Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Mar 3 05:01:47 UTC 2001

At 10:52 AM -0500 3/3/01, D. Ezra Johnson wrote:
>This from an article in today's New York Times, about Nisqually:
>..."We scoured the area," said Dr. Brian Sherrod, another "geologist with the
>Geological Survey, who searched for
>"evidence of liquefied soils from an airplane immediately after "the
>earthquake and searched other likely regions by car.
>""We didn't see boo," Dr. Sherrod said.
>Has this been documented before?
>I couldn't find the bare "boo" on an Internet search, but I did find
>"diddly-boo" which would support an equivalence with "squat".
>But I thought it was odd for the NYT just to hang that out there like it
>would be familiar to all.
I've never heard diddly-boo (variant of diddly-poo, perhaps?).  But I
am familiar with the use of "boo" itself as a squatitive (on which I
have a paper forthcoming), only with "say" as its governing verb.  I
assume there's some connection with Halloween-type scenarios in its
origins (see below).  Here are some hits off the web:
"We take 100-percent depreciation," he said, eyeing the shark, "and
the IRS didn't say `boo' about it when we got audited."

Is it that you only have bad things to say? You didn't say boo to the
nice lady (Ahem!) who responded with her tips and perspectives.

In the first half I didn't say boo because we were losing

the few thousand fans who showed up in the snow Sunday night didn't
say boo when the game was over.
and one that shows what I think is the origin of "boo" as a squatitive
I didn't do anything to scare you. Why I didn't even say,
The generalization from "(not to) say boo" to "(not to) see boo" is a
typical move for squatitives, from "squat" itself (originally limited
to "(not to be) worth squat" and "(not to) know squat") to Fr. "pas"
(now the standard marker of negation, originally = 'step' and limited
to motion verb contexts = 'not walk a step').

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