Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 26 20:15:26 UTC 2006

"Choke! Gasp!"[sic] occurred almost daily in the Al Capp comic strip,
_Li'l Abner_. So, that's the form that I use when I feel like being
<choke! gasp!> facetious. But, needless to say, <choke! gasp!> both
"choke" and "gasp" were used alone in _Li'l Abner_ and in any number
of other comic strips and "funny books," as well as in the <choke!
gasp!> reverse order, "gasp! choke!" And, of course, there was also
"sob!", used both by Capp and by other cartoonists.


On 9/26/06, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Gasp!"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 9/26/06, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > OED misses the ironic, interjectional use of this word, mostly in writing, to
> > indicate that what immediately follows should not be at all frightening or
> > surprising. E.g.,
> >
> >   1982 Patrick Hartwell & Robert H. Bentley _Open to Language_ (N.Y.:
> > Oxford U. P.) 158: "Every paragraph has a topic sentence," they recite," and
> > "every paragraph starts a new topic," as if, say, using two paragraphs to explore
> > the same topic or even (gasp!) not having a topic sentence would subject them
> > to the writerly equivalent of losing elevator, aileron, and rudder control and being
> > subject to severe buffeting.
> "Even gasp" is a good search string for the ironic interjectional
> usage. Here's a fashion headline from the New York Times, Feb 11,
> 1971, p. 50:
> "Mannequins Were Wearing Those Shorts Even (Gasp!) at Mainbocher"
> And even earlier, a front-page headline from the Chicago Defender, Aug 3, 1964:
> "NAACP Changes Its Mind (Tch! Tch!) Plans (Gasp!) Demonstration"
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Everybody says, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange
complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is knows how deep
a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our
race. He brought death into the world.

--Sam Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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