One of the authors I like to read most is the Nobel Prize for Economics Paul Krugman; for a layman like me I find his writing didactic and it makes quite some good sense. Yesterday reading his article Springtime for toxics, published in the International Herald Tribune, my interest in the content was immediately diverted to a piece of language he used as a way to illustrate the toxicity and harmful effects of mercury on the population. Basically, in his article, Krugman welcomes the good news of the EPA's new regulating standards, which also has some economic benefits. He goes on to link this decision to American politics, the second theme he wanted to discuss.
However, my featuring his article on this post has mostly to do with that ¨language diversion¨ and which I quote next:
...As far as I can tell, even opponents of environmental regulation admit that mercury is nasty stuff. It’s a potent neurotoxicant: the expression “mad as a hatter” emerged in the 19th century because hat makers of the time treated fur with mercury compounds, and often suffered nerve and mental damage as a result. ...Being a teacher and so interested in languages, it simply fascinates me to learn the origin of idioms we have acquired as part of our vocabulary. I knew this idiom but not its origin and, of course, it now makes so much sense. Furthermore, it proves my belief that when you are a teacher, whatever your field or rank, the pedagogue in you emerges constantly in your writing as it is the case of Paul Krugman.