… continued from last week.
Before we get back into the matter at hand, it might be worthy of reviewing where we were in Part One of this article (1).
We touched upon the idea that while money is not evil in-and-of itself, it can cause people to act in immoral ways. Certainly, there has been much humanitarian effort backed by large amounts of money over the years, and so we recognize that money can also be a good force, but we understand that–for whatever reasons–money does seem to motivate many sorts of crime.
Then we took a crack at a couple of sentiments often expressed in our Western society, which, while we hold in some way or an Other to be true, we demonstrated that both are certainly false. Put differently, we learned that we hold false beliefs about the relationship between money and our experience. Now, it seems to me that it is reasonable to assume that holding false beliefs about something–even if we know they are false beliefs–can often cause us to act in strange and irrational ways. To add fuel to this particular fire, we also touched upon the idea that the more intangible something is, something like time–or perhaps even money–the more likely it is that we will attribute false beliefs to our experiences with it.
However, we wanted to get honest about language as it reflects money–this was the main drive–and, although we talked about space and time in Part One, the purpose was to show how some of our language regarding money, when evaluated literally, seems to turn out false. So, let’s get back to language, and in doing so, answer the nagging question of why this article bears the title “Looneytoons.”
Let’s take four examples of what money is called in its respective country of origin and show something interesting about its naming. This might relate to the people of the country, and One might have to accept small generalizations over a country’s people for the purposes of good humour only. If we can agree to that, then let’s sally forth.
In France, money is called “francs.” Sometimes some of the rest of the world looks on the French as rude or impolite or smug. Well, perhaps it’s only that they are ‘”frank”, or “direct”, in many ways that Other, perhaps more uptight cultures, are not. I mean, they must stay pretty loose with all that vin in their diets.
I feel your groans, so on to the UK.
Now the Brits refer to their currency as “pounds”, and if we take a moment to reflect on the UK, then we see how this an appropriate name for money.
Britain has a political party called Labour, and, like the name implies, this party has come out of that very sort of action: people labouring. The thing about labouring is that most of us have had to “pound the pavement” to find a job. Moreover, there are often ample opportunities to get a job in some sort of manual labour position, whereby, for instance, we might come home feeling “pounded” from a day at the factory, a day shoveling asphalt, or perhaps a day spent cold-calling people who’d rather not be bothered in their own homes by salespeople. In short, “pounds” does seem to honestly fit with the labour often required to earn money.
I’ll be making up this etymology, but I reckon it would not be too far off to say that “buck” as slang for “dollar” comes to us via our neighbours to the South–the good ole U S of A. If I am wrong about this origin, I’ll gladly “eat crow” as the point is a general One about an attitude found in Western society.
Perhaps we’ve heard the phrase about “bucking the system,” and if there’s One thing that many people hold in the Western world, it’s the opinion that the more money One has, the more likely it is One can “buck” the system. Indeed, if we look to Martha Stewart as an example, well she’s got money, went to jail for committing a crime for the sake of money, and now she has her own version of The Apprentice. I can only speak for myself here, but I feel that if One can come back into the world from jail to be the star of what is reported to be a popular TV show, this sends the message that it is perfectly fine to “buck the system,” and a person with money can obviously and readily do so.
*ahem, OJ Simpson*
Anyway, let’s get to the point of the matter, which answers the riddle of the article’s mysterious title, and illustrates why Canada is the most honest about how we name money.
As we have seen, money seems to enable One to do all sorts of crazy things. I have done my best to string a sort of surreal logic–but logic nonetheless–together to illustrate that how we name things might relate to how we think about things. Moreover, I have tried to use examples of how money is used to point toward why our world sometimes seems so crazy.
Here in Canada we have slang for our one and two dollar coins: ‘loonies’ and ‘toonies’.
“SAY NO MORE!” (2).
1. Originally published in the Voice, v13 i39, available at
2. Ending where we began, an Other quote from Monty Python, “Nudge Nudge.”