Kaffee (“coffee”), borrowed from another language and still a foreign word in the sense that in German at least the way it is written and spoken is not homogeneous. “Potato” is an English loan from some Red Indian language; in the German Kartoffel there is either a borrowing or a bastardization based upon a shift in meaning; whereas in Erd-apfel (“earth-apple”) and Grum- or Bodebirn (“ground-pear”) we are dealing with cases of transliteration or of description.The Romans adopted the Greek custom of crowning victors of a race, or on the occasion of a feast, with a wreath, and wreaths of flowers were also used elsewhere for these purposes. But it was only at the time of the Renaissance that the term “crown” was re-introduced in noun and verb form; there were poets' crowns and crowned poets, with the word “crown” signifying “wreath” as in Latin. The plant species used was native to Greece, and was imported, in historical times at least, both as a plant and as a word. The German Lorbeer(“laurel”) (the shrub, not the berry; “baccalaureus” became in turn the symbol of an academic title, the baccalauriat; in French, bachelier; its meaning twisted again to become the English “bachelor”) became the “vegetable of fame” of Speidel's jesting. And crowned poets from Petrarch to Tennyson were called “poets laureate.” The cheap laurel needed no replacement. The myrtle-wreath, which, as a result of faulty observation, or of a still more mistaken popular etymology, was regarded somewhere in the Orient as the symbol of sexual life and later became a chastity symbol, was more easily acquired in Germany as a weed than as a blossom; German brides therefore wear wreaths or crowns of the genuine leaves and false blossoms. Palms are replaced at Easter by pussy-willows as the only seasonal green plant available. And because palms, which in the Orient are the obvious plants for decorative purposes, have lent their name as a prefix to such terms as Palm Sunday and Palm Week in characterizations of the festival season, the green willow branches substituted for them have been designated “palm branches” and “palm catkins.”
I don't go as far as James does (Psychology, p. 297) when he holds it impossible to improve memory. [ Note 05 ] It would not be impossible to render the organs that serve memory capable of greater achievement by exercising them, as has been shown to be possible in the case of the muscles. It is certainly true that educational psychology, which believes that it can strengthen memory in the young by senseless exercises, is based upon the old associative psychology, which sees in memory the mental picture of a force, just as it does in the case of imagining other such mental pictures which this force learns to play with. If memory is nothing more than activity in the same sense that the soul is nothing more than its experiences, then nothing remains to be strengthened. Iron will that does not permit itself to forget useful knowledge and exerts itself to remember when remembering is required is a facet of character, and an individual's memory is in this sense unalterable, as character is. But quite aside from all such considerations, the pointless drilling that goes on in schools is every bit as senseless as the training of the wrong muscles for some special use of the limbs would be. A person who has learned nothing in his younger years except to walk on his hands can make no use of this capability later unless he intends to become a circus performer.
Walking on their hands, with their heads down, is the chief training being given our young people. Bible verses (in the elementary grades), memorizing all the tributaries of some foreign river (in the middle school), tables and professional data presented in reference books (at the university level) form the memory training defended on the basis of an assumed strengthening of memory! On the occasion of my state examinations in the history of jurisprudence, I was required to list the 13 prerogatives of a cardinal in their God-ordained order, not forgetting the prerogative of a pallium woven by a particular group of nuns in a particular convent.