Dennis R. Preston
preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Jan 16 14:56:37 UTC 2002
Joe; I think you have this backwards.
One proposed etymology does indeed come from the Dutch Jan Kees (John
Cheese), the traditional nincompoop in Dutch folklore. The
explanation is, therefore, that the Dutch saw their surrounding
English-speaking neighbors as nincompoops and laid this "Jan Kees"
label on them. The rest is interlingual phonological history.
What's the latest word on this proposed etymology? I guess I reckoned
it to be a fairly well-established one (so much so that Roger Shuy
and I reported it as gospel in the old language variation films we
made for USIA), but the word history hunt is doubtless filled with
new findings I haven't followed.
>Another food-related ethnic tag might be "Yankee"
>According to some source I have since lost, the term came from the English
>settlers of New York, who called the cheese-loving Dutchmen who populated
>the area "Jan-Cheeses." Does this explanation ring a bell for anyone? --Joe
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