[Ads-l] Confusing ancestor and descendant in 1926

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Wed Apr 8 10:04:57 UTC 2020

On Wed, Apr 08, 2020 at 04:16:55AM -0400, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> Wilson Gray wrote:
> > "[Jody Foster, daughter of Lucius Fisher Foster, III] is a member of a very
> > wealthy Chicago family with _descendants going back_ to the Mayflower."
> Excellent example, Wilson. English users do have difficulty employing
> the words "ancestor" and "descendant" correctly. Here is an example of
> the confusion from a newspaper report in 1926.


I feel obligated to point out that OED published a revised entry for _ancestor_ last year, and it includes a 1920 example of this sense (labelled "irregular"), from a magazine article on language errors:

1920 _Outlook_ 6 Oct. 259/1 Contributions to ‘topsy-turvy pronunciations [_sic_]’:..‘She is an ancestor of the famous Irish patriarch, Robert Emmet.’

Jesse Sheidlower

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

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