Ya-hoo knows if they’re right or wrong?

I use MyYahoo as my personal homepage. It’s well-organized, and offers many features, both useful and fun.

Among other things, I enjoy reading the daily Ask Yahoo Q&A’s. The questions are often the type that spark one’s curiousity…Yeah, just why is that the way it is…? And the answers tend to be well and cleverly written.

But, as an inveterate Google Answers researcher, I can tell you this… they’re not always right! In fact, I’m increasingly finding that the answers provided are of…ahem…dubious scholarship, and sometimes just plain wrong.

Take their recent Hole-in-the-Wall question, asking about the origination of the phrase. Ask Yahoo answers that the earliest use of the term to mean a small, simple, (and probably dingy) sort of establishment dates back to about 1822.

Hmmm. They only missed it by a century or so.

The Hole in the Wall was a well-known London alehouse back in the 18th century (and who knows…maybe earlier). You can see it on this old London map from the 1740’s (look for the small yellow circle, middle of the map, left-hand side).

I found a record of an attempted theft at the Hole-in-the-Wall that dates back to 1717. You can read the actual trial transcript, which is a trip. Seedy bars in the 1700’s sound a lot like seedy bars today:

…The Prosecutor deposed, that as she was passing along near Charing-Cross, at about 11 a Clock at Night, the Prisoner William North came to her, and invited her to go in and drink with him, which she refused, telling him that she was no Whore, and he might find some that were; he walking by her till they came to the Sign of the Hole in the Wall, attempted to push her into the House, and that she being in pain lest her Glasses should be broke, went in, and to humour him did taste of a Pint of Drink, and would fain have gone away, but the Prisoner would not let her, using some threatning Expressions…

The transcript is from a terrific site, The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, which have searchable trial transcripts dating back to 1674. Yet another great history resource.

Why did the researchers looking into this question miss the real history on it? I’ll have to Ask Yahoo!


pafalafaga David Sarokin

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