[Ads-l] paddy wagon

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jul 28 21:56:05 EDT 2017


Given the well-documented use of “Paddy” to designate Irishmen (and perhaps less so Irishwomen) back to the 18th c., it’s hard for me to think that this has any other reference.  I assumed that the paddies in question were in the wagon rather than in control of it (as cops), i.e. a wagon to transport paddies, but I admit I can adduce no specific evidence for that assumption.  Well, a Jew wagon (http://www.pritzkermilitary.org/explore/museum/digital-collection/view/oclc/875586098) is clearly a wagon for transporting Jews, not one driven by Jews, but I concede that’s not decisive. 

LH 

P.S.  There’s also a corpse wagon, apparently a synonym for hearse, which isn’t a wagon pulled by corpses, but there may be independent motivation for that fact.

> On Jul 28, 2017, at 5:09 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> Even if it's true that it's a reference to Irishmen, they were typically hired as policemen who manned and operated the police wagons, so it's more descriptive than derogatory. Not every race/ethnic reference is a slur.
> ________________________________
> From: Wilson Gray<mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: ‎7/‎28/‎2017 15:54
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU<mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Re: paddy wagon
> 
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: paddy wagon
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> I wonder when Al discovered that it was a slur? I spent the greater portion
> of my life thinking that _paddy-wagon_ < "patty-wagon" < "patrol-wagon,"
> with no reference to race or ethnicity. I've been familiar with _paddy_
> itself since the beginning of time, but only as a synonym of e.g. _fade_
> "white person" (as opposed to _shade_ "black person").
> 
> On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 4:29 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> 
>> The Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC's _Deadline: White House_:
>> 
>> "[Now President Trump is] talking about 'paddy wagons' which, by the way,
>> is a *slur*, Mr. President!"
>> 
>> JL
>> 
>> --
>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>> 
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>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> 
> 
> 
> 
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> 
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> 
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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