Millie Webb millie-webb at CHARTER.NET
Tue Jul 23 02:34:59 UTC 2002

See, Dennis?  I was going to say that too.  One of the neatest interim
classes I took at Macalester College (in another lifetime) was on "folk
etymology" and we talked about all kinds of swear words that weren't swear
words to very many people, and even had assignments to find some odd
turn-of-phrase in English and get several people's opinions on where it came
from.  I picked "kitty corner" (kiddy corner, catty corner, cater corner,
qater corner, etc.).  I just remembered that class from reading this thread.
It was called "Vernacular as Ornament", and was unashamedly "unscientific"
in approach.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU>
Sent: Monday, July 22, 2002 7:18 AM
Subject: Re: Picnic

> An excellent point. Some etymologists appear to believe that the
> science is limited to "ultimates." I wonder why they ever mess with
> Germanic and Latin-Greek bsses when they could just run up the
> reconstructed PIE morphs. But that would not lead us down the often
> exciting trails of words, ones which include numerous folk
> etymologies being responsible for the current "meaning" (or even
> shape) of a word.
> More sociolinguistically appropriate, of course, is the fact that not
> all words have meant the same thing to all groups, a pretty common
> lexicographical fact, I would think, since we have dictionaries based
> on all sorts of group memberships and since leakage of those meanings
> to out-groups is common - African-American to the wider speech
> community being just one very good example.
> dInIs

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