Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Jul 8 20:10:01 UTC 2009

On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 3:55 PM, Joel S. Berson<Berson at att.net> wrote:
> At 7/8/2009 12:02 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
>> > You're welcome.  It seems to be genuine, from the title page.  And
>> > ignore the 18th century hits; they're likely merely instances of the
>> > "Vicar of Dibley" phenomenon.  (See the OED's 1538 spelling.)
>>What is the ""Vicar of Dibley" phenomenon"?  (I'm a moderate fan of the
> I'm so glad you asked!  As I remember the episode (which I find is
> "Songs of Praise"):
> Vicar Geraldine has received an 18th-century Bible.  There is some
> discussion and reading of the old-style printing, including the "long
> s".  Ditsy verger Alice is to read a passage at the Sunday
> service.  The episode ends with Alice about to read "And he shall be
> thy succour".
> [This does not appear to be literally a Bible passage.  However, ...]

And then there's John Donne's poem "The Flea": “It suck’d me first,
and now sucks thee.” It's widely assumed that Donne was intentionally
playing with the "long s" there:


--Ben Zimmer

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

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