[Ads-l] "antedate" for _pothole_

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 6 05:00:46 UTC 2014


On Nov 5, 2014, at 11:35 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:

> I am not questioning the anachronism in "Pemberley", but the implication
> that somehow a 'pot hole' can be a naturally occurring hole generally, but
> not in a road,  at least not before 1889.

Tough call.  My intuition follows the OED in carving out a separate subentry for the road impediment kind of pothole (< 1889), but I can see your point for the other side.  On the other hand, I think we can agree that the use of the verb "over-react" a bit later on in "Pemberley" (OED first cite 1919, from Watson's _Psychology_) is a rather simpler case.

LH 

> On Nov 5, 2014 7:32 PM, "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> 
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: "antedate" for _pothole_
>> 
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> On Nov 5, 2014, at 4:41 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
>> 
>>> Isn't the term "pot hole", referring to a geological feature defined =
>> as a
>>> deep round hole, much older than 1889? If so, it seems to me to bring =
>> the
>>> Harte sourcing into question.
>> 
>> Yes, but that's a different OED entry--
>> 
>> A hole formed by the wearing away of rock by the rotation of stones in =
>> running water or by glacial erosion; (more generally) any cylindrical or =
>> deep bowl-shaped hole of natural origin. Also: an underground system of =
>> shafts, chambers, and passages formed by water erosion.
>> 
>> --with cites back to 1826:
>> 
>> 1826   T. L. McKenney Sketches Tour to Lakes (1827) 54   The waters were =
>> once, in many places, some fifty feet above their present level; for =
>> their action upon the rocks is plainly seen in the pot holes, as the =
>> excavations are called, which are made by the action of pebbles upon the =
>> rocks.
>> 
>> Still a bit later than the action in "Pemberley", during the time when =
>> "Boney is threatening our shores", but that would have been a nearer =
>> thing than the Harte sense exemplified by the pothole-riddled road.
>> 
>> LH
>> 
>> 
>>> =20
>>> DanG
>>> =20
>>> On Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 4:30 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
>>> wrote:
>>> =20
>>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>> -----------------------
>>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>>> Subject:      "antedate" for _pothole_
>>>> =20
>>>> =
>> --------------------------------------------------------------------------=
>> -----
>>>> =20
>>>> The OED attributes the first cite in the modern sense ('a depression =
>> or =3D
>>>> hollow forming a defect in the surface of a road, track, etc.') to =
>> Bret =3D
>>>> Harte, 1889.  But in "Death Comes to Pemberley", the BBC adaptation =
>> of =3D
>>>> the P. D. James novel (which came up on the list in an Anachronism =
>> Watch =3D
>>>> posting a couple of years ago for its "antedates" of _police_, _in =3D
>>>> touch_, and the especially egregious _lifestyle_), a visitor to =3D
>>>> Pemberley in what is plausibly 1803, give or take a year, complains =3D=
>> 
>>>> after her carriage ride that "the road is riddled with potholes".  =
>> Take =3D
>>>> that, Harte!
>>>> =20
>>>> LH=3D
>>>> =20
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>>>> =20
>>> =20
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> 
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