|Some empty vessels (and one that isn't)|
Goodness knows why, considering the current political situation, but I came to reflect on the proverbial phrase "empty vessels make the most noise" and got to wondering how long that bit of folk wisdom has been around.
Turns out that people were already onto blowhards in the 1500s:
1547 W. Baldwin A treatise of morall phylosophie contaynyng the sayinges of the wyse As emptye vesselles make the lowdest sounde: so they that haue leaste wyt, are the greatest babblers.
I definitely think it is well past time for the revival of the term "prattling glorioser".1589 R. Greene Menaphon: Camillas alarum to slumbering Euphues Emptie vessells haue the highest sounds..and pratling gloriosers, the smallest performaunce of courage.
While looking into this, I discovered three other folksy sayings that I was not familiar with:
an empty sack (bag) cannot stand (upright) [after Italian sacco vuoto non puo star in piedi]: great hunger or need renders a person weak, weary, or desperate.
he could start a fight in an empty room
The "p" in "empty" has not always been there. Back in Old English (when the word could mean "at leisure" or even "unmarried" in addition to its current sense), it was æmetteg. But the middle "e" got squished out of it, leaving "m" and "t" bumped up against one another. In this phonetic situation, a "p" inserted itself to make the transition from one consonant to the other easier. By the 1600s, a new spelling reflecting this, "empty", had ousted the old spelling "emty".
better are small fish than an empty dish
But I'm pretty sure I don't pronounce the "p" myself, even when speaking very carefully (I don't pronounce it in "temptation" either). Do you pronounce it?