Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 14 13:48:19 UTC 2011

At 9:26 AM -0400 5/14/11, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>"Social disease" was *obviously* a euphemism, which means it just wouldn't
>do in the realistic twentieth century. It was also a problem
>because "social" might encourage people to believe they could contract
>something horrible from society at large, which includes toilet seats.
>(The OED exx. are diachronically not very useful, because they're mixed in
>with metaphorical "social diseases," like crime.)

Which was the point of that Officer Krupke patter ditty, connecting
V.D. with J.D.  For the whippersnapper contingent on the list, who
are unlikely to have heard renditions of "Gee Officer Krupke" by the
same balladeers who cover "Maria" and "Somewhere" from the same
source, here's a relevant snippet:

A-RAB ("psychiatrist"):
Officer Krupke, you're really a slob.
This boy don't need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society's played him a terrible trick,
"Und" sociogic'ly he's sick!

I am sick!

We are sick, we are sick,
We are sick sick sick,
Like we're sociologically sick!

A-RAB ("psychiatrist"):
In my opinion this child don't need to have
his head shrunk at all.
Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!

ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!

(Percussionist hits cymbals.)


The American Dialect Society -

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