Monday, July 27, 2015

The -thon, dancing and walking

Mencken writes great footnotes. Here’s one:

The first use of dance marathon to designate a long-distance dancing-match was in 1927. After a while the promotors introduced rest-periods, during which the dancers were free to walk about. In 1930 a promoter in Des Moines called such an ameliorated contest a walkathon , and the word quickly spread. I am indebted for this to Mr. Hal Jay Ross of St. Louis, and to Mr. Don King, endurance-shows editor of the Billboard (Cincinnati). I have been informed by other authorities that the use of walkathon was encouraged by the passage of laws in some of the States forbidding dancing for more than eight hours on end. The cops, it appears, were easily persuaded that a walkathon was really a walking-match, which had no time limit.

H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States , 4th ed. (New York: Alred A. Knopf, 1936).
Also from The American Language
The American v. the Englishman
“[N]o faculty so weak as the English faculty”
“There are words enough already”

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