[Ads-l] "sheeny" in the TLS, and other odds and ends

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 10 02:27:14 UTC 2015

"Sheeny" is first attested in England in the early 19th C.


On Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 8:21 PM, George Thompson <george.thompson at nyu.edu>

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      "sheeny" in the TLS, and other odds and ends
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The lead review in the October 16, 2015 issue of TLS is of a collection of
> letter written by Isaiah Berlin.  It opens with a passage from a letter by
> Berlin to Kay Graham, then the publisher of the Washington Post, described
> as "a cascade of fulsome Proustian grovelling", turning down an invitation
> to her 70th birthday party.
> The review continues "The ardour underlying Berlin's logorrhoea, his zest
> for the human spectacle, the infinite pleasure and innocence of
> observation, the elation of faces and events swirling in his mind, the
> self-knowing irony underlying his sheeny effusion, were all
> characteristic.=
> "
> Further down the column, the review says "His easy assimilation of
> different tempers and rhythms has been depicted as the cultural camoflage
> of a Jewish outsider, trimming his opinions like a Riga-born Vicar of Bray,
> mimicking Establishment goyim. . . ."
> The October 30th issue carried several letters objecting to this word.
> I'm trying to take "sheeny" here as meaning "having sheen", but it's hard
> going.  Is "sheeny" as an abusive term for Jew limited to America?  Is it
> used in England, but unknown among the better sort?  Surely the reviewer
> and his editor had encountered it before somewhere.  Can they have not
> known that it is offensive?
> The November 13th issue carried a review of a new installment of a
> biography of Margaret Thatcher.  On p. 4, cols. 1 & 2, it mentions a
> scandal (of sorts) in which the Deputy Chairman of her party was found to
> be picking up young men.  "Her press secretary, Bernard Ingham, in the
> argot and spirit of the time, is quoted as saying that "he always seemed as
> quaint as a coot to me"."
> I suppose that this is the limey equivalent of "queerer than a three dollar
> bill", but I don't see "quaint" in Green's dictionary.
> The same issue  (p. 16, col. 2) prints an extract from a 1983 review of a
> book by Thatcher's daughter on her involvement with her mother's
> re-election campaign.  Thereview compares it to a gushy schoolgirl's report
> on "What I Did In My Summer Vacation".  "Nosiness is all that keeps a
> teacher reading: the unguarded child might let a variety of cats out of
> family bags, revealing Dad as an alcoholic, Mum as a nag, or little brother
> as a swank."
> Green's Dictionary has "swank" as a verb meaning to work hard, but not as a
> noun.  Somehow, it seems that here "swank" should mean something more
> scandalous -- or is that my dirty mind working?
> Cricket news from the December 1 NY Times' sports pages:
> In particular, counties seem to be setting up their pitches to favor
> garden-variety bowlers who bowl fast, but not too fast. These bowlers are
> known as medium pacers, or derisively as dibbly-dobbly bowlers.
> =E2=80=9CThe pitches are a real problem,=E2=80=9D Andy Flower, a former
> Eng=
> land cricket
> coach, told CricInfo
> <
> http://www.espncricinfo.com/pakistan-v-england-2015-16/content/story/93730=
> 1.html>.
> =E2=80=9CSpin bowlers don=E2=80=99t develop because the medium pacers bowl
> =
> their overs and
> batsmen are not exposed to quality spin.
> =E2=80=9CBut when you get to international cricket, the pitches are
> complet=
> ely
> different, and the qualities that proved successful in county cricket will
> be of little use. Dibbly-dobbly bowlers are not going to win you test
> matches.=E2=80=9D
> "Coin Toss Retains Its Place in History, if Not in Cricket. "  NY Times,
> December 1, section B, p. 9
> This expression is not in Green's Dictionary of Slang.
> Testing your patience with my tendency to wander, the obituary of General
> Sir Robert Ford in the same paper gives us a truly wonderful name.
> He married Jean Claudia Pendlebury, who died in 2002. They had a son who
> survives him, as does his second wife, the former Caroline Margaret
> Peerless Leather.    NY Times, December 1, section B, p. 15
> Surely her parents must have been guilty of trade-mark infringement?
> --=20
> George A. Thompson
> The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998..
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