September 11: Motivational Speech Day

On this date in the year 1297, the Scottish defeated the English in The Battle of Stirling Bridge.  Heavily outnumbered by English infantry and cavalry, the Scottish army led by William Wallace and Andrew de Moray nevertheless won the battle.

In the film Braveheart, William Wallace, portrayed by Mel Gibson, gives a rousing speech to the Scottish troops.  Never having defeated the English and being heavily outnumbered, the Scottish troops are at first reluctant to fight.  After listening to Wallace’s succinct, clear, and forceful speech, however, they are moved to fight for their freedom.

Here is the speech of William Wallace from Braveheart:

“Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least a while. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

 

Quote of the Day:  Every man dies.  Not every man truly lives.  –William Wallace

 

September 10: Notorious Eponym Day

On this day in 1945, Vidkun Quisling was convicted of high treason for his collaboration with the Germans during during World War II.  A Norwegian politician, Quisling met with Hitler in April 1940, just prior to the Nazi invasion of Norway, and he was appointed Minister-President during the Nazi occupation of Norway.  After the unconditional surrender of Germany in May 1945, Quisling was arrested and put on trial for his treasonist activities during the war and for his collaboration with the Nazis.  After his conviction, he was executed by firing squad on October 24, 1945.  Since that time his name has become synonymous with any traitor who collaborates with enemy occupiers (1).

The word quisling is a classic example of an eponym, a word derived from a real or imaginary person. For example, the word shrapnel evolved from Henry Shrapnel, an English artillery officer who developed an exploding shell that sent out bits of metal. Most often the capitalized proper noun that refers to the specific person becomes lowercase as it is transformed into a general noun, adjective, or verb.

Today’s Challenge:  Quiz on Quisling-like Eponyms

Most eponyms have fairly positive, or at least neutral, connotations, such as sandwich, sideburns, and sequoia.  The list of eponyms below, however, have entered the language with decidedly negative connotations.  Do a bit of etymological research to see if you can discover the story and the character behind each word.

bowdlerize

chauvinism

draconian

gerrymander

lynch

narcissism

procrustean

Quotation of the Day:  There are still people in my party who believe in consensus politics.  I regard them as Quislings, as traitors.  –Margaret Thatcher

1- http://www.historyinanhour.com/2010/10/24/vidkun-quisling-the-norwegian-nazi/