[Ads-l] a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 16 13:55:56 EDT 2017


The 1869 reference Garson mentioned says that the "term 'weasel' or 'weasel skin' became among the lower orders synonymous with purse", and the 1880s newspaper article I mentioned said that "in Missouri and Iowa" the term "weasel-skin" was used to refer to coin purses, generally.  The purses and their lucky powers are mentioned in print in numerous places.


I've seen a couple descriptions of the purses that describe them as having the head and paws intact, like the fox stole in my parents attic back in the day.

________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 10:07:14 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Re: a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Have we any early documentation that "weasel" was in use to mean "purse" of
weasel-skin or otherwise?

Cf. comparable U.S. "eelskin" =3D "eelskin purse."

JL

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 12:43 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:

> Peter's 1905 citation included the interesting hypothesis of a "Notes
> and Queries" correspondent linking "Pop goes the weasel" to a
> weasel-skin purse. Here is an earlier presentation of that linkage
> although the sound of the clasp was not mentioned. (1869 is a late
> date; maybe it can be pushed back.)
>
> Date: January 21, 1869
> Periodical: The Cultivator & Country Gentleman
> Quote Page 62 and 63
> Publisher: Luther Tucker & Son, Albany, New York
> Database: Google Books Full View
>
> https://books.google.com/books?id=3D-S0_AQAAMAAJ&q=3D%
> 22weasel+skin%22#v=3Dsnippet&
>
> [Begin excerpt]
> "POP GOES THE WEASEL."
>
> Every one has heard the tune "Pop goes the Weasel," but it is not
> every one that knows what is meant by the phrase, or how it had its
> origin. Most people think it a mere unmeaning chorus, like "Hey Derry
> Down," words in which sound is consulted rather than sense.
>
> "Weasel" in this case has a meaning however, and as the word is
> connected with a rather curious old country superstition, an
> explanation may not prove uninteresting.
>
> Amongst the common people of the old country, there used to be a very
> prevalent idea that a purse made of weasel-skin would never get empty,
> and although weasel-skin purses never became very common, yet, in
> obedience to the popular superstition, a few persons have been known
> to carry them. But the term "weasel" or "weasel-skin," became among
> the lower orders synonymous with purse, and was at one time in quite
> common use. Hence, the phrase "Pop goes the Weasel," simply signifies
> "out comes your purse." Taken in connection with the rest of the song,
> it will be seen that the phrase has an appropriate meaning.    X
> [End excerpt]
>
> Garson
>
> On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 11:18 AM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com>
> wrote:
> > Robin Hamilton's Mudcat poster's version apparently appears in The
> Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book (1955) and The Annotated Mother Goose (1962).
> >
> >
> > I ran across an explanation published in 1905, based on the writer's
> recollection of the 1860s, which ties together the line, "that's where th=
e
> money goes", with the weasel's "pop".  That explanation also includes all
> three of Robin's verses.
> >
> >
> > As I wrote in an earlier post, "that's where the money goes," was a
> popular song in 1840s England, and the expression was frequently used
> idiomatically and set apart in quotations.  The various versions of the
> song recited various ways people spend or waste money, frequently
> contrasting how poor people "waste" money on necessities and rich people
> spend it on luxuries.
> >
> >
> > The first two verses provided by Robin are similar to that song, in tha=
t
> the first verse speaks of spending money on rice and the second verse of
> spending money drinking at the Eagle, which was a famous pub.  The second
> verse even borrows the line "that's where the money goes" from the earlie=
r
> song.
> >
> >
> > A 1905 recollection of the song suggests that "pop goes the weasel"
> refers to the sound made by the clasp on a weasel skin purse.
> >
> >
> > =E2=80=9CThis phrase certainly refers to a purse made of weasel-skin, w=
hich
> opened and closed with a snap.  The =E2=80=9Cpopping of the weasel=E2=80=
=9D in the song (I
> believe a sort of music-hall ditty of the fifties) is the opening of the
> purse, and consequent spending of money, as the context shows.  =E2=80=9C=
Bang went
> saxpence=E2=80=9D is a verbal, not a real, parallel.=E2=80=9D
> >
> >
> > Notes and Queries, 10th S. III, June 24, 1905, page 491.
> >
> >
> > To be fair, the same volume also contains other speculations, including
> pawning (popping) a tailor's "weasel" (a tailor's tool) to get money to
> drink at the Eagle tavern.
> >
> >
> > But weasel-skin purses were, in fact, a real thing.  They were
> considered lucky, and the superstition held that if you had a weasel skin
> purse, you would always have at least a little money.  In the 1880s, it w=
as
> said that, "in Iowa and Missouri such purses are so common as to give the
> generic name of 'weasel skin' to all manner of receptacles for coin." The
> Daily Morning Astorian (Oregon, March 4, 1887, page 3.
> >
> > It is possible that the original catch-phrase from the song merely
> related to the popping of one dancer under the arms of a couple, like a
> weasel popping into its den.  Weasels were said, at times, to "pop" into
> their dens.  A children's book published in 1850, for example, includes a
> poem about a child chasing a weasel who "popped" into its den with a stol=
en
> egg.
> >
> > "The Weasel, like thought, popped into his den.  The Boy was too big, o=
r
> the hole was too small, So for that time escaped they, egg, Weasel and al=
l!"
> >
> > The Child's Picture and Verse Book (Commonly called Otto Speckter's
> Fable Book - translated from German), New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1850,
> page 196.
> >
> > The later use in the "Pop Goes the Weasel" song borrowed from the theme
> and lyrics of the earlier "that's the way the money goes" song, with the
> addition of the new tune and catch-phrase from the dance, and with the
> added bonus of the weasel also being an allusion to a money purse.
> >
> > There was also an old idiom that was known at the time, "to catch a
> weasel asleep", which related to the difficulty of catching a weasel
> because they were so fast and restless.  And, when a weasel pops into its
> den, it is even more difficult to catch.
> >
> > But whatever the original meaning, it was not necessarily obvious to
> people at the time, as there were several early references that wondered
> what the "weasel" was and why it popped.
> >
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
> > Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 3:57 AM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton3 at VIRGINMEDIA.COM>
> > Subject:      Re: a little more on ejaculatory pop, etc.
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------
> >
> > An Hypothetical Reconstruction of a Three-Stanza version of =3DE2=3D80=
=3D9CPop
> go=3D
> > es the
> > weasel=3DE2=3D80=3D9D.
> >
> > 1. The Rice:
> >
> > Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
> > Half a pound of treacle,
> > Mix it up and make it nice,
> > Pop goes the weasel!
> >
> > 2. The Pub
> >
> > Up and down the City Road
> > In and out of the Eagle,
> > That's the way the money goes,
> > Pop goes the weasel!
> >
> > 3. The Monkey
> >
> > Every night when I get home
> > The monkey's on the table;
> > Take a stick and knock it off,
> > Pop goes the weasel!
> >
> > NOTES:
> >
> > The above could perhaps be described as an tentative core text.
> >
> > Stanza 1: Possibly the earliest extension, with the third line original=
ly
> > reading, =3DE2=3D80=3D9CThat's the way the money goes=3DE2=3D80=3D9D. W=
hen the Rice
> and=3D
> >  the Pub stanzas were
> > brought together, to avoid repetition the original third line in the
> above
> > quatrain --  "That's the way the money goes" -- was replaced by,
> =3DE2=3D80=3D9CM=3D
> > ix it up and
> > make it nice.=3DE2=3D80=3D9D
> >
> > Stanza 2: Probably originally a free-standing extension of the original
> > catchphrase, later combined with Stanza 1.
> >
> > Stanza 3: The monkey is added later still, and possibly first appears i=
n
> > America.  Line 1 in that stanza may end either with =3DE2=3D80=3D9Cget
> home=3DE2=3D80=3D
> > =3D9D [from the Eagle,
> > if the stanza occurs by itself] or =3DE2=3D80=3D9Cgo out=3DE2=3D80=3D9D=
 [to the
> Eagle, =3D
> > which is the
> > Necessary Variant when the three stanzas put together in sequence].
> >
> > Why no documentation to the above on my part? Well, the Opies in _The
> Singi=3D
> > ng
> > Game_ print the Rice and Monkey stanzas (but not the Pub stanza), but
> with =3D
> > no
> > source citations. A poster in the Mudcat forum
> > [http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=3D3D3183] gives the three stanza=
s
> > more-or-less as I provide them above, citing _Denslow's Mother Goose_
> (1901=3D
> > ),
> > but curse me if I can find them there
> > [https://www.gutenberg.org/files/18546/18546-h/18546-h.htm].
> >
> > Who am I supposed to believe, the Mudcat poster or my lying eyes?
> >
> > Anyway, I proffer the above, for what it=3DE2=3D80=3D99s worth, as a po=
ssible
> sta=3D
> > rting point
> > for an exploration of the textual development of the catchphrase,
> =3DE2=3D80=3D9C=3D
> > Pop goes the
> > weasel=3DE2=3D80=3D9D.
> >
> > Robin Hamilton, a.k.a. Frustrated In Darlington
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



--=20
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list