[Ads-l] "kick ass" 1862?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 12 14:31:19 EDT 2017


"Kick like an ass" seems to me to be out of the running. The two-word
phrase hardly suggests the longer one. What's more, if the writer had
intended "kick like an ass," I'd have expected him to have given himself
more space.

What seems off is the position of the sentence "I want to kick ass" added
between the lines in this context. It seems a little odd for him to
emphasize his eagerness to re-enlist and fight some more in these words:
it's rather too strong for the tenor of the paragraph. In fact, it's
practically a non sequitur. Why so suddenly coarse? Why no other suggestion
that the writer wants to re-enlist.

Stephens suggestion that the intended meaning is "I want to kick *his* ass"
makes good sense to me: the "his" may have been elided inadvertently, or
because it wouldn't fit the tiny space. What's more, the position between
the lines shows it's an afterthought, and "I want too kick his ass" may be
a more likely afterthought than "I want to kick ass in general."

JL

On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 4:44 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> To try to clarify my hasty and messy post, I think Jonathan was quite
> right to report "kick ass" (a clear reading) as notable, and yet somehow
> "off"--"Something sounds a little off...but I don't know how to interpret
> it except in the current sense." And also helpful in commenting on a
> "distinction between “kicking asses” (a plural count noun) and “kicking
> ass” (a collective noun)."
>
>
> The photograph of side one of the letter is cropped at the bottom, so we
> can't see if a second handwriting appears. It may be that a friend wrote
> the letter for Gregory, but it begins "Der Martha Take my pen in han to let
> you know..." And says "exscuse my bad spelling this you se remember me."
> Might the (unphotographed) "Bad Dicktater Slow Cribe" be a joking
> self-disparagement of sounding out the spellings and himself as scribe?
> (Side two main text is in the same hand as the body of side one.)
>
> Note that "kick ass" is crowded in the right margin, perhaps causing an
> abbreviated phrase.
>
> The "current sense" might suggest collective noun use (get those Yankees)
> but the old context might suggest either kick like an ass or kick his
> (pushy recruiter officer single) ass. Or not. Something off.
>
>
> Stephen
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 3:14 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "kick ass" 1862?
>
> Lighter’s Historical Dictionary of American Slang mentions euphemisms:
>  "kick ass [or (euphem.) butt or tail]". HDAS also mentions "kick in
> the ass [or (euphem,) pants].
>
> Maybe exploring "kicking pants" and "pants kicking" might be helpful.
> These citations do not really match "kick ass" enforcement sense, but
> these citations and earlier ones might reduce the isolation of the
> 1862 citation.
>
> Date: January 19, 1897
> Newspaper: Hopkinsville Kentuckian
> Newspaper Location: Hopkinsville, Kentucky
> Article: Untitled short item
> Quote Page 4, Column 1
> Database: Newspapers.com
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> By the way, Bro. Walker, suppose we meet at some half-way point and
> have a mutual pants-kicking.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Date: December 31, 1928
> Newspaper: The Marion Star
> Newspaper Location: Marion, Ohio
> Article: Jubilee's Pardner: A Story of Humor oat Boyhood
> Author: Judd Mortimer Lewis
> Quote Page 9, Column 5
> Database: Newspapers.com
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> I got a horn and a tin bucket to hammer on and all of our bunch was up
> town hammering and blowing and yelling when all at once I got a kick
> in the pants and there was my father. I was made to go home. He had
> better kick my pants all he can while he can, for sometime I will be
> kicking pants.
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
>
> On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 1:13 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Here are direct links...
> >
> > JL's original ADS-L post:
> > https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__
> listserv.linguistlist.org_pipermail_ads-2Dl_2017-2DOctober_149620.html&d=
> DwIFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_
> xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=_9KT43OiW330CcS8aSbTKfzS3EzaqhEdP0HgPqkqSnE&e=
> >
> > My post on the Strong Language blog:
> > https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__
> stronglang.wordpress.com_2017_10_06_i-2Dwant-2Dto-2Dkick-
> 2Dass-2Din-2D1862_&d=DwIFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6Y
> HLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=
> TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=M048-
> eXZMEcSuLxPEISPbArPCrRgLSz_3chshoezJYU&e=
> [https://stronglang.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/kickass.png]<
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-
> 3A__stronglang.wordpress.com_2017_10_06_i-2Dwant-2Dto-
> 2Dkick-2Dass-2Din-2D1862_&d=DwIFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6Y
> HLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=
> TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=M048-
> eXZMEcSuLxPEISPbArPCrRgLSz_3chshoezJYU&e=>
>
> “I want to kick ass” in 1862?<https://urldefense.
> proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__stronglang.wordpress.com_
> 2017_10_06_i-2Dwant-2Dto-2Dkick-2Dass-2Din-2D1862_&d=DwIFaQ&c=
> imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_
> xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=M048-eXZMEcSuLxPEISPbArPCrRgLSz_3chshoezJYU&e=>
> urldefense.proofpoint.com
> A new online archive of Civil War correspondence promises to shed light on
> historical varieties of nonstandard American English. Two linguists,
> Michael Ellis (Missouri State University) and Michael…
>
>
> >
> > ...now cross-posted on Slate:
> > https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.
> slate.com_blogs_browbeat_2017_10_10_the-5Fphrase-5Fkick-
> 5Fass-5Fwas-5Fdiscovered-5Fin-5Fcivil-5Fwar-5Fcorrespondence.html&d=
> DwIFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_
> xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=qop_GnL_YlsmsSFdQvYaR_o0DZVsUWkBL4nZp6y-HtU&e=
> >
> >
> > On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 12:59 PM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>
> > wrote:
> >
> >> I do not claim to understand the collocation in the 1862 Civil War
> letter,
> >>
> >> but maybe speculation besides accepting the sense known *over* a century
> >> later
> >>
> >> (with no intervening words between kick and ass) may be appropriate.
> >>
> >> I lost some email so here's the archive with links (also see Ben at
> Slate)
> >>
> >> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__
> listserv.linguistlist.org_pipermail_ads-2Dl_2017-
> 2DOctober_date.html&d=DwIFaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6Y
> HLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=
> TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=
> f7spmZXsTfgdzzcpdqRZJhRTNoSUcZeViSOH_u_hB58&e=
> >>
> >>
> >> Ben asked, more or less, whether the letter writer meant either to kick
> >> ass generally (gung-ho versus enemies)
> >>
> >> or to kick Old Captian Gilbert's ass. Of the two, in context, the latter
> >> seems to me
> >>
> >> relatively more likely.
> >>
> >> This soldier evidently does not want to enlist longer, at least not now.
> >>
> >> He may wish to resist the pressure to do so.
> >>
> >> By the way, there is ambiguity about what he wrote by his hand and what
> >> was dictated (if, in fact, both).
> >>
> >> Which was the interlinear?
> >>
> >> (And the first k is messy, but what else could fit?)
> >>
> >> "Ass" in some of these letters meant "as"--not that that instantly
> helps.
> >>
> >> Might--wild guess--this be an abbreviated "kick like an ass,"
> >>
> >> in resistance?
> >>
> >>
> >> Though it's not a really parallel case, another letter (by another
> author,
> >> Everett4 soldier from GA) includes:
> >>
> >> "iwant to See Some
> >> of the gals down thea in Hayneville you
> >> must tell them all howdy for me if
> >> you Can tell them that i love them
> >> as hard af [sic, as?] mule Can kick down hill
> >> i cant see any Gals up her at all"
> >>
> >>
> >> To "kick like a mule" (more or less, to really insist?) may have been
> >> common then.
> >>
> >>
> >> uncentainly,
> >>
> >> Stephen
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.
> com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=DwIFaQ&c=
> imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_
> xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=uedxlgBlUJDqQb9_yTLM42dMUdkVWAJlOVBD7VTY6Hc&e=
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.
> com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=DwIFaQ&c=
> imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=TiukvZZdJDfIHKHwUY5pA956_
> xEuHbg9pC2rn4hauWo&s=uedxlgBlUJDqQb9_yTLM42dMUdkVWAJlOVBD7VTY6Hc&e=
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> 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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list