Who's diddling and how?

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Jul 13 22:14:08 UTC 2008

On Jul 12, 2008, at 5:58 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> At 2:15 PM -0700 7/12/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> Just as a forewarning, there are some pretty X-rated citations below.
>> The AHD4's definitions of diddle include:
>> 1. to jerk up and down or back and forth
>> 2. vulgar slang
>> a. to have intercourse with (a woman)
>> b. to practice masturbation upon
>> I have trouble understanding what definition 2b actually means. Does
>> this mean to masturbate and ejaculate on someone? Do you "diddle on/
>> upon" someone? I think this is what Danny Glover's character did in
>> _The Color Purple_ instead of sex, though Whoopi Goldberg's character
>> called it "his business".
>> Wiktionary says "to masturbate (especially of women)".
>> ...
> My assumption on first reading definition 2b is that AHD4 was being
> careful to narrow down "masturbate" to its transitive use; the "upon"
> is intended to mark the valence of the predicate, not the target of
> the act.  While giving just 'masturbate' as a gloss would eliminate
> the locative reading, the problem is that at least within our culture
> the first sense that comes to mind (or to hand) for "masturbate" is
> the *in*transitive, which is not the intended gloss for "diddle", a
> fact that the cites above for "She diddled herself" reinforces this.
> She {diddled/?masturbated} herself (with a baster/candle).
> She {masturbated/?diddled}.
> Very significant results, BB.  I await the ADS talk or note in
> _American Speech_.
Thank you for that interpretation. Much better. I wonder if using
"someone" in a definition is considered taboo in lexicography as it
would be much easier to understand if they used "to masturbate someone".

Also, Wikipedia says that Glover's character raped Goldberg's. I
wonder if that interpretation is based on the book or if my memory is
just slipping again. BB

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

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