husky-dusky maiden

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madword

Senior Member
Chinese
"You get the husky-dusky maiden, you see, and then you spin off the benefits from the native claims---the Village land
selections, the corporate profit-sharing, the direct payments coming down from the Alaska Native Fund. "

(Coming into the Country by Mcphee p423 )

What is a husky-dusky maiden like? What I only know is that husky is a breed of dog.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, madword. It is an odd reference to women from various Native-American tribes in Alaska. I doubt that "husky" refers to a stout woman, however. Your idea that "husky" refers to a breed of dog that is common up there seems very reasonable to me. "Dusky" should refer to the hue of her skin.
     
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    madword

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi, madword. It is an odd reference to women from various Native-American tribes in Alaska. I doubt that "husky" refers to a stout woman, however. Your idea that "husky" refers to a breed of dog that is common up there seems very reasonable to me. "Dusky" should refer to the hue of her skin.
    Thanks for your help!
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I would imagine that "husky" referred to her husky voice, which some find attractive.

    It may be a strange choice of word, but it makes a pleasing rhyme with "dusky", which, as Owlman says, refers to the colour or shade of her skin.
     

    madword

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I'd rather that not all tribal women there had a husky voice. As an overall impression of the native Indian women, it's more probably associated with their stout image, hence the handsome animal.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    "There's a husky - dusky maiden in the arctic ... " opening lines of a folk song found by googling and sung on YouTube.

    It's called "When the Ice Worms Nest Again."
    The favourite song of prospectors and trappers in the Canadian north, this ballad later became the theme song for the annual gatherings of silver miners in Ontario and fur trappers in Manitoba.

    There's a husky, dusky maiden in the Arctic
    And she waits for me but it is not in vain,
    For some day I'll put my mukluks on and ask her
    If she'll wed me when the ice worms nest again.
    Chorus: In the land of the pale blue snow,
    Where it's ninety-nine below,
    And the polar bears are roaming o'er the plain,
    In the shadow of the Pole I will clasp her to my soul,
    We'll be happy when the ice worms nest again.
     
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    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Here's another folk song, with a splendid example of multiple similar word concatenations that we are so fond of.
    The girl is telling her would-be lover who's a "coal blacksmith", that she'll never give in to him. It's not clear to me that it shouldn't be coal-black smith.
    Smiths or blacksmiths were often dirty from their work and always 'husky' in the sense of strong

    The Two Magicians
    I'd rather die a maid
    Ah, but then she said and be buried all in my grave
    Than to have such a nasty, husky, dusky, fusky, musky
    Coal blacksmith, a maiden, I will die

    Read more: Steeleye Span - Two Magicians Lyrics | MetroLyrics
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It should be mentioned that the euphemistic use of 'dusky' to refer to dark-skinned people of other ethnicities/races, isn't acceptable these days.
     
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