Muggles

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Tue May 13 10:14:31 EDT 2003


Anna:
I was under the impression that "Muggle" was *not* a word invented
by Rowling, but rather a dialect term that has been in use for a long
time, meaning among other things, "clumsy or unskilled person". Wasn't
there a long running lawsuit by some weird person claiming Rowling stole
"her" word Muggle that was thrown out of an American court after Rowling's
lawyers brought a linguist before the judge to recite all the many uses of
this word in regional English??? Or did I dream that???

Me:
It was no dream...  but I hadn't heard the details of the case, so didn't
know that this dialect meaning had been part of it. Which makes you wonder
how it got into the OED only now - because I suppose part of JKR's point was
that this meaning had been around for years. Can the usage have been revived
merely by its being cited in a lawsuit? Did the OED editors suddenly realise
that they should have been including all this time? Or perhaps my source of
information (the children's book magazine _Books for Keeps_) got it wrong,
and it's been in the OED since the year dot? Anyone with an old OED will be
able to tell us that.

Roger:
> Oh, how gauche!

Oh yeah, I forgot that one!

> (But I've never seen "ambidextrous" used in a negative context.)

No indeed - it refers to people whose left hands are nimble enough to be
honoured with the title of 'right'. Which is still pretty insulting to us
lefties, don't you think?

Charlie



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