[Ads-l] "sleuthery," 1902 -- CORRECTION

Geoff Nunberg nunbergg at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 28 01:04:15 EST 2016

Simpson’s book is called The Word Detective, not The Word Sleuth. I was woolgathering — or worse, since I’m in the process of reviewing it. In my experience, a book's title is a detail it generally behooves a reviewer to get right.


> No dictionary has this, as best I can tell, but it’s out there — ca 400 (actual) Google hits and well attested in Gbooks going back to 1902:
> "There is no philologic sleuthery cunning enough to trace all the mysterious survivals of our speech, but the day is near when men will know much more about the English language than is known now."  Leon Mead, Word-coinage: Being an Inquiry Into Recent Neologisms, Also a Brief Study of Literary Style, Slang, and Provincialisms
> This is particularly curious because John Simpson’s excellent recent memoir of his years at the OED is called Word Sleuth — and “philologic sleuthery” is of course the activity to which this list is partly consecrated.
> Further sleuthery will no doubt turn up earlier instances.
> Geoff
> Geoffrey Nunberg
> School of Information
> University of California at Berkeley
> Berkeley CA 94720
> ph. 510-643-3894
> http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/ <http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/>
> nunberg at ischool.berkeley.edu <mailto:nunberg at ischool.berkeley.edu>

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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