John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Happy Birthday, hallan!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

To make any disagreeable noise with the mouth. Sussex.
--James Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 1855

Birthday of Allen Walker Read (1906-2002),
a sleuth of linguistic oddities who taught English at several American universities, including Columbia, from 1945 to 1974. H. L. Mencken, who was among the most influential writers on American language, paid Read the ultimate compliment in a 1948 issue of the New Yorker, declaring that he "probably knows more about early Americanisms than anyone else on earth." Although Read helped ferret out hundreds of interesting etymologies over his career, he is most often remembered as having dashed earlier attempts to explain the common term O.K. in a series of articles in American Speech magazine in the early 1960s. He explained that this universally adopted word of agreement came neither from the French idiom au quai nor even from a spelling error by President Andrew Jackson. Instead, he showed that it stemmed from a fad word coined about 1839 -- O.K. as a facetious misspelling of "oll korrect."

I dunno, for the ultimate compliment, that sure seems to set its sights a bit low.

-The Gneech
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