"A hard road to hoe"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jul 26 23:33:02 UTC 2009

At 10:41 AM -0700 7/26/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>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.
And for those unfamiliar with the etym(yth)ology of "Skid Road" is
Seattle, what one learns either growing up there or going on a tour
(e.g. of the old and now underground Seattle) is that the loggers
used to roll the logs down to the harbor, in particular along Yesler
Way (named for a 19th century sawmill owner), where in the winter
out-of-work loggers would find other diversions and employ desperate
measures to make it through the hard times.  Let's see...yup, a
wiki-discussion at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skid_row.  To be
taken with a grain of salt on a sliver of wood.


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