Stella Johnson, "Don't Come Over", (Decca), 1936

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 30 19:06:39 UTC 2011

On Mon, May 30, 2011 at 12:55 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> Are we sure the "they" in "all the boys
> know they're crazy about ..." refers to mammy & sister rather than
> the boys themselves? Â I agree that your version of the line would
> have been more plausible here, although in that case the mammy and
> sister would have had to be (e.g.) sitting on the dock rather than
> putting on a front.

>From my hearing of the song, it's more than plausible that _they_
referes to the "boys" and not to the women.

There would have had to have been a sea-change in BE slang between the
date of this recording and the '40's, since to say that the women were
_standing_ or _walking/strolling_ on the _block_ and were crazy about
_cock_ would be to say that they were stone lesbians. That the
always-used-by-everyone-everywhere _cock_ could possibly be
interpreted by anyone to mean anything other than "vagina, female
genitalia" was something that I didn't become truly aware of till I
was ca. 30 y.o., in the '60's, when um-literature - at that time,
strictly a white specialty - had become readily available. It *still*
doen't feel right.

(FWIW, nowadays, there's a surfeit of um-literature by black authors,
both male and female.)

The singer was more likely to have been thinking of "dick" rather than
"prick." But, youneverknow. In my day, insulting someone by saying
that he was a "dick" or a "prick" was, IME, totally not done amongst
us coloreds - there's no special reason for this; it's just one of
those things, like regarding _peckerwood_ as an insult, whereas, among
the peckerwoods themselves, it ranges from neutral to cute, or the
difference between "Missouri hoosier" and "Indiana hoosier" - except
insofar as our speech has been corrupted by association with The Other

Probably on my first day in the first grade, I learned "cocksucker" as
a totally-meaningless epithet. At the time, I considered it to be a
step downward from plain "sucker," whatever that meant, both words
being freely batted about the schoolyard as trivial "insults."

IME, rappers appear to be eshchewing the unclear _cocksucker_ in favor
of the totally-unambiguous _dicksucker_.

To my ear, "the cops" sounds like "the cop" - being used like unto
"the man," which can mean "the police" -  and "hops" like 'hop." But,
of course,


OT: euphemism from JET new to me, but probably well-known, in general:

_Married, but dating_ = "living in adultery"

OT: BTW, did anyone else here who's also on the ANS listserv note the
definition of _die hard_ as approx. "refusing to admit one's guilt and
to beg  forgiveness from God and man prior to the execution of one's
capital sentence"? (The movie, Die Hard, is currently being re-run on
local TV.)

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 -

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