The Finger/the birdbi

Alexey Fuchs alexeyf at ZORAN.CO.IL
Wed Jan 23 08:20:20 UTC 2002

Larry wrote:

> 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.

In Russian prison lingo, a passive homosexual is called "the cock"
('petukh'); it maybe a borrowing from yiddish with a shift from goose to
cock (perhaps because the russian 'goose' is more frequently associated with
a VIP), the russian prison lingo is full of yiddish words. But, if it's not
a borrowing, it must indicate that the 'goose' together with the 'cock' and
their gay meaning come from another direction and have little to do with all
the geese that were previously discussed, methinks.


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