Category Archives: The New Yorker

Project Tope

Quoth the OED: “One who topes or drinks a great deal; a hard drinker; a drunkard. Now chiefly literary.”

Hals’s relentless jolliness isn’t confined to his genre scenes of rollicking topers… (Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, August 8, 2011)

NOOB Much?

“[Andrew] Stanton is ginger-haired, candid, and boyishly eager.”–Tad Friend, “Second Act Twist,” The New Yorker, October 17, 2011

“They settled in Los Angeles, where he’d got a glamorous, welcome-to-show-biz job…”–ibid.

“The task of adaptation was further complicated by [Edgar Rice] Burroughs’ racial bushwa, Mad Libs terminology … and general barminess.”–ibid.

(Note: in the above sentence, bushwa is 100 percent American slang.)

“On offer”

This image, weirdly, advertises the Australian Government's "Defence Work Experience Program"

For sale, or on sale (that is, discounted); more generally, available. First cited in the OED in a (London) Daily News in 1881: “Old wheat scarce and dear. Very little barley on offer.”

The Google Ngram chart below shows the use of the expression in American English from 1900 through 2008, with the relentless increase commencing in about 1972.

Tens of thousands of Apple Macintosh users visited the Macworld trade exposition here earlier this month, examining the hardware and software on offer.(Peter H. Lewis, New York Times, April 22, 1990)/Self-improvement has always found a ready market, and most of what’s on offer is simply one-on-one instruction to get amateurs through the essentials. (Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, October 3, 2011)

On the radar: “daft”

When I recently wrote a post about mad and nutter I considered including one additional Britishism indicating insanity. I ultimately decided not to because the chance of any American using seemed closer to slim than none.

I did not count on the New Yorker. Reading the August 1 issue of that publication this morning, I came upon this sentence from Sasha Frere-Jones: “My Morning Jacket, on the recently released album ‘Circuital,’ its sixth, makes it clear that the real hippie is neither biddable nor daft.”

That’s right, daft. Wikipedia informs me that Frere-Jones is an American, Manhattan-born, though it also notes “he is a grandson of Alexander Stuart Frere, the former chairman of the board of William Heinemann Ltd, the British publishing house, and a great-grandson of the novelist Edgar Wallace, who wrote many popular pulp novels, though he is best known for writing the story for the film King Kong.”
Turning to the New Yorker’s merciless online database, I find that Frere-Jones has used daft eleven times since 2005. This gives him a narrow lead over the magazine’s (American) film critic David Denby, with eight.

Onward and upward with “had got”

I have noted the New Yorker’s insistence on having its writers use the British “had got” instead of American “had gotten.” But the magazine seems to have kicked things up a notch; now, people being quoted are required to use it as well. In an April 25 profile of Reed Krakoff, CEO of Coach Leather, Krakoff recalls a period when “I had got poison ivy on my hands.”‘ I submit that every American, of which Krakoff is one, would have said gotten. Anyone disagree?