Mangas

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Manges (English: /ˈmɑːŋɡɛs, ˈmæŋɡɛs/; Greek: μάγκες [ˈma(ɲ)ɟes], sing.: μάγκας mangas [ˈma(ŋ)ɡas]) is the name of a social group in the Belle Époque era's[1] counterculture of Greece (especially of the great urban centers: Athens, Piraeus, and Thessaloniki). The nearest English equivalent to the term "mangas" (English: /ˈmɑːŋɡəs, ˈmæŋɡəs/) is wide boy, or spiv.[2]

Mangas was a label for men belonging to the working class, behaving in a particularly arrogant/presumptuous way, and dressing with a very typical vesture composed of a woolen hat (kavouraki, καβουράκι), a jacket (they usually wore only one of its sleeves), a tight belt (used as a knife case), stripe pants, and pointy shoes. Other features of their appearance were their long moustache, their bead chaplets (κομπολόγια, sing. κομπολόι), and their idiosyncratic manneristic limp-walking (κουτσό βάδισμα). A related social group were the Koutsavakides (κουτσαβάκηδες, sing. κουτσαβάκης[3]); the two terms are occasionally used interchangeably. Manges are also notable for being closely associated to the history of Rebetiko.

Etymology[edit]

The three most probable etymologies of the word Mangas are the following:

  • From the Turkish manga "small military troop" via Albanian mangë.[4]
  • From the Latin manica (from the same root as Modern Greek μανίκι "sleeve") "hand-related" (cf. the sound change from the Latin manicus to the Spanish mango "handle").[5]
  • According to a more marginal proposal, its origin is from the Latin mango, -onis "dealer, trader".[6]

Mangas in popular culture[edit]

The stereotypical character of Manges became a central theme in several Rebetiko songs (such as "Του Βοτανικού ο Μάγκας" ("The Mangas of Votanikos"), "Ε ντε λα μαγκέ ντε Βοτανίκ" (Et de la Mange de Votanik - the title is in mangika, μάγκικα, the sociolect/cryptolect of manges[7]) "And of the Mangas of Votanikos"), "Πού 'σουν μάγκα το Χειμώνα" ("Where were you, Mangas, during the Winter"), and "Μάγκας βγήκε για Σεργιάνι" ("Α Mangas promenaded").

Karagiozis shadow plays portray a recurrent character called Stavrakas, Σταύρακας.

In modern Greek language, mangas has become a synonym for "swash guy, swagger" or (in dialogue) simply "dude"; depending on context it may have more negative ("bully, henchman, hooligan") or more positive ("brave, crafty man") connotations.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ The time period in Greek history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I is called Προπολεμική Εποχή "Antebellum era" in the Greek Literature and corresponds to the European Belle Époque.
  2. ^ Petropoulos, Elias (2000). Songs of the Greek Underworld: The Rebetika Tradition. Saqi Books. ISBN 0-86356-368-6. 
  3. ^ According to lexicographer Menos Filintas (Μένος Φιλήντας) their name comes from kottabos; according to the Manolis Triantafyllidis Foundation it derives from the surname of Dimitris "Mitsos" Koutsavakis, a notable mangas who lived in Piraeus: κουτσαβάκης.
  4. ^ Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής, Manolis Triantafyllidis Foundation, 1998: μάγκας.
  5. ^ Babiniotis, Georgios. Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας (2nd edition), Κέντρο Λεξικολογίας Ε.Π.Ε., Athens, 2002. ISBN 960-86190-1-7.
  6. ^ Andriotis, Nikolaos. Ετυμολογικό λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής (Etymologiko lexiko tis koinis neoellinikis), Manolis Triantafyllidis Foundation, 1995.
  7. ^ Alexandra Georgakopoulou, Small stories, interaction and identities, John Benjamins, 2007, p. 130.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Stasinopoulos, Epaminondas (Στασινόπουλος, Επαμεινώνδας). Η Αθήνα του περασμένου αιώνα (1830–1900) - Last Century's Athens (1830–1900), Athens, 1963 (in Greek)
  • See also the bibliography sections on rebetiko and rebetes, much of which also deal with the lifestyle of manges.