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SCALAWAG

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SCALAWAG

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:36 pm

• scalawag •


Pronunciation: skæ-lê-wæg • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Dialectal slang) Someone up to no good, anyone from a simple mischievous rascal to a scoundrel; however, the humor associated with this word generally undermines its seriousness.

Notes: Today's Good Word is another one of those silly American nonsense words that found a place for itself in the general vocabulary. It was once used in a serious tone by Southerners in referring to their white brethren who supported the federal government during the Reconstruction Period. It is still used more widely in the south than in the north, even though it apparently originated in the north (see Word History). It is generally listed as a lexical orphan with no derivatives, but since scalawags are often up to skullduggery, wouldn't that also qualify as scalawaggery?

In Play: Scalawag is used far more often in the southern US states today than anywhere else in the English-speaking world. It usually refers to someone up to mischief: "Who was the scalawag who dropped the water balloon on me as I came in?" I like the abstract noun I just made up in the Notes: "If your son was more involved in his studies and less in scalawaggery, Mrs. Wipplesnatch, his grades would climb rapidly."

Word History: John Barlett claimed in his Dictionary of Americanisms (1848) that this word originated in New York, possibly as an alteration of Scottish scallag "farm servant, hayseed" under the influence of wag "jokester". However, we have a record of it referring to a runt, a small, worthless animal, and spelled scallaway. This suggests it might have started out as a variant of Scalloway, one of the Shetland Islands, known for its Shetland ponies. Wag would have had the same influence on this word. The new version would have then migrated south in the 1860s with the 'carpet-baggers', northerners who went south for the economic opportunities afforded by the Reconstruction. These Yankees were so despised by southerners that the word they imported stuck to them, then spread to others. (Sara Goldman certainly was no scalawag when she recommended today's Good Word, a slip of pure American fun.)
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby Slava » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:12 pm

Oh, by the way, you scalawags ruining, sorry, running, the Agora, if you want people to Hear It, you need to make the link read mp3, NOT mpe!
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby call_copse » Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:51 am

I would say this is a well frequented word over here in the UK. Normally spelled scallywag here, this is in northern parts often reduced to scally, typically used of a vaguely picaresque denizen of Liverpool.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:58 pm

call_copse: Thanks for adding a word to my vocabulary. At first I thought picaresque was a misspelling of picturesque, but then I couldn't imagine a Liverpudlian being called picturesque. Webster enlightened me. Southampton and Liverpool are both port cities of England, but they are rather different. I really enjoyed my several visits to Southampton. Come to Texas where picturesque and picaresque may frequently be seen together. Also, I now have a malapropism for picturesque.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby call_copse » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:12 am

Picaresque is a fantastic word IMO. I reserve such usage for boards like this as I might get funny looks for being overly pretentious in general life.

I tell you what, I would love to visit Texas having seen the barbeque there sampled on Man Vs Food recently (don't know if you get that program there, probably not). Fair made me want to make my own pit and start slow smoking brisket, it did. My mouth is watering already just thinking about it.

Glad you liked our peaceful port. PM me if you're over this way again, I'd be delighted to show you the best places we might offer.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:41 am

call_copse and et al: Spanish has a noun in the "picaresque" family. "Picarro" means rascal or mischievous fellow. I am not fluent in Spanish and only speak a little TexMex. Other members of my family are fluent in several languages. I guess I didn’t inherit the genetics.

Barbequed beef brisket is the barbeque of choice in Texas. In the Deep South, pork takes over. I like both. I have had some good barbeque in England. There was a little place in Northampton just off the open-air market square that was very good when I was a constant visitor to my ancestral home. In Texas we never say barby for barbeque. As far as I know we don't barbeque shrimp or fish. Cabrito (goat kid) is good.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:38 am

.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:25 pm

I ate grilled shrimp at the Rice hotel (one of 3 restaurants there at the time) many, many years ago. It was sort of bbq without the sauce. Since then, I have grilled it several times.

ps - does Luke's blank post mean he's still got problems?
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby MTC » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:40 pm

The scent of Texas barbecue led me down a cyber trail where I found the following malapropism of "picturesque" and "picaresque" in an online review of a Texas barbecue joint:

"I felt truly ripped off. Poor service too, poor little premises - not picaresque, just run down and shabby, and NO parking at all, except if you wanted to take a chance and park on the street."

Maybe the owners were rambling rogues, scalawags even...
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:59 pm

So much barbeque, so little time.
You have to know where to go. We have plenty of good restuaraunts here in Texas. MTC, are you from Pasadena, California or Pasadena, Texas?
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby call_copse » Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:48 am

Most apposite MTC!

The terrible weather this year amongst other things has meant a lack of outdoor cooking going on, but I am feeling a strong likelihood of seeing some chimichurri beef sirloin and maybe my favourite red hot jerk chicken and pork coming on...
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby MTC » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:29 am

In answer to your question, Pasadena, California, though I had been living for some months in China, but have recently returned to the States for an extended visit with my sister in Asheville, North Carolina. You could say I present a moving target.

Back to baby-backs, Asheville has its share of BBQ. (Check out the list of variant spellings!) Doubtless there are scalawags here too, but have yet to entounter one.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Aug 23, 2012 12:32 am

I pretty much encounter scalawags whenever I am out, sometimes in my own home. I have been to Pasadena California but never met the little old lady who drove the car. I have encountered some scalawag car salesmen who seem to know that little old lady. The pristine air of Asheville, North Carolina does not support many scalawags. I have never seen one there. The air of Pasadena, Texas is pretty much bereft of oxygen and filled with sulfuric acid. I'm, not sure a scalawag could survive there. I know I can't.

MTC, are you returning to China? I teach a variety of courses to Chinese students in Texas. The Chinese are inscrutable but nice about it.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby MTC » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:16 am

About returning to China, possibly.

Regarding teaching English to the Chinese, that's interesting. I gather they are students. As you must know from your experience, their parents (whose mantra is "Harvard")want them to be educated in the U.S. Depending on a number of factors after graduation the students may stay in the U.S. or return. Once they taste a little freedom, however, it's hard to keep them down on the farm.
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Re: SCALAWAG

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:47 am

Still a
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