Arguments with Isaac, Installment #27

On the N, before the Jew's/juice harp debate

Isaac and I frequently go head to head, mainly because both of us are extraordinarily stubborn when we believe we're right.

There was the infamous Stockholm Syndrome debate last summer, which began as a relatively amusing joke about the 49-year-old Swede I was dating at the time and ended as a shouting match that even online research didn't soothe. (In short: one of us claimed that the tactic of treating some prisoners at Gitmo nicely so they would believe the U.S. was on their side was an example of the Stockholm Syndrome--in that those prisoners would hypothetically be swayed to the side of the country imprisoning them--while the other thought that was absolute bunk, claiming that the Stockholm Syndrome came into play only in cases involving things like kidnapping or hostage situations in which the unquestionably innocent victims ultimately sided with their captors. Think Patty Hearst.)

Anyway, that one remains unsolved.

So a bunch of us are out on Friday night, and somehow the subject of the Jew's harp comes up. Why or in what context, I have no idea. Whatever the case, I claim that it's "Jew's harp," as in "the harp of the Jew," while Isaac rebuts that, claiming it's "juice harp," as in "slang-for-saliva harp," and telling me that no Jewish music he's ever heard features this instrument.

The debate rages. I retort that, right or wrong, one will see this instrument referred to as a Jew's harp everywhere. He slaps the table, tells Ali I drive him crazy because I always think I'm right, and on and on. Eventually we just give up.

But then Val sends this yesterday:

Subject: Em 1, Isaac 0

From Wikipedia:

There are many theories for the origin of the name Jew's harp, one being that it may derive from its popularity amongst Eurasian steppe -peoples like the Khazars, perhaps being introduced to Europe from that direction. Another explanation proposed is that it is a corruption of "jaw harp," while a less likely explanation espoused by some is that its name comes from "juice harp" from the amount of saliva produced when played by amateurs. Both of these explanations lack historical backing, as both the "jaw" and the "juice" variants appeared only in the late 19th and 20th centuries . It has also been suggested that the name derives from the French "Jeu-trompe" meaning "toy-trumpet". The Oxford English Dictionary calls theories that the name is a corruption of "jaws" or "jeu" "baseless and inept" and goes on to speculate that "the instrument was actually made, sold, or sent to England by Jews, or supposed to be so; or that it was attributed to them, as a good commercial name...."

And, oh, is the victory sweet. Isaac, what can I say? Sometimes I do just have to be right.


sgazzetti said...

Please tell me you were on the righteous (Patty Hearst) side in the Stockholm syndrome debate. That would make it Em 2, Isaac 0.

Little known facts about me: military training included a course on hostage negotiations. Paraphrasing what I recall from the long-lost course materials, Stockholm syndrome occurs when a hostage becomes emotionally attached to their victimizers. While this could ostensibly occur spontaneously at Guantánamo, Stockholm syndrome is an unpredictable psychological reaction, not a propaganda tool nor an interrogation technique (extensive training in that area, too).

Emily said...

Yes, J, I was on the Patty Hearst side. I will gleefully tell Isaac that my friend the former military master agrees with me.