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Bob Coyne
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Location: Montclair, NJ


Postby Bob Coyne » January 7th, 2019, 10:27 am

jkeyes1000 wrote:
Bill Mullins wrote:
Bob Coyne wrote:You can view frequency of usage over time of "gift of the gab" and "gift of gab" in the Google Books NGram viewer.

And doing so shows that from the early 1800s, until just before WW2, "gift of the gab" is more common that "gift of gab".

In the Library of Congress's Chronicling America digitized newspaper database, "gift of gab" show up on 2837 newspaper pages and "gift of the gab" shows up on 558.

"Gift of the gab" is used in King Koko by Prof. Hoffmann and The Gambling World: Anecdotal Memories and Stories of Personal Experience in the Temples of Hazard and Speculation by Rouge et Noir (1898).

I am wondering, Bill, whether you inadvertently transposed the stats. In your comment you seem to be affirming rather that "gift of the gab" occurs less frequently than "gift of gab".

The stats seem to point in different directions. Perhaps this is a case where the genre and format affects the language, with newspapers and books having different levels of formality and editing guidelines, readership, layout constraints, etc.

In either case, neither phrase strikes me as obscure or unusual. And the Google NGram Viewer shows that "gift of the gab" was even more common back around 1890-1900 than it is today.

Leo Garet
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Favorite Magician: Nobody In Particular


Postby Leo Garet » January 7th, 2019, 11:02 am

Roger M. wrote:
Leo Garet wrote:Chris Wasshuber is entirely correct.

Wasshuber is entirely incorrect ... as he's saying the very opposite of what you're saying (and I happen to agree with you).

Faux Pas City. Oops Oops and Oops Again.

You're right. I'm right. Stating it how I did meant I was wrong.

I suffer from congenital Gift Of The Clumsy Fingers. My thinking apparatus suffers from glassy-eye syndrome too.

Bill Mullins
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Location: Huntsville, AL


Postby Bill Mullins » January 7th, 2019, 11:21 am

jkeyes1000 wrote: I am wondering, Bill, whether you inadvertently transposed the stats.

I did not. NGram viewer shows "gift of the gab" to be more common; Chronicling America shows "gift of gab" to be more common., delimited from 1600 - 1902, shows "gift of gab" as more common 5517 pages to 2338.

Genealogybank's newspaper collection, similarly delimited by date, has "gift of gab" leading 2441/692.

Google Books, 1600 - 1902, has "gift of gab" leading by 23 to 15.

But simple hit counts aren't really very useful, because they are so inaccurate. They miss many examples because the OCR on muddy microfilm don't catch many examples, and they probably are more inaccurate on longer phrases than on short ones (which would bias in favor of "gift of gab".)

Plus, the algorithms that do the searches and report the hits are wonky. Google Books did not report Erdnase in the 15 hits for "gift of the gab" when you do a date-delimited search in Google Books Advanced Search. But if you simply put ["gift of the gab" Erdnase] into Google Books search, it comes right up.

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Richard Kaufman
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Postby Richard Kaufman » January 7th, 2019, 12:13 pm

Mr. Keyes has been permanently banned.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

Pete McCabe
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Location: Simi Valley, CA


Postby Pete McCabe » January 7th, 2019, 4:34 pm

I have the gift of gab. I got it when I kissed the Blarney stone. This is not a joke, by the way.

Roger M.
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Postby Roger M. » January 7th, 2019, 6:55 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:I have the gift of gab. I got it when I kissed the Blarney stone. This is not a joke, by the way.

You have highlighted the salient point Pete ... which is that the phrase is entrenched in history, such that legend has long stated that by kissing the Blarney Stone one acquires ...(wait for it) .... "the gift of the gab"!

The specific legend as it's directly associated with kissing the Stone and the phrase "gift of the gab" is posited to date back to somewhere around 1800.
Of course the phrase is still in use today, indeed my mother used in on a regular basis (until her passing a couple of years ago) in order to describe to me how she viewed my ability to go on endlessly about pretty much anythingl :)

The ultimate point being only that the phrase is an incredibly popular one, both in Erdnase's day, up on through to January 2019.
And that the phrase is neither "unusual" or "highly uncommon" as is the basis for CW's current newsletter write-up.

Pete McCabe
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Postby Pete McCabe » January 9th, 2019, 5:03 pm

Just to add one more data point, I am 58, an English teacher and writer, and I went to Blarney Castle in Ireland and kissed the Blarney stone. And I have never heard or read "the gift of the gab." I have only ever heard of "the gift of gab." Not sure if that's part of what you all are arguing about or not.

Bill Mullins
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Postby Bill Mullins » January 9th, 2019, 5:08 pm

New newsletter from Chris today. Does he even read the forum anymore?

He said, "Some folks took issue with me calling the phrase "gift of the gab" uncommon. However, nobody has offered data to support their claims." Bob Coyne used Google N-Gram, and I reported statistics from several text databases on the relative use of "gift of the gab" vs "gift of gab." Both contain real data.

Then Chris linked to a Google N-Gram comparison of the two variants of the phrase. Without any credit to Bob or myself for having done exactly that. As if it were a new and original idea. (this from the guy who discussed plagiarism only two newsletters ago)

He said "Some commented that 'gift of gab' is more common. As the graph shows this is only true for usage in books for the most recent 30 years or so." It is also true when you consider data from assorted newspaper databases, like Chronicling America and (which Chris will use and cite when they support his theses, but apparently ignores when they don't).

"Gift of the gab" is not a commonly used phrase. But it is not so uncommon, that if one sees it in a 1902 book and also in an 1870 book of similar subject matter, that one should assume that the author of the 1902 book copied it from the 1870 book (which is a summary of the argument that Chris is making). It shows up in newspapers, in magazines, and in books from the years immediately preceding 1902, and if one assumes that Erdnase was well-read (which Chris has asserted often), then it would be entirely expected that he had run across the phrase in some place or another. It is in two slang dictionaries, for example: Albert Barrère's A dictionary of slang, jargon & cant . . . (1897); and in James Maitlan'd's The American Slang Dictionary (1891) published in Erdnase's own Chicago. It appears (at least) 14 times in the Chicago Tribune in the years before 1902.

"But, Bill" you say, "Erdnase used the phrase in the exact same context that Steinmetz did -- when he was discussing patter! Wipe the scales from your eyes -- he must have cribbed it!" The discussion of patter is the only place in the book that it makes sense to use "gift of the gab". Why would you use it when talking about shifts, or stacking decks? That it appears in similar context doesn't add anything to the argument.

Chris also says "Now with this importance of "The Gaming Table" for Erdnase in mind, further consider that the author of the book was called Andrew Steinmetz. That is an Andrew S. -> Andrews. Could it be that Erdnase adopted the pseudonym 'Andrews' from the first name of the author of the book he so loved? As a kind of homage to the author of the book? I think it is possible. I actually think that this is a pretty sound explanation for the possible pseudonym Andrews."

I am truly glad that Chris has finally come to accept that "S. W. Erdnase" is in fact a reversal of "E. S. Andrews", and has nothing to do with the German translation of "earth nose".

Tom Sawyer
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Postby Tom Sawyer » January 16th, 2019, 3:33 am

Hi All,

Above there is a bit of discussion from Bill Mullins relating to the chronology of the first appearance of two of Professor Hoffmann’s books, namely Tricks With Cards (as published by Warne) and More Magic. I thought I would toss in a few remarks.

The Warne book’s full title is Tricks With Cards: A Complete Manual of Card Conjuring. It seems pretty certain that the first edition was published in late 1889. And the first edition of More Magic was published in late 1889, even though the first edition bore the date 1890 on the title page. I think all of the foregoing is consistent with what Bill said. The following details address the first publication of certain parts of More Magic.

The main card material in More Magic appears near the front of the book, in Chapters II through VI.

All but (basically) three chapters of the book were serialized in Every Boy’s Magazine, and also appeared partly in Every Boy’s Annual for 1888 and partly in Every Boy’s Annual for 1889.

Interestingly, Chapters II through VI were included within Every Boy’s Annual for 1888. Even more interestingly, that volume appears to have been published in or around October 1887. The normal practice in that era was for Every Boy’s Annual to be designated with the year that followed the year of publication.

Boiled down, this all means that virtually all of the card material in More Magic was originally published about two years before Warne’s Tricks With Cards was originally published.

The serialized material of More Magic was not identical to the corresponding material in the book version. I have not specifically compared the card material of the two (as far as I can recall), but I presume that there are small differences. I know that some material toward the beginning (before the card material) is very different.

As I discuss in my Professor Hoffmann and His Conjuring Serials of 1872-1888 (page 128), it is quite possible that the serialization of More Magic began in late 1886.

To be clear, the last-named book is not the same as the Routledge book called Tricks With Cards, which was basically material extracted from Modern Magic.

—Tom Sawyer
At least for the time being, I have taken down my S.W. Erdnase blog.

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