shkeevy; bubbies; more!

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jul 10 01:52:55 UTC 2009

FWIW, it was 1953 when I first heard the word said. It was pronounced
[bUbz], which, since it was used by a fellow BE-speaker, I took to be
 "bulbs." I hadn't yet learned the "boobs" form, discussion of women's
breasts being rare among colored fellows. As Garrett Morris pointed
out, we "lak a gal wiff a big butt." That being the case, I never had
occasion to speak the hypercorrected "bulbs" form. Hence, I was never
corrected and didn't discover that "bubs" was the correct word, until
I came across it while browsing through HDAS.Once, I knew two
different women called "Vickie." The magnificently-busted one was
referred to as "Knobs," whenever it became necessary to distinguish
the two. At the summer, 1971, LSA linguistic institute, I came to know
a woman mammoth of bust who was known as "Big-Boob Barbara." At that
time, "boob" finally became an active part of my vocabulary.

"Boobies" is heard all the time on sitcoms, as I'm probably not the
first to have noticed.

As fate would have it, a couple of dekkids or so later, B-B Barbara
had grown up to be the CEO - under a different name, needless to say -
of her own company, thereby earning a feature spread on the first page
of the business section of the local broadsheet. I was very much
surprised - not that she had become a success, of course, but that it
should be someone that I knew personally - and impressed. It was
almost like the time when [namedrop] Barry Commoner, an old family
friend, made the cover of TIME. *And* he's in Wikipedia.


On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 7:42 PM, Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â shkeevy; bubbies; more!
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For some reason I don't usually watch Bravo's _Real Housewives of New
> Jersey_. Â Anyway, they're real all right, with many typical NY/NJ linguistic
> features. And boy, do they use 'em!
> One Italian-American housewife likes to use the adjective "shkeevy." Â A
> viewer complained that it was "so '70s." Â However, the only form of the word
> I've encountered is "skeevy," without the [S].
> She and one or two of the others also prefer [bUbiz] for the far more usual
> [bubiz]. I've never heard that pronunciation before, but it is apparently a
> survival of the very common 19th C. {bubbies}, which in my experience has
> become obsolete in print (in favor of the vocalically ambiguous {boobies})
> except in pseudo-Victorian um-literature.
> And after several housewives ganged up on another in a strident argument,
> she told the camera, "I was sitting there getting literally gangbanged."
> JL
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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