1943 Army Slang dictionary (cont.)

Jim Rader jrader at M-W.COM
Tue May 11 16:19:04 UTC 1999

Continuing my early message of today--here's the text passage
containing <boksok>, from _Semper Fidelis: The U.S. Marines in
Action_, by Keith Ayling (Houghton Mifflin, 1943), p. 7:

Even the wife of a marine knows that her husband thinks of her as a
"segoonya," the Chinese word for women.  If their home is in the
suburbs of a big town, or in the country, it is in the "boondocks," a
Haiti term for back country.  If a mother cooks a good meal for her
son back on furlough, it is "maskee" or "ding how" (very good).  If
young Mac's pal went out on a spree, it is just a case of a "pungyo"
going "boksok," a word from the native Philippine dialect.  If a
youngster talks too much, he is giving out "chin music" and someone
will tell him to "knock it off."  Out on a spree a marine may tell
someone to "survey" his glass, which means to fill it up, and when a
"boot" gets confused over an order or a problem, he's just "fouled

This is a curious mixture of the inscrutable and the completely
humdrum.  The author's etymological acumen is demonstrated by his
speculation that <boondocks>, the best investigated and most
domesticated of the exoticisms, originated in Haiti.  <Segoonya> we
have cites for only from this work and the Park Kendall dictionary
cited in my previous message--copied from this book?.  I would like
to see what RHHDAS will have on <segoonya>. It is not the
ordinary Chinese word for "woman" in either Modern Standard Chinese
(MSC) or Guangdong dialect and I question if it is Chinese at all.
<Pungyo>, on the other hand, is unquestionably from MSC <pe'ngyou>
"friend" or a cognate word in another Chinese dialect.  <Maskee>
apparently originated in Chinese Pidgin English word; there is
19th-century documentation in RHHDAS.  (As for ultimate origin, the
speculation in RHHDAS "perh. < Mandarin" looks very unlikely;
neither syllable-final /s/ or syllable-initial /sk/ would be possible
in any Modern Chinese dialect, as far as I know, unless some kind of
drastic phonetic reduction has taken place.)

Note that <maskee> and <pungyo> (though not <segoonya>) are in the
_Army Times_ glossary, but not in the _AS_ one.  Were they cribbed
from Keith Ayling's book?  The degree of plagiarism in these
glossaries would require a detailed study of a large collection of
them to work out a stemma of sorts.

<Yehudi>, discussed in a thread spun off of this one, is not in the
_AS_ glossary.  We have a small number of cites for it, the earliest
from the _Science News Letter_, Sept. 14, 1940, p. 164:  The machine
has not received a nickname as yet.  Since it deals with imaginary
numbers, it may answer to the name of "Yehudi."

Maybe some more comments on the _Army Times_ glossary tomorrow.

Jim Rader

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