Briefly: two borderline AZ attributions

Continuing on terminology that’s been associated with me, two odd cases, both already posted on here: Zwicky’s Law and scanting out.

From John Lawler, posted on on 2/1/13, in “Lore”: about Zwicky’s Law (“The more irrelevant garbage you put into a sentence, the better it sounds”, according to Lawler). Not, as it turns out, something I actually said, or wrote, but a distillation of things I came close to saying, passed along over some time through a chain of colleagues. Details in the posting.

From Haj Ross?, posted on in LLog on 6/1/05, in “Scanting out”, where I wrote:

Some forty years ago Haj Ross coined the term scanting out for the paralytic bafflement that afflicts many people when they try to say how they use some relatively infrequent expression [like the word scant].

The kicker is that when Haj and I compared notes ten years ago, each of us believed the other had come up with the expression, though we both remembered the setting vividly (and identically). Memory is tricky.

5 Responses to “Briefly: two borderline AZ attributions”

  1. Steve Anderson Says:

    I wasn’t there, but … my understanding was that ”scanting out” should be attributed to Barbara [Hall Partee], who encountered the phenomenon when asked to work out the syntax of “scant” on the MITRE project one summer. More backstory?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      It might well be that Barbara was the first person, or one of the first people, to have scanted out on the word scant, but Haj and I both recall that the term scanting out was coined in a conversation between the two of us, probably as a reference to what had happened to Barbara. But I’ll ask Barbara.

  2. Barbara H Partee Says:

    I’m sure it wasn’t me. I have no memory of ever thinking about that expression (nor of being asked to). So I’m ready to trust Arnold’s memory.

  3. Stephen Anderson Says:

    OK. Sorry. Another (potential) urban legend squelched. But am I right that this arose in the context of the MITRE project? If so, who was working on “scant”? It sounds more like Haj to me, but as I say, I wasn’t there at the time…

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