Extension of Tourette's

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 6 01:40:58 UTC 2008

At 4:43 PM -0700 4/5/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>In an interview of Chris Rock by Ed Condran in the Seattle Times (NW
>Ticket & Movie Times, 4-10 April 2008), Rock uses the terms "a mild
>form of Tourette's" and "comedic Tourette's".
>Q: You have a great way of saying anything. Where did you learn that?
>A: I don't know. It's a mild form of Tourette's. I remember about a
>year and a half ago. {sic} I went to a a Mets game. I was talking to
>[Mets manager] Willie Randolph. The lineup is being made. I look at
>the lineup. I see Moises Alou and Shawn Green. I say, 'What is this,
>the '89 All-Star game?'
>Q: What did Willie say?
>A: He laughed. But it's comedic Tourette's. Sometimes it might be best
>if I keep my mouth shut.
>I wonder if the connection between Rock's comment to Randolph and
>Tourette's is that Rock is "bad mouthing."

I'd guess it's not quite that.  Actually, the familiar association of
Tourette's with coprolalia (uttering strings of obscenities) is
a...well, "misnomer" (cf. e.g.
http://www.tourettes-disorder.com/symptoms/coprolalia.html), but
there's a more general association of Tourette's with saying the
first thing that comes out of your mouth without self-monitoring that
I think is more relevant here.  After all, the Mets comment might
have been impolitic (teasing Willie about his players' advanced age),
but hardly obscene or even insulting.

LH, a member of the TSA (Tourette Syndrome Association)

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

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