an antedating "how to"?
george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue May 27 16:03:55 UTC 2014
Joan Hall sent me off-list the DARE entry for this technical terms from
marblery. It seems that the Temperance Advocate is an antedating by a
generation or so.
I never played marbles when I was a boy. I just wasn't very athletic, I
Meanwhile, my original point was that searching the 18th & 19th C digitized
files for expressions that might have served as an introduction to a word
or phrase that the writer thought odd, or new, or cute, or ignorant, could
lead to antedatings. So it has proved. In this case, the introduction was
"as the *little boys say*", which I checked in only one of the available
files. "As the *boys say*", "as *they say in* Brooklyn" (or some other
barbarous locality), or "to *use* a Kentucky *expression*" (ditto) would be
Meanwhile, I thoughtlessly left you all with a cliff-hanger, pretty near
literally. I left you with the drunk teetering on the edge of a clay-pit.
He didn't fall in; he turned and staggered off in another direction.
On Sat, May 24, 2014 at 2:17 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu>wrote:
> I have found a number of antedatings while reading New York City
> newspapers of 1750-1850. I have looked for signs that the editor of the
> paper thought he was being clever and up-to-date in using a word or
> expression -- putting the word in "" or italics or by introducing it by
> saying something like "as the boys say" or "to use a Kentucky expression"
> (Kentucky was at the wild frontier at the time). Often the word would turn
> out not to be very new, at that, but it sometimes was the earliest
> appearance in American writing -- a thing the OED cares nothing about --
> and sometimes was an antedating altogether.
> Unfortunately, the typographical tricks can't be searched for. A quick
> search of America's Historical Newspapers (Readex; formerly Early American
> Newspapers) for "little boys say" turned up a word -- "roundance" -- that's
> not merely an antedating, but a word seemingly not in the OED at all. I
> suppose it will have to be defined as "a word used by little boys when
> playing marbles", but still. (I don't have access to the later volumes of
> [a drunk, lying in a field] Presently he made an effort to rise,
> which, after a leeward lurch or two, he succeeded in doing -- to stand
> still however, was no easy matter, and to go ahead not much better; he
> therefore very wisely concluded to "take roundance," as the little boys
> say, playing at marbles, and with a tremendous flourish, off he went, now
> east by south, then west by north, until he was brought to a stand [at] the
> brink of a large clay pit, where he paused a moment, seemingly undecided
> whether to fall in, try to jump over, or to stagger round. . . .
> "Cooling Off in an Old Field." South Carolina Temperance Advocate,
> December 24, 1840, p. 99, col. 2
> On Tue, May 20, 2014 at 3:48 PM, Beth Young <zbyoung at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Has anyone written an antedating "how to" guide?
>> Last year, as an experiment, I offered extra credit to students who tried
>> to antedate a word in the OED. I knew that the task wouldn't appeal to
>> every student, but I figured that there might be one or two who would
>> the challenge. I thought that the activity would help students better
>> understand what's involved in this sort of research, and I wanted to give
>> them an opportunity to do research with potential real-world application.
>> The activity did not succeed, for a variety of reasons. My better students
>> chose not to try it. My weaker students did try it, but they tended to
>> provide "evidence" like an entry from another dictionary ("Merriam-Webster
>> says the word dates from 1915"), a quotation from the OED itself ("OED
>> it means X but I think it really means Y") or a 21st century magazine
>> article that makes claims about how a word originated centuries earlier.
>> One student commented that she had picked the "easiest" words to antedate
>> but still had no luck; turns out that she thought the easiest words would
>> be the entries that the OED had just revised less than a year ago.
>> A good class discussion could clear up many misconceptions, but my classes
>> are almost always scheduled online. So . . . if I keep this activity
>> (haven't decided yet), I'll need to provide more basic information, such
>> what counts as evidence and how one might go about antedating a word.
>> Do you know of an already written "how to" that I could share? Have you
>> tried this sort of activity with students?
>> Beth Young
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> George A. Thompson
> The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998..
George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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