Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 22:32:13 EST From: Michael Montgomery Subject: swan/swanny I have heard "swanny" all my life from my mother, who was born in southern Alabama. "Swan" is what I heard from my fellow East Tennesseans, however, when I was growing up. So there may be an Upper South/Lower South disctinction here as with a number of other items. The usual "etymology" of the term is from Scots "I's warrant (ye)" = "I shall warrant you" or more loosely, "I'll guarantee you". Somewhere in my youth I surmised or it was explained to me that the form in more recent times is understood to be a euphemism for "swear". The latter word was to be avoided because Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount called for his followers not "to swear by any power in heaven or on earth" (loose quotation from memory) and so the use of "swan/swanny" as an expression of either disgust/anger or surprise at least avoided the letter of this Scriptural injunction. If I'm not mistaken, this was also taken to heart during colonial days, especially by Quakers, when people refused to take oaths such as "I do solemnly swear ..." Our Presidential and other oaths of office read, or used to read, as follows: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) ..." Anyone know for sure? Michael Montgomery, Dept of English, U of South Carolina, Columbia SC 29208