[Ads-l] "ribbit" redux
bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 15 13:46:24 EDT 2018
Thanks, Garson. The OED entry dates the Smothers Brothers episode to
"c1968," but it looks like it aired on Mar. 26, 1967 (Season 1, Episode 8).
The episode is discussed in David Bianculli's book "Dangerously Funny: The
Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." Apparently they
wanted Tom Smothers, after being turned into a frog, to say "frigget," but
the censors objected.
Here's the sketch in question:
On Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 1:42 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Here is a slightly earlier citation for the Smothers Brothers instance
> although the text does not directly state that the phrase emerged from
> a frog-like or toad-like entity.
> Date: April 17, 1967
> Newspaper: Tampa Bay Times
> Newspaper Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
> Article: Suncoasting
> Author: Marian Coe
> Quote Page 3D, Column 2
> Database: Newspapers.com
> [Begin excerpt]
> The Bill Spicklemires are christening a new 36-footer with flying
> bridge the "Ribit" . . . Explaining that one, Bill says they were
> pondering 103 name suggestions other night when they caught the
> Smothers Brothers' show with the gag line "ribit, ribit" . . .
> [End excerpt]
> On Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 1:03 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> > https://mentalfloss.com/article/556977/words-and-
> > Angela Tung, "10 Words and Phrases That Came From TV Shows"
> > Mental Floss, Sept. 14, 2018
> > This article cites an old ADS-L post of mine on the word "ribbit" as the
> > onomatopoetic sound of a frog.
> > -----
> > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2005-March/047051.html
> > The OED entry for "ribbit" = 'sound made by a frog' gives a first cite of
> > c1968 from the _Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour_ ("That's right. Ribit! I
> > I am a frog"). There's a note from the Smothers Brothers program manager
> > saying that he doubted that this was the first use of the word.
> > In a discussion of "ribbit" on the alt.usage.english newsgroup, Donna
> > Richoux found a reference online to a 1965 _Gilligan's Island_ episode
> > Mel Blanc voicing the character of "Ribbit the Frog"...
> > http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/GuidePageServlet/
> > Gilligan's Island - Water, Water Everywhere
> > Episode Number 14
> > First Aired January 2, 1965
> > Production Code 0714
> > Writer Tom Waldman & Frank Waldman
> > Director Stanley Z. Cherry
> > Guest Stars: Mel Blanc (as Ribbit the Frog (voice))
> > -----
> > When the OED was revising the "ribbit" entry a few years later, Jesse
> > Sheidlower tried to confirm the 1965 use but didn't find anything
> > definitive, so the Smothers Brothers example is still the earliest given.
> > (In the etymological note it says: "Other sources associate early uses of
> > the term with 'Mel' Blanc (1908-89, U.S. voice actor and comedian), but
> > conclusive evidence has not been found.") Can anyone find confirmation of
> > the Gilligan's Island example from contemporary sources (or any other
> > antedating)?
> > --bgz
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