[Ads-l] Total silence - "hear a frog piss on cotton"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Sep 12 16:19:59 UTC 2018

Irrelevant but linguistically curious note:

> On Sep 12, 2018, at 12:09 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> There's some evidence that instances of the phrase were employed by
> Charlie Parker, Melvin Van Peebles, and Amarillo Slim.
> Below is the earliest instance I found during a quick search.
> There is a snippet match in a 1968 edition (which must be verified
> with hardcopy).
> There is also a match in a 2009 reprint edition that is visible via
> Google Preview.
> Title: Listen to the Lambs
> Author: Johnny Otis
> Quote Page 172 in 1968 edition according to Google Snippet
> Quote Page 158 in 2009 edition via Google Preview
> Publisher: 2009 edition from University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis
> Publisher: 1968 edition from W. W. Norton & Company, New York
> [Begin excerpt]
> I introduced her to Chick, and John Truehart got his guitar. The cats
> were making a hell of a racket with their card game, but by the time
> Ella got through three or four bars of the old song 'Judy,' you could
> hear a mouse pissin' on cotton!"
> I plopped an empty pint of I. W. Harper into the can.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson

I’ve always wondered why this particular bourbon gets called “One W. Harper” rather than “I. W. Harper” in a song I regularly listen to (Guy Clark’s “Black Diamond Strings"), but never quite enough until now to look it up.  Here’s the (non-)explanation in case anyone else has joined me in wondering about it:


Now you know.  Sort of.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list