[Ads-l] monkey in the middle (1952)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 27 18:22:00 UTC 2020

> On Jan 27, 2020, at 1:13 PM, Alice Faber <afaber at PANIX.COM> wrote:
> What you're calling "saluggi" is, I think, what we in the far-north Bronx (i.e., central Westchester) called "keep-away".
> AF

So there are isoglosses.  We used “keep away” too, but again, there was this sharp contrast

Let’s play keep away; I’ll be it.
Let’s play saluggi; I’ll be it.

The former game ended when the kids got tiring of playing it or when the “it” caught the object in question.  The latter “game” ended when the “it” broke down in tears.


> On 1/27/20 10:27 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>> On Jan 27, 2020, at 10:24 AM, Margaret Winters <mewinters at WAYNE.EDU> wrote:
>>> I'm pretty sure we didn't have anything called "Saluggi" - but I'm remembering about a decade later, Brooklyn instead of Washington Heights, maybe just for boys…??
>> Our group was indeed just boys, but I don’t know if there was a crucial gender divide. My previous dialectological inquiries (i.e. asking random people my age who grew up in NYC) do suggest a localized use within Manhattan extending to the east side as well as Washington Heights, but I don’t have enough data points to propose an isogloss.
>>> ----------------------------
>>> Former Provost
>>> Professor Emerita - French and Linguistics
>>> Wayne State University
>>> Detroit, MI  48202
>>> mewinters at wayne.edu
>>> ________________________________
>>> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>> Sent: Monday, January 27, 2020 10:07 AM
>>> Subject: Re: monkey in the middle (1952)
>>> Hunh.  For me, b. 1945 NYC, growing up in Washington Heights, there were not two versions of a single game, but two very different “games”. The actual game was Monkey-in-the-MIddle (aka Keepaway).  The one where you (not me) take something from a younger or vulnerable kid (sometimes me), perhaps a hat or a baseball glove, and pass it back and forth among your confederates, was Saluggi.  At least that’s how I’d spell it, given what I remember about its pronunciation at the time.  So you could say “Let’s play Monkey-in-the-MIddle/Keepaway, I’ll be it”.  But you could not, in the early to mid 1950s, call “Let’s play Saluggi, I’ll be it”.  Barring clinical masochism, I suppose, but we didn’t know from that.
>>> LH
>>>> On Jan 27, 2020, at 7:48 AM, Geoffrey Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU> wrote:
>>>> Like Margaret and Mark I remember the quote game unquote, and not with fondness. I only remember
>>>> the malicious version, and I, being the nerdy kid, was usually the victim. Again, early sixties.
>>>> Geoff
>>>> Geoffrey S. Nathan
>>>> WSU Information Privacy Officer (Retired)
>>>> Emeritus Professor, Linguistics Program
>>>> http://blogs.wayne.edu/proftech/
>>>> geoffnathan at wayne.edu
>>>> From: Mark Mandel<mailto:markamandel at GMAIL.COM>
>>>> Sent: Monday, January 27, 2020 12:52 AM
>>>> Subject: Re: monkey in the middle (1952)
>>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>> Poster:       Mark Mandel <markamandel at GMAIL.COM>
>>>> Subject:      Re: monkey in the middle (1952)
>>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> I do not like the memories this brings up in me.
>>>> I knew the expression all too well as a schoolboy in New York in the 1960s.
>>>> After school some of my classmates would play this "game" (also called
>>>> "keep-away") with my hat or other possession snatched from me, yelling
>>>> "Monkey in the middle!" as they threw my property to each other over my
>>>> head and I ran frantically between them, trying in vain to reach one of
>>>> them before they could throw it out of my reach.
>>>> MAM
>>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 6:08 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>>> The children's game "monkey in the middle" is in OED3 (Sept. 2002 update)
>>>>> from 1980. Here are some cites from New Jersey newspapers in the '50s.
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43065809/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>>>> Belleville (NJ) Times, July 24, 1952, p. 6, col. 6
>>>>> Mrs. Virtue, one of our directors, made up some five bean bags, and taught
>>>>> us the game "monkey in the middle." It sure has had great success and is
>>>>> enjoyed by youngsters of all ages.
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43065650/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>>>> Verona-Cedar Grove (NJ) Times, July 28, 1955, p. 2, col. 5
>>>>> Despite the heat wave the children seemed to have quite an active week on
>>>>> the Forest Avenue playground. Although checkers, kings, Chinese checkers.
>>>>> Mad Maze, Lucky Shot and horseshoes were the most popular, there were still
>>>>> some badminton, softball, dodge ball, spud and Monkey in the Middle games.
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43053896/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>>>> Courier-News (Plainfield, NJ), June 11, 1957, p. 25, col. 1
>>>>> More than 200 children and their parents participated in the annual picnic
>>>>> and field day of the Hebrew Institute held Sunday at Green Brook Park...
>>>>> Awards in games were as follows: Relay -- Jay Cherlow, Jack Ruden, Larry
>>>>> Sletzinger, Joel Taub, Jonathan Lippman, Mark Hitzig, Marilyn Siegel; nut
>>>>> potato race, Jay Lichtenstein; Monkey in the Middle, Joy Herzog... [etc.]
>>>>> ---
>>>>> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/43059206/monkey_in_the_middle/
>>>>> The Millburn & Short Hills (NJ) Item, July 11, 1957, p. 6, col. 4
>>>>> The middle age group have a variety of games: volley ball, relay races
>>>>> (which are very exciting), giant steps, monkey in the middle, red light,
>>>>> red rover, and checkers. The wee ones have two favorite games, which they
>>>>> play constantly: Simon Says, and Duck, Duck, Goose.
>>>>> ---
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