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The Taffy Effect

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 09, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Jew him down posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 09, 2005

: : : : : : : : : I like to know where the phrase came from - "Jew him/them down". Don't sound very nice, but need to know.
: : : : : : : : It means to haggle, and yes, it does come from the stereotype of Jews being stingy and hard-nosed businessmen.

: : : : : : : Haven't heard that in the US for decades. Maybe 40 years. It's verrrrrrrrrrrry offensive speech hereabouts.

: : : : : : Here in the UK too. However, "very offensive" doesn't equal "never used", sadly.

: : : : : In defense of people (usually older generation) who use this phrase, I believe they don't realize that it is offensive. They speak without thinking. Others: Dutch treat, Welch on a deal, that's white of you.

: : : : A Jewish friend of mine has used this phrase, with a sly grin.

: : : Let me clarify: My friend used the phrase only among his friends, and everyone was aware that he was being a "bad boy" by saying it. I don't think he uses it anymore, having matured.

: : I grew up in a less politically correct age, so remember that when throwing something at my head. As regards "jewing him down": I've seen it rephrased, "jawing him down," probably a deliberate effort to save the expression by misspelling it. As regards "welching on a deal," preferred is "welshing on a deal," far more politically incorrect. Just to be sure, I looked up one of the nursery rhymes I surprisingly remember. Unsurprisingly, I seem to have remembered it incorrectly as:

: : Taffy was a Welshman,
: : Taffy was a thief;
: : Taffy came to my house
: : And stole a leg of beef.

: : I went to Taffy's house;
: : Taffy wasn't home;
: : Taffy came to my house,
: : And stole a marrowbone.

: : I went to Taffy's house,
: : Taffy was in bed.
: : I took the marrowbone
: : And hit him on the head.

: : If you Google the nursery rhyme you'll find a different version. My memory is all right, just the words are wrong. SS
: - Smokey, there are no wrong words to a nursery rhyme, just different ones. Even if you're the only person in the English-speaking world who knows the rhyme that way, it's a legitimate variant. (VSD)

Or the Chomsky theory sprung into action? I appreciate your words and their intent. But I can't help but be a tiny bit defensive about my version of Taffy. Since I read it in a book, there are probably thousands of people who know the rhyme that way. "You are not alone!" But what, pray tell, is the version you remember? SS