Linguistic dark matter

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Dec 20 18:05:44 UTC 2010

"y" instead of "i" does occur, although I can't say how often nor do
I know much about the 16th century.

"Syster" appears 63 times in various entries in the OED, one being
"given to my syster Anne".  There are only 14 instances of "shyster",
and enough of each quotation is given to say none are
"sister".  "Blessyng*", also in Victor's quotation, which I chose
because I have seen that spelling (I sometimes read sermons), appears
35 times in various entries.  I will not attempt to date them, since
the new OED interface makes it impossible to go to quotations.


At 12/20/2010 04:43 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>The search, in fact, is already done at ngrams site. You can see a
>string of date ranges at the bottom of the page when looking at the
>trend graph. The breakdowns are not always useful and I am not sure if
>they can be adjusted other than going to "advanced search" in Google
>Books. Looking at "shyster, Shyster" results (case-sensitive), there are
>a couple of small bumps prior to 1860, so it's hard to discern the
>earliest occurrence. And the automatically generated ranges are not
>helpful--1800-1905 for "shyster" and 1800-1868 for "Shyster"
>(apparently, going by quintiles).
>But the graph is also inaccurate--there are hits for 1843, 1849, but
>they are not reflected in the graph at all, even though there are
>several minor bumps recorded. These bumps correspond to single hits (all
>mislabeled, but that's not relevant). So the other two also should have
>showed up.
>But there is also an odd 1819 cite. It's not an OCR error--the word
>"shyster" is on the page. But it could not possibly be the same word
>that appears in all the other places...
>The book is from 1819, but the text is much older.
>Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in
>the County of York. London: 1819
>>My shyster of Pembroke hath wylled me to rem'ber her humble dewty to
>>my Lorde and you, wyth desyre of hysdayly blessynge. Assoone as she is
>>able she wyll dowe yt her selfe.
>The date on the letter is 1575. Could "sister" really have been spelled
>"shyster" in 1575? All the other words with an "i" in modern spelling,
>appear to have a "y" in this piece. Or was it something else that it
>meant? I am clueless, as usual, about such things...
>     VS-)
>On 12/19/2010 11:47 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>>One does a search in Google Books.
>>Fred Shapiro
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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