"motoring" and other "obsolescent" words

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Fri Apr 26 16:19:33 UTC 2002

In a message dated Fri, 26 Apr 2002 10:56:48 AM Eastern Daylight Time, James Kossuth <jkossuth at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM> writes:

>Can anyone suggest a good book on the subject
>of words that have been supplanted by others?
>I'm looking for something that chronicles the
>changes in word use over time, esp. in the US,
>e.g., "motoring" replaced by "driving."
>Thanks for any leads,

Here's a thought:  go into any decent bookstore and leaf through the paperbacks of individual Shakespeare plays.  You will find them full of footnotes, most of which are there to explain words which have either dropped out of English use or which have changed their meanings.

Many editors have composed such footnotes.  Wouldn't at least one have decided to go whole hog and publish a reference book on how to footnote Elizabethan writers for 20th/21st Century audiences?

If you can't find such reference works via the Web, you might contact the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.  The Folger is the USA's best-known, if not the best, center for the _textual_ (as opposed to literary) study of Shakespeare, and I presume other Elizabethan/Jacobean writers as well, including the group that produced the "King James" Bible.


In a message dated Thu, 25 Apr 2002  7:10:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Wendalyn Nichols <wendalyn at NYC.RR.COM> writes:

>'Obsolescent' is indeed the term, although few dictionaries make such nice
>distinctions in their labeling--I suspect because it's easier to wait until
>there's a consensus on a term being obsolete than it is to agree about its
>relative obsolescence.

Interesting: a rather archaic use of the word "nice".

    - James A. Landau

"The word "obsolescent" is itself obsolescent."  - Rachel Landau

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