Bill Palmer w_a_palmer at BELLSOUTH.NET
Sun Aug 16 17:34:00 UTC 2009

In central NC (and maybe elsewhere), "ill" can mean irritated or annoyed.

Bill Palmer

----- Original Message -----
From: "Arnold Zwicky" <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:26 PM
Subject: Re: iller

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: iller
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Aug 14, 2009, at 7:26 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>>> Daniel Hannan, a British Conservative member of the European
>> Parliament, joined the scare mongering campaign, appearing on a US
>> chat
>> show to attack the British health system.
>> "The reality is it hasn't worked. It has made people _iller_; we
>> spend a
>> lot of money and we get very bad results," he said.
> comparative and superlative forms of "ill" 'sick, unhealthy' have some
> history.  Jespersen's Modern English Grammar volume 7 (around p. 362)
> has quotes; OED2 has a 1637 cite for "iller"; and DARE has examples in
> its entry for "ill".  these cites are all over the map stylistically,
> but some of them come from reasonably elevated sources.  the
> conclusion i draw is that these forms are acceptable but minority
> options.  no doubt some speakers don't like them and don't use them.
> (there are, after all, objections out there to, among other things,
> "realer", "solider", "stupidest", and even "cleverer".)
> to confound things a bit, there is now a rap/hip-hop sense of "ill",
> with frequently used comparative "iller" and superlative "illest".  a
> draft addition of June 2006 in the OED has two senses for this "ill"
> -- a negative sense 'aggressive, irrational, crazy; unpleasant,
> bad' (an offshoot of the standard senses) and (as so often happens
> with evaluative slang vocabulary) a reversed-polarity positive sense
> 'excellent, attractive; fashionable'.  the Urban Dictionary is, of
> course, more excessive, listing as senses: cool, tight, sweet, dope,
> phat, amazing, awesome, the best (and, of course, "sick" in an
> approving sense).  so when Eminem raps "No One's Iller Than Me", he's
> boasting.
> arnold
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