Friday, January 11, 2013

Saying it wrong …

… Nobody Said 'Racial Equality' in 1865: The Anachronistic English of 'Lincoln' - Benjamin Schmidt - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


It turns out Kushner didn't reach for that OED as much as he could have. Mary Todd complains about Thaddeus Stevens's "prosecutorial" interest in her accounts, but the word wasn't used at all until 1934, and not widely until Watergate. As others have noted, everyone said "sneaked," not "snuck," until the 20th century, and the "barrage" of artillery Edwin Stanton plans for Wilmington only entered English around 1900. And the "bipartisanship" at the heart of the movie's narrative? The dictionary says the term only entered the language in 1909, although I've found a few occurrences from the 1890s.

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