Questions & Answers Edition #3

This post is dedicated to Penelope who has been awaiting this one for a long a time and thankfully, I have found a moment of clarity in the midst of my writer’s block to do it!

1. What is the origin of memes?
It turns out memes have been around for quite a long while with its first appearance being in 1976 by an evolutionary biologist by the name of Richard Dawkins. It was coined with the idea of explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomenon. The general role of memes is the spreading of cultural ideas, symbols or practices through writing and any other imaginable phenomena that can be seen by a large population of people. Out of this has emerged a field of study known as memetics where they believe that memes themselves actually go through natural selection similar to what appears in the natural world. The theory, of course, supports that successful ones continually go through changes to stay relevant to the world population while the ones that fall by the wayside soon disappear from the world forever.
Since I only received one question for this edition I decided to address a few other questions I have wondered myself with hopes that others may find this interesting too.
2. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
We all know this old time tongue twister but the question I have always wondered is how it came about. Now we all know that a woodchuck, or its more common name of a groundhog, does not in fact, chuck wood so where in the world did this old phrasing come from. I am proud to say that I have finally found the origin to this age-old tongue twister. The term woodchuck, which is not related to chucking or wood in fact, owes its origin to the Native Americans of the eastern seaboard. The Algonquin Tribe referred to these furry marmots as wuchak, which at some point was picked up by American settlers and developed into the word woodchuck. Now I cannot tell you when this word was adopted into what may be the most commonly known tongue twister in America but at least now you know how they came up with the term woodchuck in the first place!
3. Did George Washington cut down his father’s cherry tree?
It’s been a long-told tale about how our very first president, George Washington was a moral man from a very young age and the story we have to go by was written by Parson Weems in his biography about America’s first president. The tale goes that a young George was gifted with a new ax and as most young boys do wanted to use his new toy. Well while chopping down everything he could find in the garden he stumbled upon his father’s cherry tree and chopped it down. As the story goes on, when George’s father questioned him about his favorite tree, George replied, “I can’t tell a lie, Pa; you know I can’t tell a lie” and he was granted with forgiveness. The historical record shows that there is no other record for this mythical tale except for Mr. Weems account. It has become increasingly clear that tale may have just been made up to instruct America’s youth to be moral like their founding father, George Washington. Some historians have tried to charge Weems with plagiarism of English folktales and adapting them into American settings for the early American founding fathers but no matching stories have been discovered. Therefore, in the end, we may never know if a young George Washington did in fact chop down his father’s favorite cherry tree and beyond that if he confessed to the misdeed. 

If you have any questions you’d like answered in the next edition please don’t hesitate to ask!

One thought on “Questions & Answers Edition #3

  1. Pingback: Oreos: America’s Cookie | an adventure of sorts

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