Daily catch-up: trust in the American government, Thorpemania and more unexpectedly old words

Another selection from our cyperspace explorer, Captain Quirk

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1. Trust in government in the US is as low now as it has ever been, but the trends in this graph from Pew Research are unexpected. Since Watergate in the mid-1970s, trust has never been high, with lows in 1980 (the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency), the mid-1990s (the early Clinton years) and the end of George W Bush’s presidency. Barack Obama has done nothing to lift from the post-Bush flood plain of distrust.

Thanks to Conrad Hackett.

2. Sean O’Grady has a fine appreciation of Jeremy Thorpe's heady promise and sad fall in today’s Independent.

3. Following up my Top 10 Old Words That Sound New, John Peters draws my attention to a similar list at Merriam Webster, which includes: irregardless, 1795; on-line, 1950; and energy drink, 1904.

Peters also reported that The Virtual Linguist had noted the Oxford English Dictionary’s first citation of “banter” is 1677.

Not to be outdone, word nerd Malcolm Redfellow chips in with his recent OED encounters, which include: collateral, 15th century; tectonic, 1656; proactive, 1933; and prequel, 1958.

And he points out that the OED 1702 citation for “banter” excels: “The ordinary reasons of War and Peace, are very little better than Banter and Paradox.”

4. Talking of Top 10s, the Daily Express yesterday carried an extract from my Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top 10s, from Pop to Politics, which was gratifying, and a tribute to the publicity skills of Alison Menzies at Elliott & Thompson, my publisher.

It is always interesting to see what different newspapers are interested in. The print edition of the Express has an introduction that asks: “Did you know that Gone With The Wind was going to be called Tomorrow Is Another Day? Or that there is a place in Orkney called Grimness?”

And the pictures used include one of Dot Cotton, whose “Well, you know me, I ain’t one to gossip” is one of the Top 10 Most English Remarks of All Time.

You can buy the book at Waterstone’s or Amazon.

5. Talking of Dot Cotton, I am grateful to Orkney Library for this:




6. And finally, thanks to Chris Heaton-Harris for this:

“I love pressing F5. It’s so refreshing.”