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Common expressions which date from WW1


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Caryl

In this context could "minnies" be short for "Mine Thrower" or Minenwerfer?

http://www.mortarsinminiature.com/German_7...Minenwerfer.htm

Absolutely

The Germans used a range of mortars.

Their medium trench-mortars were called mine-throwers (Minenwerfer), dubbed "minnies" by the British.

Glyn

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I have my own (probably incorrect) theory on this. I've heard old soldiers refer to the lice in the trenches as chats and use the term "chatting" for de-lousing. Tying this down to a Hindi word though is more difficult. Dictionary.com says that the word has middle English origins - "chatten: to jabber, alteration of chateren".

The only word in Hindi as far as I know, that come close to chat, is chaat. Chaat is more of a generic term for all sorts of snacky type foods. Typically the chaat stalls set up in the evening and you can buy a plate of food for five or six rupees. And here's where my theory comes in. The puffed rice elements of chaat would not look so dissimilar from louse eggs. Presumably the sound made when cracking the puffed rice would also not be a million miles away from the sound of the eggs cracking. Soldiers in India would have seen the chaat stalls everywhere and it may not be such a wild stretch of the imagination to make the connection between types of chaat and lice eggs.

Paul

I'm surprised by the way, that dhobi, bundook and wallah are still in use in the British Army. Chit, I can understand because that's as established in the English language as "bungalow" I should think but I'm surprised those other, very Indian, words are still part of army parlance.

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Pals'

on the subject of the origins of the word 'Chat' don't know if there is any truth in this account however i will share it with you.

Chat is the word for a plant that is chewed in parts of East Africa especially Somalia, it has the effect of drugging the person chewing it leaving them with a mellow feeling, much the same as smoking canabis (I am told) Apparently these people (normally males) sit under trees relaxing and talking while under the influence and this is generally known to the locals as chatting!

Those that 'chat' to excess suffer from very bad teeth and rotted gums due to the strength of the plants.

As I say I don't know if this is true or not but I like the story, I am sure somebody out there will be able to enlighten me.

regards, anyway i am off now for a cup of 'cha'

Scottie.

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In respect of "Chat" Francis Grose in the Vulgar Tongue (1785) refers to this usage as origination from chattels or personal possessions. I also agree the on the use of chat as a loan word maybe from Chatty (a round water pot) North Indian which could have a resemblance to a louse egg.

I also know of an alternative theory for the use of the word "Bundook" to that normally quoted as a loan word from hindustani for Venice. This appears in Hobson-Jobson Yule & Burnell (1886). Bundook is still a loan word from Hindustani but of Arabic origin for Filberts which are shaped like the projectiles used in stone bows, this usage eventually transferred to the bows themselves and eventually to firearms. This in turn was adopted by British regulars.

I recently did a quick count of quoted loan words in Brophy and Partridge (unfortunately not the second enlarged edition) the total was 112 the source languages were Hindustani, French, German, Russian, Arabic, Chinese,Egyptian, Maori, Bantu/Zulu, swahili, Australian and a possible Yiddish. Sorry, I know this is sad.

By the way does anyone recognise the Great War book where Dishy Billy is used as a bastardised form of Dishabille, I read it somewhere a couple of years ago and cannot remember where - I know Joyce uses it in Ulysses but this has the feel of deliberate army mispronunciation (as Wipers)

Many thanks.

Vic.

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My Grandfather (Old Contemptible 7th Field Coy RE) used to say"Gott mit Uns? - We've got Mittens!"

Edwin Astill

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Grog is rum and water named after Admiral Vernon who had sailor's daily rum ration watered down. His sailors called him Old Grogham because he wore a grogham cloak, hence the name for waterd down rum, "grog".

John Milner

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Caryl,

Almost certainly a reference to a WW1 German mortar round, thrown by the Minenwerfer ['Mine thrower'] which came over with - you guessed - a moaning sound.

Not to be confused with 'Moaning Myrtle' in Harry Potter!

See this web site which I found at random for further information:

http://users.rcn.com/skmurphy/12MWKMinenwerfer.html

Eric

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It's a good link, Kim. Thanks. :)

'Chat' was recorded in English in the sixteenth century. Linguistically it's a shortening of 'chatter' which was recorded in the thirteenth century. Recorded means first reliably known usage, so the word may have been around prior to this.

'Chatterbox' was formed on an obsolete word 'prattle-box' (from the 17c/18c).

The problem with lists of words is that they are just that, lists, sometimes with meanings, and do not give insight into etymology.

Gwyn

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Banjo: A shovel.

At last one of my grandads favourite sayings has meaning. He would say that someone "couldn't hit a cows ar$£ with a banjo" when they missed a sitter at football.

Andy

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At last one of my grandads favourite sayings has meaning. He would say that someone "couldn't hit a cows ar$£ with a banjo" when they missed a sitter at football.

Andy

Love it! - fits several players I can think of today. It's a shame a lot of these old sayings are dying out!

Ken

Thanks for the references re Minenwerfer's

Caryl

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Is the word "bumf", meaning useless paperwork, of WW1 origin?

No. It was used as a slang word for paper in the 19c and low quality literature in the 18c.

You're correct about its origin. I believe the word from which it's derived made its first appearance in the 17c. Sort of Stuart for Andrex.

Gwyn

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QUOTE

At last one of my grandads favourite sayings has meaning. He would say that someone "couldn't hit a cows ar$£ with a banjo" when they missed a sitter at football.

Andy

Love it! - fits several players I can think of today. It's a shame a lot of these old sayings are dying out!

My team, Carlisle United, have specialised in players with this skill (except this season :D,when we've been prolific and hit many a cow's ar$£).

"Hop The Bags"- now thats a saying with style B)

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No. It was used as a slang word for paper in the 19c and low quality literature in the 18c.

You're correct about its origin. I believe the word from which it's derived made its first appearance in the 17c. Sort of Stuart for Andrex.

Gwyn

Gwyn

Another illusion shattered :angry:

I suppose that WW1 led to the words revival?

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