At least 18 terms for baseball "pitcher"

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon Aug 13 17:33:38 UTC 2001

On words for snow please (please! PLEASE!) read The Great Eskimo
Vocabulary Hoax by Geoff Pullum, reprinted in a book by that title
(U. of Chicago Press, 1991).


>    From my work on the 1913 baseball columns of the newspaper _San
>Francisco Bulletin_ I have been struck by the considerable number of
>terms for a pitcher.
>I've often heard that the Eskimos have about 12 different words for
>snow (maybe it's true and maybe it isn't); supposedly each term
>differentiates a slightly different type of snow.
>      1913 baseball lingo had at least 18 terms for pitcher, although
>they all tended to be used pretty much synonymously. Here are the
>examples I have thus far noticed:
>  ---box artist, boxman, curvist, flinger, gunner, heaver, hillman,
>hurler, hurlster/hurlester, hurlsmith, mound artist, moundsman,
>pitcher, slabman, slabster, slinger, tosser (also = baseball player),
>      There's probably something of relevance to general linguistics
>hidden in here. How about a principle along the lines of "Variety is
>the spice of life"?
>---Gerald Cohen

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

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