More thoughts on dating

Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MAIL.M-W.COM
Fri Feb 4 13:00:11 UTC 2000

A further observation in support of Jesse (et al.)'s argument for strict reliance on
documentary evidence in dating:  at M-W, we often hear from folks who
claim to have proof of the existence of a word/phrase
earlier than the date we report, and of course, we always encourage
them to send it along to us.  In many cases, though, the citations
they send are for some variant form or not-quite-identical sense
of the locution in question.  For example, a correspondent recently
argued with our dating of _Ponzi scheme_ on the basis of an earlier
example he'd found of _Ponzi game_.    If people have difficulty
recognizing important distinctions like these when they're written in black and white, how
much more likely are they to be confused by memories of something they've
heard many years ago?

Joanne Despres

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