Verbatim

Articles from Vol. 31, No. 3, Autumn

A Sampling of the Genius of Saki
Over 65 years ago, my high school English teacher and idol, Spencer Brown, introduced me to the short stories of Hector Hugh Munro, who took as his pen name that of the cupbearer in Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat (Fitzgerald translation): "Yon rising Moon...
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Dogspeak, So to Speak
Dogs being a noble species, their owners have amassed, over the years, a huge vocabulary of jargon. Fortunately, the new dog owner or hobbyist is ignorant of this and spends the next several decades learning a second language: dogspeak. As expected,...
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Is There an Information Professional in the House? Library Jargon in a Changing Profession
Every profession adopts its own jargon, ostensibly for clarity's sake, but in practice often with the underlying intention of distinguishing professional insiders from interlopers. It might be surprising that librarians--who historically care for the...
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Man Detained at Supermax Prison for Word Transposition
I have been detained at a "supermax" prison in California because of the simple transposition of two little words. It was 1994, and I had just finished a four-year stint in the military. Upon my return to my hometown of Ferndale, California, I learned...
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Pimping
I don't know exactly when the word pimp entered the vernacular of what used to be called polite society. Possibly derived from the French pimper, 'to dress elegantly,' and referring to a procurer of prostitutes, pimp wasn't a mainstream word in the 1950's....
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Pound Hammers (and Toe Trucks)
Today we look down from the Olympian balcony seats of discursive adulthood onto the stage of Littlekidspeak. (1) (Caution: For the twin lenses of our opera glasses--folk informants and personal recollection--we make no claims of an acuity approaching...
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Some Golden Oldies
In their second Book of Lists (1980), Amy, David and Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky cull 18 "obsolete words worth reviving" from the richer store of Susan Kelz Sperling's Poplollies and Bellibones: A Celebration of Lost Words (1977). None of them...
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Stalin, Marr and the Struggle for a Soviet Linguistics
On the 9th of May, 1950, the Soviet newspaper Pravda opened a discussion on questions of linguistics. The first article in the series--attacking the theories of the late N.Ya. Marr (1864-1934)--was written by A.S. Chikobava, a member of the Georgian...
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When Is a Word Not a Word? or, Spurious Words in the Oxford English Dictionary
There are ghosts in the OED. It contains thousands of words which are alive and well (in that they are still in use); thousands which, though now dead (that is, obsolete), at least once lived, as part of the English of a former age. There are also many...
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You've Got Game IV
If you've been paying attention through YOU'VE GOT GAME I, II, AND III, you are primed and ready to leap into GAME IV, knowing we traipsed around Toy Fair to find the newest, brightest stars in the games galaxy. I am including a couple of classics, the...
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