M*A*S*H (was Re: More on "moist")

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Aug 9 23:31:31 UTC 2009

On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 6:06 PM, Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
>  On Sun, Aug 9, 2009 at 5:23 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>> At 8/9/2009 04:53 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> >There was, however, a TV series called _M*A*S*H_, the only word in English
>> >that requires asterisks in its standard orthography.
>> Are we forgetting _The Education of H * Y * M * A * N K * A * P * L * A *
>> N_?
>> Or does that not qualify because there are spaces between its teeth?
> Doesn't qualify because it's not one word, just a title that happens to
> contain two proper nouns, both of which are routinely spelled without the
> asterisks.
> Though _M*A*S*H_ obviously can be spelled as _MASH_, that isn't _M*A*S*H_.
> It's something very different: a misspelling of the movie entitled _MASH_.

Has asterisked _M*A*S*H_ ever been used to refer to a real-world army
hospital, or does it only exist in the movie ads and the TV series? I
checked various dictionaries and didn't see any references to the
asterisked version in their treatment of the acronym _MASH_.

F*W*I*W, there are various band names that employ asterisks (*NSYNC,
Quix*o*tic, J*S*T*A*R*S).

--Ben Zimmer

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

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