Early texting?

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Apr 19 03:40:08 UTC 2009

Mark Mandel wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Early texting?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I was thinking of "aqua fortis" to mean 'hard liquor', but OED has
> only the chemical meaning. Still, could it be?

I think this is likely, although I'm still uncertain how to interpret it

I've found several versions of the poem. In the line in question, the
commas are scattered at random so it's hard to know how to interpret it.
"AQfortie" appears as "AQfortis" in some versions. This is reminiscent
of "aggie forti[e]s" (also "acker fortis" etc.) (in DARE), based on
"aqua fortis" = "nitric acid" but applied to strong liquor and also to
strong coffee. However DARE's examples are significantly later. "Acker
fortis" also is found meaning literally "nitric acid" (apparently used
in some folk medicines as well as for etching etc.).

I think it's possible that "aqua fortis" or some variant was used
metaphorically to mean "virulent feeling" or so; cf. "vitriol",
originally = "sulphuric acid".

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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