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'What's a weekend?'

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Terri Ahke writes:

"In the PBS series 'Downton Abbey' there's a scene where a dowager countess is talking to a newly discovered cousin, a lawyer who says he can come to the family estate to help out on weekends. She looks at him and says, 'What's a weekend?' It's a good line, but I wonder how authentic it is. The series is set in the period just before World War I. Wouldn't even a countess have learned by then that there are people who work during the week, but are off on the 'weekend'?"

I was skeptical too, Terri. Odd that we were thinking along the same lines. But Random House says that weekend first appeared around 1875-80, so it wouldn't have been terribly old at the time of "Downton Abbey." It's possible an aged countess, having little truck with ordinary people, would have been unfamiliar with the word and the concept. There was no television in those days, remember, or Wikipedia either.

Anyway, it's a good line, and well delivered by Maggie Smith. (No relation.) I'm looking forward to the second season of Downton Abbey, even though AETN delays the showing for an hour, for reasons of its own.

While we're mingling with British bluebloods, here's an item from a British periodical:

"By the same token, proponents of a similar move in Ohio had to turf two reluctant Republicans out of the relevant committees in the state Senate to secure its passage." Turf is British slang for "to remove from a desirable office or position; expel; kick out."

Dennis Barry writes: "In the March 16 Arkansas Times was an economic comparison of Arkansas and Kazakhstan. The writer noted that per capita GDP in Arkansas was $32,191, which he characterized as '47th worst in the US.' Actually it is 47th best in the US, or 4th worst. If we were 4th best, we would be admired throughout the land for our industriousness and good fortune." Instead, we're admired for our looks and our charm.

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