Origin of 'rozzer' revisited

3 views
Skip to first unread message

Dave Eadsforth

unread,
Aug 25, 2003, 1:55:25 AM8/25/03
to

Greetings All,

A couple of months ago someone was interested in finding out the origin
of the word 'rozzer' - a late 19th century UK slang word for policemen.
I have just found a source that states that in French underworld slang,
a policeman is called a 'rousse' which my dictionary gives as 'redhead'.

This seems pretty close to 'rozzer', and it may have crossed the Channel
at some point, but it prompts the question as to whether 'rousse' is a
nineteenth century term, or was its origin later?

And could anyone tell me why French policemen might have been called
redheads? Did they ever wear red hats, or does 'redhead' relate to some
other attribute, possibly derogatory?

Another slang term, 'roussin', was applied to detectives, but my
dictionary does not give a translation for 'roussin'. Would anyone be
able to tell me precisely what 'roussin' might mean?

Thanks in anticipation.

Cheers,

Dave

--
Dave Eadsforth

Isabelle Cecchini

unread,
Aug 25, 2003, 5:49:17 AM8/25/03
to
Dave Eadsforth a écrit dans news:rQzZ5XANTaS$Ew...@magnum.demon.co.uk

> Greetings All,
>
> A couple of months ago someone was interested in finding out the
> origin of the word 'rozzer' - a late 19th century UK slang word for
> policemen. I have just found a source that states that in French
> underworld slang, a policeman is called a 'rousse' which my
> dictionary gives as 'redhead'.

More precisely, "la rousse" refers to the police collectively. A single
policeman wouldn't, I think, be "une rousse", unless that policeman was
in fact a read-headed policewoman.

> This seems pretty close to 'rozzer', and it may have crossed the
> Channel at some point, but it prompts the question as to whether
> 'rousse' is a nineteenth century term, or was its origin later?

My Petit Robert dictionary gives 1827 as the date when it first appeared
in writing.

> And could anyone tell me why French policemen might have been called
> redheads? Did they ever wear red hats, or does 'redhead' relate to
> some other attribute, possibly derogatory?

Petit Robert says the origin is unknown; /Le Bouquet des expressions
imagées/, a book on slang and colourful expressions, surmises a
connection with the hair-colour traditionally attributed to Judas.


> Another slang term, 'roussin', was applied to detectives, but my
> dictionary does not give a translation for 'roussin'. Would anyone be
> able to tell me precisely what 'roussin' might mean?

First date given by Petit Robert is 1811 for the slang meaning
policeman. "Roussin" can also refer to a type of horse, maybe from
German "Ross" and is much older in that sense.

> Thanks in anticipation.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Dave

--
Isabelle Cecchini

benlizross

unread,
Aug 25, 2003, 7:25:15 AM8/25/03
to

Isabelle, do you know anything about old Italian slang? Would "rosso" or
anything like it have been a slang term for cop? I think the vowel fits
better, and there is a vein of English slang of Italian origin (dona,
scarper, khazi) which it could be part of.

And while we're on it, I just have to ask: Back when I was a regular
reader of "Mad" magazine, one of their longer catch-phrases was "It's
crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide". Does that mean anything?
And where the hell did they get it from?

Ross Clark

Isabelle Cecchini

unread,
Aug 25, 2003, 7:49:14 AM8/25/03
to
benlizross a écrit dans news:3F49F2...@ihug.co.nz
[...]

> Isabelle, do you know anything about old Italian slang?

Sorry, I don't. I know my surname may lead people to think that I'm
Italian, but actually I'm French. I would nevertheless be very
interested to learn if there is indeed an Italian connection to
"rozzer".

> Would "rosso"
> or anything like it have been a slang term for cop? I think the vowel
> fits better, and there is a vein of English slang of Italian origin
> (dona, scarper, khazi) which it could be part of.
>
> And while we're on it, I just have to ask: Back when I was a regular
> reader of "Mad" magazine, one of their longer catch-phrases was "It's
> crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide". Does that mean
> anything? And where the hell did they get it from?
>
> Ross Clark

--
Isabelle Cecchini

Dave Eadsforth

unread,
Aug 26, 2003, 2:23:11 AM8/26/03
to
In article <bicm7t$7stl8$1...@ID-68874.news.uni-berlin.de>, Isabelle
Cecchini <isabelle...@wanadoo.fr> writes

>Dave Eadsforth a écrit dans news:rQzZ5XANTaS$Ew...@magnum.demon.co.uk
>> Greetings All,
>>
>> A couple of months ago someone was interested in finding out the
>> origin of the word 'rozzer' - a late 19th century UK slang word for
>> policemen. I have just found a source that states that in French
>> underworld slang, a policeman is called a 'rousse' which my
>> dictionary gives as 'redhead'.
>
>More precisely, "la rousse" refers to the police collectively. A single
>policeman wouldn't, I think, be "une rousse", unless that policeman was
>in fact a read-headed policewoman.
>
>> This seems pretty close to 'rozzer', and it may have crossed the
>> Channel at some point, but it prompts the question as to whether
>> 'rousse' is a nineteenth century term, or was its origin later?
>
>My Petit Robert dictionary gives 1827 as the date when it first appeared
>in writing.
>
>> And could anyone tell me why French policemen might have been called
>> redheads? Did they ever wear red hats, or does 'redhead' relate to
>> some other attribute, possibly derogatory?
>
>Petit Robert says the origin is unknown; /Le Bouquet des expressions
>imagées/, a book on slang and colourful expressions, surmises a
>connection with the hair-colour traditionally attributed to Judas.
>
>
>> Another slang term, 'roussin', was applied to detectives, but my
>> dictionary does not give a translation for 'roussin'. Would anyone be
>> able to tell me precisely what 'roussin' might mean?
>
Hum, is that where the suspicions about redheads arose? :-)

>First date given by Petit Robert is 1811 for the slang meaning
>policeman. "Roussin" can also refer to a type of horse, maybe from
>German "Ross" and is much older in that sense.
>

Thanks very much for all those references - very interesting, and most
informative.

Dave Eadsforth

unread,
Aug 26, 2003, 2:44:10 AM8/26/03
to
In article <3F49F2...@ihug.co.nz>, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
writes

>Isabelle Cecchini wrote:
>>
>> Dave Eadsforth a écrit dans news:rQzZ5XANTaS$Ew...@magnum.demon.co.uk
>> > Greetings All,
>> >
>> > A couple of months ago someone was interested in finding out the
>> > origin of the word 'rozzer' - a late 19th century UK slang word for
>> > policemen. I have just found a source that states that in French
>> > underworld slang, a policeman is called a 'rousse' which my
>> > dictionary gives as 'redhead'.
>>
SNIP of Isabelle's references

>
>Isabelle, do you know anything about old Italian slang? Would "rosso" or
>anything like it have been a slang term for cop? I think the vowel fits
>better, and there is a vein of English slang of Italian origin (dona,
>scarper, khazi) which it could be part of.

At the time the question was first raised, I half-seriously suggested
that 'rozzer' might indeed have come from Italian slang, as the original
police force in England, the Bow Street Runners, wore a red waistcoat as
a trademark identification, and so one of them might well have been
called a 'rosso'. (Itinerant circus groups were usually suspect from
the point of view of the authorities.) But the Bow Street Runners were
disbanded in 1829, some time before the first mention of rozzer is
recorded. If a reference to rozzer were to be found a bit closer to
that date it might be an acceptable fit.

>
>And while we're on it, I just have to ask: Back when I was a regular
>reader of "Mad" magazine, one of their longer catch-phrases was "It's
>crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide". Does that mean anything?
>And where the hell did they get it from?

Dropsy is slang for bribery, snide means 'in a contemptuous manner', so
perhaps it suggests that it is unwise to give a policeman a bribe in a
contemptuous manner. (Never tried it, but I guess it rings true...)
>
>Ross Clark

Thanks,

benlizross

unread,
Aug 26, 2003, 7:03:44 AM8/26/03
to

Thank you for all that. Leafing through a couple of Italian slang
dictionaries today, I found roscëmi for "cop" and, perhaps better, rozzo
(= "rough" in Standard Italian). Unfortunately neither source was very
informative about dates and areas of currency. Still worth pursuing, I
reckon. None of the various suggestions for "rozzer" given in
Partridge's Dictionary of the Underworld are particularly convincing.

Ross Clark

Richard Herring

unread,
Aug 26, 2003, 7:09:45 AM8/26/03
to
In message <3F49F2...@ihug.co.nz>, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
writes

>And while we're on it, I just have to ask: Back when I was a regular


>reader of "Mad" magazine, one of their longer catch-phrases was "It's
>crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide". Does that mean anything?

"It is foolish to bribe a police officer using counterfeit currency".

>And where the hell did they get it from?

It's a quotation from a novel by Margery Allingham (sorry, can't
remember which one.) ... in which Albert Campion's valet, Magersfontein
Lugg, has taken to educating himself by reading books of quotations.
Lugg says he likes them because they condense useful information into a
pithy and memorable form, and offers the phrase above as an example.

--
Richard "how did M Allingham ever get herself quoted in Mad?" Herring

Paul L. Madarasz

unread,
Aug 26, 2003, 4:18:57 PM8/26/03
to
On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 23:25:15 +1200, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
wrote, perhaps among other things:


>And while we're on it, I just have to ask: Back when I was a regular
>reader of "Mad" magazine, one of their longer catch-phrases was "It's
>crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide". Does that mean anything?
>And where the hell did they get it from?
>
>Ross Clark

It's crazy to pay off a cop in phony money. Don't know where they got
it from, though.


--
Paul L. Madarasz
Tucson, Baja Arizona
"How 'bout cuttin' that rebop?"
-- S. Kowalski


-----= Posted via Newsfeeds.Com, Uncensored Usenet News =-----
http://www.newsfeeds.com - The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World!
-----== Over 100,000 Newsgroups - 19 Different Servers! =-----

Dave Eadsforth

unread,
Aug 26, 2003, 5:43:29 PM8/26/03
to
In article <3F4B3E...@ihug.co.nz>, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
writes
>Dave Eadsforth wrote:
>>
SNIP
>
>Thank you for all that. Leafing through a couple of Italian slang
>dictionaries today, I found roscėmi for "cop" and, perhaps better, rozzo

>(= "rough" in Standard Italian). Unfortunately neither source was very
>informative about dates and areas of currency. Still worth pursuing, I
>reckon. None of the various suggestions for "rozzer" given in
>Partridge's Dictionary of the Underworld are particularly convincing.
>
>Ross Clark

I have just had a good blast on Google and found a slang site
(www.aldertons.com/question.htm) that suggests that rozzer comes from
the Hebrew 'chazer' or pig. Cozzer is given as an alternative to
rozzer.

Interesting suggestion, but I don't know enough about Hebrew to judge
the likelihood of this. Was this Partridge's explanation?

(This is getting more and more interesting...)

benlizross

unread,
Aug 27, 2003, 3:56:14 AM8/27/03
to
Dave Eadsforth wrote:
>
> In article <3F4B3E...@ihug.co.nz>, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
> writes
> >Dave Eadsforth wrote:
> >>
> SNIP
> >
> >Thank you for all that. Leafing through a couple of Italian slang
> >dictionaries today, I found roscëmi for "cop" and, perhaps better, rozzo

> >(= "rough" in Standard Italian). Unfortunately neither source was very
> >informative about dates and areas of currency. Still worth pursuing, I
> >reckon. None of the various suggestions for "rozzer" given in
> >Partridge's Dictionary of the Underworld are particularly convincing.
> >
> >Ross Clark
>
> I have just had a good blast on Google and found a slang site
> (www.aldertons.com/question.htm) that suggests that rozzer comes from
> the Hebrew 'chazer' or pig. Cozzer is given as an alternative to
> rozzer.
>
> Interesting suggestion, but I don't know enough about Hebrew to judge
> the likelihood of this. Was this Partridge's explanation?
>
> (This is getting more and more interesting...)
>
> Cheers,
>
> Dave
>
> --
> Dave Eadsforth

Partridge gives "rosser" as an alternative form (1890), which is OK for
the French/Italian theory.

His etymological suggestions are:

1) Probably a corruption of _roaster_ 'one who roasts' [cf. roast 1. to
arrest 3. to watch a suspect closely]

2) Perhaps, however, a disguise-perversion of the synonymous slang
_Robert_,from Sir Robert Peel...

3) Not impossible is Ware's derivation of the word from French _rosseur_
'one who harries and worries'
[cf. François Caradec, Dictionnaire du français argotique et
populaire: rosser 'battre, corriger trčs brutalement']

4) Cf. Romany _roozlo_ or _roozlus_ 'strong'

Ross Clark

Jim Tyson

unread,
Aug 27, 2003, 5:17:38 AM8/27/03
to
Dave Eadsforth <da...@magnum.demon.co.uk> wrote in message news:<rQzZ5XANTaS$Ew...@magnum.demon.co.uk>...

rozzer > Yiddish "chazzer" > Hebrew

Richard Herring

unread,
Aug 27, 2003, 5:22:47 AM8/27/03
to
In message <c2gnkvckvh90knuq3...@4ax.com>, Paul L.
Madarasz <pl...@dakotacom.net> writes

>On Mon, 25 Aug 2003 23:25:15 +1200, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
>wrote, perhaps among other things:
>
>
>>And while we're on it, I just have to ask: Back when I was a regular
>>reader of "Mad" magazine, one of their longer catch-phrases was "It's
>>crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide". Does that mean anything?
>>And where the hell did they get it from?
>>
>>Ross Clark
>
>It's crazy to pay off a cop in phony money. Don't know where they got
>it from, though.
>
Magersfontein Lugg, as recorded by Margery Allingham.

--
Richard Herring

benlizross

unread,
Aug 27, 2003, 7:09:01 AM8/27/03
to

Mm. This has already been mentioned.
Fine except for the initial consonant, which may be an insuperable
problem.
Actually come to that, I'd want to check the stressed vowel too. a = o
may be OK for general American, but is it plausible for a word that
turns up in British slang ca. 1890?
And is "pig" = "cop" a widespread connection pre-1960s? I thought it
meant "glutton" in Yiddish.

Ross Clark

Miguel Carrasquer

unread,
Aug 27, 2003, 11:41:16 AM8/27/03
to
On Tue, 26 Aug 2003 23:03:44 +1200, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz> wrote:

>Leafing through a couple of Italian slang

>dictionaries today, I found roscėmi for "cop" and, perhaps better, rozzo


>(= "rough" in Standard Italian).

On the subject of Italian slang, are there any slang words for
"woman"/"girl" of the shape co(b/bb/p/pp)ietta? Preferrably with 15th/16th
century Milanese/Northern Italian attestation... (Just a hunch I have
about Pol. kobieta "woman", first attested (with pejorative meaning) around
Kraków ca. 1545, i.e. not long after Bona Sforza became queen in 1518 and
lots of Italian artisans, architects etc. came to the city).


=======================
Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
m...@wxs.nl

Dave Eadsforth

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 5:48:55 AM8/28/03
to
In article <3F4C91...@ihug.co.nz>, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
writes

>Jim Tyson wrote:
>>
>>
>> rozzer > Yiddish "chazzer" > Hebrew
>
>Mm. This has already been mentioned.
>Fine except for the initial consonant, which may be an insuperable
>problem.
>Actually come to that, I'd want to check the stressed vowel too. a = o
>may be OK for general American, but is it plausible for a word that
>turns up in British slang ca. 1890?
>And is "pig" = "cop" a widespread connection pre-1960s? I thought it
>meant "glutton" in Yiddish.
>
>Ross Clark

Pig is very old - it is mentioned in connection with the Bow Street
Runners and other law officials in Grose's Lexicon Balatronicon, an 1811
dictionary of slang, and again in the notes of Asbury's 'Gangs of New
York'. In fact it seems that much of the New York slang of the
nineteenth century was the same as English slang of the late 18th
century and after.

Dave Eadsforth

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 5:50:12 AM8/28/03
to
In article <3F4C64...@ihug.co.nz>, benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz>
writes

>
>Partridge gives "rosser" as an alternative form (1890), which is OK for
>the French/Italian theory.
>
>His etymological suggestions are:
>
>1) Probably a corruption of _roaster_ 'one who roasts' [cf. roast 1. to
>arrest 3. to watch a suspect closely]
>
>2) Perhaps, however, a disguise-perversion of the synonymous slang
>_Robert_,from Sir Robert Peel...
>
>3) Not impossible is Ware's derivation of the word from French _rosseur_
>'one who harries and worries'
>[cf. François Caradec, Dictionnaire du français argotique et
>populaire: rosser 'battre, corriger très brutalement']

>
>4) Cf. Romany _roozlo_ or _roozlus_ 'strong'
>
>Ross Clark

Thanks for that - fills out the possibilities a lot.

Larry Trask

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 6:20:03 AM8/28/03
to
Miguel Carrasquer <m...@wxs.nl> wrote in message news:<j7jpkvo0v05g2r9es...@4ax.com>...

> On the subject of Italian slang, are there any slang words for
> "woman"/"girl" of the shape co(b/bb/p/pp)ietta? Preferrably with 15th/16th
> century Milanese/Northern Italian attestation... (Just a hunch I have
> about Pol. kobieta "woman", first attested (with pejorative meaning) around
> Kraków ca. 1545, i.e. not long after Bona Sforza became queen in 1518 and
> lots of Italian artisans, architects etc. came to the city).

Well, for what it's worth, here's C. D. Buck's account of Polish
<kobieta>. He derives it from Polish <kobyla> 'mare', which he says
is a derogatory word for 'woman' in both Polish and Russian. The
ending he sees as borrowed from female personal names like <Bieta>
'Betty'.

Larry Trask
lar...@sussex.ac.uk

Jim Tyson

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 11:45:39 AM8/28/03
to
benlizross <benl...@ihug.co.nz> wrote in message news:<3F4C91...@ihug.co.nz>...

Ross, I thought I was just joking! I didn't for a moment think it
could be the etymology. But...if the initial consonant were *voiced*
it would be easier to imagine at least > rozzer. As to the vowel, the
a is back and round in at least some varieties of Yiddish. So maybe
this could run a bit after all. As to the meaning, I have no idea if
chazzer was ever used for cop in Yiddish or Yiddish influenced
English.

> Ross Clark

Miguel Carrasquer

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 12:54:53 PM8/28/03
to

I know. Buck's account is based on a slight misinterpretation of what's
said in Aleksander Brückner's etymological dictionary (1927):

"didn't begin to replace the old word <niewiasta> generally until the 18th
c. Known in the literature only starting with Marcin Bielski the elder
(ca. 1550), expressly showing that it was a pejorative expression
[examples]. In fact <kobieta> appears in the literature only rarely
between 1550 and 1700 [...] and two [sources] suggest an origin for the
word, either from <koba> "mare" [usual term <kobyl~a> --mcv], or from <kob>
[also <kób> or <kub> < German --mcv] "pigsty", because the care of pigs
belonged to the duties of the woman; the choice of the unusual suffix
(-ieta) was influenced by the names Bieta, Elz.bieta, Greta, Markieta.
From [Polish] this word was carried over into Ukrainian, Belorussian,
Slovak and Czech. In those literatures from the end of the 16th and
beginning of the 17th c. there are also forms with kup-, kupita,
Kubitkowski (pejorative), and the learnčd men from Lwów derived it from
cubare, accubitus (Lat. "to lie down"), but that's a joke. [...] it's
impossible to link it with some foreign language, so the derivation from
<kob> is the most likely."

[Perhaps C.D. Buck simply disagrees with Brückner, and sees derivation from
koba/kobyl~a "mare" as more likely then from <kob> "sty"].

Andrzej Ban'kowski's etymological dictionary (2000) says:

Only since 150 years in general and educated use [...] introduced into
literary use in the 2nd half of the 18th century by our bishop-writers
Naruszewicz and Krasicki [...] known by them mainly from the oft read M.
Bielski, who used this "bad word" a couple of times (1567, 86, 87)
[examples], [Bielski] knowing it from a humoristic translation of Latin
maxims by Mateusz from KeNt (1545), taken from a comedy of Terentius, in
particular this one: "Accede ad ignem hunc, jam calesces plus satis =
PrzystaNp' sie do kobiéty, beNdziesz ciepl~ na trzy zbyty (the rhyme shows
close -é- in kobieta!; from which also modern dial. kobita). [other early
attestations] That leaves the question where our Mateusz (1545), studying
in Kraków, got the word from. [The question] remains open until today,
despite long discussions, the results of which (of the "science fiction in
etymology" [po angielsku --mcv] kind) are better left untold. From the
shape of the word itself one must conclude that the word is not native (no
przegl~os before -t- [the regular development of (i)e to (i)o before an
unpalatalized dental such as /t/ --mcv]), and if it was a late germanism
then why -bie- instead of -be-? Not believing that there's any connection
with Elz.bieta (1393), we propose to derive it from *kob-jeit-a, thus some
MLG composite word kob-jeit, kob(e)-geit f. "goat from the sty", e.g. said
by German inhabitants of Torun', pejoratively, of woman servants. Cf.
German kobe(n) "pigsty" (see KÓB) and Low German (Dutch) geit "goat" (g- =
j-). Mateusz may have taken it from a fellow student from Torun'. The
German language as spoken in the 13th-16th c. by city folk in Poland has so
far not been exhaustively studied (we don't know how the isogloss LG geit ~
HG geiss ran through Poland), which is a pity [...]


Several other theories are discussed in an article by Katarzyna Dl~ugosz
"Kobieta, dama, baba... -- ewolucja znaczenia nazw osób pl~ci z.en'skiej",
Wrocl~aw, 2001:

J.J. Mikkola suggests Pre-Polish *kobItU from Slavic *kobI "ghost, spirit".
A similar explanation by Z.ebrowski: *kobita from a verb *kobiti "interpret
bird's flight". G. Iljinski also sees a verbal derivation from *kobietac',
in turn from the same root *kobI "spirit, soothsayer", as does J. L~osia
(*kobI-veta from *vetiti "to speak"). On teh other hand, J. OstreNbski
suggests a derivation *kojbita from a verbal noun *kojba from the verb
kojiti "breastfeed".

In favour of a borrowing from another language, we have Ciszewki (< Cze.
kubena "mistress"), J. Rozwadowski (< Finn. kave "mother, woman", Est.
kabe, G. kabeda "woman, lady"), V. Macjek (< OHG. gabette "concubine,
mistress"), and non-specified sources relating it to German Kebse, Kebsweib
"concubine".

Franciszek Sl~awski in his etymological dictionary reaches more or less the
same conclusion as Ban'kowski, except he does not commit himself to an
actual etymology: "Semantic and morphological difficulties speak against A.
Brückner's explanation of <kobieta> as the personal invention of some
antifeminist, based on old Polish <kob> "pigsty", or perhaps <koba> from
<kobyl~a>". He concludes that since the word arose in an urban context,
the most likely source would be German.

Given the apparent origin in Kraków, in the middle of its italianizzante
phase (1545), I think that in this case an Italian origin is the likeliest
(the word does sound more Italian than German). I would say a slang word,
perhaps Milanese (queen Bona Sforza...), perhaps derived from the word
<copia> (dim. <copietta>) which is given as:

1 (lett.) grande quantitŕ, abbondanza: vennero servitori, con gran
copia di rinfreschi (MANZONI P. S. IV)

2 (ant.) facoltŕ, opportunitŕ, occasione: avendo copia di vedere assai
spesso la sua donna (BOCCACCIO Dec. VII, 8) | avere copia di qualcuno,
poterne disporre | fare copia di qualcosa, concederne l'uso.

(Sense 2 being the operative one here).

Miguel Carrasquer

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 1:55:09 PM8/28/03
to
On 28 Aug 2003 03:20:03 -0700, lar...@sussex.ac.uk (Larry Trask) wrote:

I know. Buck's account is based on a slight misinterpretation of what's

Miguel Carrasquer

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 2:01:05 PM8/28/03
to
On 28 Aug 2003 03:20:03 -0700, lar...@sussex.ac.uk (Larry Trask) wrote:

I know. Buck's account is based on a slight misinterpretation of what's

Miguel Carrasquer

unread,
Aug 28, 2003, 5:02:38 PM8/28/03
to
Sorry, all my servers (e-mail and news) are behaving strangely.

Mike Girouard

unread,
Aug 29, 2003, 4:49:47 AM8/29/03
to
Dave Eadsforth <da...@magnum.demon.co.uk> wrote in message news:<+Ku8vUA6GwS$Ew...@magnum.demon.co.uk>...

Crackers = crazy

FoggyTown

Richard Herring

unread,
Aug 29, 2003, 5:41:31 AM8/29/03
to
In message <cb8d4013.03082...@posting.google.com>, Mike
Girouard <fogg...@aol.com> writes

And snide = counterfeit money, in this context.


--
Richard "Magersfontein" Herring

Larry Trask

unread,
Aug 29, 2003, 7:27:27 AM8/29/03
to
Well, I guess Miguel has convinced me that nobody knows where the
Polish word comes from.

Just a general comment. As a glance at Buck's IE glossary will show,
the words for 'man', 'woman', 'child', 'boy' and 'girl' have been
extraordinarily unstable in the IE languages. Ancestral words have
been replaced by new formations again and again and again.

This observation appears to run counter to any naive perception that
such words belong to the "basic" vocabulary of items which are not
readily replaced.

Are these words comparably unstable in non-IE languages?

In Basque, for comparison, 'man', 'child' and 'girl' have apparently
been stable for at least 2000 years, while 'boy' is borrowed, and the
words for 'woman' have clearly been newly created again and again. Is
there something especially unstable about words for 'woman'?

Larry Trask
lar...@sussex.ac.uk

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages