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> > the name "Howdy"

KonchuApril 13th, 2012, 2:22 pm
Site Editor

Posts: 505
How long has the name "Howdy" been used for Isonychia?

I found an interesting reference in Needham's (1905) work on the "may-flies and midges" of New York.

Lest it be not discerned, I will state openly that the common name "howdy," which I apply to the members of this genus, is a very free trans-lation into western vernacular of the generic name.

At the time, the generic name in use was Chirotenetes, an unnecessary replacement name established by Rev. A.E. Eaton for his own name, Isonychia. When Eaton (1881) established the replacement name, I saw no explanation of his etymololgy, so I wonder if he just created a scientific name that reflected the common one already in use, or if the scientific name predated the common one.

Any meaningful input from resident scholars would be welcome. ;)
PaulRobertsApril 13th, 2012, 2:57 pm

Posts: 1776
Well... I always thought "White-Gloved Howdy" referred to the posture of the dun, with it's often pale-tipped fore-legs stuck out in front as if to say, "Howdy!"
EntomanApril 14th, 2012, 3:47 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Me too, Paul. Luke, I wonder if the good reverend was just giving a good leg pull.:) I see no plausible connection that can be made etymologically with Chirotenetes. "Howdy" is american slang for "How do you do" and it stretches credulity for Needham to suggest that America's use of the word "howdy" in greeting came from a mayfly name instead. I think the answer lies in his use of the phrase "very free translation":)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
CrenoApril 14th, 2012, 8:27 pm
Grants Pass, OR

Posts: 305
how about Chirotenetes being a "free translation" of open hand?
PaulRobertsApril 14th, 2012, 8:40 pm

Posts: 1776
Ah! There it is.
KonchuApril 14th, 2012, 8:40 pm
Site Editor

Posts: 505
Creno, I was referring to that. I was wondering if there was a common name that Eaton was turning into Latin. My interpretation of Needham's comment was that Needham himself coined the term Howdy, based on the scientific name ~open hand~. Was Howdy ever used prior to 1905?
EntomanApril 14th, 2012, 11:11 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
:) I guess my first post only contributed confusion. As to the possibility of "Howdy" being derived from Eaton's latinized Greek by Needham, westerners were saying "howdy neighbor" well before the civil war, and the word appears in literature even earlier. Who knows how far back it goes in colloquial use in other parts of the country. There is no etymological connection to "hand open" possible, in terms of its origin.

As far as Needham goes, I believe WGH was commonly used for this mayfly by the turn of the last century (see The Notes of Theodore Gordon). Needham was simply referring to his use of the word in his work and how Eaton's original Latin name for it means roughly the same thing. To us more than a hundred years later it does seem to imply he "invented" the word, but in 1905 I don't think the possibility of misunderstanding this was on his mind or he would have been more careful in his phrasing. Not as many people read Mark Twain these days...:)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
KonchuApril 15th, 2012, 7:50 am
Site Editor

Posts: 505
Entoman, your last paragraph addresses what I was after - a rare case where the common and scientific vernacular had a bit of overlap, showing some influence of one on the other. Thanks for the reference to Gordon. Now, the reference to Twain could be another matter...
EntomanApril 15th, 2012, 9:30 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604

Now, the reference to Twain could be another matter...

This topic has certainly taken us afield from those normally discussed on a FF site, but what the heck, it's interesting! Though I believe he (Twain) probably used the word often as well, I really used his name as kind of a metaphor for the fact that modern American culture has a different relationship to 19th century literature and cultural slang than Needham did. He was closer to the initial popularity of the works of an author like Twain than we are to an author like say Ludlum or King (and they didn't have a hundredth the cultural influence). Perhaps a better analogy would be to compare the cultural influence of 19th century authors on the early 20th century to our awareness of say the movies made by Spielberg or Cameron. I wouldn't be surprised that by the time not long after we're dead and gone that means of conveying written thought in the 19th century (which 1905 basically is) is as difficult to interpret as we find understanding literature from Isaac Walton's day.:)

Anyway, what a bunch of esoteric crap. Don't pay attention to my musings on how or why there could be confusion between us and Needham. Who really knows why he wrote what he wrote? I guess the real question is how did Eaton come up with his scientific name...:)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
PaulRobertsApril 15th, 2012, 10:12 pm

Posts: 1776
What I can fathom most about this thread is the Greek: Chirotenetes. Enjoying it anyway.
OldredbarnApril 16th, 2012, 10:23 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2606
It has happened, my friends. A device that will force Spence to be iPhone keyboard! :)

I never thought there might be a Latin connection to the term "Howdy". I always thought too that it was due to the light tips on the duns forelegs. The "Coachman" fly was so named due to coachmen wearing white gloves.

Spent Saturday at the Dali museum in St Pete...Be thankful I'm limited here or we might really end up out in left field! :)

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
PaulRobertsApril 16th, 2012, 12:37 pm

Posts: 1776
It IS the white coachman's gloves, thrust out to say "Howdy!" Which apparently lead to Chirotenetes which means:

chiro = hand
tenetes =to hold

-as in holding hands -a handshake perhaps.
EntomanApril 16th, 2012, 4:04 pm
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
That's what I assume, Paul. It seems reasonable to me that Eaton was aware of the common name first. Getting to that Latin based on morphological characters alone seems unlikely. Unless Eaton mentioned his rationale somewhere in his copious correspondence, we may never know for sure, though. For the fun of it, I'm going to review the Notes of Theodore Gordon for clues in his correspondence with Halford (who was a friend/associate of Eaton's). Now all I have to do is find the book. It's around here somewhere... :)
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman

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