Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on Authorisms  CSPAN  May 11, 2014 10:00pm-10:55pm EDT

10:00 pm
with pete takes a look at the creation of words by others. this is about 50 minutes. >> thank you barbara. this is a special treat with you here today. thank you. we exited invented a word authorism for the 450th anniversary sets go acquadro centennial and we did that -- i did that fights going to be editor-in-chief at merriam-webster and they got the staff to come up with a name for the 450. whether that name is in the dictionary are not at least admit it to book and now it's shown elsewhere. this is what gets in and what doesn't get in. the fascinating subject is a lot
10:01 pm
of times hair and mccain once said about words that words aren't simply a piece of communication and element of communication. just because it's not in the dictionary doesn't mean it's not a word. that is to say you don't need a pedigree to be a dog. that's sort of the way to look at it but one thing that i find this interesting is a lot of writers especially contemporary writers love to create their own words. my favorite example is calvin trillin the humorist and new yorker writer. he actually created a couple of words which i give them full credit for. wonky as one and the other is the buffalo chicken wings which were called before that spicy chicken wings and when he wrote the book called alice let eat they become buffalo chicken wings because he had them in buffalo new york when he was on a pilgrimage about food. the guy that is funny to me is
10:02 pm
when i was doing research on the book i found sinclair lewis would invent words and send off letters to merriam-webster. the letters are in files up there. he would come up with a word like -- the great words he thought he had created worth t. totalitarian for people who were dry during prohibition and then the robber baron. his favorite was kipling go which was for the overblown purple language of roger kipling. and of course kipling had some amazing words. kipling in the book was the horrible racism. white man's burden was kipling and his example of how -- the kind of person he was but also on the brighter side he invented the word rookie which is a
10:03 pm
corruption of recruit. recruit didn't rhyme for him so rookie went in instead. the thing about lewis was sorted to his chagrin the two words he is credited with is a character nam for a philistine with money and no appreciation of the finer things of life. the arts and such and of course at shotgun wedding appears in the writings of sinclair lewis. he needed a name for a forced wedding in arra setting so shot gun wedding made it in. i tried a bunch of words. i probably tried about 100 and only two have stuck to the wall. maybe authorisms was created for this one. there's a phenomenon in english called the contrastive focused reduplication. that means if you say was he talking about a book or a book
10:04 pm
book meaning is he talking about a physical book or an e-book or is he talking about grass or grass grass meaning the difference between marijuana and lawn clippings. so one time i called these world words. i completely knocked it out of the dictionary. in the newest edition of the oxford gets in there as a form of speech, go word word. tonight if you go and send some mail or some male male, e-mail. another one i created with the help of some dictionary people was the noun or adjective for a person or a place of where person comes from. someone from liverpool or
10:05 pm
washingtonian or hoosier for someone from indiana. that seems to be sticking but a lot of people use that as their final arbiter whether you have created a word or not and it's interesting if you go to the oxford dictionary the oxford english dictionardictionar y says i was the first one to use it in the english language. now they are fairly dubious. one i am credited with is water picked as a verb and a piece of fiction i once wrote i said so-and-so woke up in the morning and the water picked his teeth. somehow they laid that on me and i have no responsibility for it. they also laid on me strange levy and an adjective pertaining to the world of dr. strangelove. the whole dr. strangelove phenomenon. then there's another one a body
10:06 pm
part turned into a verb which i will probably not to mention given the cameras are rolling. and i'm credited with that and it was not mine either. my favorite one is phyllis richmond is an old friend of mine who is a writer and the food editor of the "washington post" for many years. she is hounded at the fact that she is credited worldwide with creating the word comfort or the word phrase comfort food. we had lunch one day and discuss the subject and of course she was eating macaroni and cheese or some comforts through the -- food as we spoke. she said she didn't than that and she was all over the food industry when she wrote it in 1977 piece in the post magazine. she talked about restaurants specializing in comfort food which was bacon let us and tomato sandwiches and things made with ice cream combat rings that were not cuisine but the cuisine you would eat when you
10:07 pm
are feeling out of sorts. but she did say at lunch and she's adamant about this the word she did create was alec annan dress. she said she started using it in high school and she put it on paper. she said all through college and occasionally threw it into a column. it was enacted to that meant nothing at she said nobody ever challenger. she wants me to do everything i can to make sure that alec annan dress gets going. what got me going on this was interesting. the english dictionary now that it's digitized you can now set it up to look for what you want. there was one way i could look and find out who were the great word creators. in other words who created the most words? and terms are first use but also first use is not a given but
10:08 pm
it's a strong suggestion that is where the term came from. they spent over 100 years trying to determine where it first appears in print. what is really interesting is i ran into who the great creators were of language and number one was shakespeare but number two was sir walter scott. they said what about sir walter scott and i got fascinated by scott. i came to this conclusion that what scott did was create this world of chivalry and ability and the lost causes and the world in which there were plans. what he was creating was a world that had words in it like freelance and words in it like back and beyond or phrases. then i stumbled upon something very interesting which is marked
10:09 pm
twine in longford mississippi attacks god and one of the things he later commits is one of the reasons he wrote king arthur's court was to mock the world that scott had created. twain goes almost overboard in this. he believed that scott had created a world or nobility of lost causes a nobility of dying the graceful and courageous death that was a proximate cause of the civil war. and twain goes on for paragraphs showing why he thinks the popularity of scott especially in the south was that powerful. there brings true in only one sense that the power of scott was amazing.
10:10 pm
garrett of the bn dobro road account was set up like a village originally and every street and every physical aspect of the town is from the novels of sir walter scott. of course god created this world with characters like robin hood and the sheriff of nottingham and ivanhoe. then i got interested in playing. i said duane claimed in his lifetime he never created a word. he did. hard-boiled which is one that's on the cover but twain and brad harp were fascinating in the sense that they created -- they are the words that are attributed to twain. things like peter out. rub steaks, blowout and emotional blowout bonanza etc. and twain said he got this new language from being on the mississippi but also the minds
10:11 pm
of nevada california where he got a huge amount of this slang. he said it was the most powerful slang he had ever seen came out of the gold rush and such. the more i looked at dickens i realize dickens had another word that he created. his world was a world of a lowlife. dickens had this ability to see see -- there's this slang of the slums of london and paris. ecn dickens said dickens was in the great creator of language but was one that picked up the language of the people and the places he had been. sandwich boards is one of his. he creates this word for people that walk around with a sign on the front and the back. he also does doormat as a metaphor for people who are walk ons. he was a doormat meaning he let
10:12 pm
people walk all over him. but dickens the great creations of dickens or words like names of people. pickwick enn scrooge is a character as sort of a bad spirit around the time of the holidays. he was a scrooge. my favorite one was pod snapper e.. pod snapper he was his word for self-satisfied philistines. he would say i don't like modern art but just to say it to show how they were going to exceed to the masses. the other one that intrigued me was john milne. milton is creating a world of heaven and hell for paradise
10:13 pm
lost. the words that he creates are things like pandemonium which he creates the dwelling place of the spirits and the demons and the devil. the other phrase he came up with which is wonderful is all hell broke loose which is when he came up with. and satanic is his. in a lot of a lot of ways melt and had a phenomenal ability to do this stuff to come up with language. love warren is his. padlock. infinite sea, earthshaking. mil was the first one to use space in reference to that which is the heavens. before that space was sort of the distance between two people are two cities but space to him became the heavens and earth shaking is the kind of thing he saw as part of the way he was
10:14 pm
creating this world. again i think the most realistic and interesting writers are the ones who create a language along with the world they are in. and so think of the powerful modern writer is george orwell who creates a language of totalitarianism but he comes up with doublethink and even the word in 1984 at the phrase the title of this book sort of a metaphor for what would go wrong with the world in terms of totalitarianism. also in newspeak which is his language the suffix to say, that to use that as a way of introducing language that's his as well from that. the other dystopian. brave new world is a wonderful
10:15 pm
title and the concept and a phrase because it comes out of shakespeare and the inside joke is the first thing that the people in this totalitarian state in oxley's totalitarian state again in the words of shakespeare so there's a double hook there. james fenimore cooper, cooper was the first one to really write about the native american. he invents a whole language. some people say it's demeaning but it's his attempt to get at their culture. he creates words like war paint, firewater, happy hunting ground for the heaven or the life of the american indian. cooper has a marvelous sense of this and if you reread it. i reread in this book last of
10:16 pm
the mohicans and he is basically , he is not denigrating i think he's trying to interpret their culture the best he can using the english language. he has a real skill at it. the europeans appreciate cooper. cooper was probably the most popular writer of his time in europe because people in europe were understanding or at least trying to understand the culture that we were vanquishing at that point. cooper also had a nice sense of phrase. one of the things i liked was his early writing about john paul jones. he talks about the right stuff. he says jones has the right stuff. he had courage. he was diplomatic and he was this and he was this sunday was that an of course tom was comes around and he goes back to cooper and he says the right stuff. the other one of course congo there are a lot of them but herman melville who is creating
10:17 pm
enough for world at sea. it sort of became for a long time and still to this day something outrageously large and a metaphor for something large and important. he got it from the name of a real albino whale. he just changed it to "moby dick." what's interesting about "moby dick" is and this is why google maps is wonderful. within 10 miles of my house there is a "moby dick" sushi place and on wisconsin avenue there is my favorite the "moby dick" house of kebabs. [laughter] the other story about melville's language about "moby dick" is when they would start this club out of the west coast there is a big group of guys that got
10:18 pm
together and started this coffee company. they have a name picked out called pequot. a guy named earl schultz came in with a lot of money and he looked at these guys great he said he really don't want to call a coffee shop pequot. they said yeah you are right. the first solo was offputting for coffee so he said you have any other names? somebody said yeah starbuck was the first mate. he said that's at starbucks. every time i drive by starbucks i say there's another pequot. so i can go on with this whole business. melville had the strange words he picked up. people who are isolated from other people were regarded as isolated as. beecher stowe again creates uncle tom's cabin but within the language and of course we know what happened to uncle tom over
10:19 pm
time. she had this wonderful sense of metaphor -- metaphor that she uses in the book so when she talks about a person being sold down the river she was talking about someone who was probably somewhere in mississippi and probably a household slave. somebody who may have cooked or tended to the children or something. but if the owner of this person sold the person to someone down the river at meant they would become field slaves and work out in the horror of the fields. so being sold down the river in that book was literally being sold into a deeper darker form of enslavement. i could go one about the different people. just for a little bit for a few
10:20 pm
minutes if we have time i will pick out a couple of my favorites. there are a lot in the book. the name one writer david was the swede clique of coinage where writers writing and they come up with just the right phrase and just the right turn. when you come up with it. one of my favorites is agnostic in that was t. h. hudson. i tell you he really got sick of people calling him an atheist when in fact he wasn't. he said he had to create an aim that was neither a religious person or a god-fearing person or an atheist. he came up with agnostic and the word took off literally overnight. franklin pierce adams one of my favorite humorist writers came up with an acronym which is a word for names of people whose names reflected who they were.
10:21 pm
like olga tom below for as a ballerina and there was a professor of engineering at annapolis. he loved the name d.c. current. [laughter] then there is banana republic which was zero henry's term for a dictatorial place that have only one crop or one mineral and of course he is down there hiding from the police because he was accused of stealing money from a bank of embezzlement. co-ed isn't out of place one. that is louisa may alcott. one of her books out of the blue one of her boy said he didn't like acholi diner he didn't like to e with the girls at school. it just pops out of nowhere. the other one which is on the cover that i just love is the
10:22 pm
first writer. it may have been used a little bit before but the very first writer used the word baseball -- we will go back to that in a second but there are these wonderful words that come out of the blue. another one that i really like is dragon lady. dragon lady was milked to death in the 1946 comic strip. it's wonderful because he said said -- the line was, he said you are no mongolian princes. you are the dragon lady. fact toyed it's fun to play with. it was norman mailer's creation and mailer said it was really for a small falsehood or
10:23 pm
something that was repeated often that was untrue like nine out of 10 small businesses fail during the first year or something like that that is repeated millions of times but has never been proven and most invariably untrue. almost immediately fact that became a victim of its own definition. people now use it to mean small fact. the dictionaries if you look in the dictionary the first meaning is a falsehood and the second meaning is a truth, that a small truth. and it's mailer for that one. there's a history section over here very close but murder monger us was a wonderful one that ogden nash created for agatha christie. he used it in a poem to rhyme with library of congress.
10:24 pm
whodunit was a guy named donald gordon. he was a critic in 1930 and of course little gray cells for the brain matter for perot. that was agatha christie so you've got those. one that is a lot of fun to talk about is ben bradlee's term. you are smiling back there. it's an old term that ben bradlee brought it into the 20th century which means backwards. he was in a big battle with a guy named reed irvine. they were coming up with pencils for one another and he used it for irvine. irvine got the last laugh because he ended up using that to raise a lot of money or at least according to one of the con site read which was useful to him.
10:25 pm
it can also bring out a word that was once that died in the language but it was brought up again. gobbledygook was maury maverick junior. maury maverick was a big deal congressman and it was meant to describe the language of washington which sort of sounds like a turkey gobbling. i love catch-22 because catchcatch -22 may be among the best ever book titles. it was about to be released as catch 18 but leon put out a book called my the 18 so they had to pull it back and changed the word didn't 22. the world now knows the phrase catch-22 which is the catchall of bureaucratic and military life. in other words in order to get out of the service you have to prove your crazy but if you've proved you are crazy it is means
10:26 pm
you are sane enough to stay in the service. one of my favorites was actually created in 1510 by a named -- by a guy named otto botto. he had this imaginary utopia where there were many women and limited amounts of gold, a silver and jewelry or jewels. the people actually started and founded california and those were the words he picked up from his novels like utopia with many riches. another one of my favorites which was returned them which is a word that you had a certain thing like milk and then you have to go back and modify the original with whole milk or you have a camera and now you have
10:27 pm
to go say it was a film camera. the wretch on them was something we had to rename given the change in technology. when the cake -- paperback came out for example instead of a book you would say a hardcover book. mankin is another great creator of language. mencken created of course bible belt was his end monkey trial for the scopes monkey trial and on the bibulous which meant he drank just about everything and anything. so i get back to shakespeare and claims have been made about shakespeare. shakespeare's total vocabulary was a little over 17,000 words. milton hadn't come along. he wasn't born until shakespeare was quite old. milton brought a whole bunch but
10:28 pm
shakespeare himself people have quit it that he has invented as many as 3000 words. the most current estimates are he invented 1700. i did a lot of work with this. i worked with the shakespeare guild of america. i went to several people who were shakespeare experts and a lot of reading about the word creation of sake spare. it's probably more likely he created six or 700. the things that he does create even terms like household words. he was one of the first guys to really do a lot of changing of nouns to verbs. friending was his believe it or not. blacklisted was his. he was also really good at the world is my oyster metaphors. past is prologue which is his. his term for the copulatory act was a beast with two backs.
10:29 pm
he is also credited with simple words like critical. someone wrote it would be impossible to describe a sporting event without using words introduce bias she'd -- shakespeare. buzzard negotiate undervalued juiced a libyan manager are all his. moonbeam is his and subcontractor is his. but the people -- the accurate number that he created in the words are about 600 on top of that there were 600 phrases that he came up with. all's well that ends well. it's a name of a play and of course yogi berra stole it. i guess i could pick one that i thought was the most clever i would
10:30 pm
it was kind of out of some klingon or something.
10:31 pm
a lot of words were what shakespeare picked up in the streets from the people he was writing for. in my mind it probably was a children's game but nobody had written about it and shakespeare knew his audiences would understand the actual game in which kids jumped over other kids back to the metaphoric use of somebody jumping over somebody else in a conceptual way. that was one of those nice ones. i will finish with a jane austin. on the cover you have jane austin and the word she created with baseball. she writes it at the end of the 1700's.
10:32 pm
it's about a girl. she writes about a girl who referred to play in the fields to chase birds, go play baseball rather than read her books. so here she is the first use of baseball or at least the literary use britain as we write it today probably referring to early bat and ball. as the book was going to press someone discovered an earlier use in a newspaper. i'm resting my case on the fact that she was the one that put into language. i have also on the cover by shakespeare bedazzled. that was one of the most powerful and wonderful words he created. and of course hard oiled.
10:33 pm
that is what i came to talk about. this was a lot of fun. people are coming to me as we speak rate i've had several writers write to me. one of the writers in this room jo golden is here. jo is a super lawyer which you can read out the details in the book but this is the detail but still rings with tremendous power in washington. before jo there were lawyers and lawyers and now there are super lawyers. the full story is told in the book. i discovered a couple since i finished the book. what are my favorites combat was doing research and the "boston globe" have a context. "the boston herald" had a contest to see who could come up with the word for all these americans who were making fun of the prohibition on liquor and having cocktail parties and things was a sign of honor in the midst of all this.
10:34 pm
the first prize was made up by some guy riding into the paper saying that's what we should call these people. he did it with a certain anger in his voice. it was meant to put these people in their place. it happened within a week. they were making a drink called the scofflaw. [laughter] that is not in the book but that will be in it some other time. i would love to hear your questions and thoughts and attacks, whatever. >> we have one microphone this afternoon. step to the microphone please. can an author copyright a word? >> trademark is what you are doing. there are a couple of trademark but it's very hard to copyright the word itself. >> one it's a title like
10:35 pm
starbucks is a trademark. see that's true. where is jo? >> i don't look like one. i was late. did you talk about the king james bible? >> yeah. no, because i was focusing really on the actual writers and that's a whole other book. there have been several books. >> it the translation. >> this was meant as a whimsy. this was an exercise in recreational enlistments which is what i aspire to. its language is a plaything. if you look at english if you
10:36 pm
are drowning you don't want to be clever. you just want to yell help. it's just basic language but there was a time in which people figured out that language was recreational. they invented the scrabble board and then the crossword puzzle. how could i have forgotten. dorothy cochran did knock knock jokes. there's a gaunt one roundtable with the music conductors and they would sit around and they decided one time at lunch that they would try to create a new form of humor. their assignments for the week worse to come back with the new form of humor. they go-round the table and you have these goofy ideas and dorothy parker says that god it. let's call it -- she said knock
10:37 pm
knock and somebody said who's there? she said either. they said either who? she said either bunny wants some eggs. lopez then goes back and writes this very off-color knock knock song which is immediately banned from the radio because there were all these double entendre's in there. it becomes her form of humor. in fact my favorite williams software his favorite was knock knock. >> who's there? >> amaryllis. >> amaryllis to? >> amaryllis state agent. want to buy a house? [laughter] i didn't get the serious language. it's a play pen for me. >> when you knew that --
10:38 pm
do the next addition you should have another category for authors names in what we remember about orwell is not newspeak but orwellian. >> don quixote yeah. >> thanks. >> thank you. >> i wondered this about all your books and that is how do you possibly research all those authors and what words they may have, for the first of somebody else. what is the process that you use >> there are couple of things. one is the oxford dictionary and the other dictionaries that have been digitized. that was a great help and the other thing is newspapers are now being digitized. there are proprietary databases in the library of congress. there is one called 19c which a monster database of everything in the english language from the
10:39 pm
19th century. magazines books, pamphlets. 19c i think the first year costs 30,000 bucks. you were not going to -- it will probably be an ivy league college but these databases so if someone says to you in a word something or other was not invented until 1920 and you go back to the database and you find it back in the 19th century it starts to show that. and it did another book a while back called words from the white house. the one that really threw me the copy started on that was warren g. harding created the term founding fathers. i actually had people at the library of congress help me with the word because i said i can't believe nobody used the word founding fathers to refer to the original people who created the constitution. lo and behold we could not find an earlier use. the database allows you to do a negative search.
10:40 pm
the state of the union was not used until roosevelt called it that in 34. >> did you say without these databases and digitization of book like this couldn't be done? >> could be done but it would rely on claims that people made and researched the people it done. the real early work on this is quite valid. there are three volumes of books, three volumes of writing by couple of professors in missouri about twain's language. they came to the same conclusion that i mentioned earlier. he didn't coin it, he collected it. >> thanks.
10:41 pm
>> i might have missed it. you mentioned "moby dick" restaurants. what is your explanation. there is one in lebanon in the mountains. >> there is one on cape cod. some photographer wanted to do is start thing. around the world taking pictures of all the "moby dick" places. but it's funny how things get names. sometimes -- i lived in garrett park. the gym that i go to is called sweatshop. black market and sweatshop had a certain negative impact. [inaudible] >> i understand, yes. the sweatshop was named because you go there and sweat that i remember the whole thing with
10:42 pm
one of the words i invented was fun store. if you left o'hare airport in the old days and he went on the expressway there was a beauty parlor called o'hare. that was in the airport. anybody here invented a word that you want to talk about? dictionary. that's going to be at dictionary of words made up of friends of mine. >> i'm just flipping through but i can't find it. this is dh lawrence and in here he refers to a group of people
10:43 pm
who he calls the redskins and in very favorable terms. the redskins -- he calls them redskins. i can't remember the favorable term further characteristic but i thought dan snyder --. >> the gentleman here i think. >> would the are prolific writing over the decades i am curious what inspired you to enjoy and play with language. was this something your parents gave you as a gift as a novel oral where did the one word play pen "xp thank you for that question because they're sort of a funny answer. when i was a kid i was sort of a wiseguy and i collected stuff
10:44 pm
like postage stamps and baseball cards and things that other kids collected but early on i collected words. they just sort of became a way of getting an extra little edge on things. i will fast-forward. one of the things about kids in words. they would be times i would hear a word that i couldn't get out of my head. i remember nancy my wife one time we were up in maine and i brought up an old dictionary. it was one of the great defining moments. shields in -- opens it up and finds a word in there called thai romance. this is one of these things that changed my life. it's examining the future or determining the future by examining cheese. in the old days they were all these different ways of defining it. defining the future by watching a barnyard fowl pecking at the
10:45 pm
grain. i have this vision. looking at the bubbles and saying you are going to marry the girl down the street or something. i remember another time i was in a cab. it was in new york and the guy was going to the airport. the guy was a carnival worker part of the year. he started talking about hard flash and i said what is hard/? he said hard flashes like a horse with the clock in its belly. teenage boys will spend all their
10:46 pm
i used to love to do doubletalk. i would do that and people would say what is he saying? it's a great toy. one of the things we have in english is someone gets outraged because you turn a word into a verb in the language police
10:47 pm
don't know what to say. >> i think i saw in some of the introductory literature for this talk that you focus on words for sports. if that's true could you give us a little intro into full authors from the sports world? >> we got slam dunk in here and we rode baseball dictionary and a lot of the terms and there are from sportswriters and the radio people. read harper, not read barbarism which also shows you how language can creep up on you and play tricks. he later claimed the dodgers were sitting in the cat bird seat. bases loaded and i think they have a pitcher. what our breath later pressed
10:48 pm
and he said he wanted in a poker game. he had a bunch of others. rhubarb was his. he lady said rhubarb meaning a dust-up or an argument face-to-face between an umpire. he said that was from crowd noises in the theater. three guys are supposed to be a crowd. that was their word they would use to make the crowd noise. don't get me started on the words for sports. he would give slam dunk and that was his. that has now taken over as some metaphor. >> we have time for one more question.
10:49 pm
do you speak a foreign language? >> one time in my life i spoke a foreign language. [inaudible] >> cat bird seat. nobody really knows but it's a place where you want to be. it's being in charge. i don't know. nobody knows. it just sounds good. it's a metaphor without a four. [laughter] >> thank you paul. [applause] books are for sale at the front of the store. paul dickson will sue the parents sign copies of his books. thanks for coming.
10:50 pm
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
10:51 pm
>> i mean it's like which is more important art and science are feeding the poor? obviously being -- feeding the poor comes first. there's no question that there are moral responsibilities to other people are in the moment. see how do you justify someone would ask almost reflexively without any moral ethos? >> my moral ethos is probably grounded in atheism because
10:52 pm
there is the deal as i explained to my children when they were growing up and raise questions about religion. is that nobody is going to take care of things and less we do. if we walk by somebody who is collapsed on the sidewalk no god or angel is going to come and pick him or her out. it's going to be up to us to intervene. there's a piece of jewish wisdom i wish i could find it again but i have lost it somewhere. the learned rabbi says if you really need help, go to an atheist because they are not going to pass the buck. so that's my moral chorus on atheism and my same atheistic moral code means that if somebody is the monotheistic god
10:53 pm
was materialized or manifest i would be pretty mad at him. i would have a long bill of particulars. tsunamis, the whole thing.
10:54 pm
>> this country was built upon people who have immigrated to this country. some legal in some illegally. in my case i came here with no documentation and no ability to get a job or an education. when i first came into the united states in the late 80s and across the border between mexico and the united states ended up coming


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on