely the simplest explanation. Tinkers had a reputation for cursing, and a tinker's damn was not worth much because tinkers damned everything.

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. in Britain, the normal phrase is "tinker's cuss"
which matches "tinker's damn".
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-04 12:47 PM
Response to Original message
8. Why should we give a "Tinkers Dam?"
Someone had to say it. :silly:
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