More on "moist"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Aug 8 16:46:16 UTC 2009

At 12:04 PM -0400 8/8/09, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>The Archives do not wish to disgorge very much of last year's discussion of
>the allegedd offensiveness of this word.
>Just heard on NPR's quiz show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!" which I find
>_highly_ offensive for its unfunniness, that users of FaceBook have declared
>the word "moist" to be the most unpleasant word in English (or on FaceBook -
>sorry I didn't hear the entire thing).

Wonder where "hoist" and "joist" fall on the list.  I suspect
semantics has something to do with it...

>The show then quoted a linguist (one of us?) who suggested that
>the perceived putridity may come from the "oi" diphthong. Why a humble
>diphthong should be considered offensive went unexplored.
>I suspect anti-Brooklyn/Bowery Boy bigotry in representations of NYC
>speech.  Am very offended by all of it.
and you don't even have to deal with all those anti-[loy at r] jokes...

LH, currently in the middle of the audio book version of Frank
McCourt's _Angela's Ashes_, his memoir of growing up in Brooklyn (and
later Ireland) read by himself, in which he recounts how he and his
brother (at ages 4 and 3) would split their sides at all the "oy"s
uttered by their Jewish neighbor, which they would then proceed to
imitate and break up laughing again.   (Their own Irish relatives say
[Ox] instead, which is obviously more tragic and less risible.)

The American Dialect Society -

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