polka dots

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon May 28 20:56:31 UTC 2001

Tsk-tsk. Bob; get a grip! I dutifully copy every one of these folk
etymologies, classify it, and put it in my future fun book. Please
keep them coming.

Besides, every 1,000,000,000,000,000th folk etymology turns out to be
right, so don't try to stop the march of science.


>I am reminded of a quote attributed to Voltaire: Etymology is a study in
>which consonants count for very little, and vowels for nothing at all.
>I think this 'polka dot' thread has gotten frayed.
>Bob Wachal
>>Date:         Mon, 28 May 2001 10:12:39 -0400
>>Reply-To: Robert Kelly <kelly at bard.edu>
>>Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>X-PH: V4.4.1 at sun.its.uiowa.edu
>>From: Robert Kelly <kelly at bard.edu>
>>Subject:      polka dots
>>Comments: To: douglas at NB.NET
>>Considering that poker work (19th/20th Century Britain, at least) means
>>making decorative patterns on pale wood with a hot poker --we used to have
>>the equivalent with a little electric wand much used in the 1940's, for an
>>art we called 'woodburning'  - there used to be workshops in it --- I
>>would argue for polka as a playful packaging of poker, and the dots the
>>easy repetitive pattern of a woodburning tip.   So I'd check the databases
>>for poker-work and its variants.  I dont think Poker the game has much to
>>do with it, since the dots in question are round -- just what you'd get if
>>you poked a hot tip against a pale wood.
>>Robert Kelly
>>The Writing Program
>>MSC 12611
>>Bard College
>>Box 5000
>>Annandale-on-Hudson NY 12504
>>Voice Mail: 845-758-7205
>>kelly at bard.edu

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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