slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Tue Jan 22 14:23:24 UTC 2002
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
To: <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2002 1:41 PM
Subject: Re: Goose/The Finger
> Interesting that Partridge is cited for etymology. Remember him? He's
> the guy who said tochas meant testicles (sic) and was derived from
> the tock part of tick-tock, since the items in question reminded him
> of a swinging pendulum.
> I've been a little suspicious of his etymologies (especially since he
> apparently has no Hebrew and very little sense of the nether parts of
> his own anatomy).
He also believed, in his first edition of 1937, that _nafka_, a whore and as
such another 'steal' from Yiddish/Hebrew, was an elision of 'naughty girl'.
And there are others, hardly surprising in a man who would always rather try
for _some_ kind of etymology rather than settle for the OED's often correct
but unexciting, 'ety. unknown'. Slang etymology is notoriously elusive - in
which context one tips the hat to the on-going efforts of Gerald Cohen and
Barry Popik - and while one may fault Partridge for such derelictions of
lexicographical exactitude he remains one of the great slang collectors of
the last century. In any case by the 1970 edn. (it may have been earlier,
but I lack the edns. of 1949 and 1961)he had amended his error - I would
imagine one or more of his extensive range of correspondents put him right.
And he did not, after all, unlike Webster, believe that all language came
from Ur of the Chaldees.
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