Whip game on

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Aug 15 21:26:55 UTC 2005

A useful fight-picking line from my youth was the always appropriate, "You callin' me a liar?"
I suspect it goes back in one form or another to the Birth of Language.


Wilson Gray <wilson.gray at RCN.COM> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Wilson Gray
Subject: Re: Whip game on

On Aug 15, 2005, at 2:51 PM, Michael McKernan wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Michael McKernan
> Subject: Whip game on
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> Wilson Gray wrote:
>> Yes. "Whip game on" is the local, St. Louis version of the more
>> widespread "run (a) game on." The StL version also means "defeat
>> utterly" in a sport or a game. A person who is in position to shoot
>> the
>> moon in a game of (dirty) hearts might exclaim to the other players,
>> "I'm gon' whup game on all y'all's asses! Think I won't?!" The other
>> players then reply, "'Spec' you will!"
>> This was a ritualistic, catch-phrase-y kind of thing. The question,
>> "Think I won't?" always required the answer, "'Spec' you will," among
>> friends. In an unfriendly situation, a person might "wolf" on another
>> and finish with "Think I won't?" If the other person chooses not to
>> "nub" or "pug" or "go to blows" or "throw (some) blows," he can back
>> out by smiling and saying "'Spec' you will." Otherwise, he can reply
>> aggressively.
> Thanks for these detailed observations, Wilson. I appreciate your
> taking
> the time to lay out this ritualistic verbal challenge scenario and
> possible
> responses.
> Makes me remember once when a good old country boy (in rural western
> Massachusetts) half-seriously went through a pick-a-fight routine with
> me.
> We were total strangers. I was playing music at a dance, and made an
> announcement through the PA system. He called out from the back 'What
> did
> you say about my wife?'
> I wish I could remember his sequence of escalating aggression. It
> struck
> me as a classic routine, where he had a come-back for anything I might
> say
> to disavow my connection with the situation. But watching his face, I
> could tell by his smile that he was only toying with me, for the
> enjoyment
> of the crowd, rather than actually trying to start a free-for-all.
> After a
> while, he gracefully allowed it to become a general joke that we were
> all
> included in, accepting me and the rest of the band, and letting the
> dance
> go on as if nothing had happened. For a moment though, I was
> searching my
> limited experiences for an appropriate response (like 'Spec' you
> will').
> Don't think I found it, he just let me off the hook easy. He certainly
> seemed to have the skill to have made me look pretty wussy, if he'd
> wanted
> to.
> If Wilson, or anyone else on the list would share examples of similar
> challenge/response sequences, I'd appreciate it. (Think of it as
> teaching
> me how to defend myself, verbally...)
> Michael McKernan

You must have felt like Ray Liotta's character felt when Joe Pesci's
character laid that "Do I amuse you?" trip on him in _Goodfellas_.

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