The Finger/the birdbi

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 22 16:13:22 UTC 2002

At 5:07 PM -0600 1/22/02, carljweber wrote:
>Are there any languages where a "gan-" named bird brings the baby instead of
>the stork? Isn't Ganz* = bastard? I see that I was a bit geo-centric in
>thinking "the bird" was well known to be the goose.
There's a neat folk etymology sponsored by that particular goose.
"Gunsel" was originally "ganzel" < Yiddish gendzl 'little goose', for
a boy, especially a young punk, or sometimes a young gay man --I'm
told that in prison lingo it often specifically denotes a passive
homosexual--but the form has shifted to "gunsel" and the meaning to
'gunman, hood, thug', e.g. in The Maltese Falcon (early 1940's).
It's been reconfigured to evoke a a firearm rather than a waterfowl.


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