The beginning of a Los Angeles Times story, “How a girl’s stark words got lost in the Polanski spectacle” (by Joe Mozingo, October 25):

In the flat light of the grand jury room, a nervous, deeply embarrassed 13-year-old girl sat alone — no attorney, no mother, no friend — facing three tiers of middle-aged strangers silently studying her from their leather armchairs.

The questions that day in March 1977 were clinical in tone.

The answers would set off a furor from Hollywood to London and Paris that has yet to subside.

Samantha Gailey — sandy brown hair, dimpled chin, missing class at her junior high in Woodland Hills — described her alleged rape by director Roman Polanski two weeks before at Jack Nicholson’s home above Franklin Canyon. She clutched a small heart charm her friend had given her.

“After he kissed you, did he say anything?” asked the prosecutor, Roger Gunson.

“No,” the girl said.

“Did you say anything?”

“No, besides I was just going, ‘No, come on, let’s go home. . . .’ He said, ‘I’ll take you home soon.’ ”

“Then what happened?”

“And then he went down and started performing cuddliness.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means he went down on me, or he placed his mouth on my vagina. . . . I was ready to cry. I was kind of — I was going, ‘No. Come on. Stop it.’ But I was afraid.”

Yes, cuddliness for cunnilingus — an eggcorn in a disturbing scene. Much commented on on the web. All the examples I’ve found except two make reference to Gailey’s testimony, and these two are recent (from September 30) and might have been picked up from the Polanski story:

How do you perform cuddliness without instruction from porn? (link)

a beefy cholo who isn’t afraid to perform cuddliness on his woman. (link)

(Hat tip to Philip Lopez.)

[Side issue: note the occurrences of quotative go in Gailey’s 1977 testimony. The first reference to quotative go in the linguistic literature seems to have been in a 1980 note in American Speech by Ron Butters, “Narrative Go ‘Say'” — but of course usages don’t get reported in the literature (and dictionaries) until they’ve become reasonably frequent, so 1977 occurrences of quotative go (especially in the speech of a young American female) are not especially notable.

The innovative quotatives like, go, and all have been touched on several times in Language Log (here, here, and here), and there is now a considerable literature on their syntax, semantics/pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and history. Quotative go didn’t make it into OED2 (1989), though it will appear in the OED when the go entry is revised, and it is already in NOAD2 and (with a usage note) in AHD4.]

One Response to “cuddliness”

  1. Neal Goldfarb Says:

    It’s not necessarily an eggcorn. It could just be a mistake by the court reporter.

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