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Posted By: Walt Mathers on: 11/27/2007 14:15:30 EDT
Subject: RE: Telegraphically Speaking - Terms From 1858

Message Detail:
Noah,

Your line,

"I have read ... [Dictionary of Americanisms] cover to cover and my memory tells me the terms never showed up there, even though the book itself was mid 1850s when the telegraph was around for a while."

... is interesting in that by 1858 the term was at least beginning to make the rounds. So-to-speak, it was being coined by at least 1858 - as the line goes, but the term 'wire' seems to be the short standard in the civilian circles. That's why, in keeping with the situation, I like using the term E-wire for web-bas'd electronic mail.

On the other hand, and this is purely another non-scientific personal observation on my part, I don't recollect reading of many military operators of the time referring to the use of the word 'telegram', not even when recounting some of their electrifying episodes. If others know better, bring your research to this cyber watering hole and we'll take a google at it.

As somewhat of a parallel, we'd be hard pressed to count the number of times J. Willard Brown uses the term 'wig-wag' throughout his 916 page signal history. Anyone up for counting?

By the tome's original publication date of 1896, the term wig-wag was spreading rampantly throughout the land. But, for some reason, JWB refrains from using the term troughout his own text. Your writer begs to ask, ...then ought we too (when interpreting in the strict sense while in period attire) to follow suite with Brown or go modern? Happenstance aside, I should guess it all depends on what sort of living history mental contortions we think are worth the effort.

10-4? >wink< ... or was that wink! wink! wink!?

Walt

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Signal Corps Association (1860-1865)
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