Monday, September 12, 2011

Dated Dialect: The Forgotten Slang of Centuries Past

As we sometimes discuss on our tours, Orchard Street wasn't always as tidy as it is today. In the late 19th century, New York was known as one of the dirtiest cities in the world, with refuse and horse dung piling up on the streets. Back then, folks had a flamboyant term for the resulting stench--"kennetseeno"--a multisyllabic synonym for "stinky". This was primarily a British term, but the population--and as a result, the language--of New York has always been diverse.

In 1896, New York got its first official santitation system, and things began to smell a little sweeter. But some things never change. Just this summer, New York Magazine declared one of our neighboring blocks to be the stinkiest in the city. But don't be put off--the city's not nearly as "kennetseeno" as it used to be!

Phew--You can bet this was kennetseeno!

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