The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0211  Tuesday, 2 February 2005

From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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
by extension.

         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  

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