“Corn” as slang (1944)
Posted: 23 September 2019 03:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2019-09-19

Greetings, all, and thank you, Dave, for approving my membership. It has been a while since I last posted under my username “ohdan” - I’m happy to see the site still up and doing well. Alas, I come seeking your assistance.

An associate of mine was showing me a publication he found. It’s titled Lip Parade and is from 1944. It contains comics, pinups, jokes, and some humorous anecdotes. It appears to have been marketed toward soldiers during WWII. King Features Syndicate is the publisher. The usage of “corn” I’m asking about comes from a single panel cartoon. In this comic, a soldier is sitting on a couch. On his lap is a woman and the two of them look quite familiar with one another. A few feet in front of them is a little boy who is perhaps 7 years old. He’s walking through the room, eyes closed, and is holding his left hand up toward them. He has an air of authority. Anyway, he simply declares to the adults (his parents?), “Corn.”

I’d post an image of the comic but I don’t want to violate any copyrights. Also, I’d gladly look up “corn” in Volume I of my copy of Lighter’s RHHDAS, but it’s in a box in storage; I have not unpacked much since moving from SoCal to Pittsburgh.

Thanks for all your help!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1721
Joined  2007-03-21

Welcome back Dan!

I take “Corn” in this sense to mean “corny” or “cornball.” MW has for “corny”

mawkishly old-fashioned : tiresomely simple and sentimental

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6855
Joined  2007-01-03

It can also mean money ("seed corn” as a metaphor).

Is it possible the boy is asking for payment to keep silent? Without seeing the picture it’s hard to judge.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1652
Joined  2007-01-29

Welcome back, Dan - long time no see.

DARE has the sense of corn in the phrase “feel one’s corn”, a variation of “feel one’s oats”, meaning feel frisky (presumably what’s happening here) dating to 1890 - could it be obliquely referring to this? Or is it an obscure military reference from 1944? As Dave says, it’s impossible to say so my reply is based on the apparent context. Here in the UK, copyright extends only for 70 years after publication, but I don’t know about the US.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4745
Joined  2007-01-29

Is it possible the boy is asking for payment to keep silent?

My first reaction was that this was unlikely to the point of absurdity, but then I checked Green’s Dictionary of Slang and found:

1. (also seed corn) money [...].
[...]
3. (orig. US) anything unsophisticated, irritatingly or foolishly old-fashioned or sentimental, hackneyed, trite, inferior [...].

The “money” sense has been around much longer and is apparently much more common than I had thought; the “anything unsophisticated” sense was quite recent then (first citation 1930: McKinney’s Cotton Pickers ‘Just a Shade Corn’ “That melody / Seems to me / Just a shade corn!"), and I guess it’s a tossup which was intended.  Would be nice to see the image, though.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2019-09-19
languagehat - 23 September 2019 06:40 AM

Would be nice to see the image, though.

Well, I’m temporarily hosting it on my personal site so if you’d like to take a look, here it is: Lip Parade comic. To me, it seems as if the boy has a “can’t be bothered” attitude.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6855
Joined  2007-01-03

I’d go with the “banal, hackneyed” sense. The boy is acting as if he’s seen it all, and the soldier macking on his sister(?) isn’t interesting.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 09:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1652
Joined  2007-01-29

The picture makes it appear that way. Do you have the expression “talk to the hand” in the US?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  529
Joined  2007-02-24

Absolutely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jvk7faxsxkQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O-QqC9yM28

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 September 2019 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4745
Joined  2007-01-29

I’d go with the “banal, hackneyed” sense.

Having seen the image (thanks!), I agree.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 September 2019 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  541
Joined  2007-02-17
ElizaD - 23 September 2019 09:46 AM

Do you have the expression “talk to the hand” in the US?

I thought that expression was in fact American in origin (though I’m not sure whether I have any better reason for thinking that than that I do), but I also thought it was fairly recent.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 September 2019 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6855
Joined  2007-01-03

I thought that expression was in fact American in origin (though I’m not sure whether I have any better reason for thinking that than that I do), but I also thought it was fairly recent.

It is on both counts (depending on how you define “recent"). According to Green’s and the OED, it’s first recorded in student slang at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1995.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 October 2019 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  529
Joined  2007-02-24

Wikipedia has this on the origin of “talk to the hand”: The phrase was popularized by actor and comedian Martin Lawrence in his 1992 sitcom Martin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk_to_the_hand

There might be a problem with this though. The sit-com ran from 1992 into 1997. Wikipedia could just be referring to the origin date.

[ Edited: 02 October 2019 05:18 AM by Eyehawk ]
Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ BL: prorogation      Prevaricate ››