"A hard road to hoe"

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sun Jul 26 17:41:49 UTC 2009

On Jul 26, 2009, at 8:24 AM, Jon Lighter reports:

> In the Seattle area there was (and probably still is) a loathing
> of "Skid Row" as a perversion of "Skid Road."  There may well be a
> basis to
> this in fact.

the OED traces "skid row" to "skid road", but notes that the name for
the down-and-out district of town (in any number of cities) is now
"skid row" ("row" for 'row of houses, street' -- a usage going back at
least to the 15th century -- might have contributed to the shift).  no
doubt there's local history to be worked through, with reference to
documents, etc., and you can hope that someone has done it carefully.

insisting that "Skid Row" for a historic district of Seattle (?and
Seattle only?) is just *wrong*, however, is just bull-headed
Originalism.  any number of proper names have changed over time, and
at some point there's no going back.  i suppose that people who want
to cling to the original version of the name (if it is indeed that)
could quaintly use this version only.  but they have no right to try
to force others to follow them.


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

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