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March 06, 2004

Get Yer New Words for Old Here

Once again I'm fascinated by a list of OED appeals. General words this time rather than SF specifically. But surely one of my readers can antedate 'gaffer tape' to before 1988? They're looking for written evidence.

Thinking about my own childhood, surely there must be uses of 'Red Leicester' from before 1966? 'Fell off the back of a lorry' before 1973? 'Joined-up writing' before 1973? I mean, I was doing joined up writing in 1973, and I'm sure that's what I called it. 'Mushy peas' before 1975? 'Pass the parcel' before 1968? 'Snake-bite' before 1983?

And they're looking for any evidence of 'made up' (in the Scouse sense of 'be happy (with)'? Do you think they'd count my 2001 Christmas newsletter (.pdf)? Privately printed, in a run of 100 or so, no doubt including several of you.

Reading on in the OED site, I was fascinated by this little tidbit:

"hobbit: J. R. R. Tolkien modestly claimed not to have coined this word, although the Supplement to the OED credited him with the invention of it in the absence of further evidence. It seems, however, that Tolkien was right to be cautious. It has since turned up in one of those 19th-century folklore journals, in a list of long-forgotten words for fairy-folk or little people. It seems likely that Tolkien, with his interest in folklore, read this and subconsciously registered the name, reviving it many years later in his most famous character."

What this means, chaps, is that you can get on and sell those pervy hobbit fancier t-shirts -- it was a generic word for little people all along. When you get the Cease & Desist letter, you can go 'nyah nyah nyah' (another word the OED is looking to antedate...)

Posted by Alison at 02:26 AM | Comments (1)