Sagittarius 22: A Chinese laundry

T h e w o r d C hi n ese m e a n s “ o f o r r e l a t i n g t o C h in a or i t s p e op l e s, l a n g u a g e s, o r c u l t ur e s . ” 1 I t m a y d e s c e n d f r o m t h e S a n s k r i t ci n a - s w h i c h m e a n s “ t h e C hi n e s e . ” 2 T h e w o r d l au nd ry d e s c e n d s f r o m t he I n d o - E u r o p e a n ( I E ) r o o t l eu (e ) - w h i ch m e a n s “ t o w a s h . ” It s p a r o n y m s i n c l u d e

l ye , l at h e r, l o m e nt , l o t i o n, a b l u ti o n, de l u ge , di l u te , e l u te , la va b o, l a va ge , la va t o ry, la vi s h , l a tri n e, a n d p yro l u s i t e.
TH EMES : Re c a l l t ha t a m on g t h e p a r on y m s o f l a un dry i s t h e w o r d l ye , a c o r r o s i v e a l k a li n e s u b s t a n c e u se d i n a v a r i e t y o f i n d u s t r i a l a n d c le a n i n g p r o c e s se s. I t h a s t w o w e l l - k n o w n h o m o n y m s . T h e f i r s t i s l i e , “ t o b e o r p l a c e o n e s e l f a t r e s t i n a f l a t , h o ri z o n t a l , o r r e c u m b e n t p o s i t i on ; r e c l i n e . ” 3 T h i s f o r m o f t h e w o r d i s a v a r i a n t o f t h e ve r b l a y w h i c h m e a n s “ t o ca u s e t o l a y d ow n ” a n d w h i c h c a n a l s o m e a n “ t o h a ve s e x u a l i n t e r c o u r se w i t h. ” 4 T h i s m e a n i n g d e sce n d s f r o m t h e r o ot l e gh - w h i c h m e a n s “ t o l i e , l a y” . 5 I t s p a r on y m s i n c l u d e l a y ( t o c a u se t o l i e d o w n ) ,

l e dge , l e dge r, l ai r , l e a gu e r, la ge r, s t a la g , l ee s , c o ve rl e t, li t t e r, wa go n - li t
( a s le e p i n g ca r o n a E u r o p e a n r a i l r o a d c a r ) , l a w, b yl a w, o u t l a w, la ga n ( c a r g o o r e q u i p m e n t t h r o w n i n t o t h e s e a b ut a t t a c he d t o a f l o a t ) , a n d

l o c h i a ( t h e n o r m a l u t e r i n e d i s c h a r g e o f b l o o d , t i s s ue , a n d m u c u s f r o m
t h e v a g i n a a f t e r c hi l d b i r t h ) .

1 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/Chinese 2 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=china 3 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/lie 4 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/lay 5 Watkins, C. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo -European Roots, p. 47 Starling Hunter © 2011 1

T h e s e c o n d h o m on y m i s l i e a s i n “ a f a l s e s t a t e me n t de l i b e r a t e l y p r e s e n t e d a s b e i n g t r u e ; a f a l se h o o d . ” 6 I t d e s c e n d s f r o m t h e r o o t l eu gh which means “to tell a lie” and from which also descend the words

wa rl o c k a n d b e li e. 7
I n t e r e st i n g l y , t h e re a r e t w o i d i o m a t i c e x p r e ss i o n s i n E n g l i s h t h a t c o n t a i n w o r d l a und ry —n e i t h e r o f w hi c h i s p o s i t i v e . O n e t h e s e i s ‘ d i rt y l au nd ry ’ a n d m e a n s “ s ca n d a l ; u n p l e a sa n t p r i v a t e m a t t e rs ” 8 a n d “ p e r s o n a l o r p r i v a t e m a t t e r s t h a t c o u l d c a us e e m b a r r a s s m e n t i f ma d e p u b li c. ” 9 A n y o n e w h o h a s w a t c h e d t he n e w s i n t h e l a s t f e w d e ca d e s k n o w s t ha t

l i e s ( o r t r u t h s) t o ld a b o u t w h o h a s l ai n w i t h w h o m a r e p e r h a p s t he m o s t
c o m m o n f o r m o f ‘ d i r t y l a u n d r y ’ t h a t i s a i r e d i n p ub l i c. A s e c o n d i d i o ma t i c e x p r e s si o n i n v o l v i n g l a u n d r y i s t he t e r m ‘ m o n e y

l a u n de ri n g ” w h i c h r e f e r s t o “ t h e p r o ce s s o f c r e a t i n g t h e a p p e a r a n c e t h a t
l a r g e a m o u n t s o f mo n e y o b t a i n e d f r om s e r i o u s c r i me s, su c h a s d r u g t r a f f i c k i n g o r t e r r o r i s t a ct i v i t y, o r i g i n a t e d f r o m a le g i t i ma t e s o u r ce . ” 10 F i n a l l y , r e ca l l t ha t w o r d C hi n es e me a n s “ o f o r r e la t i n g t o C h i n a o r i t s p e op l e s, l a n g u a g e s, o r c u l t u r e s. ” 11 T h e w o r d C h i n a i s a c a p i t on y m , i . e . a w o r d w h o s e m e a n i n g c h a n g e s w he n i t i s c a p i t a l i z e d. S p e c i f i c a l l y, t h e w o r d c h i n a m e a n s “ a f i n e w h i t e o r t r a n s l u c e n t v i t r i fi e d ce r a m i c m a t e r i a l ” o f t h e k i n d o r i g i n a l l y m a de o n l y i n C hi n a . 12 W h i t e i n c l u d e s a m o n g i t s d e f i n i t i on s t h e i d e a o f c l e a n , p u r i t y, b le a c h e d, p u r e , st a i n l e ss , s p o t le s s, u n t a i n t e d, u n s oi l e d , e t c.
13

T r a n s l u c e n t m e a n s “ c le a r . ” T a k e n

t o g e t h e r, t he t h e me f o r t h i s s y m b o l i s WH ITE L IE . I n t e r e st i n g l y , t h e 19 7 4 A c a d e m y A w a r d - w i n n i n g f i l m C hin a t o wn d e a l t w i t h m a n y o f t h e a b o v e t h e me s. 14

6 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/lie_2 7 Watkins, C. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo -European Roots, p. 49 8 http://onelook.com/?w=dirty+laundry&ls=a 9 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/dirty%20lau ndry 10 http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/money+laundering 11 http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/Chinese 12 http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/china?view=uk 13 http://thesaurus.com/browse/white 14 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinatown_(film) Starling Hunter © 2011 2

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful