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All my eye and Betty Martin

Roy Harris, 1 December 1983

A Dictionary of Mottoes 
by L.G. Pine.
Routledge, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780710093394
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Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon 
by Jonathon Green.
Routledge, 263 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9685 2
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The Oxford Miniguide to English Usage 
by E.S.C. Weiner.
Oxford, 412 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 19 869127 0
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The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English: Volume II 
by A.P. Cowrie, R. Mackin and I.R. McCaig.
Oxford, 685 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 19 431150 3
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A Dictionary of the Teenage Revolution and its Aftermath 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 28517 4
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A Dictionary of Catch-Phrases 
by Eric Partridge.
Routledge, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9989 4
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... for its elitist approach to women workers. In a different linguistic league altogether is Eric Partridge’s Dictionary of Catch-Phrases, first published in 1977 and now reprinted in paperback. Some of Partridge’s entries display a combination of sociolinguistic acumen and detailed documentation which it ...


Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... one may object that is not so interesting or original in its wording as to be worth anthologising. Eric Partridge, who was diversely interesting and original, is not well served by a slew of 23 dedications which includes such flat entireties as these: – For F. Chesney Horwood, scholar and friend. – For Essie and Diana Browning, with affection. The ...

1984 and ‘1984’

Randolph Quirk, 16 February 1984

... were the dozens of ‘plain language’ advocates: the Fowler Brothers, A.P. Herbert, Eric Partridge, Ivor Brown, to name some in 1930s Britain alone (and though they were widely read in other English-speaking countries, they could of course be matched with an even longer list of writers in the United States). Within the whole ferment of ...

Merely a Warning that a Noun is Coming

Bee Wilson: The ‘Littlehampton Libels’, 8 February 2018

The Littlehampton Libels: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Mystery about Words in 1920s England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 256 pp., £30, June 2017, 978 0 19 879965 8
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... strong language – like strong drink – is a way to alleviate despair. In 1930, John Brophy and Eric Partridge published a collection of British songs and slang from the war. They claimed that soldiers used the word ‘fucking’ so often that it was merely a warning ‘that a noun is coming’. In a normal situation, swear words are used for ...


Roy Harris, 21 February 1985

Longman Dictionary of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk.
Longman, 1875 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 582 55511 6
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The Private Lives of English Words 
by Louis Heller, Alexander Humez and Malcah Dror.
Routledge, 333 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 7102 0006 4
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The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words 
by Bill Bryson.
Viking, 173 pp., £7.95, April 1984, 0 7139 1653 2
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The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots 
by Joseph Shipley.
Johns Hopkins, 637 pp., $39.95, May 1984, 0 8018 3004 4
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A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English 
by Eric Partidge and Paul Beale.
Routledge, 1400 pp., £45, May 1984, 0 7100 9820 0
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... Pym’s diary entry and its eventual publication also succeeded in outdating the entry trolley in Partridge, where it is described as a word for underpants in the 1950s, possibly emanating from the Royal Navy. History is a hard taskmaster for lexicographers, if history’s faithful servitors they aim to be. More frustrating still, Miss Pym’s late ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... distortion than any merely good writer who happens to work in a national language.’ He cites Eric Partridge in Shakespeare’s Bawdy in 1968 beginning his argument against Shakespeare’s homosexuality with the phrase ‘Like most other heterosexual persons, I believe . . .’ – Woods makes nonsense of ...

Russell and Ramsey

Ray Monk, 29 August 1991

Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship 
by Nicholas Griffin.
Oxford, 409 pp., £45, January 1991, 0 19 824453 3
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Philosophical Papers 
by F.P. Ramsey, edited by D.H. Mellor.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 521 37480 4
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The Philosophy of F.P. Ramsey 
by Nils-Eric Sahlin.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, November 1990, 0 521 38543 1
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... of Ramsey’s life and personality. His last hours are described very movingly by Frances Partridge in her book Memories; some letters of his to his mother have been published (mainly because of the light they throw on Wittgenstein’s life in rural Austria in the mid-Twenties); and a group of his Cambridge friends contributed their recollections to a ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... had any sort of fling with the deceased.’15 May. Finish reading A Pacifist’s War by Frances Partridge and start reading Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor, both books covering the same period though from different angles, foxholes at Ham Spray and foxholes at Stalingrad hardly the same. Stalingrad is unsurprisingly a bestseller, the course of the conflict ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... records: ‘Aug 19. Had B.S. at 46 Gordon Square. Aug 25. Had R.P. at Ham Spray’ (R.P. is Ralph Partridge, then married to Dora Carrington). What were these ‘havings’, one wonders? It’s a rakish term which discourages further questions. In Denmark in 1926, there was ‘the great escapade with Aage’, a newspaper seller; in 1934 there were ‘two ...

Germs: A Memoir

Richard Wollheim, 15 April 2004

... for me. It is what I think of when I hear moral philosophers discuss responsibility. My father, Eric Wollheim, was born in Breslau on 13 December 1879, the son of Eugen Wollheim and his wife, who was his first cousin, but whose name I do not know. Indeed I know of the name Eugen only because my father used to recall with such delight that, when he visited ...

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