December 4, 2008

Editing: scary things in print

Fortunately, this novella is only being printed for a small audience, mostly the author's friends and family. Or I'd really question his usage of a lot of things, particularly slang that was likely offensive in 1945 and is definitely offensive today...

  • Joe has a bit of a gay/kike stigma, but nothing overwhelming.
  • "Got the drift, goombah?"
  • Most of Mr. Carroll's income went to the "Irish virus": booze.
  • "Talk slowly so this guinea can capiche."
From a linguistic standpoint, these slurs are kind of interesting. I didn't know that "kike" came from the Hebrew word for circle. Jews who emigrated through Ellis Island and who couldn't write English used a circle to sign their names rather than an X, as X is the sign of the cross. I also didn't know that "guinea" is apparently the worst thing you can call an Italian-American person, as it indicates they're non-white (as the southerners and particularly Sicilians were accused of being, especially as compared to light-skinned immigrants from Ireland and Germany). I did, however, know that "goombah" was a bastardization of an Italian dialect word for "friend."

Since this novel is more or less a period piece, I guess I'll leave these terms in. But wow, I don't think I've ever seen these terms in print - just explained to me in hushed tones by my New Jersey grandmother.

1 comments:

Kosmo said...

"Irish virus" is one I hadn't heard before, and I'm part Irish on my mitochondria's side.

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