Military industrial complex lays Pommy lexicographer low

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue May 1 01:41:01 UTC 2001

At 9:14 AM -0400 5/1/01, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>One the things that I think we know about songs and phonologies is
>that tunes seldom break contours which are important signals in the
>language. "Yonder" cannot be adverbial unless there is some falling
>tone ("juncture") on the preceding element. In the song, the notes
>for "wild" "blue" "yon" and "der" steadily rise. I suspect a falling
>contour on "blue" would be necessary for adverbial interpretation.
Not sure whether it was intended that way, but "yonder" has evidently
become a noun (usually modified by a color specifier) through this
particular verse.  The OED has, in addition to a nonce (hapax?)
(oncer?) use by Meredith of "yonder" as a substantive,

1. (nonce-use.) Something beyond.

      1888 Meredith Hymn to Colour vii, His touch is infinite and
lends A yonder to all ends.

several entries beginning with and later inspired by the verse in question:

2. After quot. 1939. The far and trackless distance; usu. with preceding adj.

      1939 R. Crawford Army Air Corps (song), Off we go in to the wild
blue yonder, Climbing high into the sun.

      1948 N.Y. World Telegram 30 Dec. 11/6 A pilot..took wing into
that wonderful yonder on a training flight.

      1967 C. Cockburn I, Claud xxxiii. 410 The ex-editor of The Week
had suddenly appeared out of the deep green yonder of Ireland.

      1974 Times 26 Feb. 12/3 Mr. Wilson's..policy for controlling
inflation, which consists of holding down prices by law while letting
wages go up, up, up into the wide blue yonder.

      1979 D. Kyle Green River High viii. 103 My father had vanished
into the great green yonder of a million square miles of jungle.

      1985 W. Golding Egyptian Journal iv. 57 Minya is a centre for
scarpering, for fading away, for disappearing into the blue yonder.

Despite the point dInIs raises, I suspect that (as Charles Wells
suggests) the "yonder" in the Army Air Corps anthem was originally
intended as an adverb and then reanalyzed (given the metrical
considerations dInIs mentions) as a noun, with "blue" its modifying


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