"jawn" and other Philly slang; skeeve

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Mon May 16 05:39:26 UTC 2011

Dear all,
"Skeeve" and "Skeevy" is Northern New Jersey too, and was used in my high school in Morristown c. 1965.  In fact, there used to be a room in the boarders' area of the school (yes, I know, I went to a boys' Catholic prep school, although I was a local, and therefore a "dayhop") called the "skeeve room" where some boys, reportedly, got up to all kinds of stuff (such as various kinds of masturbation contests like "fill the cup").  One kid, of Italian descent, said that it came from something like [ski'vets] (schivezz' ?) in Italian, but I don't know enough dialectal Italian to know what that is.  No one at U. of Michigan knew what "skeevy" meant, except the Jerseyites and Philadelphians and maybe New Yorkers, of which there were quite a few.  The other terms were strictly Philly, and "down the shore" and "hoagie" were stereotypes--everybody knew them.  We used to talk about Philly guys "goin down the shore, down the road (all /o/'s = [EU]. down = [eo]) wavin the Amurrican flag."

Paul Johnston
On May 16, 2011, at 12:54 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      "jawn" and other Philly slang
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A reporter from the Philadelphia branch of The A.V. Club interviewed
> me about "jawn" and various other Philly-isms. I did my best on
> unfamiliar terrain:
> http://www.avclub.com/philadelphia/articles/the-etymology-of-jawn,55508/
> The ADS-L discussion I mention is this, from back in 2000:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0011A&L=ADS-L&P=R3518
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer
> http://benzimmer.com/
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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