Friday, March 06, 2009

New Meanings 7

I have been reading a book in which the word 'storied' keeps cropping up, as in 'Arthur Dwonk, a storied plumber from Milwaukee'. I wasn't reading with a huge amount of attention so I vaguely though it meant someone was very tall. But then I looked it up and this American dictionary blandly assures me that it means someone who is 'recorded or celebrated in story'. Am I the last to know this? Anyway, I don't like it one bit, it sounds too much like a sloppy contraction. In the same book the word 'insanely' also keeps appearing, as in 'insanely great'. This sounds sloppy too, an adverbial hyperbole used at a party by a very boring geek who has only just noticed you are desperately looking over his shoulder to find someone more interesting, an accountant perhaps.


  1. As 1 with better years invested in translation:

    chicken scratch--->medical reports

    "sloppy contractions" sound excruciating and obviously not an effective delivery method.

  2. god, that kind of language reminds me of 'I am Charlotte Simmons'

    you know, it's like, I could care less

  3. Keep the faith Bryan. I used to mock the use of critqued as a verb. As in "Bryan Appleyard today critiqued storied." Yet only yesterday I found myself using it without irony. Weak, weak, weak and, yes, thank you, I know, I should be getting on with my column rather than messing about on the Net.

  4. Ughhhhh!
    It's just the latest in a long list of similar infelicities emanating from your promised land, Bryan.

  5. Muggsy Spanier was the cornet players' cornet player. He was a storied cornetto.

  6. Latest update..............
    Good that , made my day, and a few others I would imagine,

  7. Far be it from me to question an American dictionary, but when I'm curious about from whence some unfamiliar word comes, I consult a obscure dictionary published by a small European university.

    In this case, the OED traces "storied" back to the late 15th century, in the sense of a tapestry that tells a story, and in the sense about which Bryan complains, to Pope's Odyssey (1725), IV. 440:

    Each known disaster of the man disclose,...
    Recite them! nor in erring pity fear
    To wound with storied grief the filial ear.

    So, not so much a degenerate American usage.

  8. Yes, David, I seem to remember Bill Bryson in his (not really very good) book "Notes from a Small Island" getting similarly fed up with Britons whingeing about linguistic Americanisms.

    When some old codger takes him to task for "normalcy" he snaps and says "I think you'll find that Shakespeare refers to normalcy in Twelfth Night" - or some such.

    It is, of course, ridiculous for us to blame the yanks for these horrors, since the truth is that Americans have never invented anything.

  9. Nothing Brit, they never invented nothing.

  10. Ouch, ya'all play hard. How's that one for size? (nice post...)

  11. "Hoo!" quod the Knyght, "ye'alle playe too harde!"

    (Chaucer - The Muckleman's Tale, Prologue)

  12. Indeed, nothing is what we haven't invented.

  13. As Freud says, there is no "original" piece of art, or linguistic invention...Just old stuff put together in new ways.

    Personally, I hate the verbs "impacted" and "privileged."

  14. Sloppy language?
    From the Sunday Times leader column this very week:

    ...admitted carrying out three to five times less due diligence...

    Try this: What's five times less than £20? What's three times less then 18kg?

    Are the (Sunday Times) reading public incapable of understanding a third or a fifth?

  15. Nice "quod" Brit. No doubt. I think you caught me off balance with that one. Who would have guessed you'd pull Chaucer from your pocket. How's this..? I'm really down with that, you know, that thing you said that Chaucer said - now that's an Americana original there. It's a beauty, ain't it?