Natalie Maynor maynor at CS.MSSTATE.EDU
Fri Feb 25 19:14:23 UTC 2000

Beverly wrote:

>   Since
> Bethany, Vicki, Ron, Rudy, and I are all in roughly the same age category
> (I don't know about Sean), it may indeed be that the word is passing out of
> use;

You can add me to the list also -- I've heard the word all my life.
But I've also heard words like lagniappe all my life and was surprised
when I discovered not many years ago that it was not a common word in
other parts of the country.

> I'll ask my class.

I plan to ask my classes Tuesday.  I might be able to get some idea
of whether there's an age factor or a regional factor since I have
a few somewhat older students, though most are typical college age,
and a few students from other regions, though most are from the
southeastern US.

> I'm not sure I would have known how to spell
> 'picayune' as a child; it was used orally and colloquially, as in "That's
> really picayune stuff."

I knew how it was spelled at whatever age I was when I started noticing
newspaper names and town names (Picayune, MS).  I have a vague memory
of asking my mother one time why a newspaper and a town would be named
something that meant small and unimportant.  I don't remember her
answer.  Maybe she knew about the Spanish coin, or maybe I learned
about that later.  (And then there were Picayune cigarettes, known even
way back then as extremely strong cigarettes, which seemed a violation
of the meaning of picayune.)
   --Natalie Maynor (maynor at ra.msstate.edu)

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