[Ads-l] Another early "the whole six yards" (Arkansas, 1917)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 8 15:47:32 EDT 2017


The absence of seven and eight in the "whole [blank] yards" idiom might be explained if the yards refers to lengths of cloth.  Throughout the late 1800s and into the 1900s, retail sales of cloth were routinely made in multiples of three yards.  Nine yards appears to have been a particularly common full length of cloth available for retail purchase.


https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2015/02/nine-yards-to-dollar-history-and.html


https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2015/08/nine-yards-cut-from-whole-cloth-or-too.html







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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, June 8, 2017 12:15 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Another early "the whole six yards" (Arkansas, 1917)

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Subject:      Re: Another early "the whole six yards" (Arkansas, 1917)
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Bonnie,


Sorry I have taken so long to respond.  I don't think we had this one befor=
e.  Do you find it odd that we have citations for "nine yards" and "six yar=
ds," but nothing for, say, "eight yards"?


Fred



________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Bonnie=
 Taylor-Blake <b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 3:10 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Another early "the whole six yards" (Arkansas, 1917)

Or have we already done this one?

The following paragraph appears among other very-local news items under the
header "Edberta." "Edberta," however, is a typo for Elberta, a small town
on the Arkansas River, to the northwest of Little Rock.  (There's a mention
of Elberta in this collection of news items.)

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I have another item I should like to put in, but if I should write it up
according to "Old Ugly's" ideas it would take up too much space.  I'll give
it, however, and if he wants to know anything further about it he may write
to me personally and I'll give him the whole six yards.  The item is this:
 Little Joe is Dead.

(From "Edberta" [sic], The Batesville [Arkansas] Daily Guard, 23 March
1917, p. 4. Via newspapers.com.)

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This Arkansas usage is essentially contemporaneous with appearances of "the
whole six yards" in columns devoted to small-town news coming out of
Livingston, Kentucky.  These Livingston pieces had appeared in various
issues of the Mt. Vernon Signal (1912-1916).

Importantly, I think, this Arkansas usage ("give him the whole six yards")
resembles those Kentucky usages ("will tell the whole six yards," "will
give you the whole six yards," "did give them the whole six yards").

All four suggest "communicating a full account" or "presenting the entire
story."

-- Bonnie

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