Fwd: Re: Fwd: Ameliorated words of offensive origin

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Thu Mar 1 15:30:47 UTC 2001

--On Wednesday, February 28, 2001 8:09 pm -0500 "Sonja L. Lanehart"
<lanehart at ARCHES.UGA.EDU> wrote:
>> From: "Martin Rogers" <martyr at arches.uga.edu>

>> i think an intersting ameliorization is "paddy wagon" for a police van;
> i
>> am pretty sure that the word comes from "patty" wagon and that patty
> was a
>> derogatory word for an irishman, b/c of the name Patrick.  the wagon,
> then
>> was sent to pick up
>> irishmen who were presumably drunk, or fighting, or generally making
>> themselves a nuisance.

It comes from 'paddy' not 'patty' of course, since the Irish form of
Patrick is Padraig and is diminuted (how's that for a back-formation?) as

Another example, would be Scotch tape, which was so-called by its early
customers because the 3M company only put sticky stuff on the edges at
first because they were too tight-fisted to use more adhesive.  In spite of
lack of adhesive, the name "stuck" and the company took it on as a
trademark.  Now, if you ask me where I learnt that, I can't tell you--but
it was a reputable source I'm sure.


M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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