"Ish Ga Fret" (I should worry) in 1914 baseball article

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon Sep 8 12:59:25 UTC 2003

Imagine? What imagining? You don't remember "donkey shame"?


If what Evan Morris says about there being a 1913 popular song by Sam Lewis
called "Isch Gabibble" is the theory that Green and Chapman hold, then my
searching of ancestry.com would confirm that the song popularized the term.

I searched from 1908-1913 using "ga bibble" "ki bibble" "ka bibble."  I got
zero hits 1908-1912.  In 1913, I got hits from Modesto(CA) for "ich ka
bibble," from Whichita Falls(TX) for "I-sha-ga-bibble"(in a furniture store
ad), Sheboygan(WI) "Ish-ga-bibble" (the bowling team!)

Can you imagine how they would have mangled "Danke Schoen" if IT had been
the 1913 hit!

----- Original Message -----
From: "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2003 12:45 AM
Subject: Re: "Ish Ga Fret" (I should worry) in 1914 baseball article

>  There are various notions as to the origin of "ish-kabibble" (e.g., in
>  Green's dictionary ... and Chapman's [same notion] ... and Partridge's
>  [different one]). I don't know whether any of these is substantiated or
>  even plausible. If the phrase has been heavily mangled, then the
>  "ish"/"ich" may be spurious along with the rest. If the phrase has not
>  so severely altered, then someone familiar with German dialects could
>  perhaps make a good guess. I am ignorant of such things, so I can make
>  a silly wild speculation, viz. that "ga" could be "gah" = "gehe" = English
>  "go". The "bibble" might could = German "bibbern" (= "jitter" in English),
>  and perhaps the whole construction is 'future' or something similar, with
>  "gehen" as an 'auxiliary'. Another possibility (?): "ga" = German "gar",
>  just an intensifier. Either way the expression would be sarcastic,
>  analogous but not exactly equivalent to the above expression with
>  And of course the "ga" could also be the "ge-" customary in German past
>  participles etc. ... but then what's the "bibble"?
>  -- Doug Wilson

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 432-3099

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