April 12, 2023

APR 12, (re)duplication: hoi-polloi



Be prepared, as a plebe, for this blow:

Hoi polloi (Greek) meant every John Doe,

Riff-raff, masses (unwashed);

But that use has been quashed,

It means upper crust now, you should know.

Authors' Note:
The (re)duplication hoi polloi derives from the ancient Greek term for 'the many'. This expression, tinged with disparagement, like its close cousin riff-raff (also a reduplication), has been used in English for severlal centuries. In a recent inexplicable twist, as described by speedysnail, hoi polloi has come to be used, in some circumstances, to mean the exact opposite.

Readers willing to go down an internet rabbit-hole HERE can easily get to our other nine short verses dealing with specific reduplications, as well as three fairly lengthy patter-songs about this fascinating linguistic phenomenon.

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