Benjamin and Southpaws

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eldin raigmore
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Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by eldin raigmore »

At the grocery store today I was assisted by a young man named “Benjamin”.
Biblical Hebrew “Benjamin” meant (originally) either “Son of the South” or “son of the Right Hand”;
because if one were facing East, the South would be to one’s right.

I’ve often wondered, then, why “Southpaw” isn’t slang for a right-handed person?
I’ve come up with a theory too attractive to check out.

Here it is;
The slang term “Southpaw”, for a left-handed person, originated in New World English; and didn’t become current until the Anglophone “diaspora” began to expand Westward.
When one is facing West, “south” and “left” are the same direction.
That’s where the expression “Southpaw” comes from.

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lsd
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Re: Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by lsd »

the use of languages erases the details considered superfluous, and leads to the etymological strangeness that we know ...
In alkhasatbiallughatalaradi, conversely I use "left" for "south", but specifying "facing west", in order to preserve the transparent character of the construction, and its universal fragrance ...
Last edited by lsd on 17 Aug 2019 17:28, edited 1 time in total.
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by eldin raigmore »

I’m sorry, Isd, but what??
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Ahzoh
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Re: Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by Ahzoh »

Completely unrelatedly, “Benjamin and the Southpaws” sounds like a great name for a country band.
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Pabappa
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Re: Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by Pabappa »

the etymology given in wiktionary makes sense enough to me: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/southpaw . http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/si ... s/southpaw says no, though, so you could be right
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Shemtov
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Re: Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by Shemtov »

"Benjamin" is because to the Ancient Hebrews, one was always seen as facing east. I think in Job, there's a reference to "North and South, To my front, Behind me" because of this. I think this is a panSemitic cultural thing, as IIRC, the Qu'ran uses similar metaphors as Tanakh. This metaphor is missing from the NT, and I remember reading that scholars of Religion use the presence of such metaphors to posit a Hebrew or Aramaic original for Psuedepigraphic Works.
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eldin raigmore
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Re: Benjamin and Southpaws

Post by eldin raigmore »

Ahzoh wrote: 17 Aug 2019 18:03 Completely unrelatedly, “Benjamin and the Southpaws” sounds like a great name for a country band.
Yep!


Pabappa wrote: 17 Aug 2019 22:35 the etymology given in wiktionary makes sense enough to me: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/southpaw . http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/si ... s/southpaw says no, though, so you could be right
The first time I ever heard “Southpaw” it was about a quickdraw gunfighter in the Old West.
That fits with the wordorigins.org timeline, I think.
Was this expression North American English only until 1890 or 1910 or something?

(Note if you’re facing North your South paw might be your back foot. “Back foot” is another idiomatic expression.)

Thanks for looking it up!

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Also:
Thanks, shemtov!
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