"rough around the ages"

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Thu Jan 29 15:43:59 UTC 2009

Very interesting data, and if the misspelling really only goes only one way, and extends to other uses of "age" for "edge," then there is probably not semantic reinterpretation, at least for most speakers (though interspeaker variability is also possible).

It would be useful to see if "wage" replaces "wedge."
Different  dialects seem to be represented in Arnold's original data. The sequence "age" is easier to spell than "edge."

I can't check any of tjhis now ...
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

-----Original Message-----
From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>

Date:         Wed, 28 Jan 2009 23:00:16
Subject:      Re: [ADS-L] "rough around the ages"

At 9:03 PM +0000 1/28/09, ronbutters at aol.com wrote:
>If this were just a spelling mistake based on supposedly homophonous
>age/edge then one would also find "sharp age sword" and "two years
>of edge."
>I'm not finding that.

Not the latter, which you wouldn't expect because the phonological
shift doesn't go in that direction.  As for the former, I do find a
number of "double-aged sword" hits, with the 'double-edged' meaning.
Hundreds more for "double-age sword" without the -d, and with various
metaphorical meanings, none involving age.  And one lonely "twin-aged
razor".  You can also bid for a valuable Thracian bronze dagger with
a double-aged blade.  All meanings possibly relevant here.

>And the phonology seems unlikely.

Really?  It's not *my* phonology, but tensing here doesn't seem that wild.


>  I vote for eggcornishness here. One sorta opaque idiom gets
>replaced by another sorta opaque idiom.
>------Original Message------
>From: Laurence Horn
>Sender: ADS-L
>To: ADS-L
>ReplyTo: ADS-L
>Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "rough around the ages"
>Sent: Jan 28, 2009 1:49 PM
>At 10:18 AM -0800 1/28/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>>Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky wrote this morning to suggest that i
>>check out this expression.  and indeed i got about 30 google hits,
>>from a variety of sources, among them:
>>    RnB superstar Alicia Keys can understand why she was labelled a
>>lesbian at the beginning of her career - because she was " rough
>>around the ages " .
>>    With Juno, she had so many dimensions to her in that she was this
>>young, confident girl who's rough around the ages.
>>    Bit rough around the ages but the staff are friendly and the beer
>>is resonably priced.
>>    More punk than folk, Bragg's forcefully strummed guitar and rough-
>>around-the- ages vocals (not to mention thick Cockney accent) belie
>>his keen sense of ...
>>    Rough around the ages and with some issues that need dealing with,
>>but he is mine and I am his and we are two peas in a pod.
>>"ages" here could arise from a mishearing, or from hearing a
>>pronunciation with a raised variant of /E/ before /J/, which could
>>then be identified as /e/.  i don't see a semantic motivation.
>I think the latter possibility is plausible--the writers are
>interpreting the expression in the usual way, but just spelling
>"edges" as "ages" (for phonological reasons), so that "ages" is
>homonymous between the two meanings (assuming "ages" hasn't itself
>shifted in pronunciation for these speakers). Then it wouldn't be an
>eggcorn as such, just a semantically unmotivated phonetic respelling.
>In the other direction, I see there's a west coast rock group "Rock
>of Edges", presumably just a pun rather than (almost literally) an
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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

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