atw: Re: Merkins? (Back to O.T. please.) (Long)

  • From: Michael Edward Granat <megranat@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2005 02:50:13 +1000

Dear Peter F.

You must recall the devastatingly wonderful feature film "Dr. Strangelove
or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964) directed
by Stanley Kubrick.  (From the novel by Peter George.)

See: <> for details.

In that film, Peter Sellers plays, amongst other key roles - including the title
role, the US president "Merkin Muffley".

Yup, folks!  The 'Merkin President.

So this term has been around for more than four decades in popular culture
as a mild dig at the grand old US of A.

Also, I'm afraid that when the word Merkin is pronounced by an Aussie
such as myself, it tends to sound the way that many US Americans
actually pronounce "American".

I found that, even when I enunciate "American" with particular care, many
US Americans (particularly those from the Southern side of the Mason
Dixon line) are more accepting of my asking if they are 'Merkins than if I
ask them whether they are Americans.  It just works better phonetically.

In addition, I avoid using the term "American" for US citizens in any case,
as they only occupy the central to southern parts of the North American
continent, yet many whom I have met present themselves as if they inhabit,
own and control all of North and South America.  Surely Canadians have a
right to call themselves Americans also, as do South Americans but, sadly,
must refrain from doing so because of the often unwanted association that
this implies with their central North American neighbours, who have
essentially (if perhaps not deliberately) usurped the term for themselves.

Sure, I am aware that a Merkin was a portable and removable pubic hair
replacement wig (the "Merkin Muffley" reference attests to this ) used
during the Middle Ages by those female prostitutes who shaved their
private parts , so that they would be infestation-free but could look
presentable "down there" for their clients.  Something readily discovered
in a dictionary without having to go to the Wikipedia (usually a marvellous
resource) which I shall look at in a moment.

That I use "Merkin" in a lighthearted vein is well known among my many
central and southern North American friends and colleagues.

The first time I use the term is to help them understand me through my
Australian accent.  Subsequent times, where appropriate, as a bit of a
running joke, just as they call me a "Skippy" and the like.  More often than
not it all just becomes part of the friendly banter between work colleagues
that helps to cement workplace friendships.

Much like, depending on the inflection, Aussies use "bastard" as a term of
endearment, which can take some getting used to for our North American
friends who are conditioned to this being quite an insult.

That said, I take this opportunity to humbly apologize to any of our North
American / Alaskan and Hawaiian / US colleagues who might have been
offended in any way by my tongue in cheek discourse on US/Aus English.

Plus, as I started its use in this forum, it is more than a tad unfair to give
Brian C a serve for its use, when only following up on the same topic.

If you are going to blame someone for 'Merkinizing this discussion, then
please blame the perpetrator - yours truly, not those who follow.

Do relax, Peter.  I was just 'Merkin around.


Micky G.

At 17:36 27/10/2005, you wrote:
Regarding the use of the ugly and derogatory sobriquet
"Merkin" for citizens of the USA, if the lady had read the
Wikipedia entry on "Merkin"
<>, she might be further

Peter Fagan
IntraDoc Pty Ltd

Michael E. Granat Qualified Good Tech Writer Dude Fellowship Of The Ring Of Tech Writers, Yeah Baby! T/as Write Ideas E-mail: mailto:writeideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx Web: <> Without Prejudice. E&OE.

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