"fork *up*" (July 1837), and other slang

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 2 00:56:25 UTC 2010

Honestly, Joel, I don't understand your point.  Cant dictionaries *were*
crummily edited, at least as far as I can tell.

Your 1837 ex. is a news filler, not a full-blown cant dictionary.  All of
the items (except _pony_, n.) were not infrequent in print, and therefore
certainly genuine.  I see no reason to doubt _pony_, either, since, as you
observe, we still have the once rather common _pony up_.

If you occasionally pick up words for your own use from standard, not
cant, dictionaries and thesauruses, which is what I understood you to mean,
that use is not "phony" because you are speaking or writing in your own
voice unlike the creator of, say, "In a London Flash-Panney."


On Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 7:39 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "fork *up*" (July 1837), and other slang
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 3/1/2010 12:36 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >No. Because the dictionaries and thesauruses you use (I assume) are the
> >carefully edited kind that don't include ghost words, irresponsible
> >definitions, and all sorts of other errors.
> Of course!  I always verify a slang word by checking against each
> other two or more cant dictionaries that include ghost words,
> irresponsible definitions, and all sorts of other errors.
> >Furthermore, they assure you
> >(generally on the basis of evidence) that unless so noted, the words
> you're
> >using are not obsolete, archaic, or ultra-rare.
> First, my quotation from 1837 employs only words present in the OED
> (and in phrases either present in the OED or differing only modestly
> from the OED), and with the sense given in the OED.  Second, many of
> the OED's quotations for these terms are not from dictionaries (while
> it has only one quotation for "post the poney", from a slang
> dictionary, I assume it is related to "pony up").  So, I conclude the
> 1837 author was not
> >... picking bizarre words from
> >crummily edited cant dictionaries (which are in no small part plagiarized
> >from earlier ones) and repeating them, sometimes with distortions, and
> often
> >with the imputation that they're current and used by everybody, or at
> least
> >everybody in the red-light district
> but rather taking a set of expressions he had heard or seen, all
> having the same meaning, and putting them into a humorous
> exchange.  All of them have quotations in the OED from sources near
> 1837 that are not dictionaries:
> rhino n1:  1834, 1851.
> tip v.4 sense 1.b. [us money]:  1829, 1851
> down with the dust (the 1837 has "out"):  s.v. dust n.1 sense 6:  a1845
> post:  v.4 sense 1.  1821, 1829
> post the poney:  1819  [This is the only expression the OED finds
> only in a dictionary.]
> shell out:  1819, 1863
> cash down:  1817, 1855.
> fork:  v. 5.a up 1843 ("fork out" 1831)
> And the 1837 author was certainly *not* imputing "that they're
> current and used by everybody, or at least everybody in the red-light
> district" -- the second speaker doesn't understand a word.
> P.S.  Robin Hamilton wrote earlier:
> >Actually, I'm wrong on "tip" [as "give"], come to think of it -- it
> >comes into "Of the
> >Budge" (often miscalled "The Budg and Snudge Song") about 1673 --
> The OED has tip v.4 sense 1.b., "With a coin or sum of money as obj.
> (Hence sense 2, in which the person, here the indirect or dative,
> becomes the direct obj.) Also with up and absol." -- with quotations
> 1610 ROWLANDS Martin Mark-all Eiv, Tip a make ben Roome Coue, Giue a
> halfepeny good Gentlemen.
> 1673 R. HEAD Canting Acad. 13 Tip him no Cole, give him no Money.
> (and others later).
> Joel
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