Schlepp from Podunk U
Posted: 09 December 2011 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1190
Joined  2007-04-28

In the glossary of his 1989 book Liar’s Poker Michal Lewis defines this as

Term of derision. Describes an unsophisticated graduate of an inferior American university.

Wikipedia has Podunk so you can see where it comes from. I hadn’t heard either though I had jerkwater town and Dogpatch. Is Podunk still used? Lewis’s context is Wall Street investment bank (boo!) trader usage.

Are there equivalents in other languages? No British one springs to mind.

[ Edited: 09 December 2011 04:15 AM by venomousbede ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 December 2011 04:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  319
Joined  2007-02-13

I’m a little confused by the use of the word “schlepp” here.  I believe it’s from Yiddish and means roughly “to make a somewhat unpleasant journey” (e.g. schlepp to the laundromat).  So I wouldn’t deride the guy by calling him a “schlepp from Podunk U”. 

Podunk is still used and widely known in the U.S., though kids might say “East Buttfuck” to convey the same idea.  Ronald Reagan said “South Succotash”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 December 2011 05:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  407
Joined  2007-02-14

The verb שלעפן (shlepn) in Yiddish means roughly ‘to drag, haul’. It is related to Middle High German sleppen. It occurs in modern German as schleppen.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 December 2011 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2892
Joined  2007-02-26

Everything I know about the use of Yiddish words in North American English I learnt from Mad Magazines…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 December 2011 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  700
Joined  2007-02-07

A schlepp is a tiresome journey but also a sad-sack tiresome person. At least it is among those that I know who use the term.

Use of Podunk is alive and well.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 December 2011 09:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  392
Joined  2007-10-20

Sorry, but my BS sensor kind of started sending out signals when I read that. It sounds a bit contrived. How many times a week would you have to describe a yokel from a small college in order for the so-called slang term to be cast in bronze such that the author would feature it in a book as a set phrase? What, the hick grads were descending on Wall Street?

Then there’s the number of elements to the term, namely three. 1. Schlepp. 2. Podunk. 3. ______ U. Most really catchy slang terms are sparse.

Then there’s the combination of Yiddish and downhome American. Quite possible on Wall Street, but again, is it really that memorable?

Then there’s the fact that a whole lot of these phrases are a staple of the book and maybe even its selling point. The wikipedia article has a few examples.

Yeah, I’d say the BS factor is pretty high. it is certainly a phrase that could be used by anyone with the requisite background, but it just has the earmarks of something made up on the spot. Books with the supposed inside track on slang have been around for a long time.

Now, Bumfuck, Iowa, there’s a slang term for you.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 December 2011 10:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  803
Joined  2007-06-20
venomousbede - 09 December 2011 04:08 AM

Are there equivalents in other languages? No British one springs to mind.

Indeed - which says something about an interesting difference between British and American society, although I’m not sure what, exactly. Possibly the fact that our upper class always had its roots deep in the countryside (its wealth being based on land ownership, its [stately] homes being outside the Home Counties) and therefore somebody from Borsetshire was not automatically to be sneered at, since they might have the contacts that could get you an invitation to stay at Borchester Hall, home of the Earl of Borset.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 December 2011 12:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  237
Joined  2007-02-16

English equivalents? Tony Hancock almost established East Cheam as a contender!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 December 2011 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3337
Joined  2007-01-29

Yeah, I’d say the BS factor is pretty high. it is certainly a phrase that could be used by anyone with the requisite background, but it just has the earmarks of something made up on the spot. Books with the supposed inside track on slang have been around for a long time.

You are missing a crucial factor.  This is not a book about slang in general, it’s a book about a particular small set of people, with a glossary of the slang they use.  Of course “Schlepp from Podunk U” isn’t a phrase in general use; the whole point of small-group jargon is that it’s restricted to the small group.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 11 December 2011 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  392
Joined  2007-10-20

True enough. I wasn’t there in the offices to say it didn’t occur as a slang term.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Gins and tonic      Jimmies ››