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Summary Details

Query:   attribution of quotes on English borrowing
Author:  Steve Hartman Keiser
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Sociolinguistics

Summary:   Earlier I posted a query (Linguistlist 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 responses.

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 Linguistlist (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 vocabulary.''

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

Steve Hartman Keiser

LL Issue: 14.1933
Date Posted: 15-Jul-2003
Original Query: Read original query


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