Sunday, June 5, 2005

Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends

David Wilton in Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends now tells us after all these years that we were wrong to think that a Ring Around the Rosie made reference to the Black Death of the Middle Ages. He also infroms us:
'News' according to the myth is an acronym for the points of the compass. The myth may have its origins as a classroom device for remembering the points of the compass, though even this is suspect.
The true origin is obvious, according to Wilton:
'news' refers to information about recent events and was first used in 1423 though it was not commonly used till about 1500. It is from the Old French noveles and ultimately from the Latin nova.
Pity I am not in the USA, I could have sued all the teachers who taught me english.

Eunice De Souza reviews the book that "attempts to get us to re-think fake etymology," or what the author calls "urban linguistic myths."

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