Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Sat Dec 4 20:57:10 UTC 2010

Ron is of course right that most speakers of all languages don't scour
dictionaries in search of obscure or obsolete words they can use in
conversation. I certainly don't, though I do scour dictionaries in
search of words. But I bet that the OED would make more money if it
lowered its price for individual subscriptions. Sorry I brought this
up this morning in a moment of weakness.


On Sat, Dec 4, 2010 at 4:40 PM, Ronald Butters <ronbutters at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Ronald Butters <ronbutters at AOL.COM>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â chuckie
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Beautiful? Are "Jackie" and "Jerkie" also beautiful? What are the aesthetic criteria?
> Given that CHUCK has a popular sense 'vomit', isn't it more likely that Americans would analyze CHUCKIE as 'a piece of vomit' rather than 'pebble' (which would certainly interfere with the popular reception of a hoped-for revival of the word--not to mention cancel out any sense of 'beauty' for most people).
> For a word to make a "comeback," it would need to have been popular in the first place. Was CHUCKIE 'pebble' anything more than a rare UK 19th-century dialect form? Or perhaps just a nonce term from CHUCK 'to throw"? In any case, I don't see much evidence that it wasever  particularly widespread in American English.
> Do people really read dictionaries looking for "beautiful words" that they can use in conversation? If so, are their hearers likely to pick up the word and use it--or just think the speakers are weird and pretentious? If the OED were to lower its price to an extent that such an experiment were possible, I doubt that it would be cost-effective.
> And if the OED were so cheap, who would pay the bills to keep it running?
> On Dec 4, 2010, at 2:32 AM, Paul Frank wrote:
>> It's Saturday morning, so I'm going to allow myself a chatty post. I
>> learned a word this morning reading a note by Robert Crawford the TLS:
>> "This collection adds another chuckie to the cairn of a remarkable
>> poetic achievement" (Les Murray's).
>> Cairn has long been my favorite English word, perhaps because it
>> reminds me hill walking in Scotland years ago.
>> The word is chuckie, and here's how the OED defines it:
>> Quartz pebble: also chuckie stone or stane.
>> 1793 Â  Â D. Ure Hist. Rutherglen 268 (Jam.) Â  Quartzy nodules, or
>> chuckie-stones‥are very common.
>> 1817 Â  Â Scott Rob Roy II. i. 10 Â  As fissenless as chuckie-stanes.
>> 1825    Scott Jrnl. 22 Dec. (1939) 53   A minute philosopher‥eternally
>> calling your attention‥to look at grasses and chucky-stones.
>> I think that if the OED were affordable to most English speakers
>> everywhere, beautiful words like chuckie would stand a chance of
>> making a comeback.
>> Paul

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