Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

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Pretty much the earliest use I've heard of "pretty much"

Last night I attended the latest Storytime for Adults, where David Loftus read excerpts from the late-'50s suburban life novel Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. This book contains, at least twice, the phrase "pretty much," beating by over 15 years the earliest previous use of the phrase I'd heard (in Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot).

Yes, I notice this. Yes, I point it out. Loftus said afterward (when I mentioned it to him) that the phrase just kind of went by without him noticing it. And that happens for most people. But ever since Mom and Dad noted that they'd seen an episode of American Dreams where some character said it, and they'd laughed about how no one would've been likely to say that in 1964 (they were there! They'd know!), I've been extra-sensitive to its use. So here's proof that "pretty much" has been around for a while; it just overran our language in the last 10 years or so.

By the way, because Loftus said he was taking suggestions for future readings, I mentioned to him that he might want to read Robert E. Howard's boxing stories or his Westerns, pointing out that most people don't know how funny Howard could be, since the Sailor Steve Costigan stories aren't as well known as the Conan or Solomon Kane works.

****

To change subjects abruptly...

Last night when I couldn't sleep I watched some TV. I actually teared up at a show about the family life of Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter, especially when Steve and Terri Irwin recounted the birth of their first child. He had the same infectious reality about (his words) "the blood and reality" of a birth as he did about the animals he wrangled for a living.

I think this entry by copperwise sums up well why I teared up.
Tags: books, language, portland
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