The Turk.

From this Wordorigins thread I learned of a great bit of sports jargon I had not been familiar with: in football, to get a visit from the Turk is to be let go, “because the Turk is the guy who gets sent to tell a player he has been cut from the team, usually quietly/privately to avoid a scene.” A later commenter links to this Tampa Bay Times story by Roger Mooney, which provides the following backstory:

The Pro Football Hall of Fame website credits former L.A. Rams linebacker Don Paul for coining the phrase “the Turk.”

Clark Shaughnessy, who coached the Rams in the late 1940s, cut his players in the middle of the night. He reasoned the bad news would be easier to stomach when the player was still trying to wake up. Shaughnessy would send someone to his dorm room to wake him and tell him to pack his bags and report to Shaughnessy’s office. The player’s absence would be noticed when the team gathered in the dining hall for breakfast.

“The Turk strikes at night,” Paul would yell.

Vox populi comes up with some fine phrases.

Comments

  1. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Somehow I’m reminded of the expression “les Anglais ont débarqué”, said to be used by Frenchwomen to announce the start of their periods. (“Said to be” because I’ve never actually heard a Frenchwoman say it.)

  2. marie-lucie says:

    ACB: I have heard it once or twice as les Américains débarquent ‘the Americans are landing’ (as they did on the coast of Normandy), but I don’t know whether this is still said or has become obsolete since most women currently of childbearing age are much too young to understand the reference. In any case it was not what every woman would say.

    Nowadays ‘the British’ descend on Normandy in large numbers to buy or rent vacation homes. (In popular French speech “les Anglais” does not just mean ‘the English’ but anyone from the British Isles).

  3. “The mirror cracked from side to side” (end of Part III), though I suspect that was made up by a man, probably James Thurber. My mother (born 1919, lived in the U.S. 1932-1991) told me nobody of her generation said anything but “the curse”. Growing up in the “I’m having my period” era (which goes right up to the present, I trust), I found that pretty shocking.

    As for this use of Turk, I expect it reflects the centuries-old pan-European cliche of the sinister Turks who disappear people and spirit them away into white slavery or worse. (I wonder what modern Turks think about “The Abduction from the Seraglio”?)

  4. marie-lucie says:

    In one of Ruth Rendell’s mystery/crime novels (or perhaps her alter ego Barbara Vine’s), part of the plot relies on one woman referring to another as “having her visitor in the house”, a phrase which I understood right away but which the author seems to assume will be misunderstood by most readers (as well as by the woman’s listeners), since the meaning is revealed much later and provides a crucial clue to the mystery.

  5. cut his players in the middle of the night

    Like this.

  6. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I have heard it once or twice as les Américains débarquent ‘the Americans are landing’ (as they did on the coast of Normandy),

    I find that odd, as I’ve assumed that the expression started when the English were regarded as bad guys liable to shed innocent French blood, but surely when the Americans landed in Normandy they were regarded as good guys.

  7. marie-lucie says:

    ACB: I never thought of the phrase in a war/peace or even just good/bad context. I see it more like ‘an uncontrollable wave’ is happening.

  8. the centuries-old pan-European cliche of the sinister Turks who disappear people and spirit them away into white slavery or worse.

    Calling it a cliché seems a little harsh, seeing as it actually happened, a lot, all over Europe from Greece to Ireland, over quite a long period of history.

  9. Most clichés are true; it’s the endless repetition of an obvious truth that makes a cliché.

  10. I find that odd, as I’ve assumed that the expression started when the English were regarded as bad guys liable to shed innocent French blood

    Or just because English soldiers wore red coats.

    The number of euphemisms I have heard female friends use for this makes me wonder if there are any phrases that are not so used. Rather like the standup comedian who I heard pointing out that BrE has so many slang terms meaning “very drunk” that you might as well just use a random word. “Oh, man, we got so banistered last night!” “I know mate! I saw you! You looked well kettled!”

  11. it’s the endless repetition of an obvious truth that makes a cliché.

    More than that, surely. Cliché, as used, has dismissive and pejorative overtones. For example, “she then went on to the old cliché of the Iraq War being unjustified”.

  12. Cliché, as used, has dismissive and pejorative overtones.

    Not for me, except in the sense that it implies the thing is overused. To call something a cliché does not, for me, carry any implication that it isn’t true.

  13. marie-lucie says:

    ACB, the expression started when the English were regarded as bad guys liable to shed innocent French blood
    ajay: Or just because English soldiers wore red coats.

    For centuries the English were considered les ennemis héréditaires of the French, but no English armies landed in France after Jeanne d’Arc chased them out (or at least started the operation) after 100 years of war, around the time that Columbus crossed the Atlantic. I can’t believe that the euphemism would have remained the same for five centuries, especially since most of the French population referred to the English as les Godons (literally the Goddams) and probably had only a hazy idea of where they came from. Even the verb débarquer is not that old. As for the red coats, army uniforms also are a more recent development.

  14. Trond Engen says:

    Overused, without original thinking, and out of touch. In Ajay’s example, “cliché” implies that the person saying the Iraq war was unjustified can’t have any real idea about it, or have kept up with time.

  15. ə de vivre says:

    Calling it a cliché seems a little harsh, seeing as it actually happened, a lot, all over Europe from Greece to Ireland, over quite a long period of history.

    So long as you follow the Early Modern Europeans definition of Turk as any Mohammedan.

  16. In Ajay’s example, “cliché” implies that the person saying the Iraq war was unjustified can’t have any real idea about it, or have kept up with time.

    But Ajay’s example is invented. It’s hard enough to deal with actual English usage; I feel it’s a waste of time to analyze made-up examples.

  17. All right. “Fretting that any involvement in a conflict is going to be ‘another Iraq’ is simply a cliché. The world has changed since 2003” – Aymenn Jawad, Independent, 20 February 2013. https://www.google.ch/amp/www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/was-the-iraq-war-worth-it-is-a-question-unworthy-of-debate-so-why-are-we-still-asking-it-8490182.html%3famp

    Real example: dismissive and implying that the speaker has not kept up with events, exactly as Trond Engen says.

  18. “but no English armies landed in France after Jeanne d’Arc chased them out”

    Actually this happened on several occasions since Jeanne d’Arc: British troops landed at Toulon to support its defence against the revolutionary army; the only occasion on which Nelson and Napoleon faced each other in combat. There were several other smaller raids on the French coast. And also of course the events of 1914, 1939 and 1944!

  19. Sir JCass says:

    but no English armies landed in France after Jeanne d’Arc chased them out

    The English held Calais until 1558. Before that, Henry VIII invaded northern France in 1513. Elizabeth I sent troops to back the Huguenots in Le Havre in 1562-3. Likewise, in the Anglo-French War of 1627-9 the Duke of Buckingham landed with a force of 6,000 men on the Île de Ré to help the Huguenots who were besieged at La Rochelle.

  20. Real example: dismissive and implying that the speaker has not kept up with events, exactly as Trond Engen says.

    Fair enough, and clearly it can be used that way, even if not by me.

  21. marie-lucie says:

    ajay, Sir J Cass: All right! But these were all small scale operations, the English were not out to take over the country as they had earlier.

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