"real-time" = ?(of a message) instantaneous; "palfrey" = medieval warhorse; charger

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 10 00:07:52 UTC 2009

Back in my day, anybody who ever took a medieval lit course (or anything
remotely like it, like Tennyson) was exposed to the word "palfrey."  It
appears in recent fantasy literature as well, and usually connotes an
especially gentle horse, most suitable for a princess to ride.

Just an indication of what some highly educated people and copy-editors
think the word means.

Not a SOTA. But maybe a PITA or a mini-SOTA.


On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 5:35 PM, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "real-time" = ?(of a message) instantaneous; "palfrey" =
>              medieval              warhorse; charger
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        I initially misunderstood Professor Goldensohn's point, which
> sounded like the medieval knights were using airborne palfreys.  That's
> a misreading, but it's a striking image.
>        Anyway, I don't actually think it's a SOTA that a professor of
> English literature, presumably not an expert in either horses or
> medieval warfare, misused "palfreys" (light horses for ordinary riding)
> to mean warhorses.
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Thursday, July 09, 2009 5:10 PM
> Subject: "real-time" = ?(of a message) instantaneous; "palfrey" =
> medieval warhorse; charger
>  This a.m. on CNN somebody mentioned that you can now get "real-time
> Tweets on your Blackberry."  Sounds like the start of the Canterbury
> Tales.
> Bonus:
> 2003 Lorrie Goldensohn _Dismantling Glory_ (N.Y.: Columbia U.P.) 75:
> [P]ilots fought each other [in WW1] from airborne palfreys like medieval
> knights.
> Professor Goldensohn taught English literature for many years at Vassar
> College. Her 1992 biography of Elizabeth Bishop was nominated for a
> Pultizer.
> JL
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