blurb (antedating 1907 May 16)

Barbara Need bhneed at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 5 15:37:51 UTC 2010


When we spoke yesterday, I forgot to ask about wireless for the
internet--what will that add (and what are the equipment costs)? Also,
what is the internet speed for $20.10?


Barbara Need

On 5 Aug 2010, at 10:19 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: blurb (antedating 1907 May 16)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 3:29 PM +0100 8/5/10, Michael Quinion wrote:
>> Garson O'Toole wrote:
>>> Perhaps someone now has direct evidence of the book jacket. A scan
>>> would be great, but I have not come across it yet. Apparently 1914
>>> is
>>> still the earliest date of direct evidence. So here is a cite in
>>> 1907:
>> I have some notes on it, including a reproduction of the original
>> book
>> jacket from the Library of Congress Printed Ephemera Collection:
> That's great.  As it happens (not ironically!), I had just been
> reading Chapter 22 ("Fluctuation in the frequency of forms") of
> Bloomfield's _Language_ yesterday when the initial query on "blurb"
> came up, and while I was actually looking for his remarks on word
> loss through homonymy and taboo avoidance, I was struck by this
> passage on p. 393:
> "We can actually name the speakers who first used the words
> _chortle_, _kodak_, and _blurb_; since the moment of that first use,
> each of these words has become common. The disappearance of a form
> cannot be observed at first hand..."
> But in fact although this is clear for "chortle" ('A factitious word
> introduced by the author of Through the Looking-Glass', as the OED
> puts it) and "blurb" (see above), I'm less certain about the case for
> "kodak" as a *verb* (or a common noun), as opposed to the initial
> (upper-case) product itself, whose dubbing does indeed involve 'An
> arbitrary word invented by Mr. G. Eastman for trade-mark purposes'
> (OED).  But as an English *word* rather than product trade-name, the
> initial usage must remain elusive; the OED has a cite from 1895 for
> 'a photograph taken with a Kodak' and 1892 for 'to photograph with a
> Kodak', the first steps on the road to lower-casing and genericide,
> before the rise of competition led these to obsolesce, along with
> "kodaker", "kodakist", "kodakry", etc.  I guess it's back to that
> conundrum, "what is a word?"  (Any thoughts, Ron?)
> LH
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