[Ads-l] Antedating of "Ampersand"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 19 18:45:37 UTC 2014


Here is an instance of the expression "from A, to and-per-se-and" in 1804.
If the expression was circulating before 1795 it might have been converted
to "from A, to ampersand".

Date: 1804 February 11
Journal: The Port Folio
Volume 4, Number 6
Article: For the Port Folio: Climenole: a Review, Political and Literary: No. 3,
Start Page 42, Quote Page 43

[Begin excerpt]
What a wide range of intellect, commanding the whole circle of science
from alpha to omega, or, to speak more intelligibly, from A, to
and-per-se-and. Great writers, like great heroes, have ever been
scrupulously precise in marshalling their instruments.
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 1:25 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Ampersand"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Below is a claim about the position of & in an alphabetic ordering.
>
> News source: The Guardian
> Article title: From 'A' to 'ampersand', English is a wonderfully
> curious language
> Article author: Paul Anthony Jones
> Date on website: 15 February 2014
>
> http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/feb/15/from-a-to-ampersand
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> ampersand
>
> Until as recently as the early 1900s, "&" was considered a letter of
> the alphabet and listed after Z in 27th position. To avoid confusion
> with the word "and", anyone reciting the alphabet would add "per se"
> ("by itself") to its name, so that the alphabet ended "X, Y, Z and per
> se &". This final "and per se and" eventually ran together, and the
> "ampersand" was born.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
> On Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 1:12 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Ampersand"
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> It strikes me that the 1795 usage is satirical -- if "he" has "tried
>> all the historians from great _A_, to _ampersand_" and goes on to
>> "selecting his own facts, forming his own conclusions", then "he"
>> hasn't gone very far, only from A to ampersand (presumably ampersand
>> is sorted among the A's) and not from A to Z.  When and how did "from
>> A to ampersand" come to mean "the whole range of a subject"?  Or did
>> the 1795 writer take an expression that *already* meant "the whole
>> range of a subject", and turn it into a criticism where readers would
>> take it literally, as meaning "*not much* of a subject"?
>>
>> Joel
>>
>> At 12/18/2014 08:47 AM, Michael Quinion wrote:
>>>Fred Shapiro wrote:
>>>
>>> > ampersand (OED 1837)
>>> >
>>> > 1795 'Mr. Pratt' _Gleanings through Wales, Holland and Westphalia_ (pt. 1)
>>> > 306 (Eighteenth Century Collections Online Text Creation Partnership)  At
>>> > length, having tried all the historians from great _A_, to _ampersand_,
>>> > he perceives there is no escaping from the puzzle, but by selecting his
>>> > own facts, forming his own conclusions, and putting a little trust in his
>>> > own reason and judgment.
>>>
>>>This is also very probably the first appearance in print of the idiom
>>>"from A to ampersand", meaning the whole range of a subject. As this idiom
>>>is recorded into the twentieth century, it long outlasted the saying of
>>>the alphabet with "and per se and" as the last item.
>>>
>>>--
>>>Michael Quinion
>>>World Wide Words
>>>Web: http://www.worldwidewords.org
>>>
>>>------------------------------------------------------------
>>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
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>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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