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Supersonic Skydive
http://www.heinleinsociety.org/thsnexus/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1334
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Author:  JamesGifford [ Sat Oct 20, 2012 5:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

BillMullins wrote:
What was the vector into the mil/aero communities?

Mighta been some hotshot from West Virginia.

Thanks for the added info. I was pretty sure that no major breakthroughs had been made on it. It's a great one to bring up as "unknown" in a group... every other person will insist, to the point of blows, that it's one of the classic explanations. But, of course, every person's claim is for a different one.

Author:  BillMullins [ Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

"No major breakthroughs" – ???

Consider: In the last few months, Bonnie Taylor-Blake and Fred Shapiro have taken a major 20th century Americanism (the figurative expression "full/whole xxx yards", meaning the total extent of something), one that has been debated and studied by the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, and other leading historical lexicographers and quotation researchers (and one which had seemed to "dead-end" ca. 1960), and they have shown that it is twice as old as anyone had realized, and have demonstrated a new and hitherto unknown source for its origins, and in so doing, have conclusively disproved the dominant folk etymology, the one having to do with WWII fighter plane ammunition belts.

Admittedly, if this is a big rock, it is thrown into a small pond. It doesn't bring peace to Afghanistan or solve the deficit. But in the context of the mysteries of American language usage, this is a major breakthrough.

And your suggestion re: Chuck Yeager is definitely worth following up on -- "The whole nine yards" appears at least twice in his autobiography. And he was at Muroc in the late 1940s. Good idea.

Author:  RobWright [ Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

I'm curious as to when the "The Whole Nine Yards" came to indicate needing nine yards of cloth in a kilt. That is the context I first heard it used in conjuction with.

Rob

Author:  JamesGifford [ Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

BillMullins wrote:
"No major breakthroughs" – ???

Didn't mean to deprecate the findings or your post, but no, I wouldn't regard that as a major breakthrough. See the sort of benchmark work that was done on "Okay/OK," where the researcher ran the phrase's origin to absolute, unshakeable ground, for what I'd regard as major. Pushing the envelope back a few decades to a few isolated examples of a similar phrase in a very obscure location... um, not major. IMHO.

But, if that origin hit the ear of a young Yeager and he carried it to the larger world... that'll be major. Major General, in fact. :)

Author:  JamesGifford [ Sun Oct 21, 2012 1:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Supersonic Skydive

RobWright wrote:
I'm curious as to when the "The Whole Nine Yards" came to indicate needing nine yards of cloth in a kilt. That is the context I first heard it used in conjuction with.

Google up "folk etymology" if you don't know the term. There are a dozen major fake/folk etymologies for the phrase, maybe twice as many minor ones or variations, and factions ready to battle to the death, or at least the burning of a Webster's Third, that theirs is correct.

The touchstone to identify a folk etymology is that it's so simple and obvious. In the current case, with absolutely no origin cites for any of the popular explanations found in fifty or so years of looking, it is entirely believable that the phrase originated with some Appalachian newspaper editor and would have lived and died in the hollers except that one famous figure carried it out to a larger audience. That's much more like most figures of speech, not dump trucks or bridal trains or burial shrouds or kilts or predecessors of football. :)

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