Followup Batman Question

Tue Jan 25 16:53:26 UTC 2011

        I'd say that they were general comic-book expressions.  Prior to
the TV show, the Batman comics employed onomatopoeic sound effects, of
course, but were not particularly noted for them.

        Some additional Batman linguistic contributions:  "millionaire
playboy" (previously discussed on ADS-L), "boy wonder" (popularization
of an existing collocation), and "To the Batcave, Robin!"  Batman's
nickname, the "Dark Knight," may also be worth mentioning.

        Actually, I would have thought that Superman would be a more
productive source of linguistic contributions.  "Kryptonite," "fortress
of solitude," "secret identity," "It's a man, it's a bird, it's a plane,
it's Superman," "truth, justice and the American way," and "mild-manner
reporter Clark Kent" come immediately to mind.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Shapiro, Fred
Sent: Monday, January 24, 2011 9:24 PM
Subject: Followup Batman Question

Thanks for the excellent responses to my query about Batman's linguistic
contributions.  I am hoping some comics mavens can help with me with a
followup question.

The Batman TV show of the 1960s was famous for its fight-scene
onomatopoeic words like biff, bam, and pow.  Were these words taken from
usage in the specific Batman comic books, or were they general
comic-book expressions employed by the Batman TV writers for their

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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