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There is no moment in sports more romantic than the beginning of a tennis game, when the score is “love-love” and anything is possible.

During the recent Wimbledon tennis tournament, a timeless question came to mind: What is love? Or in this case, what is tennis love?

“Love” is the equivalent of having a score of zero or nil. When both sides have no score, the game is “love-love.”

From there, tennis scoring goes from odd to batty. One point brings a player to “15,” two to “30”; and three to “40.” The next point wins the game, unless a complex series of tie-breakers comes into play.

There’s no consensus, however, about the origin of the tennis term “love.”

The Oxford English Dictionary surmises the term is rooted in the colloquial phrase “for love,” meaning “without stakes being wagered.” This theory walks in lockstep with the sport’s long history of etiquette and sportsmanship. (Let’s not kid ourselves: Major prize money was at stake during Wimbledon. The women’s singles winner Serena Williams, as well men’s winner Rafael Nadal, who goes by the sobriquet “Rafa,” each took home more than $1.5 million.)

Some etymologists theorize that “love” arose from the French word “l’oeuf,” meaning egg — a “zero” on the scoreboard. This is a clever claim, but appears to remain unsubstantiated.

The word “tennis” comes from the French word “tenetz” — meaning “hold!” — the imperative conjugation of the verb “tenir.” (Spanish speakers will recognize this as a cognate with their infinitive verb “tener.”)

Major Walter Wingfield, who laid down the rules for modern tennis, originally had another name for tennis. He called it “sphairistike,” based on the Greek phrase “skill in playing at ball.” Wingfield most certainly laid an egg with that name.

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DVD Notebook; Consumers feast on `Silence of the Lambs’.(VARIETY) see here newly released dvds

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN) February 20, 2001 | Salas, Randy A.

Talk about bad timing.

While “Hannibal” has been killing ‘em at the box office – it surpassed $100 million in just 10 days – two DVDs for the movie that spawned the sequel, “The Silence of the Lambs,” are nowhere to be found. They don’t go out of print officially until March 1, when the rights to “The Silence of the Lambs” revert to “Hannibal” studio MGM, but demand spurred by the current film has made the DVDs largely unavailable.

There are two versions of the “Silence” DVD – a bare-bones widescreen release from Image ($29.99) and a special edition from the Criterion Collection ($39.95). The highly recommended Criterion disc has clearly become the version of choice.

Criterion, which pioneered the use of supplemental material in laserdisc days, slathered on the extras for its widescreen DVD: a tightly edited commentary track by director Jonathan Demme, stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally and FBI agent John Douglas; deleted scenes; film-to-storyboard comparisons; more storyboards; the FBI crime classification manual, and quotes from convicted serial killers.

MGM is expected to release its own DVD by the end of the year, but some extras, such as the commentary, probably will be different, because Criterion owns them.

Such is the reputation of Criterion that its “Silence” DVD was the No. 1 seller last week at online retailer Amazon, even though there were no copies available. It went to the top of the sales chart just from people clicking on the “buy” button, hoping for a straggler copy.

The Image DVD also cracked Amazon’s top-50 DVD sellers. Twin Cities-based Best Buy advertised the Image DVD in its Feb. 11 sales circular, expecting demand to rise in anticipation of “Hannibal.” It did – two weeks before the advance-printed circular came out, leaving store bins largely empty by the time the sale was announced.

The demand for the special-edition “Silence” DVD “certainly doesn’t hurt the legend of Criterion,” spokesman R. O’Donnell said. “It’s bad news, good news: We lost the rights, but it helps our reputation.” When asked how consumers could buy the Criterion “Silence,” O’Donnell said, “It’s a dead issue. It’s in collectors’ hands now.” Prices on the resale market are expected to escalate until MGM releases its version.

In the meantime, “Hannibal” fans can content themselves with newly released DVDs for “Manhunter,” the 1986 film by Michael Mann that introduced Hannibal Lecter (played by Brian Cox). That DVD, from Anchor Bay, is readily available in two versions, both widescreen – a single disc with a few extras ($24.98) and a two-disc limited edition ($39.98), which includes a director’s cut of the film and a 24-page collector’s booklet. in our site newly released dvds

Gone, James Bond The Bond DVDs already boast impressive features, so it’s unlikely that their contents will change, but one never knows. MGM has not indicated when the DVDs will be available again.

“Never Say Never Again,” which was not released as a special edition, is expected be taken off the shelves in May.

Digital bits – Outstanding music and innovative filmmaking abound in today’s release of “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould” (Columbia Tristar, $29.95), Francois Girard’s fragmented 1994 biopic about the Canadian classical pianist. Gould gave up the concert stage at the height of his career in the mid-’60s to focus on recordings and other pursuits before dying at the age of 50 in 1982. The DVD, in widescreen or full-screen and in two-channel Dolby surround sound, includes a trailer and little else; oddly, there are no biographical notes about its subject.

- The DVD for Cirque du Soleil’s “Dralion” (Columbia Tristar, $24.95), which visited the Twin Cities last summer, includes multi-angle views for some of the circus’ acts and a making-of featurette. There also is Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a minimal widescreen presentation.

Salas, Randy A.

44 Comments

  1. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 26, 2013 - 4:02 am

    My good friend Carmen’s dad plays tennis.

    Both “tenetz” (which is probably pronounced “tene,” where the e is sounded like a, or some weird thing) and “tener” come from the Latin “tenere” meaning “to hold.”

    @Paul:
    The dictionary blog people made an article about a man who tried to create a language he hoped the whole world would eventually speak – a universal language. And I don’t find anything wrong with your writing style.

    @chris:
    Cool idea. I’m not sure that’s it. Good imagination, though! I wouldn’t have thought of that. :)

    Reply
  2. Paul -  October 23, 2013 - 10:19 pm

    Wow, wat about f i rite like dis 4 u, after all its how most people communicate these day’s.. In time all languages will be one.

    Reply
  3. Silverchild -  January 22, 2011 - 2:22 pm

    The score in tennis is 15-30-40 according to the minutes it took the first players of the game to make each point – i don’t know if i say it correctly.

    Reply
  4. chris -  January 21, 2011 - 6:55 pm

    Maybe it is a ZERO. as in, At the point one persues love you start at nothing, you have nothing to lose. No where to go but up. If you are zero… Also perhaps to imply being empty, ready to be filled with love. As ones cup is empty. From the top that too looks like a zero. The passing and volley from one side to another, in lovers exhange. Language is often more artistic then people like to make it.

    Reply
  5. TEETER | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 3, 2010 - 8:04 am

    [...] according to the drools of other fools. — “TESTICULAR FORTITUDE” as we speak of Rousseau’s Balls though we’re certain he enjoys a great “CACHINNATE” and likes to play not fight. [...]

    Reply
  6. cna training -  July 14, 2010 - 9:26 am

    Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

    Reply
  7. mcp.isabel -  July 14, 2010 - 3:36 am

    a) I recommend the reading of the poem “40 Love” by Roger Gough… Indulge yourselves :)
    b) Isn’t it curious the lack of awareness of the influences of the French language over English? If we took some steps back in time, say, about two handfuls of centuries, we’d notice this LOVEly marriage between both sides and which bore today’s English… Would you find, for instance, the way back to the root of the ‘so English’ word “very”?…

    Reply
  8. Ruth -  July 12, 2010 - 6:31 pm

    Danny, have they ever held a funeral for a dead word???? Do you go to prison if you butcher English? I’m just saying that there is no use in raking someone over the coals for this. Sometimes a person’s highly tuned skill can make them into nothing more than an overused male appendage. Have a little heart.

    Reply
  9. Mr Parrot -  July 12, 2010 - 11:40 am

    The egg reference is still in use in colloquial english. In the north of England where I live, a foolish person is often referred to as a ‘duck egg’ or a big zero!

    Reply
  10. Anne -  July 12, 2010 - 10:17 am

    The article was very interesting. I LOVE tennis!! Good debate, by the way.

    Reply
  11. Anne-Laure -  July 12, 2010 - 9:48 am

    Well, thank you to all of you. I NEVER look up at such “gossip”, but this time I did, because I am French and I played tennis. And boy I loved all those comments. It made me smile (another difficult one, I am autistic on top of ill all).
    Anne-Laure

    Reply
  12. RT -  July 12, 2010 - 9:36 am

    Keep it up, folks. I, too, am a word freak and believe, rightly or wrongly, that the l’oeuf explanation is the correct one. At least it sounds the most plausible. Most of the postings have been very interesting.

    Reply
  13. Danny -  July 12, 2010 - 9:00 am

    Ruth: Really?! That’s a bold assertion in this venue …

    Reply
  14. Ruth -  July 12, 2010 - 8:27 am

    As much as we may all appreciate words, in the end, people are more important.

    Reply
  15. Tom -  July 12, 2010 - 7:37 am

    Debbie, hmm, interesting point, I’ve poked around a bit and it seems as if tenetz is indeed the correct form in Anglo-Norman, the dialect of Norman French spoken in post-invasion medieval England. But the article just says “French” without any clarification so I think it’s still fair to criticise it.

    Reply
  16. Sarah -  July 12, 2010 - 7:31 am

    I don’t mean to put a damper on this loveless debate, but “tenetz” is correct in Old French and, better still, Middle English. The error is perhaps in clarity of communication, not in spelling.

    Reply
  17. caspmct -  July 12, 2010 - 7:29 am

    wow, you all sound so tedious.

    Reply
  18. Florizelle -  July 12, 2010 - 7:28 am

    So there’s no definite answer. How stupid. I mean, the tennis history was good but they didn’t answer the original question. The second part, at least.

    Reply
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