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

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 17 15:10:36 EDT 2017


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


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