N.Y. Observer: "shyster" is anti-semitic slur

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 16 16:58:24 UTC 2003

>The lead editorial in this week's _New York Observer_ takes
>the _National Review_ to task for using _shyster_ in a
>headline. They call it "a deplorable and demeaning word which
>has traditionally been loaded with anti-Semitism," and make
>some etymological comments that will no doubt upset Professor

I remember Jerry's and Barry's postings on _shyster_, and the
evidence for its derivation from the earlier cant word _shiser_ and,
ultimately, from Ger. _Scheisser_ (= someone worth shit).  But the
"loaded with anti-Semitism" claim seems not to state an incorrect
etymological theory (although From what Jesse says there's an
incorrect theory provided in the article as well) as much as describe
what A. W. Read would have called the "trajectory" of the lexical
item through history.    Can we assume that this, if true, involves
the interference between _shyster_ and Shylock?  (This would amount
to a Jewish version of the "niggardly" flap from a few years ago.)
Or is something else going on?


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