Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Feb 2 13:12:48 UTC 2000

I believe, on the other hand, that this is a very good general rule. I take
shelter in the sociolinguistic commonplace (which I have observbed in my
own and others' work for a very long time) that change comes from below (in
social status terminology) and that fact usually implies from the spoken
language as well. I think Gerald would agree that the writing first items
he cites are simply exceptions which prove (but do not tarnish) the rule.

dInIs (who threw in the old-timey use of "prove" just to startle you)

>   Dennis Preston  comments  concerning the appearance of slang items in
>>> ...nearly every lexicographer I know admits
>>that the first written citation is doubtless "years" after a word came into
> ------This is a very risky general rule. "Namby-pamby" originated  in  a
>written poem and then spread to the spoken language.  "Shyster" (first
>spelled "shiseter") also first arose in print, based on British cant
>"shiser" (= somebody worthless), ultimately from German  "Scheisser."
>"Skedaddle" (= run away) originated  early in the American Civil War and
>very quickly gained currency and  appeared in print.
>----Gerald Cohen
>gcohen at umr.edu

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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