A Shower of Applause vs. Fiasco

The OED states that "fiasco" means "flask, bottle" in Italian. It adds
that "the fig. use of the phrase far fiasco (lit. ‘to make a bottle’)
in the sense ‘to break down or fail in a performance’ is of obscure
origin; Italian etymologists have proposed various guesses, and
alleged incidents in Italian theatrical history are related to account
for it. "

Does anyone know of some of these fanciful "incidents in Italian
theatrical history?"


Here are few Slavic words that might be of great help in this case. For instance, hip-flask is named pljoska in Serbian (Russ. flяžka; Cz. placatka) and that name refers to the flatness (Serb. pljosnat flat; Russ. ploskostь flatness; Cz. plochost) of such a bottle. Now we can understand that English flask is closely related to the word flat (in sense of broader surface in relation to depth or thickness).

Let us now see where the word "flat" is coming from? Is it related to "plane"? In Serbian, plane is "poljana" (plane, field; Russ. pole; Cz. pole). Does it mean that English 'field' is derived from the same ur-basis as 'plane' and 'flat'? What about the words as English plate, plateau, place and Serbian ploča/ploha (plate, table; Cz. plech; Russ. plita). In addition, we can see that the English noun "land" is akin to Serbian 'ledina' (turf; from its side, turf is related to Serbian 'travnjak' lawn; trava = grass; Russ. lužaйka) and Serbian ledina comes from 'poleđina' (back surface); i.e. it comes from the same Bel-Gon basis as the above mentioned word 'poljana' (field; cf. the Pole nation is also called Lech, related to Latin, Latium and Ladino; Serb. Leđani/Latini "the Latin people").

Originally, all the above words are logically connected to the behaviour of water (lake, see), because there is no flatter object in nature beside an unagitated water surface. It is the reason why the Serbian noun poljana (field) is a word similar to the Serbian verbs bljunuti (belch forth, spew, vomit, gush) and polinuti/plinuti (suffuse, gush; also politi; plima tide; cf. Eng. field and float, flood).

Now we are approaching the most interesting part of our story. Is the Serbian word ples (dance; Cz. ples; Russ. plяska; OSlav. plѩsati) related to English 'play'? Czech plesat has the same meaning as MDutch pleyen (OE plegian) — rejoice! Obviously, Serbian 'plesanje' (dancing) is the same word as OE plegian (Slavic h => s palatalization). On the other side, as an opposition to "rejoicing", stays Gothic flokan (bewail) that clearly corresponds to the Serbian verb 'plakanje' (weeping, lament).

What is the real meaning of 'plesanje' and 'plegian'? Could it be related to pulse and what 'pulse' has got to do with the English verb 'beat' and Serbian 'biti' (beat; also 'opaliti' strike, fire)? Serbian 'pljesnuti' (slap, clap) and 'pljesak' (applause) are related to 'pljusnuti' (splash) and 'pljusak' (shower) and it shows that applause (Lat. plausus) was compared to the splash of water or to a heavy shower; cf. Lat. pluit/pluvit (it rains, a shower falls; Serb. bljuvati disgorge, plaviti float, oblivati/polivati (suffuse, flush, sluice).

As we know, rejoicing is often expressed (not casually) through the "shower of applause". It is interesting to mention that English 'splash' is equal to the Serbian is- or za-/ s- prefixed verbs 'is-pljuskati' (2nd sing. imperative, is-pljušći "splash!") and 'za-pljusnuti' (to splash). Hence the Serbian verbs 'is-pljeskti' (to beat out, strike) and 'spljeskati/spljoštiti' (to flatten), as well as the above mentioned 'pljoska' (hip-flask; flattened bottle).

Nevertheless, the Italian fiasco (fallimento; a sudden collapse, failure) might have nothing in common with flask, although it sounds the same as fiasco (flask). Namely, we have seen that flask was named like that because of its flattened form (Serb. pljoska flask; pljosnat flattened). In Serbian, there is the syntagm "pasti pljoštimice" (to fall down like a piece of lead), which indicates that the Serbian verb 'pasti' (3rd sing. perfect 'palo' fall/fallen) erstwhile sounded as 'palsti' (padanje falling comes from earlier paldanje). An additional argument that this assumption is correct can be found in Serbian vocabulary: verbs 'pljosnuti' and 'ljosnuti' (where the initial 'p' has been elided) – both with the meaning "to fall".

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