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Why Is Curious George

not "a good little monkey, and always very curious"?

Thief (mail) (www):
And he also smokes and pisses on the sidewalk. But that's OK, right?

/I'm sorry, I just had to do it.
5.8.2006 4:48pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
"For God's sake, Dad, can you just READ the bedtime story?"
5.8.2006 4:48pm
alkali (mail) (www):
Curious George's lack of a tail makes him an ape ...

The apparent contradiction is resolved in the lesser-known title Curious George Plays With A Band-Saw.
5.8.2006 5:04pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
An ape without a tail is a curious ape indeed.
5.8.2006 5:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

"For God's sake, Dad, can you just READ the bedtime story?"
It could be worse. Can you imagine the bedtime stories that Stephen King reads to his kids?
5.8.2006 5:29pm
Hoosier:
Oh, it was "Curious" George.

I always thought he was "Furious," and I couldn't figure out why, since he seemed to have lots of great stuff, and never got in any real trouble for getting stoned in the children's hospital or nearly killing the carnival ostrich.

What a life!
5.8.2006 5:32pm
B. R. George (mail):
there are a few tail-less animals that are still taxonomically monkeys, such as the Barbary Macaque. the two words in question are best understood as names for kinds (or groups of kinds) of primates, and the diagnostic anatomical features listed may have occasional exceptions, often with fascinating evolutionary stories behind them.
5.8.2006 5:33pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
"Oh, it was "Curious" George.

I always thought he was "Furious," and I couldn't figure out why, since he seemed to have lots of great stuff, and never got in any real trouble for getting stoned in the children's hospital or nearly killing the carnival ostrich.

What a life!"

Well, it's a little known fact that the Man in the Yellow Hat is named Karl . . . .
5.8.2006 5:35pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
Hoosier: You'd be a fan of Vancouver's defending North American champion ultimate frisbee team, Furious George.
5.8.2006 5:38pm
Nylarthotep (mail) (www):
Didn't he also huff ether in the first book? Not exactly the actions of a "good" anything.
5.8.2006 5:41pm
Hoosier:
HLS--Cool! Thanks!

Ex-Fed: W may be many things, but I'd never take him for furious.
5.8.2006 5:46pm
Hoosier:
HLS--Follow up: Have they had any legal trouble with the Rey estate? Were the Rey executors in on this?
5.8.2006 5:46pm
SLS 1L:
Why are you citing a dictionary for this, rather than a scientific source? If you want to know how ordinary English speakers use the word 'monkey,' a dictionary is a mediocre resource; if you want a scientific classification, then a dictionary is also a lousy place to look.

Lawyers and judges have a tendency to treat dictionaries as though they were authoratitive guides to the "real" meaning of a word, but this is bullshit. Ask any linguist.
5.8.2006 5:50pm
Hoosier:
"Any" linguist?

Chomsky?



No thanks.
5.8.2006 5:53pm
Hoosier:
BTW--My son gets very upset about this sort of thing. George is clearly a bonobo or something like that. And in the "How Do Dinosaurs . . . " series, some of the animals are not dinosaurs.


But he's seven. So that explains him.


Why do I care?
5.8.2006 5:57pm
Tom Round (mail):
When I saw the Tim Burton re-make of "Planet of the Apes", I was amused by one scene where Mark or Donnie or some other Wahlberg refers to his simian captors as "monkeys" and is angrily rebuked by one of them with "Don't call us 'monkeys'! We're 'apes'!.

Amused because French, in which Pierre Boulle's original novel was written, uses the same word for both. I have even read a paperback edition that rendered the title, "La Planete des Singes", as "Monkey Planet".

So I wondered how French audiences would have taken that scene. Unlike many of my curious musings, that one was actually answered. I heard a commedienne (didn't catch her name) on an Australian comedy show, last year, describing how she saw TBPotA in a French theatre and, when the line was rendered as "Ne appellez nous pas 'singes'! Nous sommes 'singes'!", the audience still laughed. Possibly for different reasons though.

Of course linguistic equivalence is not the only factor. After all, "Negro" is "merely" the Spanish for "Black person" if you go solely by the dictionary.
5.8.2006 5:58pm
Thief (mail) (www):

George is clearly a bonobo or something like that.


And as we all know, Bonobos are especially bad little monkeys.
5.8.2006 6:01pm
Hoosier:
I suppose it would be more polite to say: Get your filthy paws off of me, you damned dirty ape. Since that gets the genus right.
5.8.2006 6:02pm
Rich K (mail):
He can talk! He can talk, he can talk he can talk he can talk he can talk...
5.8.2006 6:09pm
M. B.:
Dictionary.com is your source for a definition? They're not a source at all, even according to themselves: It's like citing "google" or "Borders" as a source. You can do better than that, I hope.

http://dictionary.reference.com/help/about.html

About Dictionary.com
Dictionary.com is a multi-source dictionary search service produced by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC, a leading provider of language reference products and services on the Internet.

Note that Dictionary.com does not produce all the dictionaries that appear on our Web site; we simply make them available. In that respect we are more like a bookstore or library than a publisher. Thus any comments regarding the content of the definitions that appear on our site should properly be directed to the publisher or copyright holder. The source of each entry is given immediately after the entry in question; follow the source link for information about the dictionary, including publisher contact information.
5.8.2006 6:11pm
SLS 1L:
Hoosier - whatever you think of Chomsky's politics, he is a highly respected authority on linguistics, no? He, like all other linguists, will tell you dictionaries are mediocre sources if you want to know how a word is actually used, as opposed to what the dictionary's authors think.
5.8.2006 6:16pm
cirby (mail):

whatever you think of Chomsky's politics, he is a highly respected authority on linguistics, no?


Well, yes and no.

A lot of people respect him, but quite a few linguistics scholars disagree with his ideas. Even Chomsky has gone back and deleted a lot of his earlier ideas on generative language.
5.8.2006 6:24pm
BTD Greg (mail) (www):
A friend of mine thinks that Furious George and the Apes of Wrath would be a great band name. I agree.
5.8.2006 6:28pm
SLS 1L:
cirby - no dispute there; all my linguist friends disagree with Chomsky with various things. My field was semantics, not syntax, so I have no opinion on him personally. But saying that someone is a respected authority on a given subject matter is different than saying that all their ideas are uncontroversial. "Dictionaries are a lousy way of knowing what speakers actually mean by a given word" is not a controversial proposition in the linguistics community, one East Coast and West Coast semanticists will both agree on.
5.8.2006 6:41pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
M.B.: Dictionary.com aggregates reputable sources, so I'm happy to rely on it; these particular definitions comes from the American Heritage Dictionary (plus, I'm on that dictionary's Usage Panel, so in addition to a good reputation they also have good taste). And while other dictionaries may be more precise on scientific matters, let's just say that I'm going to do a limited amount of research in support of a joke like this one.
5.8.2006 6:54pm
Rational Actor (mail):
BTD Greg -
There was a punk rocker who went by the name Furious George. I believe he lost a trademark enfringement case, but paraphenalia is still available.
5.8.2006 6:58pm
Bruce:
I'm guessing Eugene you also go around offering people "fruit" and then giving them a tomato. ;-)
5.8.2006 7:44pm
R. Gould-Saltman (mail):
"Act like a monkey" is common, not scientific usage, even for the Brits e.g.,

Act Like a Monkey

which cracked me up enough that my associate just asked what i was guffawing about. Doesn't someone refer to the original Kong as a monkey, too?
5.8.2006 8:09pm
tom_round (mail):
> "Furious George and the Apes of Wrath"

The best title I saw for a film review of the Tim Burton remake would have to be "The Apes of Roth", as in, the other Tim.
5.8.2006 8:59pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Maybe the man in the yellow hat had Curious George's tail clipped.

There was always something about the man in the yellow hat that creeped me out. I think he is mean to curious george when the book isn't looking.
5.9.2006 12:12am
guest (mail):
Many years back, I was excited when I found out Chomsky was going to speak at our campus because I had no idea the man had a life outside things like Chomsky Normal Form. Boy was I ever surprised. And gravely disappointed.
5.9.2006 12:17am
Nels Nelson (mail):
I realize this was not a very serious post, but I have to wonder if perhaps the definition of monkey was looser at the time the book was written (1941, according to our family's copy). No doubt many readers here have access to university libraries, and so could do a better job researching this, but I do have The New Century Dictionary from 1946. Ape and monkey, excluding derivations and secondary definitions, are listed as:


ape: A monkey; esp., a tailless monkey or a monkey with a very short tail (as, the Barbary ape, a tailless monkey, Inuus ecaudatus or Macacus inuus, of northern Africa and the Rock of Gibraltar, closely related to the baboons and frequently trained by showmen); specif., a man-like or anthropoid monkey; a simian; one of the family Simiidae ('anthropoid apes'), comprising the gorilla, chimpanzee, orang-utan, and gibbon, without cheek-pouches or developed tail.

monkey: Broadly, any member, except man and (usually) the lemurs, of the highest order of mammals (Primates), as the apes, baboons, marmosets, etc.; in a restricted sense, any of various smaller, long-tailed forms, as the capuchins, guenons, etc.
5.9.2006 2:30am
therut:
Because if he had been a cat he would be dead as we all know curiosity killed the cat.
5.9.2006 2:31am
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
I'm surprised someone hasn't already mentioned this ...
5.9.2006 3:24am
snielv (mail):
Because he forgot to take his ritalin.
5.9.2006 10:31am
Frank J. (mail) (www):
Bah! They're all stinking monkeys whether they have tails or not, and I'm not going to let some online dictionary tell me otherwise. Next time someone chides me for calling a chimpanzee a monkey, I'm going to punch that guy in his stupid monkey face.
5.9.2006 11:02am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
And he also smokes and pisses on the sidewalk. But that's OK, right?


Only in "Brown Harvest."
5.9.2006 12:14pm
luagha:
Stephen King did write a children's book, 'The Eyes Of The Dragon.' In the author's notes, he specifically says something about how he wrote it so he would have something of his that it would be okay for his kids to read.

I think it's his best work, myself. But still an over-thirteen kind of a book.
5.9.2006 7:05pm