-er(s) in the Times

Mark Mandel Mark.A.Mandel at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 27 01:47:32 UTC 2009

For the record (i.e., not that I think anyone here is unaware of Carroll's
source): The Mad Hatter is simply based on the proverbial expression "mad as
a hatter" (OED: from 1821; see "mad", Phrases, 2f). I'm not sure that that
particular "-er" can be called an agentive suffix, but it's not derogatory
(OED: 1389; 1488, Shakespeare, Act 4 Hen. VII, c. 9).

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Mark Mandel

On Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 10:15 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>wrote:

> Author Leslie Savan cites our Victor Steinbok's observations here,
> and has some nice observations or her own, although I'm not sure why
> "Jack the Ripper" and "the Mad Hatter" are valid instances of the
> "derogatory force of -er" anymore than "dancer", "singer", "speaker",
> or "teacher" are counterexamples.  I think these are all simple
> agentives;

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