Sling your hook
Posted: 27 June 2007 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
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As in clear off, go away.

Checking for this in OED I find:

sling, v. 3d. to sling one’s Daniel or hook, to make off, clear out.

Sling one’s Daniel? That’s new to me. Here are the cites.

3d. 1873 J. GREENWOOD In Strange Company 338 [He] swore..that if we did not that instant ‘sling our Daniels’,..he would [etc.]. 1874 Slang Dict. 295 Sling your hook, a polite invitation to move-on. 1897 Daily News 1 Sept. 2/2 If you don’t sling yer hook this minute, here goes a pewter pot at yer head.

I’d initially been trying to discover whether there was an explanation for the hook slinging, ie whether it came from some particular profession, dockers, maybe, or longshoremen. But the Daniel version muddied the waters further. Could it be rhyming slang? Daniel Cook doesn’t ring any bells. Any suggestions?

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Posted: 28 June 2007 12:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I didn’t find anything, but could it have anything to do with Vaudville? You know, giving a bad act the hook to get them off the stage. Just a thought will things are quiet.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I wonder if this dodgy practice might have been known as “slinging the hook”?

Perhaps equally improbably, might “Daniel” be rhyming slang for “Daniel’s book”, ie the Book of Daniel? Can’t find any proof, but the BoD is referred to as ”Daniel’s book” by theologians, and church-going Cockneys might have heard the expression in sermons ... or not ....

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Posted: 28 June 2007 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The one quote given by OED is from In Strange Company, by James Greenwood, 1874, in a piece titled ”Out with the Waits”. He’s in the neighborhood of Elephant and Castle in London, and had walked to near a “St. George’s Church in the Borough” (I’m not sure where that is) with a band playing music:

“On the other hand, one inhabitant ... waxed wroth at our music. He flung up his window with a furious bang, and appearing at the opening with his nightcap on, and with a patchwork counterpane huddled over his shoulders, swore in horrible terms that if we did not that instant “sling our Daniels “ - which the Trombone informed me was a Sludge Street equivalent for moving off - he would “shy” at us every heavenly article of crockery his apartment contained.”

Maybe in the context of the band playing instruments, the phrase was referring to the instruments as “Daniels”, which would effectively mean to “put away [your instruments]”. This would make sense, especially if the local band members are used to hearing that, and interpreting “put away your instruments” as “move off”. Thus the OED may have incorrectly generalized this to any situation, with our without instruments to “sling”.

I’m not sure where “Sludge Street” is. The only one I can find in the UK is near Tuxford, and was later named Station Street or Lincoln Rd. Tuxford isn’t within walking distance of Elephant and Castle, so there must have been another Sludge Street, maybe.

It sounds like a very minimally-used local slang; I’m not sure if OED should even have included it if that one journalist’s story is the only source. I can’t find any record of the phrase or most variants in The Times (London) from 1785-1985.

--

Lost for Words

[ Edited: 28 June 2007 05:48 AM by etymolog ]
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Posted: 28 June 2007 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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That raises an interesting point, etymolog. How do OED judge these solitary cites? In other words, if there is only one cite in evidence how can they distinguish between nonce-words and words in general or limited circulation? Are we to assume that if OED does not mark something as a nonce word or phrase that they have other cites or evidence up their sleeves for it?

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Posted: 28 June 2007 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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aldiboronti - 28 June 2007 07:09 AM

That raises an interesting point, etymolog. How do OED judge these solitary cites? In other words, if there is only one cite in evidence how can they distinguish between nonce-words and words in general or limited circulation? Are we to assume that if OED does not mark something as a nonce word or phrase that they have other cites or evidence up their sleeves for it?

Maybe it depends on the quality/reliability of the source. Also, since “sling [one’s] Daniel” isn’t a main entry, but a sub-entry, maybe it doesn’t require as much evidence. Hopefully they have more than one source for it, though.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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How do OED judge these solitary cites? In other words, if there is only one cite in evidence how can they distinguish between nonce-words and words in general or limited circulation?

I don’t think they originally cared very much—there are lots of examples where they’ve clearly stuck in a nonce word just because they happened to run across it and figured “Well, So-and-so used it, so we should include and define it.” I suspect a lot of those words wouldn’t have been included under today’s more professional regime; it will be interesting to see if they’re ejected in the third edition or if they’re grandfathered in.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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LH, I thought once a word was in the OED it couldn’t be removed (based on historical principles?). Can they remove dodgy citations?

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Posted: 28 June 2007 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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AFAIK, the policy is not to remove a word from the OED once it is in. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be combined with another entry. In some cases, a word has temporarily been “removed” from rolling update to the 3rd Edition because it will be reinserted under another entry at a later date. “Mind your Ps and Qs” is one such case--some of the 2nd Edition content (the phrase is found scattered across several entries) are missing in the 3rd Edition at the moment and will presumably be included in a single, comprehensive entry.

Many of the nonce entries are not entire entries, but rather nonce senses of words that have other, more common meanings. I’m not sure what the policy is in these cases, whether they delete senses that are later judged to be one-off uses by obscure writers. (There is good reason to include nonce uses by famous writers--people are likely to run across it.)

Dodgy citations are definitely removed or corrected. I don’t know what their policy toward legit citations are when doing a revision, whether the editors seek to preserve the citations from previous editions or if they will change the mix to best reflect the current knowledge about its historical use.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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There is good reason to include nonce uses by famous writers--people are likely to run across it.

I dunno—I’m not sure what the point is in including obvious derivatives like touch-me-not-ishness (1837 DICKENS Pickw. viii, “There was a dignity in the air, a touch-me-not-ishness in the walk, a majesty in the eye of the spinster aunt") and trouserian (?c1820 L. HUNT Secret Existing Fashions Ess. 1887 276 “Round comes the kindly trouserian veil,.. the legs retreat.. into retirement"); their meaning is clear from context, and their inclusion opens the floodgates for any one-off bit of tomfoolery any author decides to create.  If Dickens and Leigh Hunt, why not Joyce?  Half of Finnegans Wake would have to be included as separate entries.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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You’re right about touch-me-not-ishness; there’s no need for an entry on that. I’m not saying every nonce word by a famous writer should be included, just that this can be a sound justification.

I could go either way with trouserian; that’s a borderline case--one might think it had something to do with a person named Trouser if one just encountered it while reading Hunt. And especially as it appears in a list of trouser- words (like trouserdom and trouserless); that makes inclusion more justifiable.

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Posted: 29 June 2007 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’m not saying every nonce word by a famous writer should be included

That’s all I wanted to hear!  I think we’re in agreement, then.

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