Twanglish Lessons is back! And we’ll forgive you for thinking we’d forgotten about your need for regular Twanglish installments. You probably assumed we’d just come down with a case of today’s Twanglish Lesson…
Old Timer’s -noun 1. A progressive brain disease, most often afflicting the elderly, affecting memory, thought processes and behavior.
Run up to the Walmarts and pick up yer Grandeddy. His Old Timer’s has done kicked in.
Recently, we’ve been dealing with some symptoms of dementia in my mother-in-law. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve been asked if it’s “the old-timer’s.” When my great-grandfather was suffering from Alzheimer’s, the phrase was used on what seemed to be a daily basis in my family.
We Southerners have a way of half-swallowing our drawled words anyhow, so it’s no surprise that someone — or more likely, many someones — misheard the German name Alzheimer and interpreted it as such. It makes sense. Who is typically affected by the disease, anyhow.
The funny thing is, I rarely hear Southerners referring to the elderly as “old timers.” If I’m reading the etymology correctly, the first recorded use of the phrase was in 1860 in the Chicago Tribune.
So this Twanglish phrase is a twist on a Northern term as a misunderstanding of a German name.