Issue 207, page 4
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[In last issue's Sez You...]
I noticed a few mentions of quean, meaning "girl", with a
slightly pejorative meaning.
Yes, the OED has an entry for the Scottish usage, spelled also quean. Loon in your sense is also listed. See our blog for further discussion of loon.
Laughing Stock, Issue 206] In the
Country Sun catalog on-line, the next entry after "Hardy Dinner" is
"Mackarel Dinner", followed shortly by "Simmered Seafare"... presumably
referring to ocean-going food, not to the sautéed journeys of a sailor.
In Googling the redskins origin
puzzle, "grasping for straws" came to mind. I wonder if the origins of
the term may have more prosaic roots. Namely, the practice of Indian
tribes, as recorded by early English settlers, to daub their bodies with
red body paint. William Strachey, writing of the Virginia settlements in
the early 1600s, noted how native men and women daubed their bodies with
"red tempered oyntments of earth" and the juice of certain roots. They
"besmeared" themselves with it for ornamental purposes as well as to
protect their bodies from mosquitoes, flies and gnats. He added that as
a protection against summer heat and winter cold they painted their
heads and shoulders red with puccoon root crushed to a powder and mixed
with walnut oil or bear grease." There are several other contemporary
accounts of this practice.
You're close, but not quite on the mark. Some believe that the Beothuk of Newfoundland, who painted themselves with red ochre and revered the color red, and were called Red Indians by European settlers, are the source of the broader use of red Indian or red man as an epithet for all North American Indians. However, it is difficult to discern as the use of red to describe North American Indians is ubiquitous in the written record. Red man dates from 1744, redskin from 1699, red Indian from 1831, and Red Indian to specifically denote the Beothuk dates from 1955, while the Beothuk were probably first encountered in 1497 (notwithstanding the possibility that the Beothuk are the Skraelings of the Viking sagas). In H. Horwood's Newfoundland (1969), the author states that the Beothuk were "the original Red Men, who, because of their attachment to red ochre, gave their nickname to all the other native tribes of North America." See Google's search results for Beothuk.
The OED, however, maintains
that the epithet arose because of the coppery color of the skin of North
American Indians (and we, knowing some Lakota, Comanche and Cherokee,
among others, can attest to this coloring, especially among those who
are in the sun a great deal).
Alright, Mel and Mike, I missed TOWFI so much during your hiatus that I am compelled to donate to the cause. After this note is sent I'm clicking on the PayPal link in hopes that my ten bucks will buy ten minutes for you to devote to a more regular publication of my absolute favorite web site. Love the blog as well.
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I enjoyed the discussion of the pronunciation of pecan. It would be interesting to see who calls [a carbonated beverage] soda and who calls it pop. Here in Pennsylvania it appears the state is split right down the middle, with the eastern half calling it soda and the western half calling it pop. And the first person who says they call it Coke or Pepsi is outta here.
When Melanie was growing up in Texas, all
sodas were referred to as cokes. She remembers as a child
frequently asking waiters, "What cokes do you have?" Of course,
nowadays that is a valid question, what with the numerous varieties of
Because of the abusive changes in the
language coupled with the censorship of the US, the definition of f*ck
was lost. I do know what it used to mean and the meaning was lost
We do have some old
dictionaries and have not found that usage in them. While this may
have been an actual usage in your experience, it was certainly of
jocular origin well after the word first arose with its more widely
understood meaning. There is simply no written evidence that the
word was ever used in the sense you describe. If you do find
written evidence, please let us know. Also, see our
discussion of this
Or read the last issue to see what all of these people are talking about!
additions? Send to Melanie & Mike: firstname.lastname@example.org
DO NOT SEND QUERIES TO THAT ADDRESS. Instead, ASK US.
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