[Ads-l] "old boy" = the devil + OED antedating of "Old Roger".

Peter Grund 000005f26c70c747-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Fri Sep 16 10:58:37 EDT 2016


For what it's worth, this is what the Rosenthal et al. edition (2009: 195) suggests for "old cratten": 

"The word 'cratten' is not attested in either OED or MED. However, both OED and MED record a word crate (mistake for trate or trot) meaning 'hag, old woman' or 'old man' (MED s.v. crate n.; OED s.v. crate and trot n2). Henry Alexander, "The Language of the Salem Witchcraft Trials," American Speech 3 (1928): 398 relates the word to craven and caitiff, which seems less likely."
(I should probably be up front and say that I'm one of the co-editors of the Rosenthal et al. edition.)
Peter

      From: Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
 To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU 
 Sent: Friday, September 16, 2016 9:33 AM
 Subject: Re: "old boy" = the devil + OED antedating of "Old Roger".
   
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Sender:      American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:      Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
Subject:      Re: "old boy" = the devil + OED antedating of "Old Roger".
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Responses interspersed.

      From: Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
 To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU=20
 Sent: Friday, September 16, 2016 9:22 AM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "old boy" =3D the devil + OED antedating of "Old Roge=
r".
  =20
Ah, I must have misread you. I was simply slightly puzzled as to why you pi=
cked
the second rather than the first date.

JB:=C2=A0 I didn't pick the second date for "old boy".=C2=A0 I cited both t=
he first and the second because the first is bracketed:=C2=A0 "Antedates OE=
D3 "old boy" sense 4.=C2=A0 [1737], 1782--."=C2=A0 Although I'm unable to d=
educe a reason why it is bracketed.
...
I found it interesting that the term =E2=80=9Cold boy=E2=80=9D emerges not =
simply at a
particular time (as you point out) but in a particular place, Salem, and th=
at
it's not only a subset of a particular set of terms, but a geographically-t=
agged
member of that subset.

JB:=C2=A0 I have no reason to infer that "old boy" emerged in Salem.=C2=A0 =
In fact, the 1737 quotation hints that it emerged anciently in England:

[1737=C2=A0=C2=A0 T. Gray in H. Walpole Corr. 29 Dec. (1948) XIII. 146=C2=
=A0=C2=A0 The devil, whose ancient title has been =E2=80=98Old Boy=E2=80=99=
.]

There is some trace of contagious diffusion, however, somewhat like the thr=
oat distemper of the 1730s:=C2=A0 The second quotation, 1782, is from New J=
ersey (look up Freneau), and the third, 1802, from Hudson, N.Y.

...
At least, I'm assuming the term didn't gain traction, indeed might simply b=
e a
nonce-usage. Or am I wrong, and it is, or was, actually the preferred term =
in
America?

JB:=C2=A0 I have no evidence which was the preferred term in America, altho=
ugh my digested reading suggests that it was "old Nick".=C2=A0 Google NGram=
s might indicate something.


And yes, you're quite right to point to the significance of =E2=80=9Cold cr=
atten=E2=80=9D -- it
adds another ingredient to pot of terms. But why =E2=80=9Ccratten=E2=80=9D?=
 I could understand
=E2=80=9Ccratter=E2=80=9D (later in America, =E2=80=9Ccritter=E2=80=9D from=
 =E2=80=9Ccreature=E2=80=9D) as that would fit the
pattern of the other examples of Devil-naming. Is =E2=80=9Ccratten=E2=80=9D=
 perhaps a misprint,
or a misreading or mishearing by someone at the time, of =E2=80=9Ccreature=
=E2=80=9D or some
dialectical variant thereof?

JB:=C2=A0 I have no clue to "cratten", and simply hoped someone on the list=
 might have some idea.

Joel




  =20

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