Coney Island; coney

Discuss word origins and meanings.

Coney Island; coney

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:51 pm

In the posting pikas again (a small mammal of the western mountains of North America which resembles a rabbit), Che raised the question of from whence came the CONEY in ‘Coney Island’ (Brooklyn, New York, amusement park and beach). The fact that I’m an old guy who grew up in Brooklyn did nothing to endow me with any knowledge of the answer to this question. But I looked it up and the explanation was a surprise to me – guess that I had assumed that Coney Island was named after a Mr. Coney.

Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins

CONEY ISLAND; CONEY: The Coney in Coney Island should really be pronounced to rhyme with honey or money. The word derives from cony (or coney or cuny) [[not an acronym for the City University of New York (&lt)]]). meaning adult, long-earred rabbit (Lepus cunicula) after which the Brooklyn, New York community was named. However, cony, pronounced cunny became a term for the female genitals in British slang, and proper Victorians stopped using the word, substituting rabbit, which previously had meant only the young of the cony species. The only trouble remaining was that cony appeared throughout the King James Bible, which had to be read aloud during church services. Proper Victorians solved this problem by changing the pronunciation of cony to coney (rhymes with boney), which it remains to this day in Coney Island as well as the Bible.
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Oxford English Dictionary

CONY, CONEY noun: 1a) A rabbit: formerly the proper and ordinary name, but now superseded in general use by rabbit, which was originally a name for the young only. b) Still retained in the Statutes, and in more or less familiar use with gamekeepers, poachers, game-dealers and cooks: in market reports, now usually meaning a wild rabbit. c) It is also the name in Heraldry. d) dialect. In some districts applied to a young rabbit, but elsewhere properly to an old one. e) The flesh of the rabbit. f) The skin or fur of the rabbit. g) A hat made of rabbit-fur (in place of beaver). U.S. [[Middle English ‘cony,’ ‘conig,’ ‘coning,’ back-formation from conies, plural, from Old French ‘connis,’ ‘conis,’ plural of ‘connil,’ ‘conil,’ from Latin ‘cuniculus,’ rabbit, underground passage, probably of Iberian origin. [[note: if you’re thinking ‘cunnilingus,’ the rabbit bears no apparent relationship to the ‘cunnus,’ vulva, of that word.]]

. . . . but during the 19th century the pronunciation with long ‘O’ has gradually crept in. This pronunciation is largely due to the obsolescence of the word in general use, while it occurred in the Bible, and especially in the Psalms, as the name of a foreign animal [[In Old testament used to translate Hebrew shaphan, a small pachyderm (Hyrax Syriacus), living in caves and clefts of the rocks in Palestine]]; the oral tradition being broken, readers guessed at the word from the spelling. It is possible, however, that the desire to avoid certain vulgar associations with the word in the cunny form, may have contributed to the preference for a different pronunciation in reading the Scriptures. Walker knew only the cunny pronunciation; Smart (1836) says ‘it is familiarly pronounced cunny’, but cony is ‘proper for solemn reading’. The obsolescence of the word is also a cause of the unfixed spelling; the Bible of 1611 has conie, cony, conies, modern editions coney, conies (cf. money, monies), an irregularity retained in the Revision of 1885. The rabbit is evidently of late introduction into Britain and Northern Europe: it has no native name in Celtic or Teutonic, and there is no mention of it in England before the Norman period; in the quotations the fur, perhaps imported, appears before the animal. The Welsh cwning, cwningen, is from Middle English; the Irish coinnín, and Gaelic coinean, coinein from Middle English. or Anglo-French.
<1598 “A signe of three CONIES hanging ouer a Poulters stall.”—‘A Survay of London’ (1603) by Stow, xxx. pate 265)

<1591 “Now for your ransome my cloyster-bred CONNEY.”—‘The Troubled Raigne of King John’ (1611), page 52> [[‘indecent’ usage]]

<1622 “A pox on your Christian cockatrices! They cry, like poulterers' wives, ‘No money, no CONEY.’”—‘The Virgin Martir’ by Massinger, II. i> [[‘indecent' usage]]

<1785 “No person shall turn out or stock with CONIES or rabbits any part of the lands.”—‘South Cave Inclosure Act,’ page 33>

<1855 “If a ‘pedler’ wanted to trade with us for a box of beaver hats, . . . he was sure to obtain a box of ‘CONEYS.’”—‘Life’ (written by himslef’) by Phineas Taylor Barnum> [[a hat made of rabbit fur]]

<1867 “On Monday, at Southport . . . two young men . . . were charged with trespassing in search of CONEYS.”—‘Wigan Observer,’ 23 February>
Ken G – June 1, 2006
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:28 pm

Did someone let the bucks in with the does? Wascally wabbits.
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Coney Island; coney

Post by russcable » Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:55 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote: ...Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins...The only trouble remaining was that cony appeared throughout the King James Bible, which had to be read aloud during church services. Proper Victorians solved this problem by changing the pronunciation of cony to coney
Throughout? Would you believe twice? Once in the kosher laws in Leviticus and once in the kosher laws in Deuteronomy. These passages were used during services a lot? I guess the Victorian CoE was bigger on keeping kosher than I thought.

The Middle Eastern animal that is being referred to is probably not a coney/rabbit but the hyrax or rock badger. There was no European equivalent so the translators have substituted coney. Despite its cute bunny-ish appearance and behavior, the hyrax actually is more closely related to the elephant than the rabbit.

Strictly speaking, neither hyraxes or rabbits "chew the cud" so the passages are also a bone of contention between the Biblical inerrancy crowd and their adversaries.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:52 pm

"The Biblical inerrancy crowd"... what a delicately euphemistic turn of phrase you have, Russ! ;-)
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Coney Island; coney

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Jun 02, 2006 1:15 am

from :

http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/scriptures ... variat.htm

HBME ...; And the Leaper, for it chews its cud, but has not divided the hoof; -- it is unclean to you; ... .
Footnote: In Hebrew "Arnabeth" means a Leaper usually rendered "hare," but more probably the Kangaroo.
GW You must never eat rabbits. (Rabbits are unclean because they chew their cud but do not have divided hoofs.)
HBRV And the hare, because she cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof, she is unclean unto you.
KJV And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
SGAT ...; the hare, because, though chewing the cud, it does not have the hoof cloven -- it is unclean for you; ....

Smith's Bible Dictionary:
Hare occurs only in Leviticus 11:6 and Deut.14:7 amongst the animals disallowed as food by the Mosaic law. The hare is at this day called arnel by the Arabs in Palestine and Syria. It was erroneously thought by the ancient Jews to have chewed its cud. They were no doubt misled, as is the case of the shâphân (hyrax), by the habit these animals have of moving the jaw about.
Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary:
[Hyrax] A small harelike ungulate mammal of Africa and SW Asia; the cony of the Bible.

Also an interesting thread relating to the topic :
http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showt ... ge=5&pp=16

The Bible-inerrancy crowd is not necessarily the [insert favorite version]-inerrancy crowd.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Jun 03, 2006 6:48 am

Russ, As the OED explained above “The obsolescence of the word is also a cause of the unfixed spelling; the Bible of 1611 has conie, cony, conies, modern editions coney, conies

I counted 4 appearances (see following quotes) in the King James Bible - do you realize that is double your figure (&lt) – well, admittedly no huge number, and I would agree that the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins got a bit carried away on that one.
<“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying unto them: And the CONEY, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you..”—Leviticus 11:5>

<“Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the CONEY: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.”—Deuteronomy 14:7>

<“The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the CONIES.”—Psalms 104:18>

<“The CONIES are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks”—Proverbs 30:26>
And the OED did mention (see above) that the animal being referred to was “as the name of a foreign animal.” and I’ve included in double brackets their reference here and above [[In Old testament used to translate Hebrew shaphan, a small pachyderm (Hyrax Syriacus), living in caves and clefts of the rocks in Palestine]], which is in agreement with your observation and which I didn’t originally include.

So the CONY was really a hyrax and not a rabbit, and its kind of obvious from Deuteronomy 14:7, that a cony and a hare couldn’t have been the same thing since God distinguished between the two in the same sentence, but does a hyrax chew its cud? I’ll be damned if I know, but God evidently thought it did and I guess he should know unless, of course, he was having a bad day when he said that or his translators were.

And to anybody out there who UNDERSTANDETH, I would appreciate some help. I’m not exactly up on my King James (or any) Bible study, and I have never before given these questions any thought, but I am really confused by the implications of the dietary references in Leviticus (and Deuteronomy).
<“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying unto them: Whatever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted and cheweth the cud, among the beasts that shall ye eat”–Leviticus 11:3. “Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you”–Leviticus 11:4>
So you’re allowed to eat animals with a cloven hoof AND which chew their cud. And God did say AND which means both and he didn’t say OR which would have meant ‘either.’ Now why would Leviticus 11:4 then say, ‘nevertheless,’ which means ‘in spite of,’ when 11:3 specifically says AND and has thus already eliminated the OR choice. This makes no sense and its seems to me that instead of ‘in spite of,’ He (or possibly His translator) should have said ‘because of,’ or have no qualifying words at all.

Ignoring the ‘nevertheless,’ which is a minor point, wouldn’t Leviticus 11:3 and 11:4 also deprive Christians of pork (pigs don’t chew their cud)? That was God speaking. How did Christians get around this? Did God change his mind and countermand this statement in another passage somewhere (e.g. Thou shalt not worryeth about my preivious dietary laws - I've changed by mind.)?

Getting back to the rabbit/hare thing. So God was talking about a hyrax and not a rabbit – OK. Now James, Kangaroos are native to Australia and surrounding islands. What are we doing talking about kangaroos in the land of the Bible? I don’t get it.

And wasn’t it God who made these pronouncements and how could he have mistakenly thought that the hare chewed its cud, which it apparently doesn’t, when he was its creator, and obviously should have known what it was doing?
<“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying unto them: And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.”—Leviticus 11:6>
But since a hare does not chew its cud, did Christian folks just ignore this one figuring that God made a mistake and that it was not unclean, while Jews knew that hare did not chew its cud, but figured that God was confused and having a bad day so cut Him some slack on this one and thus do consider the hare unclean?

Also, Deuteronomy commands that in the waters:
<“All that have fins and scales shall ye eat. . . and whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye shall not eat; it is unclean to you.”—Deuteronomy 14:9-10>
So it seems like it ought to be bye-bye lobster, crabs, shellfish, and shrimp (along with pork, camel, and hyrax – do Christians eat camel and hyrax I wonder? And is the the infamous jackalpoe unclean, and . . . ?) for Christians in general and especially the Biblical inerrancy crowd, who have got to have a high tolerance for contradictory information – I’m really curious how they got around all this at least pigwise and scaleless-finless fishwise – unless, of course, a pig isn’t a pig, a hare isn’t a hare, and a fish isn’t a fish, and translators are the evil doers – Oy Vey! This is more than I can handle. But I suppose some could say that ‘That’s all part of the mystery.’
___________________

Ken G – June 2, 2006

P.S. James, I read your links and found them very interesting and informative and walked away feeling that the case is strong that a hare is not a ruminant, although the ‘inerrancyists’ tried to weasel there way out of that one by saying that they did something similar to ruminating. And it is also clear that translation is a major issue. Your first two links didn’t work if you click on them, although, I was able to get to the sites by searching on the quotes.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:07 am

According to whoever compiled the Wikipedia entry that discusses the hyrax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyrax), this anmimal does not chew the cud:

"Unlike other browsing and grazing animals, they do not have well developed incisors at the front of the jaw for slicing off leaves and grass, and need to use the teeth at the side of the jaw instead. Unlike the even-toed ungulates and some of the macropods, hyraxes do not chew cud to help extract nutrients from coarse, low-grade leaves and grasses. They do, however, have complex, multi-chambered stomachs which allow symbiotic bacteria to break down tough plant materials, and their overall ability to digest fibre is similar to that of the ungulates."

Under the same entry, I found another interesting little snippet concerning, among other things, its role in geographical nomenclature:

"Hyraxes are short-legged, well-furred, rotund creatures with a mere stump for a tail. They are about the size of a domestic cat; most measure between 30 and about 70 cm long and weigh between 2 and 5 kg. From a distance and with a little imagination, a hyrax could be mistaken for a very well-fed rabbit -— indeed, early Phoenician navigators mistook the rabbits of the Iberian Peninsula for hyraxes (Hebrew Shaphan); hence they named it I-Shapan-im, meaning "land of the hyraxes", which became the Latin word "Hispania", the root of Spain's modern Spanish name España and the English name Spain. Also, most of the rabbits mentioned in English Bible translations were actually hyraxes, as early translators could not come up with a specific word for these animals, which were unknown in Europe at that time (the word for hyrax in Hebrew today is usually used to describe a rabbit)."

There is a photo there too, showing a creature that to me resembles a coypu or even a rather small capybara much more than it does a rabbit, especially as it lacks the long ears of the latter.
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Coney Island; coney

Post by kagriffy » Sat Jun 03, 2006 1:56 pm

Ken, Christians aren't bound by the Jewish dietary laws because of a vision Peter had; it's recorded in Acts 10:9-16. While Peter was praying on the roof, he had a vision of a large sheet being lowered, full of "unclean" animals. He heard God's voice saying, "Get up, Peter; kill and eat." Peter refused, because he had never eaten anything unclean or profane. God then tells him, "What God has made clean, you must not call profane."

Immediately after his vision, Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. He interpreted his vision to mean he shouldn't refuse the Gospel to Gentiles. Christians since that time have further intrepreted the vision as a release from the dietary restrictions, which frees us to eat all those "unclean" things like pork chops, ham, and bacon cheeseburgers!
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Coney Island; coney

Post by Ed P » Sat Jun 03, 2006 4:06 pm

Ahem, could chewing the cud be a reference to the habit of members of this family to ... eat their own poo? I was fascinated as a kid by this, as are most small (male) children. The rabbits gut isn`t long enough to properly break down certain plant intakes in one pass, and it gets diverted in the gut and excreted as a shiny poo because it has come from a different part of the gut, and has a special coat, that they eat and finally break down the contents on second pass.
Update i`m nottalking poo, from rabbits 101:www.rabbit.org.au/digestion.html
Smaller particles are diverted to the cecum, where fermentation helps to break down food which would otherwise be indigestible. From here they are "packaged" in a protective coating, and excreted. You bunny will eat these "cecals", and the food will be properly digested (the second time through). These poos are smaller, wetter, and shinier than her normal poo, and you probably won't see them often, as she will eat directly from the source !
Rabbits were known as coneys for a long time,and even colneys because spelling was only semi fixed from the advent of printing, there are many places in the UK with colney or warren in their name, and most are adjacent to former manor house sites. Rabbits and doves were food reserves in winter, not cuddly bunnies. Even familiar pets like the guinea pig were introduced from asia as a faster growing winter food animal.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sat Jun 03, 2006 5:30 pm

Thanks Allen, Below are the relevant passages, and this whole release from kosher thing looks pretty weak and shaky to me:
<"On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour"—Acts 10:9>

<"And he became very hungry, and would have eaten but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,”—Acts 10:10>

<“And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:"—Acts 10:11>

<"Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts and creeping things and fouls of the air."—Acts 10:12>

<"And there came a voice to him, Rise Peter; kill and eat."—Acts 10:13>

<"But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten something which is common or unclean."—Acts 10:14>

<"And the voice spake unto him again a second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not though common."—Acts 10:15>

<“This was done thrice: and the vessel was again received up into the heaven,"—Acts 10:16>

<"Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.—Acts 10:17>
And I assume that this was the end of discussion in the Bible on the issue of repealing the dietary laws.

Questions (anybody):

1) In 10:12 The Lord did not define 'creepy; precisely, but I guess that includes lobsters and a crabs since they do seem to creep. But what about mussels, they’re usually attached to something and appear immobile? And are clams, oysters, etc. considered creepers? What about insects? And what about fish with no scales, such as catfish and eels, etc. They swim and do not creep, so it would seem that they should still be considered unclean? But I don’t think that there is any shortage of Christians eating catfish and eels.

2) In 10:14 the word “common” is introduced into the mix, when Peter says “I have never eaten something which is common or unclean” and God responds “What God hath cleansed that call not though common." From this interchange, I conclude that there was a distinction between ‘common’ and ‘unclean’ since Peter introduced the word ‘common, which didn’t previously appear in the other above dietary law quotes and he specifically uses OR to emphasize that ‘common’ and ‘unclean’ are two different things. We’ve been previously told what was ‘unclean’ in terms of what was ‘clean’ (chewed cut, cloven-footed). So which creatures is it that were ‘clean’ but still ‘common,’ because according to this passage they should definitely be avoided? And it’s not the scaleless, finless fish because in Deuteronomy 14:9-10 he says that those are ‘unclean.’ Seems like some must exist, or why mention it?

3) In Acts 10:17 it says that Peter doubted himself what this vision should mean and then he goes on to other business concerning Cornelius. So is that all there is? Peter goes up on the roof of a house to pray, has a vision, doubts what it means, and he never revisits the subject again for a moment to reflect on what it meant or consider that he might have been suffering from fatigue and hunger (see Acts 10:10) or indigestion, etc. – not another word is ever said about it in the Bible – there is no 'aha' or 'eureka' moment of understanding, no pronouncement of surety. And from this the ancient dietary laws of the Old Testament are deep-sixed? Oy!

I guess I’ve had my fill of Bible analysis for the moment, if this is the type of information one has to deal with. And I think in the future I’ll go and browse through my collection of Far Side cartoons if I need a dose of inspiration, and reserve reading the Bible for when I’m in need of a migraine. (&lt)
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Ken – June 3, 2006
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Post by kagriffy » Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:27 am

Ken, that is the only passage that specifically refers to the dietary laws and how they apply to Christians. However, there are several passages throughout the New Testament on the acceptance and role of Gentiles within the new Christian community. The Council of Jerusalem, for example, was convened to discuss whether Gentiles had to first convert to Judaism before becoming Christians. There were certain factions within the early church that firmly believed that any non-Jews should first convert and obey all the Law; THEN they could be welcomed within the Christian body. After much debate within the church (I guess nothing much has changed in 2,000 years!), it was decided that Gentiles could become Christians WITHOUT first becoming Jews. Therefore, if they did not have to convert to Judaism, there were no Jewish dietary laws to comply with.
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:04 pm

Christ fulfilled cultic law. Moral law stands. The "eureka moment" is left to each person.
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Post by Debz » Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:23 pm

Oh, dear, I didn't take the time to read every post, but here it is in a nutshell. God commanded the people of Israel to eat things that were considered "clean" to keep them from getting sick. As to the reference of fish without scales,lobsters, mussels, etc, They were considered unclean because they are the scavengers of the marine environment, such as vultures and dogs are considered on land.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:12 am

Deborah, So why do suppose God changed His mind about all this in the New Testament?
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Ken G – May 5, 2006
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:51 am

I don't want to get in the way of the discussion concerning Biblical and other religiously-ordained food prohibitions, but it is also worth drawing attention to a rather striking description of Coney Island that accompanies the online Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for today, 2006-06-06 -- or, for the superstitious, 6-6-6 -- namely:

"Adorned by minarets and spires and bedizened by more than a million lights, Coney Island embodied what has been called the 'architecture of exhilaration.'" (Blaine Harden, New York Times, August 28, 1999)
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