<3 is in the air--or in NYT presses

Jeff Prucher jprucher at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 10 21:48:04 UTC 2011

----- Original Message ----
> From: Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> One interesting thing  about it is that "I ♥
> NY" (and similar expressions) has evolved into not just  txt "I <3 NY",
> but into "I [heart] NY", and, finally, into "I heart NY",  dropping the
> symbol-signifying brackets.
> Although "heart" as a verb is  long attested, it never--in its past
> incarnation--meant "love". Nor was there  any hidden semiotics behind it.
> OED obviously does not have this new meaning  of "heart" yet.

Anyone wanting to antedate this usage should search out the 1984
spoken-word/comedy album "I Gotta Go" by Ian Shoales (of Duck's Breath Mystery
Theater fame), which includes a track titled "Hearts on Bumperstickers". It's
basically a rant against the use of the heart symbol on bumperstickers, and he
explicitly pronounces the symbol as "heart" throughout. After listening to this
track roughly a zillion times, it became impossible for me (and several of my
friends) to read "I ♥ NY" as anything other than "I heart NY".  (Antedaters
beware: Shoales has released at least one other album with the same name which
doesn't include the relevant track. He also released a book of the same name; I
don't know whether it includes the relevant piece or not.)

Jeff Prucher

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

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