FW: Antedating of "Doofus"

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Jun 19 16:17:51 UTC 2003

Tom P said:

But now I have a problem with the clarification that "all slang originates
as oral." Don't all natural languages at all registers of usage (vulgar
slang, slang, informal, formal, pontifical, whatever) and in all their
varieties (dialects, regionalisms, etc.) and specialties (jargon, cant,
graffiti, etc.) originate as oral? Witness the still unwritten languages of
the world.

I may be overclarifying and Frank probably meant to include what I said
above, if I may bend over backwards a little.

But I do think both oral and written evidence are linguistically important,
each in its own ways.

YES, all language is oral, and primarily so.  But that slang originates
**solely** as oral is my main point.

Much creative language is creative writing, and that can be formal,
informal, even colloquial in nature, but is not the same as slang.  Writing
can, of course, use slang terms, but they never START off in writing.

I would contend that even graffiti that uses slang is repeating and
recording "established" slang, not creating it at the time of the writing.

If this thread promulgates the thought that oral evidence is very important
for dictionaries, then that will be a step forward.  As I have said on the
list before, I distrust written citations anyway, and think that, once they
are a few decades old, they are of historical value only, useful to OED and
(the many) students of language past.

Frank Abate

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