[Ads-l] For want of an apostrophe ... [correction to the OED]

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM
Mon Mar 27 05:51:52 EDT 2017

Not quite a hanging matter, but the absence of an apostrophe causes the OED to
provide a false citation for MOB, n1, "†2. A loose informal garment for a woman;
= dishabille n. 2. Also mob-dress. Obs."

The problem with this entry is the first citation.  This reads, as the OED gives

"1665 R. Head Eng. Rogue I. sig. F5v, Their Mobs, Scarfs, and Hoods all rent."

Here, the OED helpfully (?) provides us with two commas not present in the
original, while coyly omitting an apostrophe which would have allowed for the
proper sense of the words quoted.

A fuller (and more accurate) transcription of the passage from Head would read
as below, where it is apparent from the context that the Mobs, female companions
of the men, have their Scarfs and Hoods torn. [N]  If re-punctuation of the
original is to be perpetrated, a more correct version would read, "Their Mobs'
Scarfs and Hoods all rent."  

Head's original text (p. 111 -- the OED's location of the text via foliation
rather than page number here seems to be not simply unnecessarily pedantic but
actually unhelpful):

"Some of the men were all bloody, and their Mobs Scarfs and Hoods all rent, and
none of them sober: ..."

Robin Hamilton

[N]   A correct location of the Head citation would place it in the OED, at MOB,
n1: 1. A wench, a slattern; a promiscuous woman; a prostitute.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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