Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A categorical mistake

There was a brief obituary in the Sunday Times "Intl Culture" a few years back, of the American philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser. It related an anecdote about his being accosted in the subway by a policeman for some minor infraction. During a mild argument, the policeman said to the philosopher "You shouldn't do that, you know. Just imagine if everyone acted like that!". The philosopher replied testily:
Who do you think I am, Kant?
at which he was hustled off to the police station.


John Emerson said...

"Kunt" is, in fact, a Turkish surname. It was the maiden name of a woman I esued to know, who kept her married name after divorcing. Several persons of that name can be Googled, at least one of whom is a relative of hers.

Pr. Koont.

Stuart said...

Pound was in a similar predicament:

... the phonetic translation of my name into the Japanese tongue is so indecorous that I am seriously advised not to use it, lest it do me harm in Nippon. (Rendered back ad verbum into our maternal speech it gives for its meaning, 'This picture of a phallus costs ten yen.' There is no surety in shifting personal names from one idiom to another.)