Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Mar 13 05:29:59 UTC 2001

At 12:06 PM -0500 3/13/01, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
>Larry writes:
>No idea on the origin, although if I had to bet it would be on
>Sicilian Italian rather than French.  Just a guess, though.  Here's
>two other spellings to check (there were no google hits on the
>version given), both evidently representing the same lexical item,
>with the approximate meaning of 'megillah'.
>                                  ********
>... Which, of course, is Hebrew for 'scroll', specifically a book of the
>(Hebrew) Bible written by a scribe on a scroll, and especially at this time
>of year the Megillat Esther, the Book of Esther, which records the legend
>celebrated in the festival of Purim, whose events include the complete
>reading of that Book, which can be rather tedious (especially in Hebrew for
>those with limited or zero comprehension thereof, and especially in
>contrast to the noisy and joyous play of the events, or Purim Shpiel in
>Yiddish), which has given rise to the expression "the whole megillah" 'the
>entire process or affair', which in turn and at last leads to the sense in
>which Larry is using the word, 'big noisy doing', whether of conflict (his
>first two cites) or of celebration (his third).
>      <panting for breath>
Actually, Mark--whose Hebrew and Yiddish are no doubt far better than
mine, especially siince I didn't even remember what the whole
megillah WAS (literally speaking)--bears out the appropriateness of
my hastily chosen gloss, since IIRC the variously spelled and
contextualized web cites of "festoosh" we've collected do in fact
encompass both the "big noisy conflict" and "big noisy celebration"
senses.  Yet another piece of evidence for an isomeme uniting
Southern- Italian-American and Ashkenazic-Jewish-American lifestyles
(or maybe it was an areal feature from contact situtations in the
Lower East Side).


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