The whole nine yards revisited
Posted: 10 March 2009 03:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I trawl through Google Book Search every once in a while for the phrase, just to see if anything interesting pops up. The infuriating thing, of course, is that Google is full of false positives, so to speak, and there’s fool’s gold aplenty in them thar hills.

I find it devilishly difficult ascertaining the true date for some of these but here are the interesting ones. (The search parameters were whole nine yards
+date 1940-1968

Shell Aviation News 1963

… ask you the facts and figures, the pounds and pressures, the emergency
procedures and limitations . . the whole nine yards. Then, when you think you’ve .....

Wings of the Tiger A Novel 1966

You went the whole nine yards. I say without men like you the whole country
would go to pot.” Chuck shifted his embarrassed glance to Clancy. ..

Only one of these is a possible antedate to the recent 1964 sighting, but the 1966 one is interesting, I hadn’t seen that before (if that is the true date). So, are these kosher or not?

There were also hits from 1940, 1941 and 1958, but I’m pretty sure they’re not right. (Some results had no details at al other than title, date and the message ‘Sorry, this page’s content is restricted’. Don’t recall seeing that rather ominous phrase before.)

I tried to put the url for my results list here but for some reason it misdirects to the main Google Books page. The parameters are above though if anyone wants to see the list.

So any paydirt there or can I start cursing Google out anew?

[ Edited: 10 March 2009 03:26 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 10 March 2009 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The Googlebooks dates for serials (such as Shell Aviation News) are wrong more often than not, and the issue numbers (379-402) specified in the bibiliographic material for that file don’t match the year 1963.  This 1966 issue offered on eBay, for example, is #340.  So I don’t think you can trust the 1963 date.

However, by searching for “1966” in Wings of the Tiger, you can pull up a snippet view of the copyright page that says “First printing September 1966” so I think that one’s accurate.

[ Edited: 10 March 2009 11:58 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 10 March 2009 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The default date for most serials on Google Books is the date the serial began publication, not the date of the issue in question. The same goes for multiple editions of books, the date is often the date of the first edition--and it is nearly impossible to distinguish the various editions without looking at the pages. (I also think that Google doesn’t scan different editions. If there is one edition in their catalog, they assume that all others are duplicates. Which just isn’t the case. Books frequently change significantly between editions.)

Clearly, whoever at Google designed the catalog system never worked in a library. I think they were arrogant and assumed that they, on the cutting edge of the “information revolution” knew more about accessing information than people who had been doing it for decades. Print was dead and the experience of librarians was worse than useless. Little did they know that there are very good reasons for how libraries organize their catalogs.

One good thing is that Google is starting to make available more public domain works in full view. Many works that were of questionable copyright status were only available in snippet view. Now that Google has come to a legal agreement with publishers, they’re going ahead and making more content available. Unlike the cataloging fuckups, I don’t blame them for this. Google has very deep pockets and is very vulnerable to law suits for copyright infringement. The fact that they were cautious is understandable.

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Posted: 10 March 2009 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I think they were arrogant and assumed that they, on the cutting edge of the “information revolution” knew more about accessing information than people who had been doing it for decades. Print was dead and the experience of librarians was worse than useless.

I’ve never read an interview with anyone from Google where they came off with this sort of attitude. I’d love to see the source this is based on, if there is something you can point me to.

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Posted: 11 March 2009 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s based entirely on my experience with Google regarding the Google Books product and a general attitude among “new media” types, who typically and foolishly disdain those with experience in older media. Also, it’s based on some interviews with Google execs on how they are developing their search functionality in general. They’re geared toward delivering content smartly to untrained users. That’s a good effort, but they seem to be ignoring the skilled researchers who know exactly what they want and can describe it precisely in standard terms. (Example: you still can’t do a character string search on the web using Google. Often, I don’t want Google to guess what I want--I want them to deliver precisely what I’m asking for, no more, no less.)

I’ve worked with Google folks on other projects (not on Google Books) and I would agree that arrogance is not typical of them. But the Google Books team appears to be an outlier. Despite the efforts of many librarians and researchers who have attempted to get Google to change their search methodology to incorporate the data structures that would make the service more effective, all the efforts have fallen on deaf ears. Despite having launched several years ago, Google has not changed their search functionality one whit--at least as far as the user is concerned; I’m sure that they’ve improved the ability “under the hood.”

The bottom line is that Google Books is a really poorly executed service. They failed to do even the most basic of market research on what functionality was needed before launch and they’ve been utterly unresponsive to user input afterward. Despite the failings, however, Google Books remains a massively useful service.

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Posted: 11 March 2009 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Well said, as usual.  I simply can’t understand why Google Books isn’t better than it is, but what it is is damned useful.

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Posted: 21 March 2009 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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And here’s the newest earliest appearance of “the whole nine yards” found so far.  (It was found in Google Books by Stephen Goranson on March 18 and confirmed by Joel Berson the following day.)

From “Man on the Thresh-hold” by Robert E. Wegner
Michigan’s Voices: A Literary Quarterly Magazine
Created by Michigan Writers and Artists
Vol. 2, No. 4 (Fall 1962)

Marjorie’s fault, and if all this howling and
yelling up and down through the furnace pipes
didn’t stop soon they’d have the kids awake and
then we can all take positions at one of the
vents and bellow at each other ... then the dog
would catch on and go ki-yi-yi-ing from one to
the other of the shouting pyjama-clad
participants—mad, mad, mad, the consequence of
house, home, kids, respectability, status as a
college professor and the whole nine yards, as a
brush salesman who came by the house was fond of
saying, the whole damn nine yards and Marjorie
with her credulous countenance which allowed him
to tell her with a perfectly straight face ...
tell her it was a left-handed screwdriver he
needed, one that turned counter-clockwise ...

http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0903c&L=ads-l&D=1&F=&S=&P=7615

-- Bonnie

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Posted: 21 March 2009 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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A new member’s first post is about TWNY and it isn’t an unsupported assertion of the ammo-belt story or something like that?  The millennium has arrived!

Welcome, welcome, welcome, Bonnie!

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Posted: 21 March 2009 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dr. Techie - 21 March 2009 02:49 PM

A new member’s first post is about TWNY and it isn’t an unsupported assertion of the ammo-belt story or something like that?  The millennium has arrived!

Welcome, welcome, welcome, Bonnie!

New Member, yes, but this is THE Bonnie who had found, through incredibly hard work, the previous earliest cite for “nine yards.”
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005107.html
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Posted: 22 March 2009 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Yes, welcome, Bonnie, and hope to see more from you.

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Posted: 22 March 2009 07:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Thanks so much for the kind welcomes.  (I promise to try not to mention ammo belts or concrete trucks or material for various garments and burial shrouds ... )

Thanks, too, to samclem, who’s obviously trying to give me a big head.  Of course, it was he who came up with what I consider the breakthrough antedating (1964) of the “the whole nine yards.”

http://158.130.17.5/~myl/languagelog/archives/004623.html

-- Bonnie

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Posted: 23 March 2009 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Yes, welcome aboard, Bonnie.

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Posted: 23 March 2009 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I often grouse about Google book search but my god, what a boon it’s been to all those, amateur and professional alike, whose interest is the origin of words and phrases.

And a warm welcome from me too, Bonnie.

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Posted: 23 March 2009 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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aldiboronti - 23 March 2009 06:45 AM

I often grouse about Google book search but my god, what a boon it’s been to all those, amateur and professional alike, whose interest is the origin of words and phrases.

It’s not just a boon for etymologists. There’s a scarcely believable amount of information on any subject you care to mention available through Google Books now - I’ve written two books on beer and brewing, for example, and both would have been definitely poorer without material gathered through Google Books.

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Posted: 24 March 2009 04:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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My biggest gripe with Google Books (aside from the obvious ones, such as incorrect information about publication date) is that it’s impossible to sort search results by publication date (however wrong those dates might be).  Sure, one can impose date limits (e.g., “date:1940-1970"), but I haven’t been able to find a way to put the resulting hits in pseudo-chronological order.  One would think this sort feature would be pretty easy for the folks at Google to provide.  (Still, like everyone else, I acknowledge that this is a great resource and I’m happy to have access to it.)

(Oh, and again, thanks for the greetings, blush.)

-- Bonnie

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