[Ads-l] words connected to a single provenance

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 27 11:47:58 EDT 2018


> On Aug 27, 2018, at 11:30 AM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
> 
> It's my impression that the amelioration of noun "notoriety" preceded (and perhaps facilitated) the amelioration of the adjective "notorious."
> 
> 
> —Charlie

You may be right, in which case it’s the opposite pattern from that of “infamous”/“infamy”.

Just checked the OED, where I see that the general (‘well-known’) senses of both “notorious” and “notoriety” (for “notorious": 'Of a fact: well known; commonly or generally known; forming a matter of common knowledge’) go back to the 15th/16th century, with the negative narrowing or specialization being a later development.  For “notoriety”, there is the gloss 'the fact of being famous or well known, esp. for some reprehensible action, quality, etc.’, so it’s arguably a matter of how these descriptors were usually used, not necessarily what they meant.   

For both “infamous” and “infamy”, no non-negative lemma or cite is provided—it’s all ‘evil repute’, ‘vile’, ‘disgrace’, and the like.  Maybe the negative prefix helps repel any broadening or bleaching, while “notorious”/“notoriety” lack any such morphological pointer.

LH

> 
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Sent: Monday, August 27, 2018 11:14:38 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: words connected to a single provenance
> 
> Interesting.  I don’t watch much FoxNews, I confess (i.e. any), but I haven’t noticed the noun ameliorating, while I have encountered both the corresponding adjective “infamous” and its cousin “notorious” ameliorating and/or bleaching to mean just something like ‘famous’.  But not for all uses of “famous”—I’d be surprised to hear Beethoven described as an infamous musician or Rembrandt a notorious artist.  The shift is more something applied to those whose fame derives from the celebrity culture, at least as far as I’ve noticed.  Is this shift described in print somewhere?
> 
> LH
> 
> 
> 
> 
>> On Aug 27, 2018, at 7:48 AM, W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> 
>> RE: <infamy> 'ill repute, ill fame, loss of reputation, disgrace,
>> discredit, shame, dishonour'. But
>> the word is consistently given a positive spin by Brian Kilmeade of
>> FoxNews: <infamy>
>> 'good repute, positive fame, honour'. Such a positive re-interpretation of
>> the negative "day that
>> will live in infamy" flips it the other side of FDR's rough draft neutral
>> "day that will live in history".
>> 
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> 
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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