Date: Tue, 7 Oct 1997 07:46:24 -0400
From: Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: Film Noir; Hoosier; O.K. sign; Gay Life
How difficult was that??
How long did that take us--half a minute??
Even a computer title search would turn up Borde and Chaumenton's
PANORAMA DU FILM NOIR AMERICAIN (1955).
I like solving things and I like to take credit for the things I
genuinely solve, but beating Safire and the OED by looking at page one of a
Well, Barry, although the OED is the product of an immense amount of
brilliant research, even they have trouble using sources from the future.
What you are doing here is criticizing the OED for not using a book
published in 1979 when compiling their entry for _film noir_, appearing
in the first volume of the OED Supplement, published in 1972. Perhaps you
will say that they should have picked up the information you refer to when
they came out with the second edition in 1989, but they explicitly did not
seek to antedate entries from the first edition and Supplement in the
And, in any case, nothing that you mention is an antedating of the OED's
1958 citation for _film noir_ in an English-language context! You mention
only a 1946 usage of _noir_ and some French-language evidence. You will
probably respond to this by finding pre-1958 evidence in an
English-language context, but that doesn't alter my point, which is that
you are being unfair to both the OED and the RHHDAS with your bashing of
them on grounds that are often irrelevant to the purposes and real
achievements of those dictionaries.