Gowping
Posted: 06 November 2018 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m reading Saul Bellow’s The adventures of Augie March and I came upon this word for the first time. I could not find it in any of the modern dictionaries, but I did find it in an old Websters International second edition and the OED.

gowpen, n.
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Pronunciation:  Brit.  /ˈɡaʊp(ə)n/, U.S. /ˈɡaʊp(ə)n/, Scottish /ˈɡʌʊp(ə)n/
Forms:  ME goupynes (plural), 15–16 gopin(g, 15–18 gowpin(g, (17 gapen, gouppen, 18 gowpan, 16, 18 goppen), 17–18 goupen, goupin, gowpen.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Etymology: < Old Norse gaupn (Norwegian dialect gaupn , Swedish göpen , Danish gievn , giøvn , in the Dict. of 1802) = Old High German coufana (Middle High German goufen ). Compare yepsen n.
The original sense of the Germanic word was probably the single hand hollowed, the sense of ‘double handful’ being expressed by the plural. The Old Norse word seems to occur only as plural; in modern Scandinavian dialects the singular is used, with varying sense.
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Sc. and dialect.
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a. The two hands placed together so as to form a bowl (†formerly plural in the same sense). Hence, usually, as much as can be contained in the hands so placed; a ‘double handful’.[/quote] Bold emphasis added

Is this an obsolete usage? OED’s entries go only as far as the 19th century. Bellow’s vocabulary was quite extensive, but I don’t think the word was that common when he wrote the book. It was published in 1949.

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Posted: 07 November 2018 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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First, it would be helpful if you included the line from Augie March so we could see how Bellow used the word. Without that, no one has a clue what you’re talking about.

But the more usual spelling you’re looking for is gawp, meaning to stare. It’s in plenty of dictionaries.

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Posted: 07 November 2018 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Dave Wilton - 07 November 2018 04:35 AM

First, it would be helpful if you included the line from Augie March so we could see how Bellow used the word. Without that, no one has a clue what you’re talking about.

But the more usual spelling you’re looking for is gawp, meaning to stare. It’s in plenty of dictionaries.

Gawp is another word; I don’t think it’s related.

Bellow’s sentence:

Around him spectators from the millions gowping at him, famine-marks, louse vehicles, the supply of wars, the living fringe of a great number sunk in the ground, dead, and buzzing or jumping over Asia like diatoms of the vast bath of the ocean in the pins of the sun.

I understood as if he meant gawping(to gawk) but I’m not certain. It could be a typographical error. My initial question was whether this word, gowping, is commonly used today.

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Posted: 07 November 2018 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Gawp is another word; I don’t think it’s related.

Why? It fits the context perfectly, and it’s not exactly like gawp is a common term with a well-established spelling.

And no, neither gawping nor gowping are particularly common, as a quick trip to Google Ngrams tells you.

[ Edited: 07 November 2018 09:59 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 07 November 2018 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dave Wilton - 07 November 2018 09:56 AM

Gawp is another word; I don’t think it’s related.

Why? It fits the context perfectly, and it’s not exactly like gawp is a common term with a well-established spelling.

And no, neither gawping nor gowping are particularly common, as a quick trip to Google Ngrams tells you.

Then I’m confused: If Bellows meant gawping rather than gowping it’s either a typo or he confused the meanings. Gowping is defined as, “The two hands placed together so as to form a bowl; a double handful.”

I agree that in the context it seems that he meant gawping. Gawp is defined as, “To yawn or gape; to gaze in astonishment.” Therefore, I stand by that it’s another word.

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Posted: 07 November 2018 04:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Gowping, or gowpen as it was more usually spelled, is a Scottish and Northern English dialect word. As far as I know, it fell out of use long before Bellow was born. As far as I know, it’s never been used in the US. This clearly has absolutely nothing to do with Bellow’s word.

Bellow clearly meant the verb gawp, which also, on occasion, has been spelled gowp. Spelling variation of such dialectal or slang words is very common. There simply is no “right” way to spell it. Gowp gets one hit in the Corpus of American Historical English. (There are 18 hits for gawp, right up to the 2000s.)

From John M. Todd’s The Arts, Artists and Thinkers, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1958 (only a few years after Augie March):

They were the places where people went in charabancs to gowp.

The 1905 Supplement to Wright’s Dialect Dictionary also has gowp meaning “a squint or cast in the eye.”

So Bellow wasn’t the only one to use this spelling.

(Charabancs is a neat word.)

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Posted: 07 November 2018 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Dave Wilton - 07 November 2018 04:00 PM

Gowping, or gowpen as it was more usually spelled, is a Scottish and Northern English dialect word. As far as I know, it fell out of use long before Bellow was born. As far as I know, it’s never been used in the US. This clearly has absolutely nothing to do with Bellow’s word.

Bellow clearly meant the verb gawp, which also, on occasion, has been spelled gowp. Spelling variation of such dialectal or slang words is very common. There simply is no “right” way to spell it. Gowp gets one hit in the Corpus of American Historical English. (There are 18 hits for gawp, right up to the 2000s.)

From John M. Todd’s The Arts, Artists and Thinkers, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1958 (only a few years after Augie March):

They were the places where people went in charabancs to gowp.

The 1905 Supplement to Wright’s Dialect Dictionary also has gowp meaning “a squint or cast in the eye.”

So Bellow wasn’t the only one to use this spelling.

(Charabancs is a neat word.)

I appreciate the information, very interesting.

I am curious, however, since gowping/gowp has fallen out of use and has never been used in the US what word would we use meaning, “two hands placed together so as to form a bowl; a double handful.” ?

[ Edited: 07 November 2018 10:54 PM by Logophile ]
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Posted: 08 November 2018 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Logophile - 07 November 2018 10:31 PM

Dave Wilton - 07 November 2018 04:00 PM
Gowping, or gowpen as it was more usually spelled, is a Scottish and Northern English dialect word. As far as I know, it fell out of use long before Bellow was born. As far as I know, it’s never been used in the US. This clearly has absolutely nothing to do with Bellow’s word.

Bellow clearly meant the verb gawp, which also, on occasion, has been spelled gowp. Spelling variation of such dialectal or slang words is very common. There simply is no “right” way to spell it. Gowp gets one hit in the Corpus of American Historical English. (There are 18 hits for gawp, right up to the 2000s.)

From John M. Todd’s The Arts, Artists and Thinkers, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1958 (only a few years after Augie March):

They were the places where people went in charabancs to gowp.

The 1905 Supplement to Wright’s Dialect Dictionary also has gowp meaning “a squint or cast in the eye.”

So Bellow wasn’t the only one to use this spelling.

(Charabancs is a neat word.)

I appreciate the information, very interesting.

I am curious, however, since gowping/gowp has fallen out of use and has never been used in the US what word would we use meaning, “two hands placed together so as to form a bowl; a double handful.” ?

That’s normally called cupping the hands.

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Posted: 08 November 2018 09:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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That’s normally called cupping the hands.

Yes, I understand, but it’s essentially defining the word gowping, in addition, by using one word to describe an action avoids prolixity. For example: He made an audible effort to force up phlegm from his throat every morning after his first cigarette. versus, He [i]hawked up phlegm every morning after his first cigarette. The word hawked eliminates the profuse seven words to describe the verb hawk.

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Posted: 08 November 2018 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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There’s no 1:1 correspondence between concept:word; language just doesn’t work that way.

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