[Ads-l] Kavanaugh yearbook

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 26 23:22:45 UTC 2018

On Wed, Sep 26, 2018 at 7:20 PM Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at stanford.edu>

> > On Sep 26, 2018, at 3:50 PM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> >
> > ... following Kavanaugh's claims of virginity & light
> > drinking in the Fox interview, I started raising the issue of "Ralph":
> >
> > "Beach Week Ralph Club - Biggest Contributor".
> >
> > In my mind the interpretation is clear, yet, I've seen no public comments
> > on the subject (other than mine). I'll reserve my interpretation for
> later
> > & ask others to suggest possibilities (or certainties), particularly
> those
> > who were high-school or college students in the Northeast 1968-1988.
> from my undergrad years, 1958-62: "to ralph" was a (very) common
> alternative to "to barf", both sound-symbolic / echoic / imitative for 'to
> vomit' (and both attested from the 1960s; GDoS has the verb "ralph" from
> 1964 on, with plenty of cites).
> GDoS also has a Pam Munro campus slang cite for the noun "ralph" for
> 'penis' -- so-called in Judy Blume's 1975 _Forever_ -- just another
> phallonym based on a common male personal name, and almost surely
> irrelevant in the current context.
> in any case: monumental drinking, monumental ralphing.

I had the same interpretation: Kavanaugh was part of a "club" of guys who
drank during Beach Week to the point of vomiting, and he's joking that he
vomited the most. That usage of "ralph" was certainly common among high
schoolers in New Jersey in the mid/late '80s.


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