Hunkie (1906)

Roger Shuy rshuy at MONTANA.COM
Tue Jul 4 02:04:44 UTC 2006

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Hunkie (1906)
-I can't  vouch for its meaning for everyone but to my parents (born in 1904 and
1906) used the term, Hunkies, to refer to members of the relatively large
Hungarian population of Akron. For that reason, I always assumed that "hunkie"
was short for Hungarian. The Hungarians worked mostly in the rubber factories,
where being "hunked" didn't seem like a very reasonable term. I worked at
Firestone myself for two years in the early 50s and I didn't see any jobs that
would take a hunk out of anyone. To my parents, the Germans (probably also
Austrians) were Krauts, the Poles were Polacks and all Asians were Chinks.The
Hungarians were Hunkies. In fact we had a Hungarian family living next to us.
Maybe it meant different things in different places.

> HDAS has 1909.
> Chicago Daily Tribune, 14 May 1906, p.1:
> "Accidents in Illinois Company Plant Are Known Officially Only When the
> 'Dead Wagon' Is Wanted
> "Between Railroad Tracks and Great Furnaces It Stands a Terror to the Army
> of 'Hunkies.'"
> "Hun, Pole, Austrian, Bulgarian, Bohemian--the 'Hunkies' of Illinois Steel
> colloquialism--indifferent to pain of shattered, burned, mangled body grow
> frantic as the stretcher bearers near this fortress hospital [...] South
> Chicago distinctly doesn't like the 'Hunkie.' [...] A 'Hunkie' who has been
> 'hunked' in Illinois Steel makes a lot of strictly corporation trouble."
> I'm not clear on what the verb "hunk" is supposed to mean. It may mean being
> injured on the job.
> --Dave Wilton
>   dave at
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