Guy (as in ‘doll’)
Posted: 04 August 2018 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A letter to the (London) Times a couple of days ago asserted that guy in the slang sense ‘man’ derives from the Yiddish goy.

The OED entry is unhelpful. It says this sense is ‘orig. U.S.’ but rather contradictorily derives it from guy meaning ‘effigy of Guy Fawkes traditionally burnt on the evening of November the Fifth’ and its extended sense ‘grotesquely dressed person’. But this entry dates from 1900, at which time I don’t think they knew a lot of Yiddish in Oxford. They included another usage of guy with a single citation from 1835, which certainly sounds as though it might be goy, but the OED shows no inkling that it might have a separate etymology from the Bonfire Night one:

1835 Tait’s Edinb. Mag. New Ser. 2 451 These crimps are Jews; there are a few Christians who profess the same commercial faith, and they are called guys. These crimps and guys prey like sharks on the unfortunate sailors.

Has anyone got more up-to-date information?

[ Edited: 05 August 2018 12:07 AM by Syntinen Laulu ]
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Posted: 04 August 2018 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Merriam-Webster, American Heritage, Green’s, and Liberman all give Guy Fawkes as the origin. But I agree that old OED entry is confusing and poorly constructed—I mean it gives the sense a US origin, but then a first cite from a British source. (That’s probably an example of the dictionary’s older bias for British sources.)

The Yiddish goy explanation does correspond chronologically with the appearance of the U.S. sense, as the first major wave of Yiddish speakers to the U.S. was in the 1840s, but that coincidence is the only thing that recommends that explanation.

As for the 1835 crimps and guys citation, crimp meaning swindler dates to the eighteenth century, and guy in the sense of fool dates to at least 1818 in British slang. I’d say this citation is just a more specialized application of those more general terms and has nothing to do with goy.

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Posted: 05 August 2018 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I just looked up the OED entry for goy (published 1972) and find that the first citation is the same 1835 one!

I don’t see anything inherently unlikely in the idea that the Jewish crimps called the non-Jews in their trade goys, and that this epithet passed into general dockside use; whereas there’s no obvious reason why they would have had a grotesque or foolish appearance.

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Posted: 05 August 2018 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Lacking more than supposition about the origin of guys, I had a look at Tait’s Edinburgh Magazine.  Google has digitized it.
Here is the OED source:  https://books.google.com/books?id=198RAAAAYAAJ&q=these+crimps#v=snippet&q=these%20crimps&f=false

The article defines crimps as, among other unsavory things, people who sell sailors caps and clothing at highly inflated prices.  They also
perform kidnappings.  Those who, in addition to those qualifications mentioned above, are Christians, are called guys.

The magazine article does not say if they are called guys by the crimps, or by others.
There is nothing in the magazine to suggest that the Jewish crimps are Yiddish speakers.  I have no inkling of the Yiddish speaking
Jewish population in Edinburgh in 1835, or if the tale of crimps and guys took place there at all.

Given all of that, I’ll refrain from stretching exercises until more evidence comes forth.

Edited to add- this is a very specific use of guys, not a general reference to men.

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Posted: 05 August 2018 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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But note that 1835 citation under goy is in brackets with this note: “Quot. 1835 may not belong here.”

Green’s has this 1768 citation for goy:

[1768 J. Baretti An Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy II 105: Yet this is no hardship on them, because they never voluntarily mix with the Gohims, as they [i.e. the Jews] call us, and superstitiously abhor all food that is not dressed by cooks of their own persuasion].

The brackets are because the word has not been assimilated into English at this point. It’s still a foreign term.

The next citation is:

1841 G. Borrow Zincali (1846) 88: The Gentiles, by whom they are hated and despised, and whom they hate and despise, under the names of Busnees and Goyim.

So it would not be unreasonable to find an 1835 use of goy. That’s about when the term was entering into English use.

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Posted: 06 August 2018 12:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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There was a guy article in the Guardian recently though in a different context. I can still remember being surprised to hear s female American backpacker in Germany addressing her female buddies as guys in about 1981. I had always thought it was sn Americanism referring to males as in Guys and Dolls.

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Posted: 06 August 2018 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The non-gendered use of the plural guys, according to Green’s, goes back to at least 1979, which squares with Venomousbede’s recollection from 1981. Oxford Dictionaries (not the OED, whose entry is old), Merriam-Webster, and American Heritage all include it, so it’s a well established, albeit informal, usage. Some, like Jane Garvey in the aforementioned Guardian piece, object to it, but I think that it’s a generational thing. (Although, Garvey is a year younger than me, and I have no objection to it. But then, I’m a guy.) I’ve asked my students about this one, and most see no issue with addressing mixed-gender groups as guys. A few more wince at using it for all-female groups, but none take serious umbrage with it.

It fills a need for informally addressing a mixed-gender group of peers. There’s no other good term for this. Ladies and gentlemen is formal. Boys and girls is juvenile. Hey people is used by a leader or someone assuming a leadership role, not by a peer.

Note it’s just the plural. As far as I know, the singular is still gendered masculine.

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Posted: 06 August 2018 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I remember during the late 70’s, as the feminist movement was cranking up, bosses where I worked had to change their greetings from ‘Good morning girls’ to ‘Good morning ladies’. Both usages had been used before the change. I do not remember the word gals being used, but it probably was.

Here’s a discussion from few years ago: http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/368/

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Posted: 06 August 2018 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Dave Wilton - 06 August 2018 05:15 AM

The non-gendered use of the plural guys, according to Green’s, goes back to at least 1979, which squares with Venomousbede’s recollection from 1981.

This is in no way authoritative, because it wasn’t written and published at the time.  Nonetheless, it happened.
Time: summer of 1963
Location: National Music Camp, at Interlochen in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

My ears were shocked, possibly confused and even offended, when I heard adolescent girls calling out, “Hey, you guys!” to groups of adolescent females.  I recall asking one of the girls, from Wisconsin, about the strange usage.  She told me it was nothing out of the ordinary, and that us
“creeps from Back East” had a lot to learn, We shared a root beer float, played music, and life went on.

The same thing happened in 1964, and 1965.  That last year, I was in the University of Michigan division, and all concerned were college students or graduate instructors.  Here’s where it gets fuzzier, as I hadn’t discovered language as anything but a working toolkit back then.
I seem to remember that the use of ungendered or sex neutral guys was most frequent among those from the upper mid-west, including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  Perhaps I heard it later from Californians, and rarely if ever from my East Coast companions.

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Posted: 06 August 2018 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The Dictionary of American Regional English has the following:

you guys pron
orig chiefly North; now widespread
esp freq among younger speakers
Cf you guys’(s), your guys’(s), youse guys
You—used as a second pers pl pron; orig used only in ref to males, but now generally used as a genderless pron.

“North” means the northern tier of the continental US, stretching from Maine to Washington state, and includes NYC and northern NJ, as well as Michigan.

It has these early citations that use the term to address clearly mixed-gender or all-female groups:

[1932 AmSp 7.401 WA [Orphans’ home argot], Guy. . . Boy; girl. . . One girl to others: “Come on, guys.”]

1945 Pedagogical Seminary & Jrl. Psych. 66.132, Guy . . boy, girl, student, person. . . One girl to others, “Come on, you guys.” . . “Guy” is used without regard to age or to sex.

1945 Ford Philadelphia Murder 168 sePA, [Said to a man and a woman:] Where you guys going?

1957 Paris News (TX) 27 June 7/2, A heated exchange of “youalls” and “you guys” transpired . . when 11 Mansfield, Ohio, senior Girl Scouts and 16 members of Senior Troop 30, Paris, spent a two-hour session together.

(I don’t know why the 1932 and 1945 citations are the same, nor why the 1932 one is in brackets.)

And there is this under youse guys:

1943 Pettitt Nine Girls 26, Rally ’round youse guys. [DARE Ed: A woman addressing a group of women.]

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Posted: 06 August 2018 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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And there is this under youse guys:

And in the Chicagoese of my yoot: just “youse” as in “daboatayouse.” Example, my uncle saying to my broher and I who were misbehaving, ‘Knock it off, youse two! Wait till your father gets home. I’m telling on daboatayouse.’”

Interesting article in the Tribune, Sent to facebook by my cousin today. “Preservationists, please save a dying language before it’s too late: Chicagoese”

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Posted: 07 August 2018 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Not just Chicago. From DARE, including the earliest citations:

youse pron
Also yez, yiz, yooz, yous, youze, yuhs, yuse, yuz(z)
[Ir dial; EDD yees, yous]

1 You—used as a second pers pl pron. esp Northeast, North Midland, Great Lakes

Cf you guys, youse guys

1862 in 2003 Watford Civil War NC 1.52 cNC, Dear Father and Mother I will endever to try to write a few lyns to youse to let youse now . . that my helth is tolerable good.

1887 in 2010 (acc) Lexis–Nexis Legal Research State Case Law: IA (Internet), Now youse all hold a noat of ten hundred dolers providing you can sell for 25 dolers an aker youse will all haf to gree to take more or less.

1890 Scribner’s Mag. 8.686 NYC, “Ah!” snarled Raegen . . , “you’se [=policemen] think you have me now, sure, don’t you?”

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Posted: 07 August 2018 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Also yez, yiz, yooz, yous, youze, yuhs, yuse, yuz(z)

Yeah, I was thinking after I posted that youse the phrase, “da bota youse” would have been pronounced “yiz” but by itself or with “guys” it was pronounced “youz”

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Posted: 07 August 2018 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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DARE says yiz is found “esp Northeast, North Midland, Great Lakes.”

There is also you-uns, “Midland,” and its variant yins, which DARE marks “Midland” but which most sources locate more specifically from around Pittsburgh, PA.

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