Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 16:33:24 +0000
From: Jim Rader jrader[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]M-W.COM
Subject: Re: HDAS dating practices (was: re: jerry)

I'd like to thank Jim Rader for his comments and corrections about
the entry for _Jerry_ (1) in the Random House Historical Dictionary
of American Slang. I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify our
practices in dating by secondary sources.


RHHDAS defines _jerry_ as "a section worker, orig. one who is Irish,"
though nothing in the cites justifies "orig. one who is Irish." The
Warman quote I give above could be read as equating _Jerries_ with
"Irish and ordinary labourers," but that's as far as it goes.

The passage in question reads "There have been times when the 'Jerries'
and 'Dagos' have got mixed." Since the whole passage is talking about
railroad workers, it seems very unlikely to me that this means "There
have been times when the section-workers and the Italian non-railroad-
section-workers got mixed." At the time of this reference, railroad
workers were chiefly Irish, Italian, or Chinese, and this passage
seems to be drawing a racial distinction. _Jerry_ being a common Irish
name of the period, I believe we are justified in assuming that in
this passage _Jerry_ means 'an Irish section worker', if not simply
'an Irish person'.

Jesse Sheidlower

If _Jerries_ is to be taken as an ethnic label, then it most likely
means "Irishmen," as opposed to _Dagos_ (presumably, "Italians"), but
then it wouldn't mean "Irish section hands" anymore than _Dago_ means
"Italian section hand.'' On the other hand, if _Dago_ is be equated with
"foreigner," when Warman speaks a little further down of "no
'foreigners,' but just Irish and ordinary labourers," then _Jerries_
could be equated with "Irish and ordinary labourers," i.e., the
_Jerries_ are the older stratum of section hands, some Irish and some
of indeterminate or irrelevant ancestry. In this case, _Jerry_ has
the meaning "section hand," with no ethnic implication--a sense
supported by th

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There are 18 messages totalling 613 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Ms. (9)
2. Videos we use in classes
3. Tom's service
4. Fred Cassidy (2)
5. Computer hacking (cracking) (2)
6. Distnc. btw. "crick"&"creek", GREASY/GREAZY (2)
7. In Memoriam, Tom Clark


Date: Thu, 5 Mar 1998 11:47:52 -0400
Subject: Ms.

I have also run into people wondering about the meaning of the term

When I was teaching English in the Czech Republic, and introduced
myself as Ms. Spalding, my teenaged students asked me, did your
husband die? Or are you a feminist? And/or a lesbian? (Feminism and
homosexuality, I since gathered, being mostly looked down upon by
Eastern Europe, my students weren't sure if feminism and
homosexuality might be linked ...)

I was shocked and amused, and the questions sparked a discussion on
whether or not it makes sense to have a word such as Ms. (Czech
language doesn't have it), and on views of feminism.

Another experience was during a temporary phone job in the fall, here
in the smaller, more traditional community of PEI, phoning alumni
of all ages. We addressed all women as Ms., as a policy, and
I found that the older women often corrected me with, I'm a
"Mrs.," dear.

These experiences brought me to this conclusion:

- When you live in a more traditional community, perhaps only
divorced or homosexual women, who have to brave being different
anyways, would use a less traditional term such as Ms.
- This may lead to the conclusion by others in such a community, that
the meaning of Ms. ACTUALLY IS "divorced, widowed or homosexual
- Obviously this was not the intent of those who first coined the
term! And hopefully we can continue to preserve its original sense,
that of NOT classifying women by their marital status.

- Ms.
Jane Spalding-Jamieson
UPEI Linguistics Student