Random Thought

Geek that I am, I’m a big fan of the Allan Quatermain books by H. Rider Haggard.

While walking home yesterday, it occurred to me that if you flip the R and E, you get Quatremain, which (loosely translated) in French would mean something like “four hand.”

Why is this interesting? Well, there’s an obsolete science term, “quadrumana,” that would’ve been fairly current at the time Haggard was writing King Solomon’s Mines. Quadrumana, as you may guess means “four hands,” as in a primate, as in not a bimana (also a real word) as in HUMANS ARE NOT RELATED TO MONKEYS, DAMMIT!

So, I got to wondering of it was a subtle joke that Haggard’s gruff explorer of Africa had a last name that might mean something like “monkey” or “ape.” I couldn’t find any reference to this online, and it turns out Quatermain is a real last name. But, still, it’d be sorta neat (and not surprising for a Victorian author) if secretly, Allan’s name means “Allan Ape.”

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7 Responses to Random Thought

  1. Steven Olsen says:

    I shall have to use this word in conversation now.

  2. Channing says:

    This is the most gorgeously nerdy thing I’ve come across all day, and I’m spending my Halloween party night at home reading annotated folk tales on the internet. I only found out about Allan Quatermain recently when I finally got to thumb through the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; can you suggest a good place to start?

  3. Westicle says:

    I’ve seen jokes that have tried to reach a long way before getting to their point, but damn!

  4. Atcote says:

    Mr Haggard certainly nailed the late 19th century science geek crowd there. I imagine them, in full Victorian dress, rolling on the floor and holding their bellies, chortling away the day because the internet didn’t exist yet and we had to find our fun somewhere.

  5. This is what you think about when you walk home?

    What, thinking about boobs isn’t good enough for you now?

  6. Catharine says:

    I’m like Channing; I only know Quartermain from Alan Moore’s comics. >.> But I’ll have to read the original books sometime…

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