Re: Use of the word ménages

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Jan 31 02:55:07 UTC 2004

>>"But twice she asked for ménages from him; wh. I obtained
>>clandestinely, twice visiting Nyack without St.'s knowing."
>>Now, the person in Nyack from whom the diary writer was to obtain the
>>menages from is a kind of self tutored doctor and yoga instructor who was
>>known to offer birth control and abortions at his place in the 1920s. He was
>>also big on internal cleansing and that sort of thing, too.
>>Does that help?
>>Thanks again.
>>Bob Love
>It helps, although I think it's still hard to know exactly what was going on.
>I think it's a reasonable speculation that "ménage" translates
>literally here as 'household device' (possibly influenced by the
>English cognate "manage"), and is used here as a euphemism for the
>particular household device that dare not speak its name.
>Unfortunately for my speculation, I can't find any evidence that
>"ménage" was used by English speakers to refer generally to a
>household device (= 'something that helps one manage').
>Any other speculations or, dare I say, evidence for or against?

Wild speculation: "Me'nage" might be a malapropism/error for "me'lange",
referring to a compounded potion (maybe a contraceptive or abortifacient or
something similarly calling for discretion).

Question: Is/was the diary handwritten? How legibly?

-- Doug Wilson

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