Heard on The Doctors: a former hapax

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 14 23:56:48 UTC 2011

Back when, a black DJ in Saint Louis, Roscoe McCrary, was accustomed
to third-person himself as

_Little Old Young_ Roscoe

Before this past Friday, I'd never heard anyone other than Roscoe use
the phrase, "little old young." Friday, while watching some
medical-mystery program on the tube, I heard a fifty-ish white man
from Galveston, Texas, say,

"I was waiting in the exam room, when a _little old young_ doctor with
a mustache come in."

In both cases, the phrase was pronounced as approx. "lillo young."

IAC, till that moment, I'd believed that "little old young" was
something that Roscoe, who was in his mid-twenties when I was in my
mid-teens and who stood about 6"0' and weighed about 240 lbs. -
therefore, was neither little nor old nor young - had made up as a
useful catchphrase.

In the Texas case, the doctor was, in fact, little and young, compared
to his patient.

In both cases, I assume that _old_ is just the usual BE/SE
intensifier, as in "great big _old_ flood," having nothing to do with

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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

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