Melvyn Bragg book

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu Nov 27 15:06:35 UTC 2003

In a message dated  Mon, 24 Nov 2003 12:08:12 -0000,  Michael Quinion
<TheEditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG> writes

> [Melvyn Bragg] also states that Davy Crockett "was one of the first
exponents of
>  'Tall Talk' - using new words like 'skedaddle', 'hunky-dory' and
>  'splendiferous'". The OED has first examples of these from 1861, 1866
>  and 1843 respectively, while Crockett, of course, died at the Alamo
>  in 1836.
>  Crockett is not on record anywhere I've looked as employing any of
>  these words. Before I assert catagorically Bragg is wrong about this,
>  would anyone who knows different tell me where there's evidence that
>  Crockett did indeed use them?

Crockett wrote his memoirs in 3 volumes:
A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett ... Written by Himself (1834)
An Account of Col. Crockett's Nour to the North and Down East (1834)
Col. Crockett's Ex;loits and Adventures in Texas (posthumous, 1836)

These are collected in _Davy Crockett's Own Story as written by himself_ New
York: Citadel Press, 1955, of which I have a copy in front of me.

The dates given for the 3 original volumes are from the "Publisher's Note" to
the 1955 edition and are a little flaky.  The 1955 book does not tell where
one volume ends and the next begins, and I found a reference to 1835 in a
portion of the book long predating Crockett's move to Texas.

For the phrase "walking papers" the OED gives the first usage as "1835 Col.
Crokett's Tour 80" so the OED   This may be incorrect, as "walking papers"
occurs in chapter 2  (of 35), page 31, which has to be part of volume I for which
the 1955 book gives the date of 1834.

Anyway, it appears that some OED contributor read through at least part of
Crockett's memoirs and did not find 'skedaddle', 'hunky-dory' and
'splendiferous', which is a small piece of negative evidence against Melvyn Bragg''s claim.

      - James A. Landau

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