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“19 Regional Words All Americans Should Adopt Immediately”
Posted: 09 July 2012 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
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From MentalFloss

The “should” is a debatable opinion, of course, but the words are apparently legit, having been gleaned from DARE.

The only ones of these I can recall encountering are slug (IIRC, discussed here or on the old site in the HOV sense) and chinchy.  (I’ve heard faunch in sf fandom, but with a different sense: a mixture of like/love/lust after.)

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Posted: 09 July 2012 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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A fascinating list, Dr. T. Thanks. But one sentence left me puzzled (should have studied it before vodka#3, maybe).

You would have to be a real bufflehead if you didn’t think this word, meaning a fool or idiot, is not an awesome insult.

Is bufflehead a mortal insult, or isn’t it?

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Posted: 09 July 2012 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Just a WAG, but I think the idea is that “bufflehead” is an “awesome” word (which connotes a playful jest) rather than that words conveys an insult of awesome proportions (I.e., likely to leave the victim of it, or a bystander to its usage, dumbstruck with awe).

So, I don’t think its a mortal insult to be called a bufflehead.
EDIT: upon re-reading it, though, i think this is complicated by the writer’s inclusion of “idiot” as a synonym, as idiot is not necessarily a particularly playful jest.  But I still think, perhaps simply because “bufflehead” sounds so inherently playful to my ear, that it is not a mortal insult.

[ Edited: 09 July 2012 12:50 PM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 09 July 2012 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Great list and, unsurprisingly, all new to me. I know we’ve discussed mug up in the British sense of swotting, reading up on something, but I don’t recall the American usage being brought up there. I don’t know about adopting words but I’d adopt in a heartbeat that beautifully beribboned set of DARE. I believe I actually salivated at the sight of it!

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Posted: 09 July 2012 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I did a little digging into “bufflehead” on google books to try to get a better sense of where it registers on the insult o meter.  Interestingly, at least to me, the term had some currency as an insult in 17th century Britain (Pepys is said to have referred to a man as “a talking, bragging bufflehead") and in turn of the century America.  That is a wide enough gap in time that I’m guessing the slang terms are unrelated, even though they have a similar meaning (either a stupid person, or a person with a large, stupid-looking, head).

The term seems to be less playful than I would have guessed but short of a mortal insult.  There is a turn-of-the-century, US, reference to bufflehead (along with ass, fool, and blockhead) not being legally actionable.  Even though the term is said to not be actionable, the implication is that somebody (unsuccessfully) filed a suit based on the use of the term, suggesting that it is not just a playfully teasing term There is also a self-deprecating reference to a person describing himself as a “terrible bufflehead”, apparently because he drove away the only eligible woman from town through some sort of faux pas.  So, like a lot of insults, the harshness depends on the context, but, even so, it doesn’t seem to be a mortal insult.

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Posted: 09 July 2012 05:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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You would have to be a real bufflehead if you didn’t think this word, meaning a fool or idiot, is not an awesome insult.

I think there’s one more negation in that sentence than the author really intended.

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Posted: 09 July 2012 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think you’re right, but it’s possible he included an extra negative on purpose, as an illustration of buffleheadedness.

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Posted: 09 July 2012 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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That was my understanding, too, Dr. T. Thanks for the confirmation. Lets vodka off the hook.

(sighing with relief, totters over to the nectar cabinet)

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Posted: 09 July 2012 10:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Fascinating list, Dr T.  Thanks. I’ve started my collection of DARE in a very modest way, and look forward to getting more volumes when money and space allow. When time allows, I’ll try to find out how many of those words have their origins in English dialects, which is always a pleasant way to while away a rainy day.

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Posted: 10 July 2012 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Slogan time: “DARE to be different.”

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Posted: 11 July 2012 04:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Did the author really mean to say ratgut, or is that a typo for rotgut?

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Posted: 11 July 2012 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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lionello - 09 July 2012 12:13 PM

A fascinating list, Dr. T. Thanks. But one sentence left me puzzled (should have studied it before vodka#3, maybe).

You would have to be a real bufflehead if you didn’t think this word, meaning a fool or idiot, is not an awesome insult.

Is bufflehead a mortal insult, or isn’t it?

Not sure vodka deprivation would be of much help with this one.  Overnegation is not an official category at Language Log but it might as well be.

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Posted: 11 July 2012 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Did the author really mean to say ratgut, or is that a typo for rotgut?

The latter, I think.

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Posted: 11 July 2012 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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You would have to be a real bufflehead if you didn’t think this word, meaning a fool or idiot, is not an awesome insult.

This sentence is awkward, but I don’t see a problem with the negatives. I parse it as… “If you don’t think this word, meaning fool, is an awesome insult, then you’re a fool.”

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Posted: 11 July 2012 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Well, I actually think it would mean something like, “if you don’t think Bufflehead isn’t a great insult, then you’re a fool.”.  Or, if you treat the double negatives as canceling each other out, you would be left with “If you think bufflehead is a great insult then you’re a fool.” But what you said is what the writer meant, I think.

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Posted: 11 July 2012 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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To jump back to lamguagehat’s post, I think there’s a difference between the overnegation in the “bufflehead” definiton (which seems to have a negation that the writer didn’t intend to have) and the one in The language log link.  In the example of “overnegation” in the language log link, the writer seems to have included the number of negatives that he intended to include (the headline is “Met reverses itself on review ban by Opera News”, and the article indicates that the Met had made a decision to bar that organization from reviewing it, and later decided to allow it do so.).  Presumably, the criticism is that it is confusing, or inelegant, or both to refer to “reversing” a “ban”, but that’s a different issue.

And, FWIW, (he hesitates to add) I’m not sure that it is inherently improper to approach an issue by way of two negations.  In the “Met” example, simply saying “Met decides to allow reviews of its productions by Opera News” would not have conveyed a critical piece of the story, namely, that this was a reversal of a prior decision to ban such reviews.  You could convey that information in other ways, of course (I.e., Met will allow Opera News to review its productions, after all”, or “Met, in a reversal of a prior decison, will allow Opera News to review its productions”, or “Met, in response to public outcry, will allow Opera News to review its productions”, but none of those strike me as improvements.  I’m sure that if I thought about this long enough I could come up with a version of the headline that does not contain two negatives, that does convey the key details of the story, and that is relatively elegant.  However, I don’t see anything particularly wrong with including “reverses” and “ban” in the same sentence.  If there is a problem with the headline, I think it is that “...review ban by Opera News” is a little awkward.  I would prefer something like “Met reverses its decision to ban reviews of its productions by Opera News”. 

Of course, at some point the inclusion of multiple negations will make a sentence look absolutely ridiculous, even if the “right” number of negations are included, in the sense that the sentence has the meaning that the writer intended it to have.  One particularly silly, real life, example was in the title of a legal ruling that I was asked to review.  The ruling described itself as an “order denying motion to vacate order granting motion to vacate order denying petition for review and granting review.” (this was in “all caps”.).  I had to read that one a few times to figure out that it meant that a petition for review was being granted.  Part of what makes that sentence confusing, of course, is the legal jargon, but even if you are an attorney and are familiar with the jargon (as I am) you would probably have some trouble deciphering that one.  (The inclusion of a comma or two would have helped, too.).

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