Wednesday, November 15, 2006

By Gad, Sir!

Jim Whorton drops us a line to report that his grandfather was in the habit of saying "gad" whenever he bumped his head. Whorton is contributing, of course, to our recent discussion of "dag". Gad, like gosh and jeepers creepers, is one of the ways in which we avoid taking the Lord's name in vain. Whorton is quite correct to link "gad" to its mirror image. In the South, one sometimes hears this reflexive impulse overtly, in the phrase "God dog!" or "God dog it!" More often, the blasphemy is better disguised, with a dad ("dad gum it"), or a dag. Gad (as in gadzooks, a safer form of "God's wounds," itself often abbreviated as "Zounds!"... oh, now I'm actually boring myself). Let me just end by observing that James Joyce, in Finnegans Wake, enjoyed confusing God with Dad with Dod, as in Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Joyce's foreFATHER in dream language, and a recurring father/God figure in the book (with Alice as one of the many daughter figures).