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THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE.-Conducted by the Students of Yale University. This Magazine established February, 1836, is the oldest col. lege periodical in America; entering upon its Fifty-ninth Volume with the number for October, 1893. It is published by a board of Editors, annually chosen from each successive Senior Class. It thus may be fairly said to represent in its general articles the average literary culture of the university. In the Notabilia college topics are thoroughly discussed, and in the Memorabilia it is intended to make a complete record of the current events of college life; while in the Book Notices and Editors' Table, contemporary publications and exchanges receive careful attention.
Contributions to its pages are earnestly solicited from students of all departments, and may be sent through the Post Office. They are due the ist of the month. If rejected, they will be returned to their writers, whose names will not be known outside the Editorial Board. A Gold Medal of the value of Twenty-five Dollars, for the best written Essay, is offered for the competition of all undergraduate subscribers, at the beginning of each academic year.
The Magazine is issued on the 15th day of each month from October to June, inclusive; nine numbers form the annual volume, comprising at least 360 pages. The price is $3.00 per volume, 35 cents per single number. All subscriptions must be paid in advance, directly to the Editors, who alone can give receipts therefor. Upon the day of publication the Magazine is promptly mailed to all subscribers. Single numbers are on sale at the Coöperative Store. Back numbers and volumes can be obtained from the Editors.
A limited number of advertisements will be inserted. The character and large circulation of the Magazine render it a desirable medium for all who would like to secure the patronage of Yale students.
All communications, with regard to the editorial management of the periodical, must be addressed to the EDITORS OF THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE, New Haven, Conn.
R. BRANDER MATTHEWS in a magazine article
some time ago, discoursed in charming fashion on the importance of slang in the growth of language. He proved to the precise and spectacled enemies of picturesque phraseology that many English words in good and regular standing were once graceless vagabonds in the doubtful realm of “slangology.” The English tongue gathers in from all sources whatsoever it finds strength and utility in, and this assimilation and legalizing of slang is going on constantly. There is no need of going back into musty days of yore to prove the soundness of this law. We have seen phrases and words evolve from shady reputation to respectability-such as “ dude,” “ boomer" and “mugwump" which now may lay claim to a right in the dictionary.
Slang must be vivid and suggestive, or it soon goes under, for the law of the “survival of the fittest” works un failingly. Slang is the superlative richness of metaphor and, disregarding college slang, is usually self-explanatory. I am now speaking of the popular slang--the pithy charac.
terizations of Bret Harte's Westerners, or the apt and ready phrases which osten sweep the country. They picture in the most direct way what they express, where more classic phrase would be lame and weak. A popular “slangism" can generally be traced to its origin, while many jewels of college idiom are dug from mysterious mines, and their reasons for being are hidden in obscurity. This is an interesting distinction for the investigator.
Popular phrases, by which I mean those not distinctly academic, may be quoted at random to show the philosophy of their existence. To say that “there are no flies on" a man is a compliment which he can readily see the force of. He is not likely to be caught napping, is keen, quickwitted and energetic. To remark that a friend has “slipped his trolley,” conveys a world of meaning as to the unfortunate result of his project or calculation. I may say that T. Willie Brown has been acting rather strangely of late and I fear his mind is slightly unbalanced ; but this has not half the vigor and meaning of my inference that he has wheels in his head" or is “touched in his top story."
Probably the currency of the realm, and the state in. duced by over-indulgence in intoxicants are the richest fields for the artist in picturesque phrasing. The average young man of the period seldom refers to money. He will call it almost anything else in the world. “Tin,” "shekels,” and “lucre," are rather antiquated, and now one speaks of his “roll,” the “ long green,” or “the stuff.” In the absence of this desirable factor of happiness, the young man is "strapped," or "walking on his uppers,” or “dead broke.” The language of alcoholic exhilaration is rich and Aowery. The subject is treated in a style the height of euphemism. The unfortunate one is “ loaded,” is “two sheets in the wind," is “under the weather," or “the worse for wear,” or “has an edge on.” A more pronounced degree is signified by the terms, “paralyzed,"
“dead to the world.” It would be easy to fill many pages with the slang used in the ordinary conversation of the educated young man, and I grieve to say it, sometimes
of the educated young woman.
To be told that you make one tired, or are performing the extraordinary phenomenon of “talking through your hat," is a common experience. While I do not lay such broad and forcible utterances at the doors of the feminine sinners, many pet phrases which are hard worked by them were never sanctioned by the sainted Webster or Worcester.
All this concerns slang in general. College slang opens a new territory for exploration. Where the average man uses one such phrase, the youth who dwells in academic shades uses half a dozen at a conservative estimate. The one brings in slang as a mere flavor to conversation ; by the other the Queen's English is smothered and overwhelmed, coming to the surface for breath only at long intervals. The collegian can be marked as quickly by his strangely idiomatic English as by his certain stamp of style. Each center of University life has its own peculiar vocabulary, and Yale is not at all behind in this branch of culture.
An analysis of Yale slang reveals two marked characteristics: an odd phrasing which differs from the slang of the outside world, and the meaningless of certain expressions which cannot be accounted for on metaphorical or any other grounds. Under the first head may be grouped such instances as the use of the word “good,” as in a salutation "How is the good Charles this morning ?”. “A large, elegant time” is the same sort of usage. This is not slang; it is rather a quaintness of expression peculiar to the Yale campus. The second class includes the commonest expressions, such as “smooth," and " footless." These words are probably used oftener by the average Yale man than any other adjectives in his vocabulary. The first has more excuse for its usage than the latter, but as the two are antonyms, they should be discussed together. “Smooth” may mean any quality under the sun attractive or desirable. The original meaning as a quality of material objects has been lost sight of, and "smooth" may be applied to anything from a stunning Prom girl to a Sunday sermon. Just as "soft" and
"hard" have been clothed with abstract meanings in the vernacular, so "smooth" has been stolen and made a slave of. “Footless " is the word used when “smooth" doesn't fit. Here the searcher after the “whys” is completely baffled. The meaning in common acceptance is useless, inefficient, unattractive, or otherwise lacking. Now, it is plain that any object deprived of its pedular supports is in a decidedly inefficient condition, from a man to a cigar store Indian or a square piano. Still further, versification even ceases to exist when its feet are removed. But this explanation fails to show why some other style of mutilation was not chosen to fill the want of a phrase. Certainly "headless" would have been more rational and more expressive, or “armless" fully as significant. Such are the baffling problems that confront us.
Another puzzle is the word "horse.” This is still more elastic and even more mysterious as to origin. “Horse” is used as a noun or verb indifferently. As a substantive it commonly signifies a joke or a laugh at some one else's expense. In this sense a good horse" on a man is found when he is at a disadvantage in some way or another, or has laid himself open to ridicule. For example, if De Smythe meets Miss Jones on Chapel street, and his feet fly from under him just as he makes an elaborate bow, his friends who witness the accident consider it an exceedingly good " horse" on De Smythe. As a verb “to horse has two entirely distinct meanings, to wish or long for a thing, and to make sport of a person, to perpetrate "horses" on him. The student "horses" for vacation at this particular time of year, and a majority of him “horses” for recreation at frequent intervals. In the other sense a favorite pastime for many men is to “ horse" or guy a friend who has shown bimself susceptible to ridicule or fun making. “Horsing” is extremely wholesome mental discipline for over sensitive or super-conceited young men. “Horsing” always implies a joke at another's expense.
As to how it came into use there is no satisfactory theory to offer. In its common use the word always conveys a sense of discomfort to the object of the “ horse.”