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elbedritsch

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elbedritsch n Usu |ˈɛlbəˌdrɪč, ˈælbə-| Also sp elbedritsche, dimin elbedritschel; occas elfedritsch, -trich; elde(r)britsch; elpentrecher; albedritsch, -tritsch; albertwitsch; for addit varr see quot 1967–70 [PaGer, from Ger Elbe(n)tritsch; see 1960 Hessische Blätter für Volkskunde 51/52 Textteil pp 170–217, esp 208–212; perh also infl by Scots eldritch weird, unnatural] sePA See Map Cf snipe hunt An imaginary creature which, as a practical joke, a greenhorn is sent to hunt or capture.1889 AN&Q 3.115/1 PA, Catching Elfetriches.—Among the “Pennsylvania Dutch” this expression would imply playing a trick upon a person, or making an April fool of him. The “elfetrich” is described as a small animal, like a rat or a squirrel, which can only be caught on a dark night, and in due time the hunter discovers that it is a humbug.  1935 AmSp 10.170 PA, Other German words used in English are . . elbedritsch, a mythological creature (to go elbedritsch hunting is equivalent to going snipe hunting in the Middle West—someone is left holding the bag).  1950 Klees PA Dutch 336, If a young man sufficiently guileless turns up, he’ll be set to catching an elbedritsche, a mythical animal now extinct. . . The difficulties of catching an elbedritsche are dwelt upon in loving detail. Almost grudgingly the old men consent to the young man joining the hunt. The greenhorn is given a bag in which to catch one and taken far off . . and stationed behind a rock or tree while the old men separate—or so he is given to understand—to drive the elbedritsches toward him. There he is left literally holding the bag. 1953 AmSp 28.245 sePA, To go elpentrecher hunting . . denotes waiting, burlap bag in hand, to snare the shy and elusive elpentrecher, as time-consuming an occupation as snipe hunting in other parts of the Union.  1959 Tallman Dict. Amer. Folkl. 105, Elbedritsche—A mythological animal that young men of the Pennsylvania Dutch use as a device for fooling naive or guileless visitors. 1967–70 DARE (Qu. CC17, Imaginary animals or monsters that people around here tell tales about—especially to tease greenhorns) Infs PA22, 29, 36, 45, 54, Albedritsches; PA36, They would give them a stick and light; when they [i.e., albedritsches] ran to this light, they were to hit them with a huge stick; PA11, Albertwitsch [ˈælbɚtˌwɪč]; PA150, Eldebritsches [ˈɛldəˌbrɪčəs]; PA162, Elbedritschel [ˈɛlbəˌdrɪčəl]—little animal; must have a partner, give him a burlap bag—only found on the coldest night; PA243, Elfedritsches [ˈɛlfədrɪčəs]—small creatures, can be caught in a bag; initiate is left holding the bag in woods, waiting for elfedritsches; (Qu. EE33, Other outdoor games) Inf PA22, Albedritsch [ˈælbɪdrɪtč] hunts; (Qu. HH14, Ways of teasing a beginner) Inf PA11, Albetritsches [ˈælbɪˌtrɪčəz]; PA242, Elderbritsches—[we] left a novice standing holding bag expecting elderbritsches to run by. 1967 DARE Tape PA64, There’s nothing like it. But they made him believe it. . . They gave him a big bag and he had to go out and hunt that albedritsch [ˈælbəˌdrɪč]. . . That’s an old one. 1987 Jrl. Engl. Ling. 20.2.169 ePA, Elbedritsch ‘a mythical creature often referred to as snipe’. . . Even though 49% of the [100] subjects acknowledged using elbedritsch, the large number of speakers who left the question blank demonstrates a growing unfamiliarity with the concept.

 

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