Arrant Pedantry

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The Newest Fangled Backformation

The other day at work I came across a fantastic formation I’d never seen before: “newest fangled.” It was from a speech given back in 1938 by J. Reuben Clark at Brigham Young University, where the law school is named for him.

The speech was pretty formal and serious, so I’m not sure if I want to assume that it was a jocular or ironic usage. However, a Google search for “newest fangled” returns a mere 363 hits, and citations in the OED for fangle or fangled are pretty rare and don’t appear much after 1700, so it doesn’t appear that this is an example of dialectal usage. Idiolectal, perhaps, but it’s hard to say since I’ve only got one example and I’m not familiar with Clark’s other works.

At any rate, I got a kick out of it, and I thought I’d share.

2 Responses to The Newest Fangled Backformation

  1. Bear Grant says:

    Jonathan,

    If you are still there, I would like to know the title of the speech you cited as being by J. Reuben Clark. He was a prominent member of my Church before I was born, and I am always interested in reading anything he authored.

    Thanks,

    Bear

  2. Jonathon says:

    I can’t believe I didn’t provide the source! It comes from a talk he gave titled “The Charted Course of the Church in Education.” Here’s a link.

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