Pisshouse & Rawson

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Jun 24 14:12:54 UTC 2006

Thanks, Jonathon.  Interspersed comments below.

At 6/24/2006 09:24 AM, Jonathon Green wrote:
>Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>>Subject:      Re: Pisshouse & Rawson
>>Dear Jonathan <abecedary.net at zen.co.uk>,
>>I have looked in Hugh Rawson's two printings (the 1989 is titled
>>"Wicked Words"; the 1991 "A Dictionary of Invective").  They appear
>>to be identical.  I do not find "piss-house" in either.  Nor
>>"shit-house", nor "ram-beggur", nor the complete quotation.  Can you
>>cite the page for me?  If it is not in Rawson, from where did you get
>>it for your database?
>I am not at all surprised, it is under 'ape' on p. 19 of the 1991 edn.

I read all of Rawson's 15-page introduction, but not the first 4
pages of the A's  :-)

>I quote:
>There was John Porter, jailed in Boston in 1664 for calling his
>father a 'Liar, and simple Ape, shittabed.' (Porter didn't get along
>very well with his mother either. According to Kenneth Silverman's
>_The Life and Times of Cotton Mather_ 1984, Porter called his mommy
>a 'Rambeggur, Gamar [sic] Shithouse, Gamar [sic] Pisshouse' and 'the
>rankest sow in town.')

Amazing!  I read significant portions of Silverman this spring, two
years after I gave the OED this quotation.  Apparently I did not read
the right portions!  Or else I thought to myself "I've seen this
already" and forgot it as not significant.

Shittabed is also an OED2 antedating (which I submitted, of course!),
antedating 1690.

I wish I could remember the author/title of the textbook for
high-schoolers in which I first found the quotation.

>So there we are. I knew it was in Rawson somewhere, and you get the
>credit for forwarding it to the OED with the proper citatory context.

I will look for my credits in the OED.  ;-(  [No reflection on you,
Jesse--you were suitably pleased with my "four early vulgarities!]

>Whether Silverman offers that context I cannot say, since I haven't
>read his book. It seems to be in British Library, so I might have it checked.

I will look in Silverman to see if he gives the source. (I imagine he
does; _Life and Times_ is fine writing, comprehensive, and eminently
balanced about Mather.)


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