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What Exit?
09-12-2008, 02:50 PM
Tween is a word used or perhaps even coined by J.R.R. Tolkien to describe Hobbits in their reckless twenties. This is because Hobbits were not considered adults until age 33 and live significantly longer than Men.

The term is now in current usage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preadolescence#Preteen)for kids aged either 10-12 or as low as 8-12.

Wiki claims that Tolkien coined the word (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tween_(hobbit))and it may well be true but I was wondering if any proof of this could be found or if a prior use exists to refute it.

I am hoping samclem comes to the rescue on this one or anyone else that might now how to determine it.

Jim

Giles
09-12-2008, 02:53 PM
It sounds like it's derived from "between", with a sideways nod to "teen".

SmackFu
09-12-2008, 02:56 PM
This is like when the Greeks invented something, and then someone else invented it later, and had never heard of the Greek one. The people who coined 'tween' in its current usage were referencing 'between' and 'teen, not Tolkien.

What Exit?
09-12-2008, 03:02 PM
It sounds like it's derived from "between", with a sideways nod to "teen".
The original word was a play on Twenties and Teens for Tweens. (at least in Tolkien's usage/creation.)

The current word is apparently as you said.

This is like when the Greeks invented something, and then someone else invented it later, and had never heard of the Greek one. The people who coined 'tween' in its current usage were referencing 'between' and 'teen, not Tolkien.

I believe that is likely correct, I am actually more interested if their are any prior usages before Tolkien.

Duckster
09-12-2008, 03:04 PM
Well, it's better than calling them betwixters.

:D

Giles
09-12-2008, 03:06 PM
This is like when the Greeks invented something, and then someone else invented it later, and had never heard of the Greek one. The people who coined 'tween' in its current usage were referencing 'between' and 'teen, not Tolkien.
Yes, you're right: Tolkien's use of "tween" is derived from "twenty" + "teen", though I don't find it unlikely that he also had "between" at the back of his mind for that too.

Polycarp
09-12-2008, 03:12 PM
Well, it's better than calling them betwixters.

:D

That would make them some kind of editor, I think! :p

"Teen" of course comes from "teen-ager" which references adolescents from thirteen to nineteen, and distinguishes them from younger children, as "boys" and "girls" would not.

"Tween" was coined as a parallel to "teen" and means those young people at what sociologists call "older childhood," i.e., the years between ten and their teen years.

And Tolkien got there by a long and winding road that goes ever on....

samclem
09-12-2008, 04:06 PM
Just found this thread, and can't comment on the Tolkien connection just yet. Haven't looked.

But, the term "tween" to designate kids of 11-13 or so has been used since the late 1970s. "Tween-age" can be found as far back as 1938, with "tween-ager" being found in the late '40s.

I'll snoop around and see about the Tolkien connection.

samclem
09-12-2008, 04:10 PM
BTW, is this first used by Tolkien around 1954?

Exapno Mapcase
09-12-2008, 04:15 PM
Well, it's better than calling them betwixters.

:D

Too late. :)

'Twixt Twelve and Twenty, by Pat Boone (http://www.amazon.com/Twixt-Twelve-Twenty-Pat-Boone/dp/B000O8QY2Q/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221253503&sr=8-10)

What Exit?
09-12-2008, 04:55 PM
BTW, is this first used by Tolkien around 1954?

That is the first printing date, knowing Professor Tolkien, he might of first written the word up to 12 years earlier.

Thank you for checking Sam, you are always great at tracking down these odd ball things.

RealityChuck
09-12-2008, 06:39 PM
The OED cites it from the Herald Tribune in 1941:

[1941 N.Y. Herald Tribune 10 Aug. (This Week Mag.) 20/1 (heading) Beauty for tween-teens.] 1946 N.Y. Times 30 Aug. 32/8 (advt.) Model for teen-age dresses, size 12, about 5´3´´: steady. Tweens, Inc. 1964 N.Y. Times 19 May 49/2 The buyers saw outerwear, dresses,..and many other items worn by toddlers, tots, ‘tweens’ and teen-agers. ‘Tweens’ is a term used to describe sizes in pre-teen categories. Note the gaps -- it did not catch on at once, and was rarely used until recently.

The Tolkien connection seems unlikely since none of the OED citatations are from non-North-American sources. And, certainly, if it had been in LOTR (in this connection), they would have mentioned it.

samclem
09-12-2008, 07:05 PM
Note the gaps -- it did not catch on at once, and was rarely used until recently.

I wouldn't make too much of the gap between the 1941 cite and the 1964 cite. That's just the way the OED does things.

I can fill in many a cite between those dates, in ads, stories, etc.

unspun
09-13-2008, 01:41 PM
Not related at all, but you also get a tween in the world of graphic design. It's the morphing action between two shapes. It's a funny word when you think about it too much. As is between.

tyciol
04-02-2015, 03:41 AM
Epic, I think we 20-29 folk should take this word back, unless there's any proof of usage prior to 1954 he set the record and taking it back should be a tribute to him.

bob++
04-02-2015, 05:12 AM
Zombie or no - the Oxford English Dictionary database has an example from 1952, in the title of a book by A A Macfarlan: New Games for Tween-agers.

http://www.worldwidewords.org/genindex.htm

Chronos
04-02-2015, 08:02 AM
Quoth tyciol:

Epic, I think we 20-29 folk should take this word back, unless there's any proof of usage prior to 1954...
I can understand why you might think there isn't. Finding such evidence would require a great deal of work, like, say, reading the entire 14-post thread before you posted.

samclem
04-02-2015, 07:21 PM
Zombie or no - the Oxford English Dictionary database has an example from 1952, in the title of a book by A A Macfarlan: New Games for Tween-agers.

http://www.worldwidewords.org/genindex.htm

And, to update the OED, they now have a 1949 book title

tweenager, n.

Etymology: < tween-age n. + -er suffix1, probably after teenager n. Compare slightly earlier tween n.2 and earlier tweenie n.

colloq. (chiefly N. Amer.).
A child who is nearly, or has only just become, a teenager. Cf. tween n.2



1949 M. M. Crunden (title) Disc adventures for tiny, 'tween and 'teen agers; a basic record list for the Children's Record Loan Library housed in the Glen Ridge Free Public Library, Glen Ridge, New Jersey

wolfpup
04-02-2015, 08:50 PM
Fans of P. G. Wodehouse will know that there's an even earlier use of "tween", also derived from "between", in the obsolete British colloquialism "tweeny" meaning an in-between maid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Between_maid), a lowly maid who waits on both the cook and housemaid (or sometimes cook, housemaid, and butler) and whose duties are therefore in between the functions of both or all three. Thus, for instance: ;)
The proceeds of the venture had been split up from the first -- in proportions decided upon at a preliminary conference -- between myself, the butler, the two parlourmaids, the two housemaids, the cook, the tweeny, and the boy who cleaned the boots. I rang the bell and instructed the butler to summon the shareholders for an extraordinary meeting.

And presently in they filed -- the boy who cleaned the boots, the tweeny, the cook, the two housemaids, and the butler. The females got chairs, the males stood against the wall, and I sat on the desk, and, after a few formalities, rose and explained the situation which had arisen.

Considering what a bolt from the blue it was, I must admit that they all took it pretty well. True, the cook burst into tears and said something about the Wrath of the Lord and the Cities of the Plain -- she being a bit on the Biblical side, and one of the housemaids had hysterics. But you have to expect that sort of thing at a critical meeting of the shareholders. Somebody lent the cook a handkerchief, and the tweeny soothed the housemaid, and then we settled down to bend our brains to it.

-- Ukridge and the Home from Home

Exapno Mapcase
04-02-2015, 09:45 PM
It goes back much further that that in the nautical expression "'tween decks," i.e. the space between two continuous hulls, found throughout the 19th century. Doyle uses it in the Holmes story, The "Gloria Scott":

The case might have been dealt leniently with, but the laws were more harshly administered thirty years ago than now, and on my twenty-third birthday I found myself chained as a felon with thirty-seven other convicts in 'tween-decks of the ..

Google Books has multiple uses of "tween" in many contexts, all of them shortenings of between. My favorites are the truly awful poetry of Cecile Macneill Thomson in the volume 'Tween the Gloamin' and the Mirk: Poems and Songs (https://books.google.com/books?id=9XwOAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Cecile+Macneill+Thomson&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JP0dVZj9MMSrNpHgg9AP&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Cecile%20Macneill%20Thomson&f=false), the Klad-ezee "Tweener" (https://books.google.com/books?id=gU0EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA111&dq=%22tween%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=mvwdVZ3vD8OhgwSW0YCYDQ&ved=0CI4BEOgBMBU#v=onepage&q=%22tween%22&f=false) also from 1949, and the insecticide named Tween.

Johanna
04-02-2015, 11:24 PM
One of Isaac Asimov's earliest published stories was "Half-Breed," written in June 1939 and published in 1940. Kids of mixed Terran-Martian parentage were labeled "Tweeny" and they built themselves a "Tweenytown." This was approximately concurrent with Tolkien's writing the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring (begun in December 1937), where he applied the term "tweens" to young Frodo. Asimov was a huge fan of Tolkien, but in 1939 he could not have known that J.R.R.T. was using the (approximately) same word, and obviously Tolkien would not have heard of Asimov, who wasn't published until 1940. Coincidence. Besides, "A Long-Expected Party" was written about a year and a half before "Half-Breed" so Tolkien was first by any measure.

Leo Bloom
04-03-2015, 05:24 AM
Fans of P. G. Wodehouse will know that there's an even earlier use of "tween", also derived from "between", in the obsolete British colloquialism "tweeny" meaning an in-between maid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Between_maid), a lowly maid who waits on both the cook and housemaid (or sometimes cook, housemaid, and butler) and whose duties are therefore in between the functions of both or all three. Thus, for instance: ;)
The proceeds of the venture had been split up from the first -- in proportions decided upon at a preliminary conference -- between myself, the butler, the two parlourmaids, the two housemaids, the cook, the tweeny, and the boy who cleaned the boots. I rang the bell and instructed the butler to summon the shareholders for an extraordinary meeting.

And presently in they filed -- the boy who cleaned the boots, the tweeny, the cook, the two housemaids, and the butler. The females got chairs, the males stood against the wall, and I sat on the desk, and, after a few formalities, rose and explained the situation which had arisen.

Considering what a bolt from the blue it was, I must admit that they all took it pretty well. True, the cook burst into tears and said something about the Wrath of the Lord and the Cities of the Plain -- she being a bit on the Biblical side, and one of the housemaids had hysterics. But you have to expect that sort of thing at a critical meeting of the shareholders. Somebody lent the cook a handkerchief, and the tweeny soothed the housemaid, and then we settled down to bend our brains to it.

-- Ukridge and the Home from Home

Agreed. As Joyce referred to her, “the bustling tweeny-dawn-of-all-works (meed of anthems here we pant!) had not been many jiffies furbishing potlids, doorbrasses, scholars’ applecheeks and linkboy’s metals..."

hajario
04-03-2015, 08:15 AM
There is a usage that I like that isn't that old but applies to me. A person born in the 1960's is called a Tweener. Not really a Boomer but not Gen X either. If you don't remember the JFK assassination but do remember Watergate, you're a Tweener.

Johanna
04-04-2015, 05:48 PM
There is a usage that I like that isn't that old but applies to me. A person born in the 1960's is called a Tweener. Not really a Boomer but not Gen X either. If you don't remember the JFK assassination but do remember Watergate, you're a Tweener.
That would be my younger sisters born in the 1960s. I was born in late 1959 and have memories from the JFK administration. I fall somewhere in between (heh) the core Baby Boom and your Tweeners. I figure I'm a kid sister to the Boomer generation: same generation, but born a little too late for all the hoopla. I just discovered that my tail end of the baby boom has been named "Generation Jones," which as a name doesn't impress me much, but there are significant differences between our situation and the main wave of the Baby Boom. My parents were born squarely in the middle of the "Silent Generation" and my children were born squarely in the middle of the "Millennials," but my birth is way off on the shoulder of my generation's road. Generations make for an extremely inexact science.

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