"Don't make waves"--message from Reinhold Aman
Cohen, Gerald Leonard
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sat Dec 25 17:44:37 UTC 2004
Yesterday I contacted Reinhold Aman (editor, _Maledicta_ and the leading expert on abusive words/expressions/etc.) concerning "Don't make waves."
It turns out he doesn't regard the scatological joke as the source of the expression, which raises the question: Is there evidence one way or the other on this point?
Anything Reinhold says on abusive words/etc. is of interest, and I now share his second, very helpful, email of 12/24/04 with ads-l (right after my signoff). He begins by reproducing my email of earlier in the day (with one comment interjected) and then proceeds to his new information. Rey, thanks.
> From: Reinhold (Rey) Aman
> Sent: Friday, December 24, 2004 9:40 PM
> To: Cohen, Gerald Leonard
> Subject: Re: "Don't make waves"
> Gerald Cohen wrote:
> > Re: "Don't make waves," below my signoff is the compilation as I presently have it. This is all very preliminary; I haven't yet notified the contributors of my plans to print this, and those plans could be easily altered if necessary.
> > In any case, there's no evidence that the joke is the origin of the expression; it's just a hypothesis.. But I could run this issue by ads-l and ask if anyone knows of any evidence.
> Dear Jerry,
> I found more information for your proposed write-up. Please see it below your compilation.
> > [draft]:
> > DON'T MAKE WAVES--A STANDARD EXPRESSION
> > BASED ON A SCATOLOGICAL JOKE
> > Gerald Cohen, compiler of ads-l messages from
> > Wilson Gray, Laurence Horn, Jonathan Lighter, Douglas Wilson
> > I am here compiling several ads-l messages of Sept. 19-20, 2004:
> > 1) 19 Sep 2004 -- Fred Shapiro (fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU):
> > 'Is anyone able to check ProQuest Historical Newspapers for
> > me to find out the earliest occurrence there of the phrase "don't
> > make waves"?
> > Newspaperarchive shows it as the title of a 1964 television series.'
> According to G. Legman, the earliest date of the "dirty" joke using that
> punchline is 1934. See below.
> > 2) 19 Sep 2004 -- Wilson Gray (wilson.gray at RCN.COM):
> > ' I first heard this phrase in 1957 as part of a joke that
> > would never have appeared in any newspaper of the day:
> > Dante is showing a group of tourists through hell.
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ NEW INFORMATION ~ 12/24/2004 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> I remember the joke now. And I still insist that the saying "Don't make (any) waves!" existed long before the scatological joke appeared. This is one of the standard methods or mechanisms of creating jokes: Use an
> existing "clean" saying or proverb and create a "dirty" joke that ends with or incorporates that saying, proverb, adage, etc., as the punchline.
> Source of the following information: G. Legman, _No Laughing Matter:
> Rationale of the Dirty Joke_. Second Series. New York: Breaking Point, 1975, pp. 944-45.
> Legman collected more than 140 versions of that joke of which he published several complete or abbreviated versions in the above tome. The first printed version appeared in _Anecdota Americana II_, 1934 (No.
> 187). Another, with Pat and Mike (no Dante), is from 1953, and a 1965 version from La Jolla, California, adds the Devil coming by in a speedboat.
> You're welcome to use or to ignore the information I sent you in today's two e-mails. I have _Anecdota Americana_ somewhere in my many unpacked boxes, but as these volumes were reprinted in cheap paperbacks, someone else must have copies.
> *** Good news! *** I just found the complete _A.A._ online, and the
> 1934 joke is number 187:
> All the best,
> ~ Rey
> Reinhold (Rey) Aman
> M A L E D I C T A>
> Santa Rosa, CA 95402, USA
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