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Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles

elijahwald 16 Feb 21 - 11:41 AM
Mrrzy 16 Feb 21 - 01:03 PM
GUEST 16 Feb 21 - 02:46 PM
punkfolkrocker 16 Feb 21 - 03:01 PM
The Sandman 16 Feb 21 - 03:40 PM
cnd 16 Feb 21 - 03:41 PM
The Sandman 16 Feb 21 - 03:44 PM
cnd 16 Feb 21 - 03:46 PM
Lighter 16 Feb 21 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,Oriel 17 Feb 21 - 01:17 AM
The Sandman 17 Feb 21 - 04:42 AM
Lighter 17 Feb 21 - 07:21 AM
The Sandman 17 Feb 21 - 05:09 PM
GUEST 17 Feb 21 - 05:38 PM
The Sandman 18 Feb 21 - 03:49 AM
Steve Shaw 18 Feb 21 - 05:56 AM
cnd 05 Apr 21 - 12:17 AM
cnd 16 Apr 21 - 12:12 AM
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Subject: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: elijahwald
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 11:41 AM

The version of the Derby Ram published as "Didn't He Ramble" by Gates Thomas in his 1926 article, "South Texas Negro Work Songs" has the line, "The habits of that ram, they hung upon the wall," and context from another song in which he uses the term makes it clear that he means testicles... but I cannot find this term anywhere else.

Has anyone else come across this, or been able to find it? Or is it a euphemism unique to this article, and perhaps his own invention?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 01:03 PM

No! New one! Like it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 02:46 PM

Orchestra stalls.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 03:01 PM

This ought to be true, and more widely in use..

Think of the potential scope for jokes about nuns...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 03:40 PM

, "The habits of that ram, they hung upon the wall," NO I think researchers have found the habit in this context refers to his sandals, it is a little known fact that rams like to wear sandals whilst copulating


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: cnd
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 03:41 PM

You can read Thomas's original article here, though the formatting is a bit wonky and not my favorite.

You can see a nicer copy of his collected version here. Note the preface this author includes:
"Mr. Thomas notes... the use of absurdities like "graze" and "eat" (for fuck) and "grimace" (for piss) in his version, that: "Of course, the Negro does not use these terms except in the hearing of respectable... people, but obscenities. What original term is actually meant by "the habits" of the ram (perhaps ballocks?) is anyone's guess.
So it may be that "habits" are referring to testes, but it may also not be the case.

I assume the other song you're talking about is "Uncle Bud," which includes the stanza:
"Uncle Bud, Uncle Bud, what yo’ doin’, Uncle Bud?
Now, who in the hell is Uncle Bud?
Uncle Bud, Uncle Bud, he's a man in full,
And he's got habits like a Jersey bull.
Well, the scaredest I ever wuz in my life,
Uncle Bud kotch me lovin’-up his young wife.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 03:44 PM

Habits are sandals and derbyshire shepherds believe that allowing rams to wear sandals increases fertilty


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: cnd
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 03:46 PM

For ease of reference, I've decided to paste the entirety of Didn't He Ramble / Darby Ram here.

DIDN'T HE RAMBLE (DARBY RAM)

The man that butchered the ram,
He butchered him for his life;
He sent to Cincinnati for
A four-foot butcher knife.

Didn't he ramble! Didn't he ramble!
Oh, he rambled till the butcher cut him down!

The ram he had two horns,
They reached up to the sky;
The eagle went up and built his nest:
I heered the young ones cry.

The ram he had two horns,
They reached up to the moon;
The butcher went up in January
And didn't get back till June.

The hair on that ram's belly
It reached to the ground;
The devil stole the finer strands
To make his wife a gown.

The habits of that ram
They hung upon the wall;
A couple o’ gals came into the shop,
Says, “We never eats mutton a-tall!”

Didn't they ramble! Didn't they ramble!
Oh, they rambled down the street and through the town!

There was a gal in our town,
Her name was Sarah Clark;
She went to working at six o'clock,
But didn't get through till dark.

Of all the animals in this world
I'd ruther be a bull;
I'd curl my tail upon my back
And graze my belly full.

Of all the animals in this world
I'd ruther be a boar;
I'd twist my tail into a knot
And eat forevermore.

Wouldn't I get fat, etc.
(note from Unprintable Ozark Folksongs: apparently: wouldn't I get fucked)

Of all the animals in this world
I'd ruther be a coon;
I'd clam way up some sycamore tree
And grimace at the moon.

Wouldn't I grimace! Wouldn't I grimace!
Oh, I'd grimace till the daylight drove me down!

And so on through a catalogue of animals, reptiles, and insects, to this characteristically farcical conclusion:

Oh, the man that owned the ram,
Well, he must-a been turribly rich;
But the man that made the song up
Wuz a lying son of a —————.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Feb 21 - 06:17 PM

My impression is that "habits" was Thomas's own euphemism. It fits the scansion, and its so incongruous that it tells alert readers that it replaces something naughty.

The mysterious "habit" doesn't appear in either the Oxford English Dictionary or the multivolume Dictionary of American Regional English.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: GUEST,Oriel
Date: 17 Feb 21 - 01:17 AM

Surely "And he's got habits like a Jersey bull." means he behaved like a bull rather than was hung like one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Feb 21 - 04:42 AM

jersey bulls are particularly aggressive, as bulls go


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Feb 21 - 07:21 AM

"Hung like a Jersey bull" is an old idiom in the American South.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Feb 21 - 05:09 PM

Hung like a monkey" is an old idiom in Hartlepool


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Feb 21 - 05:38 PM

Hung like a monkey is a totally different story, refer Vin Garbutt The Day they hung the Monkey, thinking he was a French spy. Still a way of insulting Hartlepudlians "who hung the monkey?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Feb 21 - 03:49 AM

hung like a bear" is an idiom in the forest of dean.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 18 Feb 21 - 05:56 AM

Hung like a baboon ((Blackadder)


Proud gran to mum: "He's a lovely baby, isn't he, dear?"

"Ooh yes, mum, and he feeds really well..."

"Ooh, does he?"

"He does, mum. But he's restless at night..."

"Ooh, is he?"

"Yes, mum. He cries an awful lot."

"Ooh, does he?"

"Yes mum. Bawls like a bull..."

"Ooh, has he?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: cnd
Date: 05 Apr 21 - 12:17 AM

I found this site earlier today on a thread # revived that I've been exploring and I thought I'd add this bawdy version of Darby's Ram on here. https://www.horntip.com/html/songs_sorted_by_name/with_music/d/derby_ram_2.htm

They brought the beast to Der-by-town,
And drove him with a stick,
And all the girls in Der-by-town
Paid a quar-ter to see his

cho: Maybe you don't believe me,
    Maybe you think it's a lie,
    [But] if you'd been down to Derbytown
    You'd seen the same as I.

The legs upon this monster,
They grew so far apart,
That all the girls in Derbytown
Could hear him when he

The hair upon this monster,
It grew so very thick,
That none of the girls in Derbytown
Could see the head of his

The horns upon this monster,
They grew up solid brass.
One grew out of his forehead
And the other grew out of his

And when this beast got hungry,
They mostly fed him grass.
They did not put it in his mouth;
But shoved it up his

He did not care for grass so much;
He always wanted duck.
But every time he ate a bird,
He had to take a

The garbage bill was awful,
And it cost us quite a bit,
But we had to keep a special truck
To haul away the

There's something else I'd like to say,
Now what do you think of this?
The folks would come from miles around
Just to watch him take a

The girls that live in Derbytown
Will all sit in your lap.
One night a girlie sat on mine
And now I've got the


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'Habits' as a euphemism for testicles
From: cnd
Date: 16 Apr 21 - 12:12 AM

Here's another slightly dirty version by Will Starks of Clarksdale, Mississippi, sung 1942 (click). My transcription below:

DIDN'T HE RAMBLE

The man had a little ram, his name was Ida Joe
Every wrinkle around his horn measured forty miles or more

CHORUS
Didn't he ramble, didn't he ramble
Didn't he ramble til the man cut him down

The hair on that ram's back growed and touched the sky
The eagle's built his nest for to hear the young ones cry

CHORUS

The ram had four horns, two of them was brass
Two come out of his forhead, and the other two out his -- ham

CHORUS

The scale the ram was weighed upon covered an acre of ground
When they rolled that ram on there, they almost broke him down

CHORUS

The man that slayed the ram was in danger of his life
He sent down to St. Louis for a four foot butcher's knife

CHORUS ("...til that butcher cut him down")

Says the butcher to the ram, stood waist deep in the blood
The little boy that held his feet got drownded in the flood

CHORUS

Says his head lay in the market house, and his feet out on the street
Three young girls come walking by, said "don't them nuts look sweet?"

CHORUS

He rambled on the waterside, he rambled on the land
But when he went to the butcher pen, there he met his man

CHORUS

This ram went up to his mother with his tail all in a quirl
Said "bear away from me you son-of-a-bitch, I brought you into this world"


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