Category:
Languages

Underworld Lingo



Source: page 51 of this magazine.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 12, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Crime, Languages, 1930s

New American Dictionary of Collegese:  1963



Here is another one of those attempts by journalist "squares" to understand the lingo of youths.

Many more entries at the link.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 31, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Languages, Slang, Teenagers, 1960s

Horn OK Please



Atlas Obscura does a great job explaining the wacky phrase from India, "Horn OK Please." But they do not place the video of the song that uses the same title upfront enough for my tastes!

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 23, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages, Slang, Motor Vehicles, India

Quoz!

Quoz was the "whatever" of the 19th century.

From Charles Mackay's Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841):

Many years ago the favourite phrase (for, though but a monosyllable, it was a phrase in itself) was Quoz. This odd word took the fancy of the multitude in an extraordinary degree, and very soon acquired an almost boundless meaning. When vulgar wit wished to mark its incredulity, and raise a laugh at the same time, there was no resource so sure as this popular piece of slang. When a man was asked a favour which he did not choose to grant, he marked his sense of the suitor's unparalleled presumption by exclaiming Quoz! When a mischievous urchin wished to annoy a passenger, and create mirth for his comrades, he looked him in the face, and cried out Quoz! and the exclamation never failed in its object. When a disputant was desirous of throwing a doubt upon the veracity of his opponent, and getting summarily rid of an argument which he could not overturn, he uttered the word Quoz, with a contemptuous curl of his lip and an impatient shrug of his shoulders. The universal monosyllable conveyed all his meaning, and not only told his opponent that he lied, but that he erred egregiously if he thought that any one was such a nincompoop as to believe him. Every alehouse resounded with Quoz; every street-corner was noisy with it, and every wall for miles around was chalked with it.

But, like all other earthly things, Quoz had its season, and passed away as suddenly as it arose, never again to be the pet and the idol of the populace.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Apr 15, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages, Slang, Nineteenth Century

The Backward Index

Between the 1930s and 1970s, employees at Merriam-Webster created a massive "backward index." It was a card catalog, containing all the words in its dictionary typed backwards. It eventually included around 315,000 index cards.

The reason for creating this thing was to allow the company to find words with similar endings. Such as all words ending in 'ological'. It also helped them create a rhyming dictionary.

Computers made the backward index obsolete, but it still sits in the basement of the company's headquarters.

More info: Merriam-Webster

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 04, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Languages, Collectors

Andor vs. And/Or

February 1953: The Georgia House of Representatives voted to make "andor" a legal word and directed that it should henceforth be used in place of the phrase "and/or." The House defined "andor" to mean, "either, or, both, and, and or or, and and or."

However, the Georgia Senate voted against the bill.

More info: NY Times (Feb 21, 1953)

Minneapolis Star Tribune - Feb 28, 1953



The East Liverpool (Ohio) Evening Review - Feb 26, 1953


Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 18, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Languages, Law

Vile and Filthy Morse Code

January 1945: Residents of Halifax complained to the police that people were driving around at night and using their horns to signal "vile and filthy language" in morse code.

So it wasn't the honking, per se, that bothered the residents, but what the honks meant. Guess it was a different time, when a significant number of people actually understood morse.

Ottawa Journal - Jan 18, 1945

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 09, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Languages, 1940s

Let’s Say It Right

In October 1969, the U.S. Command in Vietnam issued a directive titled "Let's Say it Right" to the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN). The directive forbid military press officers from using certain terms and provided a list of acceptable terms in their place.

For instance, instead of referring to "free firing zones" in which anything that moved was considered enemy and could be fired at, officers were supposed to say "pre-cleared firing zones." And instead of "lull" they were supposed to refer to "light and scattered action."

A military spokesman said that the directive was actually just a "style sheet" whose purpose was to "get everyone using similar words."

Some more of the "no-no" words (as AFVN officers described them) were listed in this NY Times piece:

New York Times - Jan 11, 1970



GI Press Service - April 1971

Posted By: Alex - Fri Nov 04, 2016 - Comments (5)
Category: Languages, Military, 1960s

1960’s Beatnik Glossary

Contributed by "hotsauce269".

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 28, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Languages, Slang, 1960s

Proper storage of warheads

A classic example of "officialese," which came to light in 1951. Text from a Royal Navy instruction manual on the proper storage of torpedo warheads:

It is necessary for technical reasons that these warheads should be stored with the top at the bottom, and the bottom at the top. In order that there may be no doubt as to which is the bottom and which is the top for storage purposes, it will be seen that the bottom of each warhead has been labeled with the word TOP.

The Decatur Herald - Aug 30, 1951



Green Bay Press-Gazette - Apr 22, 1962

Posted By: Alex - Thu Oct 27, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Government, Regulations, Languages

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