Monday, January 22, 2007

It is only a Stormont

A friend at work stopped by my office today to show me an interesting quote from a book she is currently reading - Benjamin Franklin, by Walter Isaacson. In chapter 13, there is a short paragraph that describes a minor difficulty Franklin had while visiting Paris trying to drum up support for the US. There was a Lord Stormont (from England) who was there apparently spreading lies about Franklin, trying to discredit his reputation. Franklin's alleged response to this was, "It is not a truth. It is only a Stormont." Supposedly this led to the use of the catch-phrase stormonter, used among the hip Parisians of the day to refer to liars. It was supposed to be a French pun for menteur, which in French means liar.

So there you have it - in case you didn't already know this - my name is synonymous with liar - at least amoung 18th century hip Parisians, and Mr. Franklin. (Yes, although not mentioned anywhere in this blog, my last name is Stormont. The pseudonym I used of "Mostly Torn" is derived from MostTornBrain - an anagram for my real name.)

So, everything you read here on this blog should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, it's only a Stormont.

4 comments:

JD said...

That is just awesome! Well, maybe not as awesome as it'd be if "stormonter" meant something nicer, but that is still a really neat bit of history.

A quick googling of "stormonter" brings up several references to Franklin and his coining of it as a verb: "Stormont made the mistake of ridiculing Franklin’s humble beaver-skin hat, not appreciating adoring Parisians who swooned the American’s exotic back-woods appearance. In response, Franklin coined a French verb, stormonter, meaning to lie, and the word was an instant hit."
http://www.iwp.edu/news/newsID.256/news_detail.asp

Neat!

Heather said...

As the infamous "friend at work" I feel compelled to mention it's actually "mentir", not "menteur". But I'm still pleased to achieve some level of noteriety by being mentioned in your blog. And I'm impressed that you have a castle named after you even if your name is synonomous with lying....

Mostly Torn said...

Oh, you caught me in my subtle Stormontering! I had looked up the French spelling for liar, which is in fact menteur. However, you are correct that the original text did say it was a pun for mentir - i.e. lying - not liar. But I liked it as a noun instead of a verb. Given the English speaking folks that read this, something that ends with -er is not generally thought of as a verb.

Shucks! You foiled my attempt at twisting history. I was hoping years from now someone would reference this site for a definition of Stormonter and get my slightly altered form. Now my plans lay in ruins.

Rob said...

Good news! ctrl + cmd + d over the word "Stormont" shows no entries. So, for now, I'll trust you. :)