"deserted island"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Mon Oct 17 08:36:56 UTC 2005

Quoting Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      "deserted island"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Current promos for Florida orange juice, paid for by the Florida
> Department of Citrus, suggest that if you don't want to drink OJ to
> ward off the flu, your next best bet is to "move to a deserted
> island" and not go near anyone for six months. (The poor boob in the
> ad who tries this gets sneezed on by a chimp anyway.)
> My students have been using "deserted island" for decades because
> they think a "desert island" has to have a desert on it. Now Google
> turns up well over half a million hits for "deserted island."
> Do I hear a whippersnapper asking, "Desert shmesert, what's the diff
> ?"  The diff, whippersnappers, is that a "deserted" island used to
> have folks on it, but a "desert island" is so godawful that
> presumably it never has.
> English had better maintain this distinction if it intends to remain
> a world-class tongue.  Otherwise, the fate of Old Church Slavonic
> awaits.

What about desertified islands?

Stephen Goranson

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