[Ads-l] attactics; chest bumping

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Sat Nov 14 13:28:41 UTC 2015

On Fri, 13 Nov 2015 08:23:36 ZONE -0500 Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>

CNN speaks of Donald Trump's "attactics" against Ben Carson.

Earlier this week they spent some time discussing chest bumps. No, not that

Does anyone know when this peculiar practice began?  I doubt that I was
aware of it more than a dozen years ago, if then.

Similarly (and maybe we've discussed this), I first became aware of
high-fiving in the early 1980s.


My response:

High-fiving was brought to national attention in the early 1980's by the "Fun Bunch", a group of players on the Washington DC football team with the controversial name of "Redskins".  After each Washington touchdown this group would gather in the end zone for a group high-five, and were frequently, perhaps invariably, shown on TV.  

Perhaps Jonathan Lighter's first awareness of high-fiving came from watching a Washington football game?  The timing is correct, but I have no idea of his TV habits.

>From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fun_Bunch

<begin quote>

Known for their choreographed group celebrations in the end zone (usually a group high-five) following a touchdown, the Fun Bunch's actions eventually resulted in a league-wide ban of "excessive celebration" in 1984.

The members of the Fun Bunch included the Redskins' wide receivers Art Monk, Virgil Seay, Charlie Brown, and Alvin Garrett, running back Otis Wonsley and tight ends Rick Walker, and Don Warren. Each won a Super Bowl with the Redskins, and three were chosen for the Pro Bowl. Art Monk was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The first high-five leap performed by the Fun Bunch occurred after an Alvin Garrett touchdown in a 1982 first round playoff game against the Detroit Lions.

<end quote>

I tend to doubt that the Fun Bunch invented the high-five.  If you think about it, you will realize the high-five is similar to the handshake, a means of saying "I am greeting you with no weapons in my right (dominant) hand".  

However, if the Fun Bunch popularized the gesture, then we have, quite unusually, a precise terminus ad quem for the popular usage of the gesture.

My impression is that the high-five was originally an African-American gesture (possibly from Africa?) but I have no evidence for that idea.

Nor can I say that the high-five spread to the general community due solely to the Fun Bunch.

In my observation, the high-five is used more as a congratulatory gesture, whereas the handshake (particularly among Europeans) is a greeting.  However, I once met the Atlanta Braves mascot in an otherwise-empty corridor in Philadelphia's Veteran Stadium and I high-fived him as a greeting---it seemed more appropriate than a handshake or a wave of the hand.

As for the chest-bump, I suspect its origin, or perhaps its popularity, also comes from professional football.

- Jim Landau

Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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