September 18, 2017

Happy 100th Birthday to ‘OMG’

Dana Mathewson

For all you "word buffs." Well, it's not a word, exactly, it's an abbreviation. And I got a kick out of the fact that it was originally coined by someone of whom I'm a bit of a fan: British Admiral Lord "Jacky" Fisher, a colorful and talented officer in the WW I era.

I found this on Tammy Bruce's site.

http://tammybruce.com/2017/09/happy-100th-birthday-to-omg.html

Kudos to the lexicographers at the Oxford English Dictionary for tracking down the earliest usage of OMG.

And no, it’s not the invention of a texting teen.

Via WSJ.>

Let us now put down our smartphones to mark a peculiar anniversary. One hundred years ago, on Sept. 9, 1917, a retired admiral of the British navy fired off a letter to Winston Churchill, the future prime minister. The letter was shockingly prescient in one curious way: the admiral abbreviated "Oh my God!” in a most millennial fashion, as "OMG.”….

In his letter, Lord Fisher complained to the much younger Churchill, then serving as minister of munitions, about Britain’s cautious naval strategy against Germany. In a sarcastic tone, he closed the letter by writing, "I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis—O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)—Shower it on the Admiralty!!” ("On the tapis” meant "under consideration.”)

Lord Fisher’s letter went unnoticed for nearly a century until it was unearthed by lexicographers at the Oxford English Dictionary, when they added an entry for "OMG” in March 2011. The OED makes a point of tracking down the earliest known example of every word or phrase, and initial research had taken the interjection "OMG” back to 1994, in an online forum for soap-opera fans ("OMG! What did it say?”).

The editors asked one of the OED’s longtime library researchers, Jon Simon, formerly a research librarian at the Library of Congress, to track down another mid-’90s example of "OMG” that cropped up in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. But Mr. Simon didn’t stop there: He looked carefully through the Google Books database of digitized texts until he found the surprising 1917 letter, included in Lord Fisher’s memoirs published two years later….


Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:29 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 It might, or might not, have been in that same letter, but "Jacky" Fisher went on to say (loosely quoted, as my book which contains this is not to hand) "I believe now that the Admiralty are also to invent a new kind of fuze [meaning, a fuse to trigger the explosion of a torpedo]. Superb! Why not ask them to invent a new kind of perambulator [baby carriage]?"

Fisher is great fun to read about. He was one of the few forward-looking officers in Britain at that time, and had no compunction about stepping on toes. He it was who caused the development and construction of the first modern battleship "Dreadnought," revolutionizing warships in all navies of the 20th Century. Look in Robert K. Massie's massive books "Dreadnought" and "Castles of Steel" to learn more about the world before, and in, The Great War, than you'll learn anywhere else.

Posted by: Dana Mathewson at September 20, 2017 05:28 PM (vwuQ/)

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