[Ads-l] Thoughts on "doodly-squat"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Sun Apr 30 13:11:36 UTC 2023

Ben's learned essay reminded me of encountering that collocation in my childhood, and, later, the great Otto Neugebauer explaining the title of his 1951 article in Isis, "The Study of Wretched Subjects," which began:

"In the last issue of Isis...there is a short review by Professor Sarton of a recent publication by E. S. Drower of the Mandean "Book of the Zodiac" which is characterized by the reviewer as "a wretched collection of omens, debased astrology and miscellaneous nonsense." Because this factually correct statement does not tell the whole story, I want to amplify it by a few remarks to explain to the reader why a serious scholar might spend years on the study of wretched subjects like ancient astrology."

Stephen Goranson
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Saturday, April 29, 2023 10:57 PM
Subject: Thoughts on "doodly-squat"

Of potential interest: a new post of mine on the Strong Language blog,
remembering Billy "The Kid" Emerson, who brought "squatitives" to the
masses with his 1955 song "Red Hot" ("My gal is red hot / Your gal ain't


List regulars Jonathan Lighter and Larry Horn are liberally cited.


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