Mayhemed as a past participle? 
Posted: 29 December 2010 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I confess to being a ‘political junkie’, so I read things like the readers’ comments in the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News regarding their recent senatorial election, and all legal fuss and bother that followed it.  One of those comments used mayhemed as a past participle:

ConservativeCharles is like those Japanese army guys after the war .... they get their butts seriously mayhemed but they just can’t pull themselves out of the swampy, fetid jungle for at least 30 years or so.

Emphasis added.

Source:  http://www.adn.com/2010/12/28/1622554/federal-judge-overturns-miller.html#disqus_thread
Showing 951-960 of 1511 comments [The comments threads do not contain page or post numbers in the URL...you will have to scroll through to find this.]

Off to google to try to find other examples of get/got mayhemed:

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Get A Land Bonanza, And Shut Up - Politics and Governance ...
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But for how long will this trend continue; the trend of some few elements looting what millions died and got mayhemed for? ...
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publish.nyc.indymedia.org | The Media Fear Mongering Begins
Jul 12, 2004 ... In your stupid “Trail of Global mayhem” (Who the hell got “mayhemed”? Anyone besides a 23 year-old protester in Genoa MURDERED by the ...
nyc.indymedia.org/feature/display/96842/index.php - Cached

Question:  This sounds like something kids playing video war games might say.  Is that, in fact, the origin?

I promise never to say “got mayhemed”, no matter how great or small the temptation!

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Posted: 29 December 2010 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I just asked my local 16-year-old Call of Duty expert, and he said he’d never heard “mayhem” used as a verb in a video game or any other context.

Now if you Google “had been mayhemed” you get hits on a bunch of Islamic websites, giving the impression that a particular passage of the Koran can be translated that way.

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Posted: 30 December 2010 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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There’s an entry in the OED for mayhem as a verb. It dates to 1742 and is marked “Now arch. and rare.”

These modern uses may or may not be related to the older ones. It’s easy enough to verb the noun and recoin it.

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Posted: 30 December 2010 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Yes, I would guess each of the quoted uses is an ad hoc verbing, which I find nothing wrong with; it’s lively and comprehensible.  If everyone always stuck to dictionary-approved usages, English would be much poorer.

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Posted: 01 January 2011 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Actually, the use of mayhem as a verb is simply (albeit almost certainly not intentionally) going back to its origin, the Old French verb mehaignier (also maagnier, mengnier, mayhaynier, maheimer, etc.).  In the fourteenth century this gave rise to English maim, both verb and noun (as a noun now archaic/obsolete). A century later, mayhem entered the language as a legal term, essentially replacing the noun maim.  The “modern” pronunciation of mayhem with [h] is an example of “spelling pronunciation”, since the “h” had never been pronounced in French.  The citations of “mayhemed” in the blog could all be replaced by “maimed” with essentially no change in meaning.

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Posted: 01 January 2011 07:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The citations of “mayhemed” in the blog could all be replaced by “maimed” with essentially no change in meaning.

Not true, unless by “essentially no change in meaning” you mean “no change that actually reverses the meaning.” Whatever the etymology, “mayhem” has a much broader sense than “maim,” and if you consider the rewrite “they get their butts seriously maimed” I think you’ll see my point.

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Posted: 03 January 2011 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Searching “mayhemed” through genealogybank.com gives eight hits.  Remarkably, they are all legit.  Three are from the 19th century and five from the 20th. 

From the New York Commercial Advertiser of May 3, 1875, recounting an assault on and robbery of a saloon keeper on Staten Island:  The perpetrators “...beat Mrs. Hildebrandt and mayhemed her fingers as she was bravely defending her husband...”

For a more recent example, the Seattle Daily Times of May 3, 1973 reports on the loss by the United States basketball team to the Soviet team in a game “characterized by rough, elbow-swinging play”.  The coach is quoted as saying “You might say they out-mayhemed us.”

My guess is that at least some of these various hits are independent instances of the noun being verbed.  It is a natural process in English, the complaints by the usual suspects notwithstanding.

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Posted: 03 January 2011 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Richard Hershberger - 03 January 2011 08:50 AM

My guess is that at least some of these various hits are independent instances of the noun being verbed.  It is a natural process in English, the complaints by the usual suspects notwithstanding.

Indeed. With the Elizabethans, whose zest and delight in pursuing the possibilities of English is unsurpassed, it was almost a national pastime. Shakespeare rarely saw a noun he didn’t like better as a verb, to the ultimate enrichment of the language.

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Posted: 04 January 2011 06:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It’s still a national, or rather international, pastime; the difference is that since Shakespeare’s day we’ve developed a cohort of prissy prescriptivists who gasp in horror at anything they haven’t seen before rather than taking delight in pursuing the possibilities of English.

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Posted: 04 January 2011 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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There is a question of whether or not Elizabethans were especially fond of coining new words. There is no doubt that lexicographic databases contain a large number of new terms and uses from the Elizabethan era. (Shakespeare is the second most prolific author of first citations in the OED, following Chaucer.) But the databases may be skewed.

First, lexicographers and bibliographers are particularly fond of the Early Modern period. As a result, the language of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is simply better documented than any other era, including our own. A lot of this bias is from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it still pervades the dictionaries and databases. Second, there was an explosion of book publishing in Elizabethan times, as printing really came into its own. Many of the “new” usages are probably older, but simply not recorded before the Elizabethan era. (We may be witnessing a similar phenomenon today with the internet capturing the ordinary speech of ordinary people, registers that are not represented in published material of even two decades ago.)

It may well be that Elizabethans were no more likely to coin new words than those of other eras.

On the other hand, it was during the Elizabethan era that the dominance of Latin and French came to end in scholarly and legal writing in England, and English began to be used in many fields where it previously hadn’t been. Also, England emerged from being a provincial backwater at the fringes of Europe and started becoming a European and world power. So there is reason to believe that the era might well have been more productive than usual in new coinages.

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Posted: 04 January 2011 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I think it would be more accurate to say that they gasp in horror at anything they (a) notice and which (b) they had not noticed previously.  This is why so many utterly routine usages evoke horror, while even more similar usages go unremarked upon.

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Posted: 04 January 2011 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Dave Wilton - 04 January 2011 06:55 AM

There is a question of whether or not Elizabethans were especially fond of coining new words.

I agree, it can certainly be overstated, and usually is with Shakespeare. Of all the Elizabethan playwrights it was John Marston that was most noted for his neologisms, and not noted approvingly. His fondness for them in fact invited ridicule from his fellows, including famously Ben Jonson who introduced Marston as the poet Crispinus in his play The Poetaster. In the play the other Roman poets (including Horace, who represents Jonson himself) seize Crispinus and force him to take a purge, which hilariously causes him to vomit forth some of his ‘fusty words’. Certainly there is personal malice behind the attack on Marston by Jonson but one only has to read Marston’s plays to see that Jonson was spot on target here. It’s not that Marston isn’t a fine playwright (he is, and wrote some wonderful plays, both comedies and tragedies) but he does love new words. As Stanley Wells observes in English Drama, Excluding Shakespeare (Oxford, Select Bibliographical Guides):

As Cross observes, the OED cites Marston more often than any other writer, Shakespeare excepted, as a coiner of words or user of words in new senses at the turn of the seventeenth century.

As we all know, there’s a caveat here: an earliest appearance does not a coinage make, and it’s quite probable that a large number of Shakespeare’s “neologisms” had in fact appeared earlier in English (Especially given the fact that none of his colleagues remarked on this flood of supposed new words). With Marston however we can be a little more confident that many of the words listed are in fact the children of his own fancy, although again one can never be certain.

As it’s both hilarious and instructive I quote a little from Crispinus’ ordeal in Act V, sc. i of The Poetaster.

Tib. How now, Crispinus?

Cris. O, I am sick—!

Hor. A bason, a bason, quickly; our physic works. Faint not, man.

Cris. O———retrograde———reciprocal———incubus.

Caes. What’s that, Horace?

Hor. Retrograde, reciprocal, and incubus, are come up.

Gal. Thanks be to Jupiter!

Cris. O———glibbery———lubrical———defunct———O———!

Hor. Well said; here’s some store.

Virg. What are they?

Hor. Glibbery, lubrical, and defunct.

Gal. O, they came up easy.

Cris. O———O———!

Tib. What’s that?

Hor. Nothing yet.

Cris. Magnificate———

Mec. Magnificate!  That came up somewhat hard.

Hor. Ay. What cheer, Crispinus?

Cris. O! I shall cast up my———spurious———snotteries———

Hor. Good. Again.

Oris. Chilblain’d———O———O———clumsie———

Hor. That clumsie stuck terribly.

Mec. What’s all that, Horace?

Hor. Spurious, snotteries, chilblain’d, clumsie.

Tib. O Jupiter!

Gal. Who would have thought there should have been such a deal of
filth in a poet?

Cris. O———balmy froth———

Caes. What’s that?

Cris.———Puffie———inflate———turgidious———-ventosity.

Hor. Balmy, froth, puffie, inflate, turgidous, and ventosity are
come up.

Tib. O terrible windy words.

Gal. A sign of a windy brain.

Cris. O———oblatrant———furibund———fatuate———strenuous—-

Hor. Here’s a deal; oblatrant, furibund, fatuate, strenuous.

Caes. Now all’s come up, I trow. What a tumult he had in his belly?

Hor. No, there’s the often conscious damp behind still.

Cris. O———conscious———damp.

Hor. It is come up, thanks to Apollo and Aesculapius: another; you
were best take a pill more.

And taking strenuous at random we find for its earliest cite in OED:

1602 J. Marston Antonios Reuenge v. i. sig. I2, The fist of strenuous vengeance is clutcht.

Right on the nose, Ben!

And I just love that, “I shall cast up my spurious snotteries!”. Stored away, for I just know it will stand me in good stead one of these days. :)

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Posted: 04 January 2011 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Giving that just a cursory glance, I’d say Marston’s batting average isn’t too shabby.

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Posted: 04 January 2011 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Faldage - 04 January 2011 07:28 PM

Giving that just a cursory glance, I’d say Marston’s batting average isn’t too shabby.

Oh not bad at all. I should be so fortunate to coin so many useful new words! (It’s to be expected that many would fall by the wayside). For those with an interest in word origins Marston is a playwright not to be missed. As W. Reavley Gair noted, writing on Marston’s Antonio plays, “by the end of their respective first acts, both plays have introduced a new word to the audience on average every fifteen lines.” And thus TF Wharton in his The Drama of John Marston (also the source of the previous quote):

If enough new words were cast at theatregoers, some would stick and become part of common usage while others would fade into obscurity the moment the play concluded. Thus for every capricious there is a catastrophonical; for every suppository a disesteem. ............ The second commonly noted point is his use of ambiguity. Marston uses words perceptively to enable a plurality of readings to be made possible from even the shortest and simplest sentences. John Scott Colley jokingly recommended that ‘critical bifocals may be necessary to catch all the levels of tone and meaning in his plays.’

I think he’s very like Shakespeare in the latter regard, Marston has always been one of my favourites among the Elizabethans, he’s never anything less than interesting.

BTW I’m not sure I’d agree with disesteem as an example of words that ‘faded into obscurity’ and this one predates by a few years Marston’s playwriting career anyway (earliest cite in OED is from the poet Samuel Daniel in his 1594 closet drama The Tragedy of Cleopatra.)

[ Edited: 04 January 2011 11:12 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 05 January 2011 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Shakespeare’s own opinion on new words and those who form them can be seen in the character Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Armado is introduced as “a man in all the world’s new fashion planted, That hath a mint of phrases in his brain,” and “a most illustrious wight, A man of fire-new words, fashion’s own knight” (1.1) Armado uses more recently coined words than any other character in the play, save one (Berowne). He is also an utter fool, continually bested in verbal sparring by his own young page, Moth. Armado deploys terms like congruent eptitheton (1.2), festinately (3.1), posteriors of the day, meaning afternoon (5.1), and in a wonderful conflation of two meanings of excrement (hair and manure) produces this:

For I must tell thee it will please his Grace (by the world) sometime to lean upon my poor shoulder, and with his royal finger, thus, dally with my excrement, with my mustachio. (5.1)

The character can be interpreted as evidence that Elizabethans did coin a large number of neologisms and that Shakespeare was aware of this fashion, but it’s by no means conclusive evidence. And obviously, Shakespeare had no objection to using new words, just to using them unskillfully.

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