Prescriptive Linguists

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 1 16:37:03 UTC 2008

I goota git me one o' them CD's!

  I was being cautious about the date.  I read _Mad_ regularly from ca1960 till maybe 1975.
  Deep trance suggests the cover may well have appeared in the mid-60s.

  In fact, here it is!:

  This appears to be the original source:

  Schuster, D. H. "A New Ambiguous Figure: A Three-Stick Clevis." _Amer. J. Psychol._ 77, 673, 1964.

  Check out

  No OED entry for "devil's [pitch]fork."  HDAS has the excremental senses of "blivet" from 1945, plus more recent developments - but not this one.

  "Clevis" is everywhere.


James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: James Harbeck
Subject: Re: Prescriptive Linguists

>I vividly recall seeing the "devil's fork" on the cover of _Mad_
>magazine about 1970, possibly a little earlier, balanced on the
>finger of Alfred E. Neuman.
> I learned the name much later. Am not sure if _Mad_ called it
>anything at all.

I don't recall that it did, and I remember seeing it in an older
issue of the mag back in my insufficienty misspent youth. OTOH, if
you can remember about when you saw it, and in what, I can try to
look it up in the complete CD-ROM of every issue of MAD up to
sometime last year or so, which I happen to have sitting within reach

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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