Sunday, November 02, 2008

"Oh shimmy!"

At the Telegraph, John Preston has an interesting though slightly bizarre piece on Jonathon Green's dictionary of slang:
Not altogether surprisingly, Green is a man at the outer edges of obsessiveness. An ebullient, helplessly loquacious 60-year-old, he has spent his life truffling through books, newspapers, movie scripts and comics looking for choice words or phrases to plunder. On the day we met, he was in a state of high excitement, having just turned up unexpected treasure in the bowels of the British Library - or what passes for treasure in Green's world.

'While the word "shit" has been around since the 14th century, the expression "to take a shit" is a comparatively modern one,' he says in an earnest, scholastic sort of way.

'The Oxford English Dictionary has it down as dating from the early years of the 20th century. But my partner, Susie, who also acts as my researcher, was reading a book this morning published in 1705 in which there's a reference to "the Duchess of So-and-So taking a shit". So there, you see, we've pre-dated the OED by at least 200 years!'
Also, a selection of new entries in the Chambers Slang Dictionary.

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