The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #30247   Message #389306
Posted By: Mark Cohen
03-Feb-01 - 05:06 PM
Thread Name: Help: Jew's Harp question!
Subject: RE: Help: Jew's Harp question!
Lucius, thanks for your note. It is amazing how many otherwise sophisticated and considerate people will use the phrase "jewing him down" without realizing its derogatory nature. Of course, many others (myself included), have used the phrase "to gyp", meaning to cheat, without realizing that it is also derogatory, deriving from "Gypsy." And that itself is an interesting word. My understanding is that "Gypsy" comes from "Egypt", based on the mistaken belief that the people had an African origin. In fact, I believe (and I hope someone will correct me if I'm wrong) their name for themselves is "Roma", but I'm not exactly sure why. I think I once heard that they originated in India and migrated to Romania.

Creeping back to the original topic, I'm Jewish and I have no problem with "jew's harp", though I believe it is likely a corruption of "jaw harp". I think it's a fine and venerable instrument (that I can play a little bit!), and don't find anything derogatory or negative in the term.