[Ads-l] Kavanaugh yearbook

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Sep 26 23:38:40 EDT 2018


> On Sep 26, 2018, at 8:01 PM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
> 
> "Puke" is as old as Shakespeare's time.

ouch. yes; i should have checked the OED.  it looks like GDoS thinks "puke" was neutral or merely colloquial (like "throw up" for many speakers today) but then slipped into slanghood.

but the point relevant to the current discussion is that "barf" and "ralph" probably had some in-group cachet for many of the speakers we're talking about.

i do recall at Princeton that at least some non-East-Coast public-school guys experienced "barf" in particular as new college slang, and "ralph" as a more colorful variant of the same sort.  i think i got "barf" as a prep-school guy thing -- i intersected with some of them when i was in high school -- but didn't use it myself, because i was out of their social class.  then i got to Princeton and discovered it was *the* collegiate slang term, with "ralph" as a playful variant.  (there was a brief fad for "frab" -- "barf" backwards -- as a playfully coded version of "barf".)

if only i'd taken notes on some of the sociolinguistic richness around me! i had some of the linguistics, but virtually nothing on the sociocultural side (i later picked that up on the street).

arnold

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