Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers: A Decade-by-Decade Guide to the Vanishing Vocabulary of the Twentieth Century

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OUP USA, Sep 29, 2005 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 239 pages
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Every era of the twentieth century from the "Roaring Twenties" to the "Me Decade" brought its own fads and trends and the language to go with them: fresh youth slang, up-to-the-minute buzzwords, and colorful catch phrases. Most of this new vocabulary exploded into the vernacular, only to fizzle a few years later as newer trends and more current events demanded their own terminology. Giving yesterday's words another chance to sparkle before they retire for good, Dewdroppers, Waldos, and Slackers focuses on language that still resonates with the mood of its times. A nostalgic word trip through the highs and lows of American English from the last century, this book pays special attention to words that enjoyed a brief vogue only to end up abandoned and nearly forgotten: jet jockeys, keypunch operators, the bugged-out and the slackers. All these words have a place here in engaging essays, arranged by decade, that put them in their historical and sociological context. While the twentieth century is over, this book will help us appreciate the words that were left behind.

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Dewdroppers, waldos, and slackers: a decade-by-decade guide to the vanishing vocabulary of the twentieth century

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As the title indicates, this reference work is not simply a slang dictionary. Along with definitions, linguist and librarian Ostler includes in each decade's chapter both brief discussions of relevant ... Read full review


The Twenties Flappers and Flaming Youth
The Thirties Swinging Cats in Hooverville
The Forties Rosie the Riveter and G I Joe
The Fifties Hipsters in Squaresville
The Sixties Getting With It
The Seventies Pet Rocks and Plumbers
The Eighties Tubular Times
The Nineties DotComming into Y2K
Afterword GoodBye to a Great Century
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About the author (2005)

Rosemarie Ostler, a linguist and librarian, has written on this topic for The Saturday Evening Post, and her work has also appeared in The Futurist, Oregon Quarterly, Whole Earth, and Writers' Journal.

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