Crummy!

I was reading Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles the other day when at one point, a character described the eponymous heroine as “a crummy girl.” As with many of Hardy’s novels, which are full of 19th-century English West-Country dialect, there was an explanatory note. I was going to pass over it, as there are many such notes, and I don’t want to interrupt my reading flow by stopping for each one. Plus, the meaning was pretty clear from the context: it obviously meant attractive.

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Who is John Doe?

John Doe, caucasian, approximately 45 years old, evidence of blunt-force trauma to the base of the skull…

Pretty familiar if you’ve been exposed to the barest minimum of American crime fiction: “John” and “Jane Doe” used to refer to an unidentified victim or suspect in a criminal case. But why these names in particular? Continue reading