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Swarthy

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Swarthy

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:44 pm

• swarthy •


Pronunciation: swor-dhee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Dark or having a dark complexion.

Notes: We like to occasionally run a purely English word just for fun, a word English developed on its own rather than borrowed from a Romance language like French, Italian, or Spanish. Swarthy is just such a word. It is a mysterious variant of another adjective, swart "dark, black" which is much eschewed these days. Since this is a two-syllable word ending on Y, it is compared in the traditional English way: swarthier and swarthiest. The quality of being swarthy is expressed by the noun, swarthiness. Be sure to switch the Y for I in all these forms.

In Play: Today's word is probably used most often to refer to human complexion: "Then the defense lawyer asked, 'Ms. Dimmital, if the man was, as you say, 'quite swarthy', how could you make out his face in your back yard in the middle of the night?'" It may be used, however, to refer to things other than people: "It was that swarthy time of the early evening when the sun has moved out of view but lurks just below the horizon."

Word History: This word came to Old English as sweart "black" from the same Proto-Germanic source that gave Dutch zwart and German its schwarz "black", from which Yiddish gets its shvarts. The Proto-Indo-European root of this word is swordo- "dirty, dark, black". This root emerged in Latin as sordidus "dirty", apparently based on a lost word sordus "dirt, grime". English could not resist the sordid act of blatantly copying most of this word for its own vocabulary: sordid. (The brightest spot in today's otherwise rather dark Good Word is Susan Hays, who was kind enough to suggest it.)
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Re: Swarthy

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 12:02 pm

This word makes me think of "Gone with the Wind".
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Re: Swarthy

Postby MTC » Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:52 pm

You hit the racial nail on the head, Luke; Gone with the Wind, and its swarthy Blacks, right? "Swarthy" probably started out innocently enough, but somewhere along the way got kidnapped by the White Folks who converted
it to code for "non-White." We (the pristine Whites among us)
need look no further than our own dear old Ben Franklin for an example, albeit an odd one:

"Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind."

Racists will take comfort from dear old Ben's inspiring words. Too bad about those swarthy-complected Spainards, Italians, French, Russians, Swedes, and (ironically) Germans. Not to mention the "tawny" Blacks. By robbing the planet of its racial albedo the swarthy-complected races increase the risk of Global Warming. Nature's reason to be White.

And if racial baggage alone were not enough to drag poor "swarthy" to its knees, society has loaded it with sexual overtones. Think of all those bodice-ripping, swarthy lovers in pot boilers. Ladies beware!

Probably there should be a movement of some type to emancipate "swarthy" from racial and sexual bondage. But then it may be too late to free "swarthy" from the Dark Side, Luke...
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Re: Swarthy

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:33 am

most scintillating expose. I'll have to reread it a number
of times.
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Pepshort » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:54 am

Is this word related to 'Swarthmore' -- as in, the university?
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:19 pm

Brilliant connection, Pepshort, but I have no answer. Someone will. I am always excited over a new poster, hoping they will become a regular, for at one time we all made our first post.
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Slava » Sun Jul 07, 2013 2:13 pm

Pepshort wrote:Is this word related to 'Swarthmore' -- as in, the university?
Yes it is. It's from Swarthmoor in the UK, which meant swarthy moor, or black marsh.

Good catch.
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Pepshort » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:47 am

Thanks for the warm welcome, Perry! And thank you for the answer, Slava. I take no credit for making the connection, as my street name is ....Swarthmore :)
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Re: Swarthy

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:28 am

Glad you are here: Welcome
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:32 am

Then you ARE distinguished. None of us has mentioned a street name - if we even have one.
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Re: Swarthy

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 11:37 am

Mine is a garish number: 77th Street.
But I've lived on Laurel Avenue, Prairie Lane,
Fraisier Street, Fort Street. None too cool, and
all the others were numbers.
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:30 am

My bad. I interpreted "street name" as moniker, not street name. As in that's what they call me in the hood.
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Re: Swarthy

Postby bamaboy56 » Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:42 pm

I'm with you on this one, Perry. When I heard the term "street name" I also thought Pepshort was talking about what his homies called him when he was cruisin' the 'hood. Then I thought, well, Swarthmore didn't sound tuff enough for a street moniker, so maybe that really is the name of the street he lives on. Perhaps Pepshort can clear that up. If I had a street name (which, alas, I don't) I would hope it would sound tougher than the name of the street I live on (Roselane). Maybe something like "killa dude" or "Mad Max" would work. OOPS! That last one has already been taken. :D
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Re: Swarthy

Postby gailr » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:17 pm

I knew a very respectable couple who went out of their way to buy a house on Bong Court. :wink:
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Re: Swarthy

Postby Pepshort » Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:50 am

Funny discussion -- good to be with folks who have good senses of humor, as well as good senses of language. I didn't give the slightest thought to 'street name' being anything other than what comes after my house address. Used in the more familiar sense, I guess my only 'homie street name' would be ... Dad :)
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