An English In Kentucky


















Wednesday September 11th 2019Tim Candler9


     In keeping with the Ancient Greek insistence that we people are a little obsessive about the importance to our natural instincts, and general sense of ourselves as extraordinarily superior creatures, of naming things of the same likeness, and of being possessed by 'imagination,' and of being political creatures it's worth mentioning the expression "come a cropper" as in "the relationship was bound to come a cropper."  A Cropp in the old English, or Kropf in the old German, or Kroppr in the old Norse was the top part of a herb or plant that included everything but the roots.  So I guess strictly speaking Potato isn't a cropp, it's a root, and many blessings to it for being edible. Soon enough when it came to spelling the double p was lost and more modern English reckoned on Crop as the way to go. At the same time crop wandered around and saw itself as a way to refer to protuberances, such as the crop of a bird and to the top part of specific things such as hills, heads and so on. And there's the whole question of the word crop being used within the context of gathering, harvest or haircut, even applied to collections such as "the old, geriatric, pretty much senile, crop of politicians."


     "Coming a Cropper" first appears in the literature as an expression used to describe falling off a horse. Not that fond of horses myself, they have big hooves and to my mind insane eyes, and yet I can sort of see that there's a relationship, a give and take, between a person and horse, it develops, possibly flowers, and however unnatural it might be the person ends up riding on top of the horse, and there's cheek clicking, there's giddy-up, there are reins, stirrups as well as a whole bunch communications between a horse and the person riding it. So when you fall off a horse there's a good chance, a very good chance, you'll hurt yourself and become a burden on the rest of us, yet you do the falling off as the top part of the relationship, and in this sense there's also a relationship between a "crop and root" or "Cropp and Wurz." Wurz is a very old German and Saxon word for root, and indeed a Mangelwurzel is to this day a giant Sugar Beet type root and crop. Either way back in April 2018 you could have bet good money that the Trump/Bolton relationship would quickly "come a cropper." Yes indeed identifying the likenesses between things for us people probably has more to do with poetry than some distant idea of precision.


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