[Ads-l] Kavanaugh yearbook

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 28 14:12:15 UTC 2018

1907 "O. Henry" _The Trimmed Lamp_ (N.Y.: McClure, Philips) 139:  Talk
about your Russians — say, wouldn't they give you a painsky when it comes
to a scrapovitch?

1907-08 Warren G.  Davenport _Butte and Montana beneath the X-Ray_ 207
(London: C. F. Cazenove, 1908)  : Get your snoots wet with hooch or

1908 Helen Green _The Maison de Shine_  (N.Y.: B. W. Dodge) 208: It...put a
top-line act on the fritzsky.

Etc., etc.

"Brewski" may be the only ex. to have been fully lexicalized.


On Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 9:09 AM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 7:42 AM Amy West <medievalist at w-sts.com> wrote:
> > On 9/28/18 00:00, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> > > Date:    Thu, 27 Sep 2018 18:36:24 -0400
> > > From:    Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> > > Subject: Re: Kavanaugh yearbook
> > >
> > > A quick but non-definitive check reveals no Google Books exx. of
> _*ski_,
> > > 'glass, can, or bottle of beer.'
> > >
> > > JL
> >
> > So, is -ski a productive suffix that can get added to anything? Or does
> > it appear only in "brewski"? I find it interesting that the meaningful
> > root has been dropped, leaving only the suffix to carry the meaning by
> > association/context.
> >
> > And while Jonathan Lighter has pointed out the cutback from "whiskey",
> > coming from New Britain, CT, I've always interpreted it as a playful use
> > of a common Polish surname ending (e.g. Pulaski). Would "diminutive"
> > cover that playful aspect of the suffix? And, yes, I fully recognize
> > that the "playfulness" plays into/on/enacts an ethnic stereotype.
> >
> The suffix "-ski" has been fairly productive over the years -- lots of
> historical examples in Green's Dictionary of Slang, e.g. "darnfoolski" and
> "dumbski" in a 1916 word-list from Nebraska in Dialect Notes. Some relevant
> discussion:
> ---
> Connie Eble, _Slang and Sociability_ (UNC Press, 1996), p. 78
> _Brewski_ has long been a slang term for "beer", but the Polish-sounding
> _-ski_ is also a suffix added to the name of a person who does something
> stupid: "Toddski, you went away for the weekend with my car keys in your
> pocket."
> ---
> Tony Thorne, _Dictionary of Contemporary Slang_ (A&C Black, 2009), p. 394
> _-ski_, _-sky_ suffix American
> a humorous ending added, usually to slang terms, by teenagers and students.
> Examples are _finski_ and _buttinsky_. The termination indicates
> friendship, respect, acceptance into the group when attached to a proper
> name, e.g. 'Normski' (a black UK TV presenter). When terminating the name
> of an object, e.g. _brewski_, it denotes affectionate familiarity. The
> suffix occurs in Slavonic languages and in many Yiddish names.
> ---
> Adrian Akmajian, et al., _Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and
> Communication_ (MIT Press, 2017), p. 287
> Affixes can be used also, withthe slang suffix _-ski_ (or _-sky_), found on
> such words as _brewski_ 'beer', _tootski_ 'a puff on a marijuana
> cigarette', and _buttinski_ 'one who butts in'. It is interesting to note
> that _brew_ and _toot_ (with the same meanings as _brewski_ and _tootski_)
> were slang words that became stale or outmoded; the addition of the slang
> suffix _ski_ 'rejuvenated' the words. The origin of this slang use of
> _-ski_ is unknown, but it may be a linguistic parody on Polish or Russian
> words that end in a similar phonetic sequence.
> ---
> For East Coast high school kids in the early '80s, "brewski" would no doubt
> have been the most prominent application of the suffix, and likely the only
> one in common everyday use. It's entirely conceivable that "brewski" could
> get clipped to the final syllable along the lines of "za" for "pizza" and
> "rents" for "parents" -- especially in in-group slang of the type we see on
> display in Kavanaugh's calendars and yearbook entry.
> --bgz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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