Friday, April 16, 2010

American Teapots Movement, a Suggestion

American rightist Tea Party movement seems to attract a lot of attention. Tea Party, as explained in 'Mary Poppins', refers to an historic episode when a load of English tea was made undrinkable by rebellious American colonists who dumped it in the sea.  Sarah Palin's solutions for the US don't taste unpalatable to many, but opponents are still looking for a word to describe the nature of the movement in an inoffensive, but belittling way. They tried 'teabaggers', but apparently in American usage that word has unacceptably offensive connotations.

May I here suggest the word CHAYNIK (picture on the right is from the collection). In Russian and several other East European and Central Asian languages it means 'teapot' or 'kettle'. It also has an idiomatic meaning of someone annoyingly useless, but unavoidable. With an additional meaning of someone easily irritable as a kettle that clanks when boiling. And chaynik is listed in some of the larger English language dictionaries. Either in reference to the teapot, or to a Yiddish expression  'Hak mir kayn chaynik' - "Stop clanking like a teakettle", which I didn't know, but learned while looking up 'chayniks'.

As for tea parties, here is a famous Russian painting of a merchant's wife having a tea break (Boris Kustodiev, oil on canvas, 1918). It reminds me of Sarah Palin every time I look at it. (Have a look at another poignant image of a 'tea party' here) 

And here is the Ameican heroine as she addresses the Tea Party crowd on the Boston Common (14 April 2010): 

And if you are still not convinced, read this famous quote from Bertrand Russel on the dangers of teapots:

If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. 
(Bertrand Russell 1952).

My blog posts on Russel's teapot (in Russian) are here and here

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