"Call-and-response" slang

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Jun 18 14:06:55 UTC 2004

It is so refreshing to see the use of "unprintable" words, jokes, etc. on
this list.

Most of you under 50 or so probably do not ever remember a time when even
scholarly journals would self censor themselves thus distorting the record.

Believe me that it was not that long ago that such prohibitions existed, and
that I lived through them.

If anyone is interested in a discussion of this problem they should look up
Gershon Legman's review article "'Unprintable ' Folklore: The Vance Randolph
Collection" In The Journal of American Folklore
The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 103, No. 409. (Jul. - Sep., 1990),
pp. 259-300.

I am putting up this citation just so that you will be able to evaluate your
sources since quite often I have met younger scholars who are not even aware
it even existed and thus are often too willing to accept  intentionally
corrupted texts at their face value.

When I was a young graduate student in anthropology quite often we would
pass jokes which we would never dare to publish even though we all knew
them. When I was doing my PhD research in Arkansas, Vance Randolph's
territory, I constantly heard such exressions as "As stiff as a preacher's
prick in a cow's cunt", but I would never have dreamed of publishing them.
Or how many of you know that one of the verses to the old fiddle tune
"Leather Breeches" includes the line, "standing up against the wall with her
cunt hanging out"?

I could give you a thousand of these but for the most part they do not
appear in the literature.

Most of them due to self censorship have disappeared from the record but if
you read folklore texts you quite often can reconstruct them from what
evidence is available.

Oh well. Enough of my rant but believe me when I tell you that Legman's
article is worth reading as a guide to the subject.

Page Stephens

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Bowie" <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 7:34 AM
Subject: Re: "Call-and-response" slang

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "Call-and-response" slang
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET>
> : Back in the middle 'Fifties, there were some slang expressions that
> : consisted of two parts: one person said one part and the other person
> : replied with the other part. The calls continue, more or less, to be
> : used today, but, for some reason, the responses have been lost. A
> : couple of examples are:
> : Call: Hang loose!
> : Response: Swing easy!
> : Call: How are they (understood to refer to one's testicles) hanging?
> : Response I: Side by side, for power!
> : Response II: One behind the other, for speed!
> : I haven't tried to keep count, but, it seems to me, "How's _it_
> : hanging?" is, today, heard _far_ more often than what is, for me, the
> : original version.
> For me growing up (80s, Southern Maryland) i wasn't familiar with "How're
> they hangin'?" I did, however, know that if someone said "How's it
> hangin'?"--and if there were no school officials nearby--the only correct
> response was a slightly drawn-out and emphatic "Long and low."
> David Bowie                                         http://pmpkn.net/lx
>     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
>     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
>     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

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