LINGUIST List 14.1933

Tue Jul 15 2003

Sum: Source of Quote on English Borrowing

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Steve Hartman Keiser, attribution of quotes on English borrowing

Message 1: attribution of quotes on English borrowing

Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2003 15:14:41 +0000
From: Steve Hartman Keiser <>
Subject: attribution of quotes on English borrowing

Earlier I posted a query (Linguist 14.1900) about the source of the
following quote attributed to Eddy Peters.

''Not only does the English Language borrow words from other
languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over
the head, and goes through their pockets.''

Thanks to Sally Hinrich, Laurence Horn, and James Nicoll for their

It turns out that the above quote is in fact a paraphrase of Nicoll
who posted it on an internet newsgroup in 1990. More on this can be
read in Suzanne Kemmer's posting on Linguist 13.499 in Feb 2002.
Nicoll's original quote reads as follows:

''The problem with defending the purity of the English language is
that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just
borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down
alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new

The (minor) question remains: who is Eddy Peters and how did the
paraphrase come to be attributed to her/him?

Steve Hartman Keiser 

Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG 
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