Peruvian Jews in Africa

Totally unrelated to the general areas of interest for this blog, and consisting of no input on my part, this entry is so interesting to me I still have to post it:

Comrade Simon (who is at school in the Motherland, specifically Cape Town, where he is trying to learn Xhosa) and I had been discussing the linguistic situation in South Africa, and I inquired about the term “Peruvian”, an old classist term used by more well-off English Jews in South Africa to refer to Jewish persons of more “Oriental” origins. I mentioned that I had heard that “Peruvian” referred to a boat by that name. He writes:

I met an old dame working in the library who is doing her PhD on Jewish female immigrants in South Africa so….

Peruvian hypothesis 1: term comes from an amalgamation of the words used to describe those hailing from the Polish Russian Union

hypothesis 2: It comes from the Yiddish word ‘pruv’, which I don’t need to translate for you! Apparently what old hands used to call new arrivals; like try-hards but get nowheres kind of thing

hypothesis 3: It was just simply the weirdest most far-out, bizarre thing they could liken the Eastern Jews to.

She didn’t mention the boat thing but she said no one she’s met knows the answer for sure. I like the first hypothesis the best…

Thanks Simon!

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