October 17, 2004

Trevor's Law explained.

What's the source for slang about what's in and what's out? Trevor at kaleboel, channeling Bacchus, postulated that it's all about, well, in and out. I was puzzled about what it is, really, and so Trevor invoked the muse again to explain that

Old-style farmers spent huge amounts of time talking about reproduction ... [and] used magical rites to try to regulate the seasons. When people went to live in towns ... creativity slowly began to replace fertility in the public eye ... However, instead of phasing out the gods of biological reproduction, people kept on the sacred harlots, the corn spirit and the divine animal and upgraded them to become models ..., gardening experts and celebrity chefs. ... A corresponding, linguistic sublimation occurred, in which the holy lexicon of sex ... became the even more confusing terminology of style.

Read the whole thing. An amiable hypothesis, but I'm worried about def.

Posted by Mark Liberman at October 17, 2004 07:10 PM