[Ads-l] _beatnik_: interdating

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Aug 16 03:36:11 UTC 2015

Well, that certainly makes clear why "in orbit," "from infinity," and "one
skin" sound so lame and un-hip!

One never does know, do one?

Thanks for the info, Ben!

On Sat, Aug 15, 2015 at 11:07 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: _beatnik_: interdating
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Sat, Aug 15, 2015 at 10:43 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >
> > Ebony - May 1960 - Page 63
> > https://books.google.com/books?id=QoVz2rpp-skC
> > _Beatnik_ Dictionary
> > The Official Handbook
> > For Everyone In Orbit
> > Packed with words and phrases straight
> > from infinity. A perfect novelty gift.
> > Send One Skin (1.00)
> > To: Kimbrough Pub. Co., Dept. E
> > 4639 Poplar Ave., Memphis, Tenn.
> Haven't seen this, but Tom Dalzell mentions it in his chapter on "The
> Beat Counterculture" in _Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang_:
> ---
> https://books.google.com/books?id=nJ-IUpAd_5UC&pg=PA101
> Works that directly address the language of the Beats include
> _Swinging Syllables: Beatnik Dictionary_ (Memphis, Tennessee:
> Kimbrough Publishing, 1959) and the nearly identical _Beat Talk_
> (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Studio Press, 1960).
> ---
> The book (or pamphlet) was self-published by Thomas C. Kimbrough.
> Here's his son R. Keller Kimbrough, who is an Asian literature
> professor at Univ. of Colorado Boulder, talking about his father's
> work on the Premodern Japanese Studies listserv:
> ---
> https://groups.google.com/d/msg/pmjs/bBre4Nm2xiE/aHBvv9-C9JMJ
> Incidentally, regarding "usage" as an issue in lexicography, in 1959
> my father compiled and sold a small, pamphlet-like dictionary called
> the "Swinging Syllables Beatnik Dictionary."  He advertised it in
> Playboy Magazine and sold copies through the mail for $1 each.  I
> mentioned to him a couple of years ago that his humble dictionary was
> recently cited in a scholarly dictionary of American slang.  He
> thought that was pretty funny, because, as he said, since he wasn't a
> beatnik and he didn't know enough beatnik slang to fill out a
> dictionary, he supplemented his "research" with a bunch of words and
> phrases that sounded to him like things that beatniks might say.
> (There weren't any beatniks in Memphis, Tennessee in 1959, so he had
> to be creative.)  But his dictionary turned out to be a minor
> best-seller (much to the chagrin of his father, who liked to emphasize
> the importance of an honest day's work), and many of his newly coined
> phrases no doubt caught on with aspiring counterculturists.  Regarding
> usage, then, his dictionary seems to have been both descriptive and
> prescriptive.  But then again, isn't that the case with all
> dictionaries?
> ---
> Presumably he's referring to Dalzell and Victor's _New Partridge
> Dictionary of Slang_, which cites the work in several entries.
> --bgz
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