Words that became defunct practically overnight
Posted: 25 February 2017 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I was talking in the Meta Discussion Never too old or young to learn thread of terms for coinage in the UK that had vanished with decimalization and it gave me to think of other words that had disappeared similarly abruptly. Y2K came to mind but more examples don’t readily follow. Any others out there?

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Posted: 25 February 2017 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Plus fours.  Only a very old person like myself would remember these; I recall them from my early childhood.. They came into fashion after WW1, and pretty well died out during WW2, although I believe some golfers continued to wear them later. The Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor) was fond of wearing them, and so was my Uncle Teddy.  It is only ten minutes ago that I learned, from Wikipedia (may its name be blessed) why they are so called.

Edit: i remember that in Spanish they were called in familiar parlance guarda-pedos ("fart-catchers").

[ Edited: 25 February 2017 11:11 AM by lionello ]
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Posted: 25 February 2017 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Record changer disappeared pretty rapidly.

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Posted: 25 February 2017 04:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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” to think of other words that had disappeared similarly abruptly.”

None of those words has disappeared. People still use the terms shilling, plus fours, record changer. There is less cause to use them, except in historical writing or perhaps in numistatic publications, baggy trousers collectors blogs etc.

EDIT:

Shilling remains a common word, and there are still coins so known in some countries. It is also a hot item numistatically.

record-changer Googlits: 341000
A bit of Googling indicates that some vinyl enthusiasts still use record-changers.

tuppence Googlits 1610000
Quite often used figuratively, as something of low value.

plus-fours Googlits 4100000

Best news all day. Frabjous Day Callooh Calay, plus-fours are still being manufactured and, presumably, purchased!
http://www.golfknickers.com/About-Us-a/247.htm
https://scottishtweeds.co.uk/onlinestore/plusses/page56.html
The Sutherland Sporting Tweed Company says: “These are generally ordered by people that are purely stalking or requiring a lot of bending and leg movement.”

Who can be mad at the world, knowing there are people out there still loading their Barry Manilow collection on to a record-changer, or doing a bit of stalking in their plus-fours.

[ Edited: 25 February 2017 04:46 PM by OP Tipping ]
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Posted: 25 February 2017 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I haven’t googled the vinyl enthusiasts, but do they really use the record changers, or do they just collect or buy and sell them? I’d have thought that they’d take as much care of easily damaged vinyl as possible.

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Posted: 26 February 2017 01:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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kurwamac - 25 February 2017 11:49 PM

I haven’t googled the vinyl enthusiasts, but do they really use the record changers, or do they just collect or buy and sell them? I’d have thought that they’d take as much care of easily damaged vinyl as possible.

Well there are videos on youtube of people showing how to use and service them so it seems the number still actively using them is non-zero.

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Posted: 26 February 2017 04:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think we might do well to interpret aldi’s use of “disappeared” fairly loosely — more or less in the sense of “fallen steeply from daily use, in a short period of time”.  Of course words don’t disappear entirely. I’m sure little children will be “singing a song of sixpence” for a long time to come, even if they’ve not much idea what sixpence is, or was (the occasional child might even ask what “sixpence” means..... and eventually end up joining wordorigins.org.
)
And I don’t think the number of Google hits has necessarily much to do with the frequency of word usage. Take, for example, the expression “ear trumpet”.  This gets about 2,700,000 Google hits; yet I wonder how many members of this forum have ever had occasion to mention an ear trumpet…..

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Posted: 26 February 2017 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OP Tipping - 25 February 2017 04:27 PM

“ to think of other words that had disappeared similarly abruptly.”

None of those words has disappeared. People still use the terms shilling, plus fours, record changer. There is less cause to use them, except in historical writing or perhaps in numistatic publications, baggy trousers collectors blogs etc.



I grant that the words will always be used in historical context but that’s true for most obsolete terms. I should have specified that I was thinking of terms that had vanished from current usage, outside of historiographical and specialist texts. The use of shilling in other countries I did think about but the only one I could come up with was the Austrian schilling, which I considered a different term. Now I see however that there is a Kenyan and a Tanzanian shilling so your point is valid.

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Posted: 26 February 2017 04:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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lionello - 26 February 2017 04:40 AM

And I don’t think the number of Google hits has necessarily much to do with the frequency of word usage. Take, for example, the expression “ear trumpet”.  This gets about 2,700,000 Google hits; yet I wonder how many members of this forum have ever had occasion to mention an ear trumpet…..

You should search phrases using quotation marks. Ear trumpet gets about 400,000 Googlits. You’re right, it’s not a direct relationship. But an extremely rare or obsolete word won’t get hundreds of thousands of hits. I can tell you for a fact that I have used the phrase “ear trumpet”, even though I’ve not seen one: I used it to imply that my wife was not listening.

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Posted: 26 February 2017 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Here’s the frequency data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English for Y2K:

1997:  43
1998:  201
1999:  719
2000:  132
2001:  32
2002:  5

It’s pretty much in single digits each year after that, occasionally rising into the teens.

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Posted: 26 February 2017 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The frequency of ear trumpet in the Corpus of Historical American English:

1840s:  2
1850s:  1
1860s:  2
1870s:  1
1880s:  1
1890s:  1
1900s:  4
1910s:  0
1920s:  8
1930s:  4
1940s:  2
1950s:  11
1960s:  1
1970s:  2
1980s:  0
1990s:  1
2000s:  2

Many of these hits are from fiction. All of the hits in the 1900s and six from 1920s are from the same two fiction sources. Four of the hits in the 1950s are from two fiction stories. These results make me think that actual ear trumpets were never common, but rather became emblematic of old age.

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Posted: 27 February 2017 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Very interesting results. I must use those COCA and COHA sites more, they are wonderful tools for researchers and others. I’ve just registered with COHA (very quick and simple process) and I was pleased to find that registering with one automatically registers you with the other.

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