"slut" in the news

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 30 06:37:49 UTC 2011

On Sun, May 29, 2011 at 2:35 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
> _skank_ [means] 'female slut'.

That'a really interesting, that _skank_ would come to have a
derivation based on another word. In my youth, in BE, _slut_ was
strictly a literary term and _skank_ was grammatically feminine.

This was way back when, ca' the late '40's, when I used to poder
whether "skink" or "skank" might be the peoper spelling, if there
should ever arise an occasion necessitating that the word be wriiten.

The word had a several manings, as is usually the case with slang. The
primary one was possibly,

"A girl so physically unattractive that it would take some nerve for
her to say no, were a boy desperate enough to have to bother with ugly

But that was at that time and in that place. Besides, it was all
theoretical, in any case. What do little boys 10-13 know? As we got
older, _skank_ was almost replaced by _skag_ and both came to be
restricted to girls who were from the Pruitt-Igoe Homes, i.e. too poor
to afford the "catching-clothes" for substituting sexiuality for
physical beauty. Once baby had developed front, back, and
side-to-side, face ceased to be the sole criterion upon which a girl's
desirability was judged, the still-primarily-white concept of
_butterface_ being non-existent.

Historical note: the Igoe section, named for a locally-important white
man, was originally meant to be for poor white people. But, by the
time that the projects were completed, the U.S. had pretty much ended
the practice allowing federal funds to be openly used locally for the
maintenance of segregation. Once that it became clear that the Igoe
buildings were no longer for whites only/no colored allowed, the
entire project became de facto for blacks only.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list