Discovery on "Whole Nine Yards"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Apr 28 10:54:42 UTC 2004

I don't know if the below was addressed to me, or Fred Shapiro, or the list.
On a two out of three chance, I'll respond.

No, I wouldn't expect to find "all nine yards" in the earliest uses, as I
responded onlist 16 Jan 04. I propose not 9 individuals but nine groups.
Compare "the whole/full 9 battalions" or the like.

I can't speak for how the phrase "always seems to suggest" to you "a certain
dimension or area," but I can suggest that meanings of "yard" such as a lenght
or an area are not the attested meaning of yards as Montagnards. Though we do
have a specified area for these 1966 named nine tribes, I Corps, Northern
South Vietnam, in an account of 9 tribes addressed specifically to GIs. If you
wish to imagine the possibility, try the phrase with the proposed meaning.

Moving from hypothetical to the time and place of the phrase as a fait

Some pretty good researchers have looked, and the phrase has not been found
before 1966, in Vietnam. To suggest that 9 here is a use of a mystical number
neglects to account for its appearence at this late date; nor does it
explain "yards." Furthermore, I suggest, if you are looking for a mystic, look
elsewhere than "Smash" Crandell/Chandler.

I suggest it helps to read the complete book The Doom Pussy (the 1967 book,
not the 1989/1991 sequel) and to read some of the anthropological teaching
works of Robert Mole, who was there, then.

Stephen Goranson

Quoting sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>:
> If the Montagnard tribes  was the true original referent, wouldn't you
> expect to find the earliest uses of "nine yards" to be "all nine yards"?
> "Whole nine yards" and "full nine yards" always seems to suggest a single
> entity with a certain dimension or area as the referent.
> A. Murie

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