Thursday, 16 November 2017

Placebo - you will, eh?

“Italy, this is the apocalypse,” was the headline in the country’s leading sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday morning [14 Nov.], perhaps an understandable reaction for a nation whose passion for football is so great that the same publication concluded that “a love so great must be reserved for other things [than the World Cup]”. 
La Gazzetta dello Sport, as quoted in the Guardian
Which reminds me of the word gazette's derivation;  to quote Etymonline
"newspaper," c. 1600, from French 
gazette (16c.), from Italian gazzetta, Venetian dialectal gazeta "newspaper," also the name of a small copper coin, literally "little magpie," from gazza; applied to the monthly newspaper (gazeta de la novità) published in Venice by the government, either from its price or its association with the bird (typical of false chatter),
Or both, I would surmise. I can imagine some Venetian satirist greeting the first edition of the gazeta de la novità making a punning reference not only to its price but also to its vapidness.
Which  seems a strangely prescient reference to Twitter. :-) Anyway;  football...

In January 2011, Science Daily reported a Mumbai study:
According to recent research the color, shape, taste and even name of a tablet or pill can have an effect on how patients feel about their medication. Choose an appropriate combination and the placebo effect gives the pill a boost, improves outcomes and might even reduce side effects. Now, researchers at the University of Bombay, New Mumbai, India, have surveyed users of over-the-counter (OTC) medication to find out just how much the color of a tablet influences patient choice.     
Football.... I'm getting there. Stay with me: 

Three years later, The Atlantic  reported
...Blue pills, contrary to what Breaking Bad may have you believe, act best as sedatives.... 
When researchers take culture into account, things get a bit more complicated. For instance, the sedative power of blue doesn’t work on Italian men. The scientists who discovered this anomaly think it’s due to ‘gli Azzuri’ (the Blues), Italy’s national soccer team—because they associate the color blue with the drama of a match, it actually gets their adrenaline pumping
But this was not a novel  phenomenon. The sedative effect of blue in particular was reported in The Lancet in 1972. (The Placebo Effect, in general, of course, had already  been in regular use by shamans and witch-doctors and faith healers for thousands of years.)

A recent Radiolab programme on Radio 4 Extra brought this to  my attention;
18 minutes into the piece,  this blue/sedative correspondence is discussed. I have to admit that I took agin the interviewee, possibly because he gave gli Azurri a /ʒ/, no doubt because of what we call in the trade L1-interference: he transferred the /ʒ/ of his English "azure " to the unsuspecting (and undeserving) Italian word. But what aggravated my response to this minor barbarism was his arrogating to himself this observation. When asked what causes this he says "Well, I'm not really sure [sic – his emphasis] but my speculation is...[Azurri idea]". By "my speculation", of course, he means "the speculation of the authors of a research paper  written when I was still wet behind the ears".

But what may indeed be his speculation is the unnecessary and irrelevant gilding of the lily; Italian women aren't affected because of their devotion to the Virgin Mary, who is traditionally depicted in blue, so it makes Italian women feel calm...

WHA...? Millions of women in Catholic countries supposedly have this same association; so why should the Italians be any different?..
That claim was made over a background that featured a recording of Ave Maria [Schubert‘s], which reminded me of a recent ad I heard for Aled Jones's latest album, which has him singing both with his son and with his younger self. And in the words Pleni sunt coeli et terra Ave Maria, gratia plena I noticed with grim resignation  that the successful present-day tenor has lapsed into the lazy /eɪ/  diphthong in both the first and the thirdfourth words, in regrettable contrast to his younger self (with the choir master's voice no doubt still ringing in his ears) singing a pure monophthong.
Maybe, because Italian society is painfully patriarchal (with women doing the cleaning and cooking and washing and child-rearing while their menfolk slump in front of the football) they just don't have the time to be that bothered about gli Azurri.

But if women all over the world are affected in the same way by the colour of tranquilizers, why bring the Virgin Mary into it at all? Besides, I'm not sure I buy the whole football thing. Are French fans any less fanatical about their support for les Bleus? Still, it's interesting.

And the Italians (not sure it's just the men) are certainly... distraught [I don't think  that's an overstatement] about the exit of lgi Azurri from the World Cup  Blexit?

  • Showing concern about lines of communication, and getting tooled up. (8)(This was a duplicate.)
  • Speed about Britain, achieving fame (9)
  • Set a trap with son for performers of fandango or tarantella?. (9)
Update: 2017.11.16.22:35 – Specified the composer of that Ave Maria setting.

Update: 2017.11.19.11:25 – Fixed quote (wrong prayer)

Update: 2017.11.21.10:45 – Added PS

PS In defence of the subject line:

I've always wondered about the word placebo

For the non-Latinists, it means "I shall be pleasing [to]".  OK, all a placebo does is give the impression of  treatment, and to that extent it can be seen as pleasing in some sense. But why bring the first person into it? It reminds me of a bus I once saw bearing the sign "Sorry, I'm not in service!" "WTF...?" I thought (anachronistically – as that abbreviation probably hadn't yet been invented [it was in the mid-'60s]) "What are you, Bertie the Bus?"
No, it can't have been as a matter of fact. (The Rev'd W. Awdry's) Bertie was a single-decker.  And the miscreant I remembered was a Routemaster.
London Transport (as was) soon learnt their lesson, and I never saw this gratuitous personification again (on buses, at least). But I regret I have seen it on an estate agent's (realtor's...
I find it interesting that the Land of the Free insists on preserving this [usually unknowing, I imagine] etymological hat-tip to royalty in the name of their land dealers.
...) sign: "I'm sold". And it is quite common on the packaging of the twee-er food products: example.
But why does placebo have to do this? I can't, off the top of my head, recall a similar use of the first-person in an etymological context.

Update: 2017.11.22.15:45 – Added PPS

I've been thinking about that last point: there are lots of third-person examples (different moods, voices, and aspects):
  • fiat, exeat, caveat ... (3ps subj.)
  • habitat, aegrotat, non sequitur,  exit, tenet ... (3ps indic.)
  • imprimatur...(3ps passive subj.)
(NB 'sequitur' may look passive, but it's not).

The only other first person example I've found so far is ignoramus (3pp) ["=" "we do not know"]

Update: 2017.11.26.10:45 –  Replaced duplicate clue (in text) and added to 3ps examples.

Update: 2018.03.06.18:45 –  Added PPPS

The answers to those clues: CELEBRITY and CASTANETS.

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