Thomas Paikeday t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA
Thu Jan 18 03:47:36 UTC 2001


What would we do without someone like you to track things down!

I am familiar with "Atishoo" but it never occurred to me to look it up.
Curiously enough, "atchoo" is listed in the OED as a variant of

The eternal problem of English dictionary users is finding the spelling
of a word one has only heard, not seen: If you can't spell a word how
can you look it up in the dictionary? The best solution that I know of
so far is Marvin Morrison's _Word City_ inspired by Hebrew (consonants
only). Thus, if you don't know the spelling of the sound made by
clearing the throat, look under HM in _Word City_ and you have the
choice of ahem, ham, hem, him . . . whom.

"Atishoo" is interesting in several other respects. OED calls it
"imitative." I think it is as imitative as "cock-a-doodle-doo."

Secondly, what is the "i" doing in "Atishoo"? I don't ever recall
hearing a trisyllabic sneeze. But then words and spellings can be very
arbitrary. And are there syllables in every utterance?

Thirdly, how come "Atishoo" is not entered in desk dictionaries like the
CANADIAN OXFORD and the CONCISE OXFORD? (Cf. the Websters). It cannot be
that the sneeze has a lesser frequency of occurrence in Britain than in
America. (Just kidding!)

Some of the questions that remain: Is body language nonvocal or
nonverbal communication? Voluntary or involuntary? (The questions posed
about the lady shown seated on Julius Fast's cover, it seems to me, have
nothing to do with body language). Are interjections of the imitative
kind part of the vocabulary of body language? If communication is
essential to body language, does the sneeze communicate anything beyond
the state of the environment or the condition of one's body? (Just
thinking aloud).

Comments (private or to the List) will be gratefully received.


THOMAS M. PAIKEDAY, lexicographer since 1964
Latest work: The User's(R) Webster,
A unique dictionary that shows idiomatic and typical usage
ISBN 0-920865-03-8


Fred Shapiro wrote:
> On Tue, 16 Jan 2001, Thomas Paikeday wrote:
> > I just checked the OED disk (1988) and it has neither "ah-choo" nor
> > "achoo." "Ahem" is in, though, and occurs 18 times in the text; "humph"
> It is in the OED under the spelling "atishoo."
> Fred Shapiro
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
> Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
>   and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
> Yale Law School                             forthcoming
> e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------

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