antedating "calvary"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 26 21:09:35 UTC 2014

I'd wager that "calvery" is more than a simple metathesis, as the "calvary" spelling might have suggested.  This is a morphological assimilation reminiscent of "nucular", which--as we've discussed--is attributable to the robustness of the class of adjectives ending in -cular (particular, spectacular, vehicular, jocular, ocular,…) as opposed to the rarity of those ending in -clear (cochlear and nuclear, that's about it, and "cocular" is often heard/written as well).  Similarly, -ery is a natural assimilation landing spot for a collective noun like "cavalry", given "cutlery", "stationery", etc.  And "calvery" is easier to say than "cavlery".  Plus there's the nice bonus of the "calv-" you end up with; granted, a horse isn't a calf, but close enough for the semi-unconscious if not for government work.


On May 26, 2014, at 4:50 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> In case anyone thinks all of the cites I presented in 2013 are "mere" typos
> not necessarily reflecting the writer's inner thoughts, here are two that
> aren't.
> From Indiana:
> 1888 James Whitcomb Riley _The Century_ (Jan.) 367: He'd like to go back in
> the calvery.
> From Texas:
> 1863 in Benjamin M. Seaton _The Bugle Softly Blows: The Confederate Diary
> of Benjamin M. Seaton_ (ed. H. B. Simpson) [Waco, Tex.: Texian Press. 1965]
> 40: The calvery reports the enemy in heaver [sic] force than the eaving
> [sic] before on the same ground.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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