[Ads-l] Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Jun 14 06:58:55 EDT 2018


(see below)

________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of Douglas G. Wilson <...>
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 7:54 PM
To: ...
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Put the kibosh on: Evidence it referred to a whip, #1

On 6/6/2018 2:13 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
> In 2017, Stephen Goranson, Matthew Little and I published the book Origin
>
> of Kibosh (in the expression put the kibosh on.)  The origin of the expression
>
> had long been mysterious, but thanks primarily to Stephen Goranson, the answer
>
> is now clear, at least in the view of the three authors:  We deal originally with the
>
> kurbash (a type of whip made of hippopotamus or rhinoceros hide and shaped like
>
> a stick. This kurbash is also occasionally spelled kibosh.
>
>
> I'm not sure when the book will be reviewed in the scholarly journals, but I would like now
>
> to share with ads-l the seven main pieces of evidence that the expression put the kibosh on
>
> referred originally to the kurbash.  Here is the first installment:
>
>
> PIECE OF EVIDENCE #1:
>
>
>   A line in the poem (ca. 1830) Penal Servitude! specifically defines the
>
> noun kibosh as a lash. The key verse in the poem (supposedly written by
>
> a convict who has returned from imprisonment in Australia) is:
>
>
>
>               There is one little dodge I am thinking,
>
>               That would put your profession all to smash,
>
>               It would put on the kibosh like winking,
>
>               That is if they was to introduce the lash.
>
>
>
> The poet is aware that his readers are likely unaware of the meaning put
>
> on the kibosh and therefore promptly clarifies: That is if they was to introduce
>
> the lash.
>
>
> The meaning of the verse is that the application of the kibosh (a type of whip)
>
> would bring your criminal profession to an immediate halt. The kurbash/kibosh
>
> was a fearsome instrument of punishment.
>
>
> This poem was the starting point for the origin of put the kibosh on.
>
>
> Gerald Cohen
>
>
> Book information:
>
> Gerald Cohen, Stephen Goranson, and Matthew Little. Origin of
>
>       Kibosh: Routledge Studies in Etymology. (London and New York:
>
>       Routledge; Taylor & Francis). ISBN 9781138628953.  The book
>
>       gives 2018 as the date of publication, but it was in fact available
>
>       already by mid-October 2017.
--

My perception is a little different. I believe the most natural
interpretation assigns this poem's "kibosh" about the same meaning it
has today, i.e., something like "stopper" (I think this is used
elsewhere in the same poem) meaning "that which checks or halts
[something]". I do NOT believe the poet probably intended "kibosh" to be
equivalent or synonymous to "whip" or "lash" or to denote a whip or
lash. I think the third line in the stanza in question roughly repeats
the second line, probably just to make up a quatrain.

Of course there may be some poetic license and my assessment (like
others') may not be 100% decisive.

I am NOT asserting that the modern word "kibosh" cannot be descended
from "kibosh" = "kurbash" meaning "[a type of] whip" or so. I don't
believe the poem necessarily contributes any significant information
about "kibosh" etymology.

I have a few other notions but of course I haven't given this subject
much attention compared to the three authors. I have read PART of the
book at Google Books. I have read Gold's paper and something by Maher
(these suggest different etymologies). I do not believe I know a
definite "kibosh" etymology. I can make further remarks, either on or
off the mailing list, if they would be welcome or useful.

-- Doug Wilson
***
Hello Doug Wilson,

Thanks for your views. As you might expect, I see some things differently. Rather than reply in detail now (and a similar objection is discussed in the book), at the moment let me merely say that your "just to make up a quatrain" imagined scenario might, if it were accepted (never mind that line), tend to obscure the apposition between the kibosh and the lash, which, after all, is an implement for striking, as is the kurbash. Perhaps others may comment before I (or Gerald or Matthew) may return to this. The National Library of Australia has posted an enlargeable color photo of the broadside, with the full text, here:
https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-72880691/view?partId=nla.obj-72880744#page/n0/mode/1up
[https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-72880691/representativeImage?wid=250]<https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-72880691/view?partId=nla.obj-72880744#page/n0/mode/1up>

Penal servitude! <https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-72880691/view?partId=nla.obj-72880744#page/n0/mode/1up>
nla.gov.au



Stephen Goranson
http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
Stephen Goranson's Home Page - Duke University<http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/>
people.duke.edu
"Celsus of Pergamum: Locating a Critic of Early Christianity," Ch. 30 in The Archaeology of Difference: Gender, Ethnicity, Class and the "Other" in Antiquity: Studies in Honor of Eric M. Meyers (AASOR 60/61, 2007 ...






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