[Ads-l] surveil verb (1887) backformation of surveillance

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 7 11:29:36 EST 2017

JL wrote;
> Great finds!
> Independent coinages?

The backformation may have been constructed independently on multiple
occasions, Unfortunately, the citations I've located do not provide
strong evidence on this question because my search was not
comprehensive and the search strategy was circumscribed. I only looked
for the word "surveilled" in Google Books and Newspapers.com.

Here are two more instances from the Fulton History database providing
The following 1911 instance occurred in a newspaper title.

Date: August 8, 1911
Newspaper: The Sun (The New York Sun)
Newspaper Location: New York, New York
Quote Page 10, Column 1
Database: Fulton History

[Begin excerpt; the title contains "surveilled"; this excerpt is
included to show the semantics]
Fort Totten was inclined to make merry yesterday over its "Austrian
spy," but an order came from Washington in the evening to Col. Strong,
the commandant, to hold Private George Peters of the 135th Company,
Coast Artillery, under surveillance until further notice.
[End excerpt]

Below is another instance in a New York newspaper. The text is
difficult to read. The French name of the permit is unclear.

Date: February 6, 1916
Newspaper: Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Newspaper Location: Brooklyn, New York
Article: 400,000 Foreigners Formerly in Paris
Article: Subtitle: Now There Are Only 150,000 and the Majority of Them Are Swiss
Author: Eagle Bureau, 53 Rue Cambon
Quote Page 3, Column 7
Database: Fulton History

[Begin excerpt]
All the foreigners left in Paris are very carefully tabulated and
surveilled. Everyone has to be provided with a "Permits de salour" or
"Permit to reside," carrying a photograph of the holder.
[End excerpt]


> On Mon, Feb 6, 2017 at 4:22 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
>> wrote:
>> Yesterday while searching for information about the Super Bowl I can
>> across an instance of "surveil" employed as a verb in the title of an
>> article on the Wired website. An interesting modifier was applied to
>> the verb: "Surveilled Hard".
>> Timestamp: 01.31.16. 7:00 am.
>> Website: Wired.com
>> Author: April Glaser
>> Article: If You Go Near the Super Bowl, You Will Be Surveilled Hard
>> https://www.wired.com/2016/01/govs-plan-keep-super-bowl-
>> safe-massive-surveillance/
>> The OED has an entry for "surveil" as a verb with citations starting
>> in 1960. The grammarist website also mentions instances from the early
>> 1960s. Below are citations in 1887 and 1924.
>> Date: November 22, 1887
>> Newspaper: The Leavenworth Times
>> Newspaper Location: Leavenworth, Kansas
>> Article: Buying the Town
>> Quote Page 4
>> Database: Newspapers.com
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> Officer Goodell had spotted him as a crook, and surveilled his
>> maneuvers. It was learned that he owed for three weeks' board at the
>> National hotel, and had made no effort to pay the bill.
>> [End excerpt]
>> Date: June 1, 1924
>> Newspaper: The Baltimore Sun
>> Newspaper Location: Baltimore, Maryland
>> Article: Four American Negroes Are Expelled From Paris (Associated Press)
>> Quote Page 11, Column 5
>> Database: Newspapers.com
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> The official communique said there had never been any question of
>> expulsions "en bloc." Foreigners were always surveilled by the police
>> and those among them who failed to comply with the regulations would
>> be expelled.
>> [End excerpt]
>> Below is an excerpt from the analysis provided by the grammarist website.
>> Surveil
>> http://grammarist.com/words/surveil/
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> The verb surveil, originally a backformation of surveillance, was long
>> considered nonstandard, and even now is still so new to the language
>> (the earliest instances date from the early 1960s) that some
>> dictionaries don’t include it, and your spell check might disapprove
>> of it. But even though survey is closely related, etymologically, to
>> surveillance, survey does not carry the sense to keep under
>> surveillance (where surveillance means close observation, especially
>> of one under suspicion).
>> [End except]
>> Garson
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> 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

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