[Ads-l] Amelioration of "infamous"?

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Sat Sep 24 10:47:40 EDT 2016


OK, I may have gotten the direction backwards -- worsening of "famous" rather than bettering of "infamous" -- but I was only trying to be humorous, not pejoratious. Still, there must have been some sense that "famous" could sometimes have negative associations.


Joel


      From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
 To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU 
 Sent: Saturday, September 24, 2016 7:18 AM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Amelioration of "infamous"?
   
Humorous pejoration instead, via afterthought, of "famous"?

JL

On Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 10:23 PM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:

> In the 1740s, there was “the famous or rather infamous Tom Bell”, an
> itinerant confidence man and dismissed Harvard student.  Quote from Boston
> Post Boy, 22 Aug. 1743.
>
>
> Joel
>
>
>      From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
>  To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>  Sent: Friday, September 23, 2016 6:17 PM
>  Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Amelioration of "notoriety"
>
> I
>
> "Notoriety" for me (and, I believe, most people ) is negative or (perhaps)
> slightly or humorously ambivalent.
>
> The _Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus_ (2004) offers the following
> synonyms (only) for "notoriety":
>
> "infamy, disrepute, ill repute, bad name, dishonor, discredit; _dated_ ill
> fame." "Positive" notoriety used to be called fame, celebrity, renown,
> public recognition,  prominence, eminence, greatness, stature, repute,
> stardom, popularity, etc.
>
> Seems like plenty to choose from. Positive "notoriety" strikes me as an
> intentionally playful usage of the _People_ magazine type: cf. "infamous."
>
> II
>
> For "notorious," Oxford gives
>
> "infamous, scandalous; well known, famous, famed, legendary."
>
> A typical context is given as "_a notorious gunman of the Old West_."
>
> But I doubt one would speak of "the notorious ['legendary'] King Arthur,"
> "the notorious ['famous'] Abraham Lincoln," or "Robert Frost's notorious
> ['well known']  'Stopping by Woods."
>
> Or am I misusing the Thesaurus?
>
> JL
>
> On Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 3:09 PM, Galen Buttitta <
> satorarepotenetoperarotas3 at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > For me, "notoriety" defaults to a positive connotation. "Notorious" is
> > negative.
> >
> > > On Sep 23, 2016, at 13:30, Marisa Brook <marisa.brook at MAIL.UTORONTO.CA
> >
> > wrote:
> > >
> > > Michigan State lost a beloved alumnus recently at the age of 24 and the
> > campus store has been handing out copies of his obituary.<
> > http://obits.mlive.com/obituaries/grandrapids/
> obituary.aspx?pid=180805567>
> > After three graceful, glowing paragraphs describing the young man's
> > accomplishments and family, the fourth paragraph begins as follows:
> > >
> > >
> > > "Sadler gained notoriety for influencing others through communication."
> > >
> > >
> > > After that, we get a description of his reportedly well-liked social
> > media presence, which is said to have involved "humor, wit, and
> philosophy".
> > >
> > >
> > > Seems to be a use of the word to mean 'popularity' (or at least
> > 'considerable attention') - in a non-facetious obituary in a medium where
> > the words were likely to have been carefully chosen. I'm intrigued. Has
> > anyone else noticed cases of this?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > ***************************
> > > Marisa Brook
> > > Assistant Professor
> > > Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African
> Languages
> > > Michigan State University
> > > East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1027 USA
> > > http://linglang.msu.edu/people/faculty/marisa-brook/
> > >
> > >
> > > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
>
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

------------------------------------------------------------
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