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HD: 1937 Words
Posted: 11 October 2011 03:51 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Another installment

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Posted: 11 October 2011 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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“ … its infamous product …”

While fried battered Spam (with dry lettuce and quartered tomato - no dressing) is high on my list of the most disgusting dishes I have ever been served, that seems a little harsh - surely it’s spam, lower case, that’s infamous?

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Posted: 11 October 2011 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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crewman, n. This is actually a surprisingly late addition to the language. It’s an obvious compound, but the OED has no record of it prior to 1937.

Boy, is that one ripe for antedating.  It took me about three seconds to find this, from the Yale Literary Magazine for June 1883:
books?id=t59MAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA364&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U17qG6iljyt3vvwe0aIhzIGQms36A&ci=185,206,753,102&edge=0

heil, int. Due to the ubiquitous greeting of Heil Hitler! that could be heard throughout Germany, the German word for “hail” crept into English by 1937. From the citations, it appears that the English usage of heil was mainly derisive in nature.

We heil! heil! right in der fueher’s face

While fried battered Spam (with dry lettuce and quartered tomato - no dressing) is high on my list of the most disgusting dishes I have ever been served, that seems a little harsh - surely it’s spam, lower case, that’s infamous?

No, I think the actual meat product is infamous too, outside of those South Pacific isles where it is (oddly) considered a delicacy.

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Posted: 11 October 2011 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve updated the post with a note about the antedating of crewman.

While fried battered Spam (with dry lettuce and quartered tomato - no dressing) is high on my list of the most disgusting dishes I have ever been served, that seems a little harsh - surely it’s spam, lower case, that’s infamous?

No, I think the actual meat product is infamous too, outside of those South Pacific isles where it is (oddly) considered a delicacy.

Once in my undergraduate days, long before electronic spam was ever dreamed of, I received postal spam. A “friend” sent me a can of Spam through the mail. Just the can with an address tag and stamps attached with string to the can’s key, no wrapping or external packaging. The postal clerk was laughing his head off as he handed it to me. This may be the earliest case of lower-case spam in history, but I’m certain that it has nothing to do with the origin of the term for unwanted electronic messages, which is clearly an independent coinage.

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Posted: 11 October 2011 05:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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When was the first time ‘hobbit’ was used other than as a direct reference to the Lord of the fricking Rings series? I mean yes it appeared there in 1937, but it would never appear in a dictionary just because of that.

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Posted: 11 October 2011 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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but it would never appear in a dictionary just because of that.

No, not true. Dictionaries often include standalone words or senses that appear in literary works. The point in these cases to include unfamiliar words that people might look up, even they have little or no currency outside that work.

All the OED citations are in reference to Tolkien, but one non-Tolkien use of hobbit is reference to Homo floresiensis, which are popularly dubbed hobbits. The species was discovered in 2003 and the “hobbit” nickname is from 2004. (The OED entry is from 1989, so of course wouldn’t include this.)

There are probably earlier uses of the word that aren’t in reference to Tolkien, but none spring immediately to my mind.

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Posted: 11 October 2011 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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No, not true. Dictionaries often include standalone words or senses that appear in literary works.

Well that’s lame.

There are probably earlier uses of the word that aren’t in reference to Tolkien, but none spring immediately to my mind.

It is a moderately common term of abuse for the vertically challenged.

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Posted: 11 October 2011 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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[Note: Shortly after posting this, Languagehat identified uses going back to at least 1883, and it’s likely even older. —dw]

The passive voice is vastly to be preferred over the dangled participle.

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Posted: 11 October 2011 10:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks, Dave. As usual, an interesting list, with several surprises. I like your timeline, too - it’s very evocative of old times.
Toscanini is a role model for old people. A year before, in 1936, he conducted the very first performance of what is now the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. At that time, of course, it was the Palestine Orchestra.

To you and to all those who regard Spam as an “infamous” food, all I can say is: Oh boy, have you led sheltered lives!

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Posted: 12 October 2011 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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If by that you mean that we haven’t eaten Spam, you’re wrong.  De gustibus, and all that.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Well that’s lame.

So in your opinion, if a reader is confused by a quoted sentence from Tolkien mentioning a hobbit, they should be required to read his collected works to find out what the word means?  That’s lame.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 05:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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If by that you mean that we haven’t eaten Spam, you’re wrong.  De gustibus, and all that.

No, what I meant was: if you think Spam is really awful food, then you’ve never had to eat really awful food

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Posted: 12 October 2011 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Ah, fair enough then.

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Posted: 13 October 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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So in your opinion, if a reader is confused by a quoted sentence from Tolkien mentioning a hobbit, they should be required to read his collected works to find out what the word means?
---

Well yes. We can’t have a dictionary cluttered by the many critters imagined by sci-fi and fantasy authors, filled to the gills with kirinki and Dentrassis and judoons. There are fan-wikis for that kind of thing. On the other hand, hobbit (and, for another example, babelfish) have broadened to more general use than specific reference to the items in the books, so I don’t mind them being in dictionaries. Point is that it would be jarring to see them if the use had not broadened.

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Posted: 13 October 2011 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I’d no idea that the definition of “hobbit” had broadened to include more than Bilbo Baggins and his ilk. I suppose I’ve led a sheltered life, too (not so much as to despise Spam, though - even though I might avoid it for reasons other than taste). I’ve no idea what (who?) is a babelfish*, either, other than perhaps a dweller in the waters of the Euphrates. Over to you, OP Tipping

I take it “vertically challenged” means people like Napoleon, Tom Thumb, Mickey Rooney, André the Giant?  ;-)

*I know now what it originally meant. I’ve never read Mr.Adams’s work I’m afraid. sheltered life, again. what’s the word mean today?

[ Edited: 13 October 2011 11:15 AM by lionello ]
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Posted: 13 October 2011 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I’ve never read Mr.Adams’s work I’m afraid. sheltered life, again.

“Deprived,” some would say.

(And others might say I’d made a typo ;)

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