Rick H Kennerly Rick at MOUSEHERDER.COM
Mon Jul 22 10:20:39 UTC 2002

|o| I'm not sure what you're saying that we don't know. We do know that some
|o| people believe this etymythology. I thought I had seen a statement in
|o| this thread that someone who was informed of its falsehood replied that
|o| its truth or falsehood was irrelevant to him, as the word was offensive;
|o| if I remember wrong, please correct me. What should I not be upset
|o| about?

I don't think anybody said that on this thread.

What I'm saying is that this version of picnic had to come from somewhere
and that we don't know where, but that it would be interesting to track it
down.  Either it's use was
1. coined by some writer for the movie Rosewood,
2. it was a college prank at SUNY or the Smithsonian, or
3. is below the radar screens of etymologists.

As I touched on in another post, Mark Twain claims to have inserted the H in
Jesus H. Christ as a prank while an apprentice printer, but it gained
currency.  Is it important?  Is it even true?  Who knows? But it's good to
know and to record.  Same thing with this twist in picnic.

After all, you don't have to hang around word folk very long to find plenty
of examples of words or phrases referencing something that didn't happen or
something that happened differently than the way it is enshrined in the
current usage.  As etymologist, one would think that it would be interesting
to be present, as it were, at the birth of a usage that gains currency and
to be able to record that first instance of it and where it sprang up.
That's the only point I'm making: we know it's beginning and we know where
picnic stands today, but there's a piece of this that is missing.

Some examples (not to single out homosexuals but in my caffeine deprived
state this morning these terms are within easy reach): Gay, Out and Outing,
and the word I've given up trying to rescue as it slips into permanent
misuse, hopefully.


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