[DWJ] offtopic dialect question

Ven vendersleighc at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 27 14:35:20 EST 2006

Minnow wrote

<Just to complicate things a bit, the 1933 S.O.D.

doesn't allow of more than
one pigtail on an individual, giving the 
definition as "(1688) a plait or
queue of hair hanging down from the back of the 
head, applied /spec./ to
that worn formerly by soldiers and sailors, and 
still occasionally by young
girls, and now /esp./ to that customary among the

Chinese (1753)".  (A
"queue" is "a long plait of hair hanging down 
behind".)  So having more
than one pigtail would be a bit strange by their 
A helpful mate sent me this on the topic:

<Technically they're a queue, a single plait down

the back, called
pig-tails by the Q'in dynasty of China who made 
all Chinese men wear
them, and called them (the chinese) pigs since
they were Mongolian invaders.>
I (and he) can't be sure of it's veracity, it
comes from a book on the triads.

There's also this from Wikipedia:


The ruling Manchus forced the Han Chinese men to 
adopt the Manchu
hairstyle (the pigtail) and Manchu-style 
clothing. There was enormous
resistance to these policies, especially against 
the pigtail, which
required shaving the entire top front half of the

head, as Chinese
tradition dictated that removing hair was against

filial piety because
one received one's hair from one's parents

Minnow again

<............... and what they
would make of one of those beautiful Negro 
many-tiny-plait hairstyles I
can't begin to imagine.>

Multiple plaits have come in and out of fashion
all ovetr the place I should think:


"It was possible this man was a mercenary 
soldier.  His clothes did look
like the broken-down remains of some kind of 
uniform, and he wore his hair
in a single pigtail down his back in the way the 
Sultan's men did.  This
was a fashion the men of Zanzib found quite 
disgusting, for it was rumoured
that the pigtail was never undone or washed."  
(*Castle in the Air* Chapter

Sounds like plaited hair to me....  Yuck!>

Or dreadlocks, I once had the dubious privilege
of seeing a severed dreadlock in cross section
--it was quite vile (although it's erstwhile
owner was sort of proud). I think I read
somewhere that sailors would tar their pigtails
-- I guess that would make them waterproff and
pretty much impervious to anything the elements
might throw.

I'm not sure but I think that what used to be
called "elflocks" are basically dreads.


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