Alternative etymology of “blah”

Here’s one:

blah (n.) “idle, meaningless talk,” 1918, probably echoic; the adj. meaning “bland, dull” is from 1919, perhaps infl. by Fr. blasé “bored, indifferent.” The blahs “depression” is first attested 1969.

And here’s another:

Blah as an actual word originated in the U.S. as an imitation of the sound of meaningless talk.  In 1918 the term was simply blah.   However, by 1922 it was reduplicated as blah blah ("Then a special announcer began a long debate with himself which was mostly blah blah."– Collier’s).  The adjectival version of the word, meaning "dull", arose a bit later (1930’s) from the noun, and the term the blahs (late 1960s) is thought to come from the adjective with influence from the blues.

Neither seems particularly strong to me (and why the hell can’t they cite their source?), so here’s what a man said in a bar this morning, talking to someone else about his wife’s inexplicable decision not to go to Jaén this summer:

Mucho hablar, mucho hablar, mucho hablar, -blar, -blar. (Lots of talk, lots of talk, lots of talk, talk, talk.

This usage appears in the chorus of Daniel Caffieri’s Déjense de hablar (Stop talking; 2000):

Déjense de hablar.
Déjense de hablar. (Blar, blar, blar)
Déjense de hablar.
Déjense de hablar. (Blar, blar, blar)

Unfortunately a short scout has failed to turn up any earlier examples of usage, which is not of course to say that they will not turn up on Google Print one day. Hope springs in the 1625 Arte de la lengua española castellana (CORDE), in which on p121 Gonzalo Correas writes:

dri dro dru. fra fre fri fro fru. gra gre gri gro gru. bra bre bri bro bru. kra kre, kri kro kru. pra pre pri pro pru. tra tre tri tro tru. vra vre vri vro vru. Fla fle fli flo flu. gla gle gli glo glu. bla ble bli bio blu. kla kle kli klo klu. pla ple pli plo plu. Rar rer rir ror rur. lar ler lir lor lur. nar ner nir nor nur. sar ser sir sor sur. zar zer zir zor zur. xar xer xir xor xur. dar der dir dor dur. Far fer fir for fur. gar gher ghir gor gur. bar ber bir bor bur. kar ker kir kor kur. par per pir por pur. tar ter tir tor tur. var ver vir vor vur. mar mer mir, mor mur. rrar rrer rrir rror rrur. char cher chir chor chur. llar ller llir llor llur. ñar ñer ñir ñor ñur. har her hir hor hur. Drar drer drir dror drur frar frer frir fror fru grar grer grir gror grur brar brer brir bror brur krar krer krir kror krur prar prer prir pror prur trar trer trir tror trur vrar vrer vrir vror vrur. Flar fler flir flor flur glar gler glir glor glur blar bler blir blor blur klar kler klir klor klur plar pler plir plor plur. Ral rel ril rol rul.

And there are some useless examples from earlier centuries (Davies/NEH), when the locals still had to agree on how to combine syllables into words. Here’s the 15th century rabbi and philosopher Moises ben Maimon in Moreh Nevukim; Mostrador y enseñador de los turbados:

Ende diz a Job
quien diese a Dios fa blar & çetera & contar te hia secretos de sapiençia

I don’t think you get as much back formation in Spanish as in English, but hablar > blar seems worth a fling. The perennial difficulty with refuting English etymologies of English words in favour of Spanish explanations is that Spanish speakers didn’t write as much as English speakers and that what they did write is much less likely to be generally available.

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