ZIMMER AT ADS.

I’m still steaming over Ben Zimmer’s language column getting the ax at the Times, but I’m happy to report he can be found at the American Dialect Society, as reported here:

At its annual meeting last January, the American Dialect Society named a new chair of its New Words Committee: Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, and until recently the On Language columnist for The New York Times Magazine. As part of his duties, Zimmer will take the helm of “Among the New Words,” a long-running department in American Speech, the quarterly journal of the ADS published by Duke University Press. Zimmer will also oversee the selection of the ADS Word of the Year, an announcement that attracts extensive media attention.

There follows a column by Ben, the conclusion of which I’ll quote here:

In my first installment of “Among the New Words” (to appear in the June issue of American Speech) I will be surveying the various nominees for 2010 Word of the Year, including subcategories such as Most Euphemistic, Most Likely to Succeed, and Most Outrageous. In the main category, app beat out another three-letter word: nom, an onomatopoetic form suggesting pleasurable eating, used as an interjection, noun or verb. Nom traveled from Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster (whose voracious noises are often represented as “om nom nom nom”) to the online images known as “lolcats,” and on to wider usage thanks in part to Twitter.
I suspect Bolinger would have appreciated the earthy joys of nom. After all, in a 1940 article in American Speech, Bolinger observed how imitative expressions like humph, ahem, pish, and tsk often get turned into “real words” by “pronouncing them as spelled rather than articulating the sounds they were intended to represent.” And among the first batch of neologisms he provided for “Among the New Words” the following year was none other than burp — like nom, a kind of digestive onomatopoeia that can be pressed into service as a noun or verb. Plus ça change!

I think I was in my late teens before I realized that tsk was not intended to be pronounced “tisk.”

Comments

  1. I think I was in my late teens before I realized that tsk was not intended to be pronounced “tisk.”
    What is the IPA representation of the “right” sound ?
    I make it by pressing the middle part of my tongue against the front palate and pulling it away suddenly. Like you might do with one of those rubber suckers on a certain kind of refrigerator door sticker. You spit on the inner surface of the sticker to make it moist, press it against the surface of the door, then pull it off briskly.

  2. D Sky Onosson says:

    I’m nearly 40 and I had no idea it wasn’t pronounced “tisk”!

  3. Ben, where you say:
    among the first batch of neologisms [Bolinger] provided for “Among the New Words” [in 1941] was none other than burp — like nom, a kind of digestive onomatopoeia that can be pressed into service as a noun or verb,
    I was looking up “burp gun” in the OED, and I found under “burp” the citation:

    1932 Amer. Speech VII. 330 Burp, to belch.

    1940 in Amer. Speech (1941) XVI. 145/2 Chronic air swallowers should be ‘burped’ three or four times…during each feeding.

    So by 1941, it would have been the usage (burping babies) that was new, rather than the word itself.

    [Thinks] I can’t believe I’m trying to correct Ben Zimmer…

  4. …and congratulations on the New Words job!

  5. What is the IPA representation of the “right” sound ?
    I believe it is the palato-alveolar click ǂ.

  6. I’m nearly 40 and I had no idea it wasn’t pronounced “tisk”!
    Same here. As far as I’m concerned, that is what it represents in modern English. I also pronounce “humph” and “ahem” as words.

  7. “I think I was in my late teens before I realized that tsk was not intended to be pronounced “tisk.”"
    Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee.

  8. All five of those, dearieme – do they sound chez vous as they seem chez tous ?

  9. I once met someone who said “tich, tich, tich” because he’d come across “tch, tch, tch” in a book.
    “Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee” is pronounced:-
    Hah!! huh, huh, heh, ha. Except in North Dakota.

  10. Related to “tsk:” I’ve seen “tsss” lately. This is pronounced as it’s spelled and means something like “ba-da-boom” or a rimshot.
    I’d be happy if I could once read “misled” and not hear “mizzled,” or not ever read “wallah” again.

  11. Isn’t “nom” just a younger form of “nyam”?

  12. AJP: Just because Bolinger was treating burp as a neologism in the 1941 article doesn’t mean it was brand-new. He had already covered the noun sense in the Feb. 1939 issue of Words, and provides cites for the verb sense back to 1936. He had apparently missed the 1932 AmSp article cited by the OED, but that was on slang at Johns Hopkins so burp was likely not yet in wide circulation until a bit later.
    Conrad: I’ll be covering the relation of nom to predecessors like num, nyam, and yum in my first installment of “Among the New Words.”

  13. Mizzled? I thought the i was long.

  14. That is, I’m sorry but I believe you are mispronouncing the wrong pronunciation of “misled”, Murr.

  15. MWUCD says the noun ‘burp’ is attested to 1929 and the verb, 1932.

  16. When I mispronounced “misled” as a wee lad, I used a short i.

  17. When I mispronounced “misled” as a wee lad, I used a short i.
    Wee lad dept: I have a distinct memory of being stumped by infrared. You know, the past tense of the verb to infrare . . .

  18. the verb, 1932
    That would be the intransitive form, from the 1932 American Speech article, “Johns Hopkins Jargon.”
    The 1940 “Among the New Words” column is reporting the additional transitive (childcare) sense.

  19. Rodger C says:

    I was once stumped for quite a while by a word divided at the end of a line as “vase-line.”

  20. I remember having trouble with the German word bisher, it looks as if it ought to be pronounced like “bishop”.

  21. Rod-ger C: Obviously bad hyphenation software.
    I used to use the PRICE vowel in misled myself; I also pronounced straphangers as [strəˈfeɪndʒɚz], with the default penultimate stress.

  22. I have to say, even if we can push it back to as early as 1929, I am still blown away by the youth of ‘burp’. It’s the most shocking thing I’ve learned this week, I think. Burp, of all things! I can’t imagine everyone belching for all the many years of English and never once burping.

  23. Yes. And I am thinking of all those families named Burpee who until a few generations ago did not have a funny name.

  24. I like the Spanish spelling of ñom more than I do “nom”.

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