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Happy Birthday, tyrnn and ceruleanst!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk) -- but since there's two of you, you'll have to share!

out of gathers
In distress, like a woman's dress, whose gathers or pleats have become unfastened.
--Albert Hyamson's Dictionary of English Phrases, 1922


Dr. Johnson's Dictionary Begun
On this date in 1746, Samuel Johnson signed a contract to create his landmark dictionary, which would not be published for another nine years. Johnson initially believed that an important aspect of his role was "to correct ... improprieties and absurdities" found in everyday usage. In the end, however, he admitted that his lofty goals were unattainable. Nevertheless, Johnson had a remarkable influence on English in other ways, such as the reduction of spelling and pronunciation variants and the establishment of literature as a tool for tracing linguistic history. Johnson, who suffered from chronic depression and once intimated that he had dreamed of being a poet but awoke horrified to find himself a lexicographer, lamented in the plan for his dictionary, "Of all the candidates for literary praise, the unhappy lexicographer holds the lowest place." He also carped, "Such is the state of hapless lexicography, that not only darkness but light impedes and distresses it."

Oh, Johnson. You're such a scamp!

-The Gneech

PS: Happy belated birthday to kamau_d_lyon, who for his birthday gets Klingon karaoke!

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
ozarque
Jun. 18th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
"Out of gathers" is wonderful...
ceruleanst
Jun. 18th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks! He can have this one, as mine's tomorrow, the 19th.
hossblacksilver
Jun. 20th, 2007 04:25 am (UTC)
Is this the same Johnson that keeps getting fired the the Honey Nut Crunch commercials? ;)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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