Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.
Whoops-a-daisy is one of those terms that seem to be used in very different circumstances and a multitude of forms, don't you think? As far as I have been able to ascertain, up-a-daisy, as an encouragement to a child who has fallen to stand up, or as an exclamation upon lifting a child, dates back to the early 1700s, and seems to be used to console or amuse a little one. Variants include upsi-daisy from the 1860s. It's basically a nonsense phrase.
The term was shortened to whoops by 1937, and appears in that form in a letter by Ezra Pound, no less. Of course, Dear Readers, as citizens of such a ‘Nobel' nation we all recall that Ezra was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954. How could one forget? One assumes that whoops was related to the expression to whoop, as in giving whoops of joy, a usage that goes back to the early 1600s.
I think, Dear Reader, we should be careful not to include whopping as a variant at this point in time. Such expressions as The Anthony administration created whopping great deficits or A former prime minister told whopping great lies are scarcely whoops of joy, no matter how you feel about the outcome of the election, but I do enjoy, I must admit, the phrase He scraped through and retained his seat with a whopping great reduction in the votes cast for him – a nicely oxymoronic way of putting it.
In the1400s whoops was used a verb, as in the falconer whooped his hawks. Crying whoop during a hunt indicated that the animal being hunted was dead. By 1568 whoop had become an exclamation of surprise or derision but the meaning of the word, as so often is the case, changed dramatically and by 1927 Americans were whooping it up, meaning they were having a riotous time living it up. Making whoopee appeared in the US around 1927. Somewhat incongruously, as Brexit demonstrated, the British chose a different path: a whoopsie is the name for the excrement left in a child's potty.
Whoops-a-daisy appeared in a New Yorker cartoon in 1925 as an expression of surprise or dismay, specifically upon discovering one's own error, which brings me to the point of today's A-musing. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan (MOFA), which is kind enough to keep me abreast of all the latest happenings of interest, sent me last month a release on a “domestic missile incident” that must have been one heck of a whoops-a-daisy!
The Republic of China (Taiwan) government was informing the world of the accidental launching of an anti-ship missile on the morning of July 1 by a navy corvette in the southern port of Kaohsiung. The missile evidently passed through a Taiwanese fishing boat without exploding but killed the Taiwanese captain and injured three crewmembers, including a Filipino and a Vietnamese all the same. The boat was about 40 nautical miles away, between Taiwan proper and the outlying county of Penghu. The missile then went into the sea, without crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which was a blessing. We all know how sensitive the Mainlanders can be.
President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her condolences to the family of the captain and apologised to those injured. She said her government took full responsibility and all related agencies would assist the families in seeking compensation. The government also notified neighbouring countries, making it clear that the incident was a result of human error during a training drill. MOFA informed the Manila Economic and Cultural Office and the Vietnam Economic-Culture Office in Taipei that a Filipino and a Vietnamese crewmember aboard the Xiang Li Sheng had been hurt. MOFA also directed its representative offices in the Philippines and Vietnam to express the government's sympathies to the families of the injured crewmembers. The ministry also notified the American Institute in Taiwan, as well as the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei. The Mainland Affairs Council informed Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, while the Straits Exchange Foundation simultaneously advised Mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits of the incident. Japan was also later informed. ROC overseas missions in countries in the region have been instructed to explain this position to host governments.
What I find particularly interesting about this whole story is neither the inadvertent firing of a missile and its tragic consequences nor the immediate apology by the new President of Taiwan who assumed full responsibility and promised compensation. What strikes me is the large number of important nations that have representation in Taiwan even though they play the game of not having diplomatic relations and do not admit to having embassies; The American Institute in Taiwan indeed! Whoops! What am I saying!