“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” so goes that famous saying. I often warn my wife to beware of taking advice from some obscure website with regards to health issues as often these websites take a little kernel of knowledge and turn it into a big bag of pop-corn emptiness.
My mother-in-law once had a severe headache but the only medication she could find was a time-release medicine capsule. She understood that the capsule consists of tiny little spheres which dissolve at different rates so that the medication is released gradually over 24 hours. However she wanted quick relief and so she rather “cleverly” crushed the capsule into fine powder and then mixed it in water to drink. Of course, she virtually over-dosed but luckily she woke up 12 hours later groggy but fine. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Or it might be darn embarrassing.
Before I continue, I must introduce you to my partner in shame. His name is Magdy and we were both bright, smart, whipper-snappers at University together. Our combined “little knowledge” would get us into some pretty dumb situations.
Well, perhaps one of the most memorable caper was when we were traveling in Germany and we needed to go to find a latrine at a train station. Our problem was that we did not speak much German at the time. The latrines were labeled “Herren” and “Damen” but which was for males and which for females?
I wonder, dear readers, which would you have chosen for men and which for women and why. As for Magdy and I, we put on our thinking caps and came up with this folly;
1. Assumption: most European languages were derived from and based on ancient Latin.
2. Assumption: we should be able to recognise the root word in either English or German. Just as “rat” is “ratte” and cat is “katze” and “Monday” is “Montag”.
3. Therefore,we applied this logic and came up with Herren is for females as it has the root word “Her”
4. While “Damen” was obviously for men as it is clearly derived from “Da Men“.
Hence this embarrassing story in which my intellectual dignity was only rescued by the presence of mind to ask Magdy to test out our theory first!
My apologies to mago and any German reader for the mess we made with your language. Who are we? We da men.