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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Lark
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0182  Friday, 28 January 2005

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 13:10:12 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0166 Lark

[2]     From:   Marvin Krims <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 10:08:35 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0166 Lark

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 15:29:07 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0166 Lark


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 13:10:12 -0000
Subject: 16.0166 Lark
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0166 Lark

Abigail Quart <
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 >According to Richard A. Spears' dictionary of Slang and Euphemism, "to
 >lark" is "to masturbate; to practise penilingus." But "larking" is
 >defined as "irumation" which is "to suck" leading to a possible meaning
 >of fellatio and/or cunnilingus.

Eric Partridge, _A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English_, ed.
  Beale (1984) fails to give this as a sense of LARK (v) but
cross-refers to LARKING (n) Cunnilingism: low: C.18-19 (?20) -- i.e
there are no instances of the use of this as a sexual term in a verbal
form, and it is first noted well after Shakespeare.

 >Frankie Rubinstein's A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Sexual Puns and Their
 >Significance defines "lark," the noun, as "prostitute."

This sense isn't noted in Partridge.

In the OED2(3), LARK (n2) "a frolicsome adventure [etc.]" is first cited
in 1811 and LARK (v2) "To play tricks [etc.]" in 1813.

While Partridge paces the origin of the term lark = joke (around)
slightly earlier than the OED, both suggest that this sense of the term
only emerges in the late 18th/early 19thC.

While dictionaries aren't infallible, it seems to me highly implausible
that if "lark" could mean jape (and presumably only later take on a
sexual dimension) there should be no *recorded* instances of this before
1800 -- roughly two hundred years after Shakespeare.  That's a long
stretch of silence.

For Shakespeare and his contemporaries, your only lark was a bird.

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marvin Krims <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 10:08:35 -0500
Subject: 16.0166 Lark
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0166 Lark

Reminds me of Sonnet #129: All this the world well knows; yet none none
knows well
                                                    To shun the heaven
that leads men to this hell.

Marvin Krims

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Jan 2005 15:29:07 -0500
Subject: 16.0166 Lark
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0166 Lark

Don't forget the couplet in Son 129:

..................................yet none knows well
to shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

It is commonplace that "Hell" was slang for vagina and Heaven probably
represented orgasmic bliss.

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