Tag: linguistics

What a shocking bad hat

What a shocking bad hat


I have no idea what's going on in this picture. I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. Quoz!

From Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds (1852), in a chapter called Popular Follies of Great Cities:

“And, first of all, walk where we will, we cannot help hearing from every side a phrase repeated with delight, and received with laughter, by men with hard hands and dirty faces, by saucy butcher-lads and errand-boys, by loose women, by hackney-coachmen, cabriolet-drivers, and idle fellows who loiter at the corners of streets. Not one utters this phrase without producing a laugh from all within hearing.

London is peculiarly fertile in this sort of phrases, which spring up suddenly, no one knows exactly in what spot, and pervade the whole population in a few hours. no one knows how. Many years ago the favourite phrase (for, though but a monosyllable, it was a phrase in itself)…

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Peggy Babcock

Peggy Babcock


LSoHTongue twisters, extracted from a text book about folklore I’m currently reading for reasons I won’t bore you with right now.

This one was apparently passed on by a Jesuit priest in California who was taught it many decades previously by an old Shakespearean actor who gave private elocution lessons in San Francisco:

Amidst the mists and frosts the coldest,

With wrists the barest and heart the boldest,

He stuck his fists into posts the oldest,

And still insisted there were ghosts on Sixth Street.

The first three (below) were reported by people who’d auditioned, worked in radio or had therapy for speech impediments. The tongue twisters on the second list are old, but still known today or until the recent past. Peter Piper was already old in the 17th century, when it was first collected in a book. The third set are newer. I remember some of them from…

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