End of ADS-L Digest - 13 Mar 1998 to 14 Mar 1998


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To: Recipients of ADS-L digests

ADS-L Digest - 12 Mar 1998 to 13 Mar 1998 98-03-14 00:02:40
There are 3 messages totalling 201 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Shaggy-Dog Story
2. Accent Reduction Therapy - Yoruba
3. starting to unravel...


Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 12:00:29 -0500
From: Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: Shaggy-Dog Story

On Wed, 11 Mar 1998, Elizabeth Gibbens wrote:

I am looking for the etymology of the phrase "shaggy-dog story"; it
defined in the unabridged American Heritage Dictionary as a "long,
circuitous tale with an unlikely or surprise ending," or something close to
that. I'd appreciate your help. Thank you.

The OED traces the term back to 1946, citing what appears to be a book
titled "Collected Shaggy Dog Stories" or "Collection of Shaggy Dog
Stories." This was obscurely published, as it does not appear in the RLIN
database. They also have a 1945 reference in square brackets to "The
logical lunacy of 'Shaggy Dog.'" Eric Partridge published a book titled
"The Shaggy Dog Story" which probably answers all your questions about the

I have heard a joke about a long succession of ever-higher-level contests
to pick the shaggiest dog, culminating with a final pageant at which the
judge exclaims, "This dog isn't so shaggy." Is it possible that this was
the original shaggy dog joke?

Fred R. Shapiro Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
and Lecturer in Legal Research ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]yale.edu ISBN 0-19-509547-2