Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 29 20:22:01 UTC 2012

I came across an example of recency fallacy and word formation peeving
from 1798.

The Monthly Review. Volume 26. August 1798
Monthly Catalogue, for August, 1798. Law. p. 449
Art. 22. /The Study and the Practice of the Law considered in their
various Relations to Society. /In a Series of Letters. By a Member of
Lincoln's Inn. 8vo. pp. 450. 6s. Boards. Cadell jun. and Davies. 1798.

We have read these letters with that satisfaction which invariably
accompanies the perusal of those works which recommend the cultivation
and practice of what is excellent and respectable in life. The author of
this performance is entitled, however, to additional praise beyond that
which belongs to virtuous intentions and irreproachable sentiments: for
his composition shews an elegant and refined taste, and an intimate
acquaintance with the purest models of English style. We cannot, at the
same time, agree with him that these letters are particularly calculated
to benefit the students of law; the subjects discussed in them being,
with very few exceptions, of too general a nature to confine their
utility to any one profession; but they may with nearly equal advantage
be studied by the members of every profession, and by all descriptions
of young men, whatever may be their destination in life.

A letter is set apart for the consideration of /Facundity/; by which
term, we imagine, the author proposes to convey the idea of eloquence,
or perhaps fluency in speech. We are aware that the words /Facundia /and
/Facunditas, /in the Latin language, as expressing the former quality,
are correct and classical: but we have been unable to discover the
adoption of the word by any English writer. Neither is it to be found as
a substantive in Johnson's Dictionary ; though the epithet /facund/,
from /facundus, /is introduced in the sense of /eloquent /;--without,
however, any authority to support it.

We agree with the author ' that these letters will not be found useless
in the libraries of those who have yet to fix the destination of their
children in life, and the perusal of them will probably be extended
beyond the circle of professional readers. They are addressed,' he adds,
' to the young and rising mind;' and to them we recommend, with
confidence, a serious attention to instructions which have the
amelioration of the heart and the improvement of the understanding for
their principal objects.

OED lists facund adj. from Chaucer to N. Bailey's Dictionary, then cites
one more single source from 1859--needs an update, although this piece
offers an interesting interdating for 1798. Facund n. is listed as
obsolete, from 1340 to 1540 (or thereabouts). Facundity runs from 1530
to 1773 with an addition citation from Times Literary Supplement of
1921. I am quite certain more recent example can be excavated fairly
easily, but not by means of GB--"facund" here is rendered as "factoid"
and "facundity" is completely mangled, so a direct search in older
sources is rather hopeless. [In fact, "factoid" only dates to Normal
Mailer's annoyance at Nixon in 1973, but GB list 141 earlier examples,
over 100 of which turn out to actually be "factors".] But Wordnik offers
a small number of citations--all in Project Gutenberg, but from 19th and
20th century.

Century Dictionary of 1906 (much like it's predecessors for the previous
two decades and Chambers before that; as well as for another decade
following) lists facund, facundious and facundity, but all as obsolete.
The same can be said about the bulk of post-1800 hits (at least those
that are legitimate). The rest are quotations of much earlier material
(e.g., http://goo.gl/QBPBS ).

Then I come across this (1991).

Ecology of the mountain waters. By Shanker D. Bhatt, Ravindra K. Pande.
New Delhi: 1991
The Degrading Fish Habitats of the Kumaun. (iii) Decrease of
Reproductive Potential. p. 317
> The fish facundity largely depends on the body size, the composition
> and abundance of food and ecological conditions of the habitat
> (Nikolsky, 1969; Moyle and Cech, 1982). The undernutrition or scarcity
> of the natural carnivorous diet and disturbances in the habitat
> ecology may be responsible for the decrease in the facundity and
> fertility of the hill-stream fishes, particularly the Mahseers. The
> lowering of the facundity in lake Mahseer or Kumaun has been
> attributed to the degraded environmental conditions in the lentic
> waters (Pathani, 1978; Pant and Bisht, 1981).

Of course, what is meant here is "fecundity", but, perhaps, this Indian
publisher didn't have a proofreader. It takes just one more click to get
a warning on the subject.

The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird and Wondrous Words. By Peter
Bowler. Jaffrey, NH: 1992
p. 29
> FACUNDITY n. Eloquence. Not to be confused with fecundity, i.e.
> fertility. (But, rather wonderfully pronounced the same way.) "Pray
> silence for our next speaker, Mr. Spinelli, who will give us a
> demonstration of his impressive facundity."

A rather blatant example can be found here ( http://goo.gl/sEPsX ),
where multiple charts are labeled with "Observed facundity/Predicted
fecundity" (2004, same Indian publisher!).

And it's not just that publisher:

The Oregon countryman, Volume 8 (5). February 1916
p. 364
> We do not wish to be understood as wishing to detract from the
> importance of the facundity. Undoubtedly the increase in the facundity
> of the two breeds noted by Rommel is due in part to the attention of
> breeders who have selected to improve this characteristic. An
> examination of the Herd Book of such breeders as record the facundity
> of animals serves to emphasize the point just made and usually the
> larger number farrowed the greater difference between the number
> farrowed and the number raised. Hence we infer that much of the
> advantage which a sow may secure by virtue of breeding a large number
> of pigs per litter is lost because of other considerations either
> avoidable or otherwise.

This is followed by a photo, captioned, "A Sow That is Capable of
Handling a Large Litter". I doubt any of these sources is talking about
the /eloquence/ of fish, chickens or pigs.

Another apparent typo/eggcorn is in the Atlantic (1903).

The Atlantic Monthly. Volume 92 (549). July 1903
A National Type of Culture. p. 76
> Cosmopolitanism is apt to be rather a thing of versatility,
> adaptability, /facundity/, sojourning homelessness, and the general
> use of common denominators.

Unsurprisingly, I came across both words also in SAT prep materials,
sneaky little bastards that they are.

But, back to facundity.

[Also in GB http://goo.gl/V2kGP ]
The Project Gutenberg EBook of A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2, by
George Saintsbury
A HISTORY OF THE FRENCH NOVEL. Volume 2. By George Saintsbury. London: 1919
p. 207
> I do not make the very facile and somewhat futile criticism that she
> would have written better if she had written half or a quarter as much
> as she did. She could not have written little; it is as natural and
> suitable for Tweed to "rin wi' speed" as for Till to "rin slaw,"
> though perhaps the result--parallel to but more cheerful than that
> recorded in the old rhyme--may be that Till has the power not of
> drowning but of intoxicating two men, where Tweed can only manage one.
> But this engrained fecundity and facundity of hers inevitably make her
> work novel-journalism rather than novel-literature in all points but
> in that of style, which has been discussed already.[197]
> [197] I have said little or nothing of the short stories. They are
> fairly numerous, but I do not think that her /forte/ lay in them.

This "fecundity" has nothing to do with "healthy growth" or "fertility"
or "the ability to handle a large litter", but rather matches a
derivative definition: "the intellectual fruitfulness of a creative
imagination"; or, in AHD, "Productive or creative power". Speaking of
fecundity--OED has six different shades of meaning, but only the animal
reproductive one has any quotes beyond 1884. Also needs an update.

A few more, in random order.

Charles Dickens. By George Augustus Sala. In The mystery of Edwin Drood,
Volume 2. By Charles Dickens. Leipzig: 1870
p. 193
> The audience whom Mr. Dickens addressed was composed of educated and
> cultivated persons who would have looked upon a real murder with as
> much horror as they would have displayed aversion from the spectacle
> of the hanging of the murderer; and no healthy feelings could possibly
> be awakened by the simulation in marvellous fluency of language and
> facundity of gesture of a revolting and sanguinary scene.

The Nation. No. 911. New York. December 15, 1882
p. 496/3
> There could hardly be a more elevating spectacle than the way in which
> Mr. Blaine's antagonists occasionally lend a hand in getting him out
> of the scrapes into which his remarkable facundity so often plunges him.

Social England: A Record of the Progress of the People in Religion,
Laws, Learning Arts, Industry, Commerce, Science, Literature and
Manners, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Volume 5. Edited by
Henry Duff Traill. London: 1896; New York: 1899
Chapter 17. The Age of Walpole, 1714-1742. p. 84
> We thus miss Mandeville, a master of rough, repulsive, but vigorous
> and idiomatic English, Dutchman as he was, and nearly as vivid a
> realist as Defoe; Shaftesbury, his elegant predecessor and provoker;
> the Deist crew who wrote and drew down on themselves the wrath of
> better writers than themselves; Leslie, the /Doctor Invincibilis /of
> later English controversy; Law, as stout a controversialist as he, and
> something more than a partisan; Bentley, Leslie's equal in profane and
> scholarly polemic; the rugged style but admirably lucid thought of
> Bishop Butler; the smooth, if treacherous facundity of Conyers
> Middleton; the ragings of the Bangorian controversy.

The Spectator. March 28, 1896
The Radical Discontent. p. 437/1
> But though we agree with Mr. Hume in wondering at the facile
> confidence placed by his party in Lord Rosebery, we do not at all
> agree with Mr. Hume in imagining that either he himself, or any other
> leader, however passionately disposed to utter the /saeva indignatio
> /of the Radical party that "the horny-handed sons of toil" do not lead
> happier and brighter lives, would improve the position of that party
> by raising stentorian cries against the House of Lords and all sorts
> of other English institutions to which what he is pleased to call Lord
> Rosebery's "facund tongue" gives such inadequate utterance.

Wordsworthiana: A Selection from Papers Read to the Wordsworth Society.
London: 1889
J. Russell Lowell's Address as President, 1884. p. 176
> There is no limit to his — let us call it facundity.

Punch, or the London Charivari. 1896
Jottings and Tittlings. By Baboo Hurry Bunseng Jabberjee, B.A. [N.
No. VIII. April 4, 1896. p. 160/2
> With this, I sat down, leaving my audience as /sotto voce/ as fishes
> with admiration and amazement at the facundity of my eloquence, and
> should indubitably have been the recipient of innumerable
> felicitations but for the fact that Miss Spink, suddenly experiencing
> sensations of insalubriousness, requested me, without delay, to
> conduct her from the assemblage.

No. XV. June 27, 1896. p. 304/2
> His Honor, laughing good-naturedly, did tell me that if I liked to
> assume the plumes of a daw, it was no affair of his, and kindly
> promised to respect my confidences -- at which I was greatly relieved.
> Indeed, throughout the evening, nothing could exceed his affability,
> for, being seated on the other side of the hostess, opposite myself,
> he showed me the greatest honour and deference, frequently requesting
> my views on such subjects as Increased Representation of the People of
> India, the National Congress, and so forth; upon whioh, being now
> perfectly reassured and at my ease, discoursed with facundity, and did
> loudly extol the intellectual capacity of the Bengalis, as evinced by
> marvellous success in passing most difficult exams, and denouncing it
> as a crying injustice and beastly shame that fullest political powers
> should not be conceded to them, and that they should not be eligible
> for all civil appointments /pari passu, /or even in priority to
> Englishmen.

Shakespearian and Other Essays. By James Smith. Cambridge: 1974 [Digital
version: 2010]
The Winter's Tale. p. 135
> Yet if Autolycus's summary of his wares has enabled the spectator to
> conceive anything, it is that nothing to be found this - or any - side
> of reality baffles the ballad-makers' facundity.

The Quarterly Review. Volume 12 (23). October 1814
[Review of] The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper;
including the Series edited with Prefaces Biographical and Critical, by
Dr. Samuel Johnson; and the most approved Translations. The additional
Lives by Alexander Chalmers. p. 75
> Du Bartas had been ambassador in Scotland, and James, who vainly
> tempted him to remain at his court, had translated some of his works
> himself, perhaps not entirely to his own satisfaction, for Hudson
> tells us he maintained that 'the lofty phrase, the grave inditement,
> the facund terms of the French Sallust could not be followed, nor
> sufficiently expressed in our rude and unpolished English language.'

This is a somewhat false hit, as Du Bartas lived in the second half of
the 16th century--right in the period when "facund" was being used. I
really have no idea which "Hudson" is being referred to (John Hudson,

There is more, but I'll let someone else finish the excavation


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