[Ads-l] "ribbit" redux

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Sat Sep 15 13:54:11 EDT 2018


That is a spectacular anecdote. The etymology of "ribbit" is that it's a euphemism of a euphemism? I'm going to use this story every day.

On Sat, Sep 15, 2018 at 01:46:24PM -0400, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> 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).
> 
> http://www.tv.com/shows/the-smothers-brothers-comedy-hour/season-1-episode-8-191386/
> https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1052313/
> 
> 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.
> 
> https://books.google.com/books?id=-aS_vD_lYwEC&pg=PA94
> https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/arts/television/the-smothers-brothers-and-the-birth-of-tv-buzz.html
> 
> Here's the sketch in question:
> 
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiE40gL3onk
> 
> 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
> >
> > https://www.newspapers.com/image/320276262/
> >
> > [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-
> > phrases-that-came-from-tv-shows
> > > 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
> > am.
> > > 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
> > with
> > > Mel Blanc voicing the character of "Ribbit the Frog"...
> > > http://www.tvtome.com/tvtome/servlet/GuidePageServlet/
> > showid-599/epid-10123/
> > > 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
> > >
> >
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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