semantic drift: "swath"

Tue Feb 26 16:42:41 UTC 2008

        So it feels natural to me, but not to Jon.  If there are further
insights to be had, I don't have them.  I can, however, produce a few
examples of this metaphoric extension.  This is from a Westlaw search of
news sources using "huge swath" in 1991 or earlier:

        L.A. Times, 1/13/1991:  "[T]he market for HDTV equipment is
expected to be so large that it will control the development of a huge
swath of the electronics business."

        Houston Chronicle, 4/16/1991:  "Wide receivers cut huge swath
through NFL draft Class of '91" [headline].

        Newsday, 9/10/1989:  "He's completely without that huge swath of
ego so many pro athletes carry with them as their protective shell."

        N.Y. Times, 11/16/1988:  "Except for a brief autobiographical
prologue, however, "La Capital" is a dispassionate, prodigiously
researched primer on Mexico, summarizing huge swaths of history and
containing little new reporting."

        Boston Herald, 9/26/1980:  "Instead of teaching his class
separate subjects, Swanton incorporates learning into a huge swath of
music, art, reading, and writing, his Estabrook School students said."

        Jon probably would feel more comfortable with the Houston
Chronicle example because, even though it does not suggest a strip of
land or a two-dimensional surface, it keeps the cutting metaphor

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: semantic drift: "swath"

A metaphoric extension in this case results in new. or at least
unrecorded,  meaning. A "huge swath" of resources does not seem to me to
be much like either an agricultural swath or the swath one may
metaphorically cuts in social situations.


"Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Baker, John"
Subject: Re: semantic drift: "swath"

Is this semantic drift or just metaphoric extension? It sounds fine to
me, though not in any literal sense, of course. I think we may actually
have used "swath" in this metaphoric sense when I was a farm boy, though
of course we weren't talking about Hollywood resources or soul-searching

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2008 6:38 PM
Subject: semantic drift: "swath"

"(Large) amount." Not in OED.

1998 Mitch Potter in _Toronto Star_ (Aug. 8) K1 [Lexis/Nexis]:
Hollywood did, of course, dedicate a huge swath of resources to an
endless parade of soul-searching films on Vietnam.


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