The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0211 Tuesday, 2 February 2005
From: Robin Hamilton <
Date: Monday, 31 Jan 2005 17:27:27 -0000
Subject: 16.0192 Lark
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0192 Lark
>Robin Hamilton: I can't comment on Partridge. I'm sure he's omniscient
*NO* dictionary is omniscient (did I ever say or even imply that? --
wash my mouth out with carbolic soap) -- but as a +starting-point+, the
current Beale/Partridge (much better than the OED when it comes to
sexual slang) is where you begin.
>but I don't have his book. My little Spears paperback slang dictionary
>lists an 1800s OR BEFORE date for a 'to masturbate' meaning for 'lark.'
How long before?
I could make-up a sexual connotation to *any* term in the English
language, and many were nonce-usages, leave alone the spread-effect (is
that the proper term?) where if one term in a semantic set takes-on an
extended (usually sexual) reference, *all* terms in the set take this on
But that's not the issue ...
>But 'larking' as a word for 'a lascivious practise that will not bear
>explanation' [Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue] finds
>the definition in practice in the late 1700s.
But -- " late 1700s" -- that's about *exactly* the date I've been
arguing it emerges from -- *NOT* 1600.
>Had Grose managed earlier
>editions of his dictionary, it might be possible that he would have
>found the word then, too.
Grose published his dictionary in 1785 -- I think that was the earliest
Shakespeare was writing in 1600