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Posted: 01 October 2007 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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When did the practice of forming nouns with the -o suffix start, eg as in posho, psycho etc?

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Posted: 01 October 2007 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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An extraordinary summary of this phenomenon over at LINQUISTLIST hosted by Eastern Michigan U has this for the age of the o-suffix.

Gisle Andersen recommended that claims about the age of these words be
forwarded with caution. Though usually assumed to be quite recent, at least
one o-word was attested as early as in 1883, namely “bucko” ‘strong,
dominant man’. As for “weirdo”, the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang gives
1955 as the year of first attestation. Joe Hilferty even thinks he recalls
having encountered O-words in Shakespeare, possibly in “Othello” (the title
of which has three syllables, alas...). Even if the bulk of O items are not
that old, the fact that the Marx brothers adopted their stage names sometime
in the first two decades of the 20th century could perhaps be an interesting
clue in determining the age of the O-words.

On the Marx brothers names, he adds a note of caution, but they may be based on Italian vaudeville clown names.

Anyway, a very interesting discussion.

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Posted: 01 October 2007 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The OED2 has an entry for -o, suffix but as far as dates go, one is just referred to various examples (which are not necessarily the earliest).  FWIW, I quote the entry, with the earliest date of citation from each of the examples inserted by me, in brackets.

Forming slang and colloquial nouns, adjectives, and interjections.
The use of the suffix is widespread in English-speaking countries and is especially associated with Australia.

a. Forming interjections, as WHACKO int.[1941], WHAMMO int.[1932]

b. Forming familiar, informal equivalents of nouns and adjectives, as (from truncated word-forms) AGGRO n.[1969], COMBO n. [1926 in sense of a white man who lives with an Australian aboriginal woman, 1929 in usual modern sense], METHO n.1 [1933]; (from complete words) BUCKO n.[1883], KIDDO n.[1896]; CHEAPO adj.[1967], NEATO adj.[1951]

c. Forming personal nouns from non-personal nouns, as MILKO n.[1905, earlier as a milkman’s call], WINO n.1 [1915]

d. Forming nouns from adjectives, as PINKO n.[1930; 1925 as adj. meaning “leftist:, 1917 as adj. meaning “drunk"], WEIRDO n.[1955]

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Posted: 01 October 2007 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I note that NPArchive has “Fatso” as a nickname from at least 1935.

Reno, Nev., Jan. 11—(AP)—The arrest
of Frank A. Cochran, proprietor of a Reno automobile repair
shop, on a charge of conspiracy to harbor the late George (Baby Face)
Nelson, slain gangster, was announced by federal agents here today.
United States District Attorney E. P. Carville said a formal complaint
accusing Cochran of conspiring with “Fatso” Negri of San Francisco
and John Paul Chase, now in custody in Chicago,

The AP item ran in the Ironwood [Michigan] Daily Globe.

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Posted: 01 October 2007 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Which antedates the OED, but since the entry is still from the 2nd edition that’s no great surprise.

I note that “boyo” is cited from 1870, earlier even than “bucko”.

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Posted: 01 October 2007 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The suffix in street cries (such as milk-o) goes back much further.

Here are a couple of examples from a Regency Street Cries website.

Cherries

Cherries-O! Cherries ripe all ripe, round and sound ripe cherries, fine Duke Cherries,....only five-pence a pound cherries ripe, Cherries ripe all ripe...Cherries O!

Turnips/Carrots

White turnips and fine carrots ho! White turnips and fine carrots ho! Will you buy my choice carrots and young turnips ho! White turnips and fine carrots ho!

Note the ho in the second one, one would imagine that to be the forebear of the o.

I’m sure I recollect this suffix in early ballad poetry too but I’d have to check that.

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Posted: 01 October 2007 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Neither of your links works for me.

The OED date for “Milk O!” is 1865, which is still post-Regency; OTOH I don’t think they’d consider these uses worthy of listing; I believe “milk o!” gets cited because it later became hypenated and then fused into one word.

I recall learning as a youngster the ballad of Molly Malone, the fishmonger, who cried out “Alive, alive O!” even after she wasn’t.

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Posted: 01 October 2007 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Try this link.

No, that one’s no good either.

This page is where I found the link. It works there.

Ah, that one works. The link is at the foot of the page.

[ Edited: 01 October 2007 10:37 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 01 October 2007 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The problem with the links is that ExpressionEngine (I presume) has replaced what should be a “%7” in the URL with “”.  It does things like that sometimes, and the only fix seems to be to visually inspect the URL it creates and edit it by hand.

I’m disappointed to see that the page you cite provides no contemporary references for the cries; as far as I can tell, this is just “some guy on the web said so” evidence.  He (or she) may well be right, but…

I’m trying to see if the OED has any cites for this particular use of the interjection “O!”, which is where I suspect they’d be listed, but either the OED server or my connection to it seems to be experiencing technical difficulties.

Edit: finally got through; not as helpful as I could have wished.  Sense 3 for “O, int. and n.” is “Chiefly Sc. Added after the rhyme word at the end of a line in a ballad, song, etc., for metrical reasons. Now sometimes used humorously as an arbitrary ending to an utterance. Cf. -O suffix. ...  In quot. 1859 referring to its former use in street cries.” The referenced quotation is “1859 G. A. SALA Gaslight & Daylight xvi. 177 The shows at Saville House remained alive O!” The first citation for this sense is “1721 A. RAMSAY Poems 374 O the Mill, Mill-O, and the Kill, Kill-O, And the Cogging of the Wheel-O.”

[ Edited: 01 October 2007 11:24 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 01 October 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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What about “green grow the rushes, O”, which has a “green-o” thrown in as well.
I believe that this goes back a while.

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Posted: 01 October 2007 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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donno

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