[Ads-l] Fw: more on "twerp"--part one... and a half

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 17 15:52:56 UTC 2017

Isn't it more likely that most airmen needing replacement in 1916 did not
"retire" but were killed?


On Sun, Sep 17, 2017 at 9:42 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> Before getting to Tommy Earp, I should qualify one part of part one. The
> claim (made in a 1945 book) of "twerp" in a song from 1916 is questionable,
> doubtful, unreliable, it seems. There are several versions of the song
> euphemistically titled "Bless 'Em All," some apparently sans twirp or
> twerp. The 1992 Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (p. 353), e.g., gives a
> verse as from a 1940 song (it may have been first published in 1940),
> including: "There's many an airman just finishing his time/ There's many a
> twirp signing on...."
> There may well have been such a song during WWI, but whether attesting
> "twerp" is uncertain, as far as I know. But the claim of 1916 was
> (reportedly) made in 1941 by a man who did not enlist until 1917. There is
> dispute about authorship. How many airmen could there have been in 1916,
> and how many then already retiring?
> Stephen
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of Stephen Goranson <...>
> Sent: Saturday, September 16, 2017 10:43 AM
> To: ...
> Subject: [ADS-L] more on "twerp"--part one
> Among the questions about "twerp" (a person who is considered
> contemptible, objectionable, ridiculous or the like) are (a) whether the
> term predates approximately the World War I era and (b) whether, as Tolkien
> wrote to his son and later editor in a (then) private letter, T. W. Earp of
> Oxford was "the original twerp." Today I would tentatively say probably no
> and yes.
> OED gives 1925 as the earliest attested use. Merriam-Webster online gives
> circa 1923. HDAS is unavailable for t-words. Green's has 1916 (1945).
> Several online sites claim that "Dictionary of American Slang" gives 1874,
> but do not provide a quote or citation. Some books with that exact title
> (by Weseen, Wentworth, and Chapman) do not give 1874. But some by E.
> Partridge, with different titles, do, but without details. I may have found
> the putative, questionable, source.
> William Bernhard Tegetmeier (1816-1912), was a polymath, friend of Darwin,
> and expert concerning pigeons. In two of his books (first editions 1868,
> Pigeons: their Structure... P. 94 [1] and 1871, The Homing or Carrier
> Pigeon p. 94 [2]) we read the following identical text, quoting "the late
> Mr. Wheelwright (the Old Bushman)"[3]: "I recollect many years ago--I
> believe it was about the first time that these Antwerp birds (or, as the
> fanciers of the day styled them, the ' 'Twerps,') ever were seen in
> England--that one hundred and ten of them were brought over to London for a
> prize given by the Columbarian Society there...." Note the initial
> apostrophe and the capital T. And note that this discourse is from
> "fanciers," aficionados. There is no negative meaning of this pet name. If
> this is what Partridge read--and World Cat indicates reprints of the 1868
> book including in 1874--I suggest caution. Who would follow Partridges'
> pigeon flight of fancy, wild goose chase?
> Part two to follow after I receive an inter-library loan so I need not
> rely on google snippets.
> Stephen Goranson
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> Forthcoming, with Gerald Cohen and Matthew Little: Origin of Kibosh
> (Routledge)
> [1] with color illustrations by H. Weir: https://urldefense.proofpoint.
> com/v2/url?u=https-3A__archive.org_details_pigeonstheirstru00tege&d=
> DwIFAw&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=UqMXD4Xxr2WkWEjeijMejKx374BtxS
> kNfxJk62FajXY&s=TC-XGMhXGBVtpH45LBGeI-SkiMt_TnSlroLrnsfeUgc&e=
> [2] https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__babel.
> hathitrust.org_cgi_pt-3Fid-3Dcoo.31924000040588-3Bview-
> 3D1up-3Bseq-3D100&d=DwIFAw&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6Y
> HLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=
> UqMXD4Xxr2WkWEjeijMejKx374BtxSkNfxJk62FajXY&s=u9oSB-A5eWo27HMJYt5T_
> bPMhmuPWdzxoufCFPkZv3Q&e=
> [3] Presumably Horace William Wheelwright (1815-1865)
> <https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-
> 3A__www.americandialect.org&d=DwIFAw&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6Y
> HLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=
> UqMXD4Xxr2WkWEjeijMejKx374BtxSkNfxJk62FajXY&s=
> dHjm64vV9nvjIWNQ5mAmTeMUeqXWF2WAxliSaD4HpU0&e=>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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