chuckie appears to be un-American

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Dec 5 05:04:26 UTC 2010

> The putatively "beautiful" Â and under-appreciated form "chuckie" is not in DARE, except as a call to chickens or pigs.

It's funny (peculiar, and perhaps haha too), but I still get excited
when I learn a new word. What makes this word chuckie beautiful to me
is that even if I never say it again, and I don't expect I will, in my
own private idiolect, cairns will always be built of chuckies (rounded
quartz pebbles) and stones. And the notion that a body of poetry
produced over a lifetime is like a cairn built over many seasons,
stone by stone, pebble by pebble, strikes me as beautiful: "This
collection adds another chuckie to the cairn of a remarkable poetic

That's what I tried to share with you all.

The idea that a cairn is built up over time, and that it is a way of
remembering, is clear from this fine quotation in the OED:

1772    T. Pennant Voy. Hebrides 209 (Jam.)   As long as the memory of
the deceased endured, not a passenger went by without adding a stone
to the heap‥To this moment there is a proverbial expression among the
highlanders allusive to the old practice; a suppliant will tell his
patron, Curri mi cloch er do charne, I will add a stone to your cairn;
meaning, when you are no more I will do all possible honor to your

But enough chatter from me. I expect it's night on the other side of
the wet bit. So let me just say

Night all,


Paul Frank
Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
Espace de l'Europe 16
Neuchâtel, Switzerland
paulfrank at
paulfrank at

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list