OT: not "jazz (not music)--1911?"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Sep 7 00:05:00 UTC 2011

At 9/6/2011 12:46 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>You'll laugh.

No I won't.  In addition to the date confusion I mentioned, for the
three manuscripts that I'm wrestling with, plus a published book that
quotes from some manuscript, all supposedly copying the same original
letter, no two of the four are identical.  Each copyist must have
changed (or misread/mistranscribed) some portion of the
original.  (Actually, one of the four could be accurate, but I don't
believe even that.)

>About thirty years ago I came across a modern paperback reprint of one of
>those very same "Frank Merriwell" books with a copyright date of something
>like 1915.
>As I began to examine it for slang, I soon discovered "chicken out," a
>quarter-century antedating!  And, OMG, something like "kooky"!  And, Great
>God Almighty, "cool"!
>Well, I'm not so dense that by that time I didn't catch on.  While 99% of
>the text read exactly like a ca1915 publication, an evil editorial genius
>had quietly gone through and updated all the slang in the teen dialogue to
>1960's standards.

I once came across a one or two sentence quotation purported to have
been written in the 1650s by an about-20-year-old woman.  It was out
of its time (what's the word here?  Not "asynchronous".
"Incongruous"?) for the situation it described.  After some
sleuthing, I was able to discover the published source, a diary
allegedly written by this young woman.  I read the diary, and found,
like Jon, some words and phrasings that seemed to be too
early.  After further sleuthing I found that a well-reputed professor
of history had written an article demonstrating that the diary was
"constructed" in the late 19th century.


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

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