.. the ice thickens ..

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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Apr 03, 2006 3:48 am

.. *sings* .. I feel the ice thicken under my feet I feel the World stop tumbling down ....... ok so what has caused the WoZ to break into song ?? .. aha it is wonderful when one finds that a point one has been making for a long time is suddenly supported by one whose opinion cannot be challenged .. mind you though Aussies love to and will challenge anybody that draws breath with a total disregard and respect for their assumed position , but to move on .. so it was with a sense of deja vu that I saw the following written by Mr Words himself, Michael Quinion >>
"Their country of origin and dating—as with nadgers—is always based on the first recorded use. This can mislead in the case of slang; it is often only committed to print when the fashion for a word is already waning, and its first appearance can be divorced from its true locale by an accident of recording.
.. he's right you know .. been saying that for years .. haven't I Ken .. *grin* ..

.. the above quote is taken from MQ's review of the latest edition of THE NEW PARTRIDGE DICTIONARY OF SLANG edited by Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor .. and MC's opinion ?? .. well not very supportive at all ..
The revision is a brave try and there’s a great deal that’s worth having in it. But it’s sad to see so much historical material has been lost and that some entries raise queries or could be improved. Like the proverbial bad apple in a barrel, such entries contaminate the whole. I cannot recommend it.
.. sour apples indeed .. did he not get an invite to be on the editorial panel ?? ..

WoZ of Aus 03/04/06
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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:16 am

So what is the point you are making here, WoZ? Is it that Michael Quinion has written a spiteful review out of pique at being overlooked for the editing of this revision of Partridge? Or are you principally drawing attention to a statement by Quinion that echoes one of your own mantras in order to raise up a straw man for you to knock down again by suggesting that Ken (Greenwald) places too much reliance on first recorded use in his etymological investigations?

If the latter, I don't think you have been paying sufficient attention to Ken's periodic comments on this topic. But in any case, I think you are treading a fine line in endorsing Quinion's views with one breath and casting aspersions on his motives for presenting them with the next.

As to my own assessment of Quinion's review: to me it seemed thoughtful and convincingly argued, and the criticisms it contained were well supported with examples. I certainly don't think it contains any evidence of what you call 'sour apples'. On the other hand, I do detect a distinct whiff of sour antipodean grapes...
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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:58 pm

Wiz, I don't disagree with Quinion's first quote above and would say that his comments on ‘country of origin and dating’ for slang being based on first recorded use’ is not all that shocking to anyone who follows word and phrase origins. Dating (along with a country) is often given as a range surrounding that first known appearance (see Random House Unabridged Dictionary and Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang), which is often cribbed from the OED, and seems to me to be exactly what it says it is and nothing more – first known/recorded appearance in print (sometimes accompanied by country). And I’m not aware of any reliable sources ever saying it was anything but that. The folks who are ‘mislead’ are those who don’t know what those ‘first appearance’ dates mean – and it is unfortunate that they don’t and that they get a wrong impression. And I do agree that it is often the case that it is not clearly defined by the authors – not that most readers look at the explanatory notes they provide at the beginning of a dictionary anyway.

I think that the reason that dictionaries, both slang and standard, often resort to this date is that guesses as to when and where a word or phrase was ‘first spoken’ are mostly too flimsy to hang one’s hat on and too unwieldy to adopt as a guiding principle for an entire dictionary. The labor and difficulty, and unreliability involved in such guesses, especially when dealing with thousands, tens of thousands (e.g. Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology), or even hundreds of thousands of entries (e.g. OED) make such a choice undesirable and impractical.

So what’s a lexicographer to do? First appearance in print seems like a reasonable and workable dating system (for both slang and Standard English). And I suppose I would rather have a date that was at least well-defined, although perhaps somewhat conservative due to the time lapse between first spoken and first printed, than have no date at all, or one based on someone’s wild-assed guesses of the mostly impossible-to-determine ‘date first spoken.’

I was very disappointed when Merriam-Webster Online pulled the dates from all of their entries a few years ago. Their philosophy on that one might have been that, besides saving a tremendous amount of research effort, time, and bucks, they would rather have no dates at all than be caught in what appeared to be a mistake when an earlier date was found. The OED has no such qualms and is updating its electronic version to account for new information (often provided by readers) all the time. I, for example, regularly find appearances in print that predate that of the OED (and submit them), but I don’t get overly upset and complain that I was being mislead. I consider the entries for what they are – best attempts, thus far, at finding the first appearance in print, and at the ready at any moment to be replaced by any newer discoveries.
_________________

Ken – April 2, 2006
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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by Wizard of Oz » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:54 am

.. Ken I spose what I would like acknowledged .. or given greater credit .. is the part played by linguistic migration .. those words and phrases that arrived on all manner of vessels with all levels of the human race .. often I see the acknowledgment that such and such a word/phrase is common amongst some particular ethnic group in say New York and conforms to that groups language but ........ the next step linking it back to the country of origin is rarely taken leaving it as an American word/phrase because it first appeared in print in the US .. but no doubt you .. and of course your Champion Eternal Erik .. will dismiss this as a viral strain of Downunder Yankeephobia .. so be it but it is what I see with clear eyes .. *takes off Irlen lenses and cleans them* .. llew mostall clare ..

WoZ of Aus 09/04/06
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:05 am

Did I mention I was thinking of starting an insurance agency?
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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by gdwdwrkr » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:40 am

Orchard- and Vineyard Insurance are taken.
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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:02 am

Wiz, Believe me. I would acknowledge linguistic migration if and when I knew it existed. But I can’t acknowledge what I don’t know and can’t find. I look in all the references I can, as exhaustively as I am capable of doing. I regularly use sources such as the OED, which doesn’t have any particular American bias that I am aware of, as doesn’t Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang written by Englishman Jonathon Green, who likewise has no reason to favor ending his etymology on American soil. I check any and every source that I can find, including, incidentally, a dictionary of Australian colloquialisms, to produce the very best derivations that I can. And I assure that if I can find that an expression actually came from Lancashire, I’m not going to tell you it came from Brooklyn. So where is it you propose I look to take this next step you talk about linking an expression back to the country of origin? I’m open to suggestions.

Ken – April 9, 2006
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.. the ice thickens ..

Post by Wizard of Oz » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:40 am

Ken I not making any general criticism of your work .. believe me I have a solid respect for the research that you painstakingly undertake .. my observation is aimed at the published level of the references that are available .. unfortunately I am unable to immediately bring to mind an example .. won't that cause ripples amongst the watchers .. however I shall keep my eyes open and bring an example to your attention when it arises .. some examples that hang around the edge of my awareness have to do with New York slang that has a Yiddish background, an area close to your heart .. however my point remains ..
"Their country of origin and dating—as with nadgers—is always based on the first recorded use. This can mislead in the case of slang; it is often only committed to print when the fashion for a word is already waning, and its first appearance can be divorced from its true locale by an accident of recording."
M Quinion.
.. and it IS nice to see it supported as Ken you have, on previous occasions, knocked me when I have suggested the exact same thing .. not to worry though .. I know where I am coming from and am not beholden to anybody except myself ..

WoZ of Aus 11/04/06
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