Why Welsh Rarebit is called that and its very strange uses! …and what it teaches us about reputation

According to Mark Forsyth, author of the Etymologicon:-

“Welsh rarebit used to be called Welsh rabbit, on the basis that when a Welshman promised you something nice to eat like rabbit, you were probably only going to get cheese on toast.  The English also used to believe that the Welsh were crazy about cheese.  Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811) records that:

The Welch are said to be so remarkably fond of cheese, that in cases of difficulty their midwives apply a piece of toasted cheese to the janua vita [the gates of life] to attract and entice the young Taffy, who smelling it makes vigorous efforts to come forth

So myths become locked into language and accepted by all.  This makes and interesting link back to yesterday’s blog, where people try to control what is said about them (or their clients) in order to build reputation.  In other words, if you get enough tongues repeating the same phrase it becomes unchallenged and thus, to all intents and purposes, true.   This is a very good reason for keeping important messages clear and simple; it makes it possible for people to repeat them without distortion.  The harder a message is to remember, the more likely it will morph into something quite different. 

We tend to think that the more we say, and the longer words we use the more clever we sound.  However there is huge power in simple words and concepts which can not be misunderstood.   Think about it…. one of the most powerful sentences in the English language, one that has changed more lives than any other (probably!) consists of only three words and  eight letters.  I Love You.

So if you want your message to linger (like the taste of a good bit of Welsh Rarebit?!) then keep it short, keep it simple and make it punchy…

“Cheese – milk’s leap toward immortality.”   Clifton Paul Fadiman

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”   Willie Nelson

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”   Charles de Gaulle

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