"or so"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 9 00:02:50 UTC 2008

Write on, brother!


On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 5:12 PM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at panix.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "or so"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Mon, Sep 08, 2008 at 01:56:12PM -0700, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> In my Standard Idiolect of English, the phrase "or so" means "approximately but at least." So you could have knocked me down with a dodo feather when I read the following:
>> 2008 Roberta Frank, "Afterword," in Burton Raffel, trans. _Beowulf_ (N.Y.: Signet) 141:
>> The vivid rendering of _Beowulf_ by Burton Raffel [published in 1963] has held up well over the past half century or so."
>> I got news for you, Roberta Frank, Marie Borroff Professor of English at Yale University! 1963 is not fifty years ago "or so." It's forty-five years ago and, by God, it's going to stay that way!
>> Does anybody here feel any different?
> Yes. It doesn't have that nuance to me; _or so_ is just
> 'approximately' in my idiolect.
> Jesse Sheidlower
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