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Arcades Ambo

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 20, 2006

In Reply to: Arcades Ambo posted by Bob on December 19, 2006

: : : : : : : : : : : : : Six to one, half a dozen to another. - If the intended meaning is "same difference", then six of one and half a dozen of another does not work. It refers to two different things grouped by six. However, six to one (person) and half a dozen to another (person) is the same thing said two different ways. Thus, the meaning of the cliche changes depending on wether you use "of" or "to".

: : : : : : : : : : : : It would change, but you seem to be one of the very few persons who misquotes the cliche. I did a Google search of "six to one, half a dozen to another" (your version) and got 7 hits. I then entered "six of one, half a doaen of another" and got 45,000 uses.

: : : : : : : : : : : And the version I use "six of one half dozen of the other" gets 24,200. Pamela

: : : : : : : : : : By the way, I don't agree with the logic that "six of one, half dozen of the other" can't mean "same difference" because it "refers to two different things grouped by six". It means that "six" and "half a dozen" are exactly the same thing. So if there was an arguement between person A and person B and person A says "We need to get more people to attend church" and person B says "No! We need to get people to recognise the importance of religion" and I say "Well, it's six of one half dozen of the other" then this indicates that I think that there is no difference between attending church and recognising the importance of religion. Pamela

: : : : : : : : : Language is rarely, if ever, logical but, while we're being excessively logical, John with 6 oranges is hardly the same as Judy with 6 oranges. John and Judy aren't the same. 6 oranges given to a millionaire is nothing, while 6 oranges given to a starving person is a fortune so in that case even the oranges aren't the same.

: : : : : : : : I've always heard "it's six of one and half a dozenof the other," never the version with "to." And the meaning isn't "same difference"; it's "no difference, at least practically speaking." Yeah, okay, that's how people use "same difference," but "same difference' ought to be bound, gagged, and thrown into the same dungeon as "I could care less." ~rb

: : : : : : : in my experience, "six of one, half dozen of the other" is usually used to say that two people are equally to blame, often for starting an argument. it is supposed to convey that there a re two equally (in)valid viewpoints and that both people are no more right than the other in appealing for outside support.
: : : : : : : it implies that the people are both in the wrong - but equally so.

: : : : : : : L

: : : : : :
: : : : : : Yes, I agree that it's normally used to mean that both people are in the wrong or are equally to blame. In the church example I gave above, I should have said that in saying "six of one, half
: : : : : : dozen of the other" person C thinks that there is no difference between the two statements and disagrees with both. Pamela

: : : : : not sure the church example worked - in that example both people might be right, whereas the "6 of one" is usually about blame - as in, the police decided not to prosecute either neighbour for assault - hearing both sides, they decided it was 6 of one and half dozen of the other, so they gave them both a warning.

: : : : : L

: : : : I haven't heard the phrase in contexts of assigning blame. It's used when a person has to choose one of two options that are superficially different but equally desirable. Is this a regional difference? ~rb, in the U.S.

: : : it does sound a regional difference - in Southern Britain at least, if not throughout the UK, it's used to describe a situation of apportioning blame.

: : : L

: :
: : Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says: "Six of one and half a dozen of the other: There is nothing to choose between them, they are both in the wrong -ARCADES AMBO". I've googled to find the meaning of the elusive arcades ambo, which seems to be Greek, but so many writers have used the term that I am at a loss other than to say that it may mean "arcadians both". Which doesn't help me. What it has to do with "six of one ..." I can't say. Pamela

: It seems to be a quote from Virgil's Eclogues 7, about two "Arcadian" participants in a singing contest. Whatever that may mean. Is there a classicist in the house? Smokey?

I would like to dispel any fanciful notion that I have a serious acquaintance with the classics. I don't think Brewer's statement is either clear or correct, but as regards Arcades Ambo, try this (found by way of Google):

"Arcadians both, equal in the song and ready in the response.
[Lat., Arcades ambo,
Et cantare pares, et respondere parati.]
- Eclogues (VII, 4) [Arcadia] "

It emphatically does NOT mean six of one, half a dozen of the other, which incidentally I have never heard especially connected with the assignment of blame. The consensus seems to be that "call it this, call it something else, it's the same thing." I can't disagree. And leave Vergil out of it.