bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Sep 16 12:05:50 UTC 2011
In my latest Word Routes column, a bit more on the "nerd" beat:
On Sat, Aug 27, 2011 at 2:46 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> I wrote about the misty origins of "nerd" for this Sunday's Boston Globe:
> Thanks to Garson et al. for their contributions.
> On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 11:26 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 7:57 AM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> > >
> > > I have located the 1952 cartoon in Collier's magazine that uses the
> > > word nerd and numerous other slang terms. As Ben noted the vocabulary
> > > items apparently were based on the October 1951 Newsweek article. I
> > > also located the reprint of the cartoon in Collier's that appeared
> > > with a news item about the reaction to the cartoon.
> > >
> > > Cite: 1952 February 2, Collier's, [free standing cartoon by John
> > > Norment surrounded by an unrelated article with the page title "But
> > > Jigs and Maggie Are in Love"], Page 39, Crowell-Collier Pub. Co.
> > > (Verified on paper)
> > >
> > > [Cartoon by John Norment depicts a radio announcer with three pages of
> > > typescript speaking into a microphone labeled with the letters B A C.
> > > Behind the announcer is another figure in the control booth. The
> > > caption is given below.]
> > >
> > > "You'll get a large charge from Hoffman's Teen-Age Clothes. So get on
> > > the stick with these real fat, real cool, really crazy clothes. Don't
> > > be a Party-Pooper or a nerd. Yes, everybody is bashing ears about
> > > Hoffman's Teen-Age Clothes. They're Frampton. They're pash-pie.
> > > They're MOST! Everybody from Jelly-tots to Cool Jonahs gets a big
> > > tickle from Hoffman's threads. These suits are really made in the
> > > shade, and when your Dolly, or double bubble, sees you wearing a
> > > Hoffman she'll give you an approving Mother Higby and say, 'That has
> > > it !'. So don't get squishy and be a schnookle. The geetafrate is
> > > reasonable and we'll make it Chili for you. Remember, don't be an odd
> > > ball. The name is Hoffman's Teen-Age Clothes"
> > [...]
> > Thanks to Garson for tracking this down. For anyone keeping score,
> > here are the earliest known examples of "nerd" (disregarding Dr.
> > Seuss's use of the word in "If I Ran the Zoo," which appeared in
> > shortened form in _Redbook_ in July 1950 before being published in
> > book form later that year). Items in _The Age_, _Reader's Digest_, and
> > _Collier's_ all draw their teen slang terms directly from _Newsweek_,
> > while the _Herald-Press_ article is a bit more wide-ranging:
> > ---
> > 1951 _Newsweek_ 8 Oct. 28 In Detroit, someone who once would be called
> > a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in a less severe
> > case, a scurve.
> > 1951 _The Age_ (Melbourne, Australia) 11 Oct. 4 ("U.S. Teen-agers Talk
> > a 'Cool, Shafty' Language") Teenagers in New York, Chicago, New
> > Orleans and Los Angeles who resort to such passe expressions are mere
> > peasants or "nerds.”... Such lowly "nerds" in other cities may on
> > occasion be hailed by acquaintances, with, "Hey, nosebleed."
> > http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=k8dVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=IcQDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5372,4309418
> > 1952 _Reader’s Digest_ Jan. 57 In Detroit, someone who once would have
> > been called a drip or a square is now a nerd, or in a less severe case
> > a scurve.
> > 1952 _Collier’s_ 2 Feb. 39 (cartoon by John Norment, featuring radio
> > DJ reading a fictitious ad for "Hoffman's Teen-Age Clothes") Don't be
> > a party-pooper or a nerd.
> > 1952 _Herald-Press_ (St. Joseph, Mich.) 23 June 14 (“To 'Clue Ya' To
> > Be 'George' And Not A 'Nerd' Or 'Scurve'”) If the patois throws you,
> > you're definitely not in the know, because anyone who is not a nerd
> > (drip) knows that the bug is the family car.
> > ---
> > --bgz
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