[Ads-l] Another oldie turns up in print, finally

Joel Berson berson at ATT.NET
Mon Jul 18 20:48:38 EDT 2016


I can't speak for during WW II, but definitely in the 1950s scratching someone's palm was understood by children of the early teens as asking another for sex, specifically intercourse.  It definitely would not be used to signal affection for or request affection from a parent or other adult!  It was not meant as an actual offer; I suspect that a recipient following it up would be repulsed, and accused of being queer, or a slut, or similar.  Rather, it was a test of sexual knowledge vs. ignorance -- did the recipient know what it meant?  The reaction was what was important -- it would determine in what manner the recipient would be ridiculed.

As Wilson noted -- "Children using that gesture to ask one another for sex and having any idea
of what sex is are two different things" -- the initiator might not know what intercourse really was.

How the scratched palm metaphor arose I have no idea.  That question puzzled me at the time.


Joel


      From: "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
 To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU 
 Sent: Monday, July 18, 2016 1:47 PM
 Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Another oldie turns up in print, finally
   
Wilson, I'll respond to this offline.  My comment was nothing more than a joking remark on what I took to be a poorly phrased explanation by you.  I assume that children were not knowingly asking for sex, but that they might ask for affection using the same sign that an adult might use to ask for sex.


John Baker


-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Wilson Gray
Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2016 10:25 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Another oldie turns up in print, finally

On Sun, Jul 17, 2016 at 9:57 PM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:

> I'm disturbed by the suggestion that little children were asking for sex
> during WWII.
>

Children using that gesture to ask one another for sex and having any idea
of what sex is are two different things.
...

-- 
-Wilson



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