news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7861397.stm Also on BBC4s ’ Point of View ’
It seems timely to resurrect this Americanism from the 1930s - one of many evocative words the United States has contributed to the English language, says Harold Evans.
Americans are pretty good at adding words to the English language. We owe them pin-up girls, highbrows, killjoys, stooges, hobos, drop-outs, shills, bobby-soxers, hijackers, do-gooders and hitchhikers who thumb a ride.
During the time Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was cost-cutting, he spent $1.1m doing up his office - $86,000 for a rug
The Americanisms are so much more concise and vivid. Instead of saying “sorry we’re late but drivers ahead of us slowed us down when they craned their necks to look at a crash” you can say “we were held up by rubberneckers”.
Words pop in and out of our language as social conditions change. The American gangster, which is still with us, has been around as a noun and a reality since 1896 according to my Shorter Oxford, but it seems to have dropped another Americanism from the 1930s and I think now is the time to revive it.
**The word is bankster, derived by a marriage of banker and gangster. **It was coined, as far as I can deduce, by an American immigrant, a fiery Sicilian-born lawyer by the name of Ferdinand Pecora. He was the chief counsel to the US Senate Committee on Banking set up in the early 30s to probe the origins of the Crash of 1929.
He exposed quite a lot of the Wall Street practices that Harvard’s Professor William Z Ripley had condemned in 1928. The believable Ripley called them - get ready for these Americanisms - “prestidigitation, double-shuffling, honey-fugling, hornswoggling and skullduggery”.
Well nothing new here, I never trusted the lot of them, as one of my heroes Thoreau once said …"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. "
Lets call a spade a spade… thats all most of these guys are . Is gangsters. I have abit more respect for the stereotypical ganster as he is open about the nature of his dodgy dealings, but the banker all wrapped up in a shiny suit spouting bullshit and lining his own pockets and those of his mates. Bankster indeed…
Maybe we can just make it O’Bankster for the updated Irish version…
Dont you just love the English language.
Excellent post. Banksters indeed.