Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 15 18:40:37 UTC 2008

Just told my wife about today's use of "heart-rendering."  She rolled hetr eyes and exclaimed, "That used to be a joke!"

  She recalls friends in '50s Brooklyn saying, "It was heart-_rendering_!" in a decidedly sarcastic manner, possibly imitating people who said it seriously.

  At any rate, it meant "heart-rending," not "heart-warming."  She's sure of that.


"Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
Subject: Re: heart-rendering

On Feb 15, 2008, at 8:56 AM, Jon Lighter wrote:

> But just to be clear: my students have been using "heart-rendering"
> for decades, but so far as I remember only in the sense (like "heart-
> rending") of "painfully affecting; so tragic you can't stand it."
> Dr. Peters does a double jump: his "heart-rendering" is something
> positive.

ah, i see that i didn't read your original posting carefully enough.
so, possibly a "private meaning" for "heart-rendering" -- a meaning
wrongly induced from context (though preserving the 'powerfully
affecting' component of meaning), like the next example you provide:

> In a similar vein, a few years back I knew a student who used
> "tearjerker" in a positive way.
> E.g., "'Come Up from the Fields, Father,' is Whitman's famous
> tearjerker about the Civil War." He went on to say how affecting it
> was. I suspect this is pretty common.

the next one is a private meaning that might have been arrived at by
reasoning from the form of the word:

> Another dude, in a letter to the _Atlantic_, insisted that a
> "stemwinder" was a long, tedious speech, because it made the
> audience check their watches; then they'd fiddle with them.


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