[Ads-l] anachronism watch--or OED lapse?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 25 15:38:19 UTC 2015


> On May 25, 2015, at 2:36 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> I'd like to see a little more context for "1876," regardless of sex.

Agreed, but I see no reason to believe the sex is anything other than masculine there.  My sense from the cites is that "good guy", "regular guy", maybe "nice guy" as predicates (you're/he's/she's a good guy) are earlier as applied to female referents (qua HDAS "guy" 2b below) than other uses of (sg.) "guy" are; it's plausible to imagine they came in during the post-WWI/Jazz Age period, but I'm just speculating here.

The OED 1a/b/c uses below, more closely linked to the late Mr. Fawkes, are of course different..

LH
> 
> I've collected the following material in the last couple of years:
> 
> GUY, n. 1.a. A ridiculous, freakish-looking, or freakishly dressed person.
> 
> 1862 _Eve. Bulletin_ (S.F.) (Aug. 13) 1: Our officers...dress like regular
> "guys," wear mutton-pie caps, baggy trousers, and bob-tail coats...as thick
> and course as a horse blanket. ...
> 
> b. A figure of fun; a person who is a ridiculous spectacle.
> 
> 1871 _Plain Dealer_ (Cleve. O.) (Apr. 24) 2: If he didn't make such an old
> guy of himself. ...
> 
> c. A foolish-acting or useless old man; geezer; a man who is a fool.
> 
> 1880 _Rocky Mountain News_ (Denver) (May 9) 10: I'll scoop the old guy yet.
> Ibid. (July 25) 8: Oh, hold up your hands you old guy.
> 
> 
> JL
> 
> On Sun, May 24, 2015 at 9:03 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:      anachronism watch--or OED lapse?
>> 
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>> I was wondering about an exchange taking place in 1920 between two women =
>> in a novel, _The Paris Wife_, by Paula McLain:
>> 
>> Hadley Richardson: "You're a good guy, Kate."
>> Kate Smith:              "You too, Hash."
>> 
>> Kate is Kate Smith, not the singer, but a friend of Hadley Richardson; =
>> Richardson is about to marry Ernest Hemingway, with whom Kate (as she =
>> has just conceded) had previously herself been in love.  The two friends =
>> have now reconciled, and some time later Hadley and Hemingway divorce, =
>> while Kate Smith marries Hem's drinking and writing buddy John Dos =
>> Passos.  Anyway, did women in fact use singular "guy", in non-vocative =
>> uses, in 1920?  The OED would expect not
>> 
>> Draft Additions October 2011:
>> 
>> colloq. As a form of address to a man (cf. sense 3d). Also in pl. as a =
>> form of address to a group of people, in later use sometimes a mixed or =
>> all-female group.
>> 
>> Sample cites are mostly plural, and include one from Dos Passos himself:
>> 
>> 1876   Punch 14 Dec. 307   Look guys, court thumps and lumps!1918   =
>> Stars & Stripes 5 Apr. 1/5   Tell you what, guy... This is better than =
>> what they useter be.
>> 1930   J. Dos Passos 42nd Parallel i. 102   Say, yous guys, this is =
>> fellowworker McCreary.
>> 1949   Los Angeles Times 6 Nov. ii. 7/1 (heading)    Hey, guys! He's =
>> here. Santa gets set for early rush.
>> 1993   M. Crichton Disclosure i. 22   Fuck 'em all. This reorg sucks. =
>> I'm with you on this one, guy.
>> 
>> Well, yes, but we know it's also used, and has been for some time, in =
>> referential or predicative (and in any case non-address) use for a woman =
>> as well as a man.  But for how long?  HDAS nicely clarifies matters:
>> 
>> 2b.  a person of either sex, regarded as decent, down-to-earth, good =
>> company, etc. [...]
>> [which is exactly how Hadley and Kate are using it above]
>> 
>> Jon's cites for this postdate the relevant time frame, but not by much:=20=
>> 
>> 
>> 1927 E. O'Neill [in a letter] "She's a 'real guy'. You'd like her =
>> immensely."
>> 1929 Asch, _Pay Day_, "Be a good guy, Ma, and wait a couple of days."
>> 
>> So maybe McLain's version of Hadley and Kate are jumping the gun a =
>> little, but not by much.  The OED seems to need a somewhat more gender- =
>> and register-inclusive draft entry.=20
>> 
>> LH
>> 
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> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> 
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