HELP! I accidentally found a word fossil!

Nathaniel Sharpe nts at BETHLEHEMBOOKS.COM
Sat Jan 5 16:27:24 UTC 2013

Thank you all for your helpful and thorough responses!
I have decided I will share my findings on this list, as my main concern
is that my discoveries become common knowledge (if they aren't already!).
That being said, I would hate to see my hours of research somehow
usurped by one of my fellow "ferociously competitive 'antedaters,' often
amateurs, eager to disprove various theories." As Fred said, however, it
is unlikely that someone like me would have stumbled on something really
foundational. So before I get my hopes (and fears) up I will lay out the
evidence I've discovered and let you decided what, if anything, it
proves or disproves.
Also, while I'm not yet ready to share the exact word, I will retract
the adjective "naughty," as the sexual implications are rather misleading.

Thanks again,


Dave Wilton wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: HELP! I accidentally found a word fossil!
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I would recommend either posting it to this list or sharing the info privately with someone like Fred or Jonathan. This list is populated mainly by academics who will give proper acknowledgement of your contribution, so you don't have to worry about the credit being "stolen." After you've gotten feedback as to whether your discovery is truly an original and significant find, you can still pursue other options like blogging about it, contacting the media, or writing a journal article.
> You can (and should) submit it to the OED, but the dictionary's publication speed is rather deliberate and it doesn't give individual credit for those who have submitted antedatings. As Fred says, it may very well be the case that the dictionary editors (and those of us on this list) already know about the antedating, and it may not be a new discovery.
> On Jan 4, 2013, at 8:50 PM, "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>> A lot depends on how significant the discovery is, how quickly you want to get the discovery to be promulgated, whether your main concern is to get personal recognition or to ensure that the information is preserved for posterity, whether you want recognition in a particular community of people, etc.  The main options are as follows:
>> Post on ADS-L
>> Send finding to Oxford English Dictionary
>> Publish information on a blog or website
>> Get journalist interested in writing up your discovery
>> Publish in a scholarly journal such as American Speech or Notes and Queries
>> Publish an article or letter to the editor yourself in a newspaper or popular magazine
>> I should note that it is not that likely that a newbie would find quite a few earlier citations shedding new light on probable origins and refuting popular theories of a much-wondered-about word, so it may be that you are misunderstanding the evidence you have found or misunderstanding the existing state of scholarship.  If you want to share more information about the nature of your find, it would be easier to advise you.
>> Fred Shapiro
>> Nathaniel Sharpe [nts at BETHLEHEMBOOKS.COM]
>> Sent: Friday, January 04, 2013 6:05 PM
>> Subject: HELP! I accidentally found a word fossil!
>> Hi everyone,
>> A few months ago I discovered one of my ancestors being called a naughty
>> name in an old newspaper Black List. Wanting to know more about this
>> common epithet I looked up its history and learned that the earliest OED
>> reference was from 12 years after my forefather was so unjustly slandered!
>> Since then I've used my experience as a genealogist to uncover quite a
>> few early instances of this much-wondered-about word. The evidence I've
>> found sheds new light on probable origins, as well as refuting other
>> popular theories.
>> But where do I go from here? I would love to share what I've found but
>> would like to do so in the most effective manner, and to the right
>> audience. Should I sum up my discoveries in an article and try to submit
>> it to a magazine? Should I self-publish on a blog? Should I share it on
>> this list?
>> I know these are all rather subjective questions, but as I am a n00b is
>> this field I thought I would make an appeal to your collective wisdom.
>> Let me know what you think,
>> Nat
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list