Use of the word m=?ISO-8859-1?B?6Q==?=nages

Sat Jan 31 17:36:04 UTC 2004

Regarding the diary entry, it is handwritten in a journal on the sidemargins
of a pocket diary, so it is extremely small, cramped writing and also hard
to make out.

On 1/30/04 9:55 PM, "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      =?iso-8859-1?Q?Re:_Use_of_the_word_m=E9nages?=
>>> "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

Robert Love
Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism
2950 Broadway
New York, NY 10027 at

More information about the Ads-l mailing list