[Ads-l] to truth-tell

Baker, John JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM
Wed Dec 2 15:34:39 EST 2020


No verb “to truth”?  What, was Nancy Sinatra (or, actually, Lee Hazlewood, her lyricist) committing a neologism when she sang, “You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'”?  (In These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ (1965), for those who don’t recognize the lyric.)

The OED has truth, v., from 1888 when used in the sense of “to tell the truth,” although the usage is disparagingly tagged as “US colloquial and regional” and it mainly seems to be used in contrast to lie, v.


John Baker

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of Laurence Horn
Sent: Wednesday, December 2, 2020 1:52 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: to truth-tell

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Well, extrapolating from Mark’s original post, I’d say it’s blocked by the verb “to lie”, while there’s no corresponding verb “to truth”. Not clear what “to lie-tell” would communicate that “to lie” wouldn’t.

LH


> On Dec 2, 2020, at 1:39 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM<mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>> wrote:
>
> Any Google hits for to "lie-tell"?
>
> If not, why not?
>
> JL
>
> On Wed, Dec 2, 2020 at 9:40 AM MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY CCDC
> AVMC (USA) <0000099bab68be9a-dmarc-request at listserv.uga.edu<mailto:0000099bab68be9a-dmarc-request at listserv.uga.edu>> wrote:
>
>>
>>
>>> Although if we stick to the transitive verb construction (as I suspect
>> JL would have us do),
>>> we have the nice minimal pair:
>>> "to tell *the* truth” vs. “to tell *a* lie”
>>> —lots of alternatives to the truth, but no alternative truths (or facts)
>>
>> Which is why the "tell my truth", "tell her truth" construction is so
>> rankling, I suppose.
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>
>>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org<http://www.americandialect.org>

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