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Title: The American Language - A Preliminary Inquiry into the Development of English in - the United States
Author: Mencken, Henry L.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The American Language - A Preliminary Inquiry into the Development of English in - the United States" ***

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Original spelling and grammar has mostly been retained. Many
inconsistencies in the use of hyphens and character accents have been
retained; some of these were probably intentional. Footnotes were
moved to the ends of chapters. The original pagination of this 1919
edition is shown in square brackets, e.g. [Pg009]. There are an awful
lot of italics in this book. In this simple text version, /italics are
marked with the solidus/. Text that was originally small caps is
shown in uppercase.

Further details are provided in the TRANSCRIBER ENDNOTE.





 /A Preliminary Inquiry into the Development
 of English in the United States/








The aim of this book is best exhibited by describing its origin. I am,
and have been since early manhood, an editor of newspapers, magazines
and books, and a critic of the last named. These occupations have
forced me into a pretty wide familiarity with current literature, both
periodical and within covers, and in particular into a familiarity
with the current literature of England and America. It was part of my
daily work, for a good many years, to read the principal English
newspapers and reviews; it has been part of my work, all the time, to
read the more important English novels, essays, poetry and criticism.
An American born and bred, I early noted, as everyone else in like
case must note, certain salient differences between the English of
England and the English of America as practically spoken and
written--differences in vocabulary, in syntax, in the shades and
habits of idiom, and even, coming to the common speech, in grammar.
And I noted too, of course, partly during visits to England but more
largely by a somewhat wide and intimate intercourse with English
people in the United States, the obvious differences between English
and American pronunciation and intonation.

Greatly interested in these differences--some of them so great that
they led me to seek exchanges of light with Englishmen--I looked for
some work that would describe and account for them with a show of
completeness, and perhaps depict the process of their origin. I soon
found that no such work existed, either in England or in America--that
the whole literature of the subject was astonishingly meagre and
unsatisfactory. There were several dictionaries of Americanisms, true
enough, but only one of them made any pretension to scientific method,
and even that one was woefully narrow and incomplete. The one more
general treatise, the work of a man foreign to both England and
America in race and education, was more than 40 years old, and full of
palpable errors. For the rest, there was only a fugitive and
inconsequential literature--an almost useless mass of notes and
essays, chiefly by the minor sort of pedagogues, seldom illuminating,
save in small details, and often incredibly ignorant and inaccurate.
On the large and important subject of American pronunciation, for
example, I could find nothing save a few casual essays. On American
spelling, with its wide and constantly visible divergences from
English usages, there was little more. On American grammar there was
nothing whatever. Worse, an important part of the poor literature that
I unearthed was devoted to absurd efforts to prove that no such thing
as an American variety of English existed--that the differences I
constantly encountered in English and that my English friends
encountered in American were chiefly imaginary, and to be explained
away by denying them.

Still intrigued by the subject, and in despair of getting any
illumination from such theoretical masters of it, I began a collection
of materials for my own information, and gradually it took on a rather
formidable bulk. My interest in it being made known by various
articles in the newspapers and magazines, I began also to receive
contributions from other persons of the same fancy, both English and
American, and gradually my collection fell into a certain order, and I
saw the workings of general laws in what, at first, had appeared to be
mere chaos. The present book then began to take form--its preparation
a sort of recreation from other and far different labor. It is
anything but an exhaustive treatise upon the subject; it is not even
an exhaustive examination of the materials. All it pretends to do is
to articulate some of those materials--to get some approach to order
and coherence into them, and so pave the way for a better work by some
more competent man. That work calls for the equipment of a first-rate
philologist, which I am surely not. All I have done here is to stake
out the field, sometimes borrowing suggestions from other inquirers
and sometimes, as in the case of American grammar, attempting to run
the lines myself.

That it should be regarded as an anti-social act to examine and
exhibit the constantly growing differences between English and
American, as certain American pedants argue sharply--this doctrine is
quite beyond my understanding. All it indicates, stripped of
sophistry, is a somewhat childish effort to gain the approval of
Englishmen--a belated efflorescence of the colonial spirit, often
commingled with fashionable aspiration. The plain fact is that the
English themselves are not deceived, nor do they grant the approval so
ardently sought for. On the contrary, they are keenly aware of the
differences between the two dialects, and often discuss them, as the
following pages show. Perhaps one dialect, in the long run, will
defeat and absorb the other; if the two nations continue to be
partners in great adventures it may very well happen. But even in that
case, something may be accomplished by examining the differences which
exist today. In some ways, as in intonation, English usage is plainly
better than American. In others, as in spelling, American usage is as
plainly better than English. But in order to develop usages that the
people of both nations will accept it is obviously necessary to study
the differences now visible. This study thus shows a certain utility.
But its chief excuse is its human interest, for it prods deeply into
national idiosyncrasies and ways of mind, and that sort of prodding is
always entertaining.

I am thus neither teacher, nor prophet, nor reformer, but merely
inquirer. The exigencies of my vocation make me almost completely
bilingual; I can write English, as in this clause, quite as readily as
American, as in this here one. Moreover, I have a hand for a
compromise dialect which embodies the common materials of both, and is
thus free from offense on both sides of the water--as befits the
editor of a magazine published in both countries. But that compromise
dialect is the living speech of neither. What I have tried to do here
is to make a first sketch of the living speech of These States. The
work is confessedly incomplete, and in places very painfully so, but
in such enterprises a man must put an arbitrary term to his labors,
lest some mischance, after years of diligence, take him from them too
suddenly for them to be closed, and his laborious accumulations, as
Ernest Walker says in his book on English surnames, be "doomed to the
waste-basket by harassed executors."

If the opportunity offers in future I shall undoubtedly return to the
subject. For one thing, I am eager to attempt a more scientific
examination of the grammar of the American vulgar speech, here
discussed briefly in Chapter VI. For another thing, I hope to make
further inquiries into the subject of American surnames of non-English
origin. Various other fields invite. No historical study of American
pronunciation exists; the influence of German, Irish-English, Yiddish
and other such immigrant dialects upon American has never been
investigated; there is no adequate treatise on American geographical
names. Contributions of materials and suggestions for a possible
revised edition of the present book will reach me if addressed to me
in care of the publisher at 220 West Forty-second Street, New York. I
shall also be very grateful for the correction of errors, some perhaps
typographical but others due to faulty information or mistaken

In conclusion I borrow a plea in confession and avoidance from Ben
Jonson's pioneer grammar of English, published in incomplete form
after his death. "We have set down," he said, "that that in our
judgment agreeth best with reason and good order. Which
notwithstanding, if it seem to any to be too rough hewed, let him
plane it out more smoothly, and I shall not only not envy it, but in
the behalf of my country most heartily thank him for so great a
benefit; hoping that I shall be thought sufficiently to have done my
part if in tolling this bell I may draw others to a deeper
consideration of the matter; for, touching myself, I must needs
confess that after much painful churning this only would come which
here we have devised."


 Baltimore, January 1, 1919.



  1. The Diverging Streams,   1

  2. The Academic Attitude,   4

  3. The View of Writing Men,   12

  4. Foreign Observers,   18

  5. The Characters of American,   19

  6. The Materials of American,   29


  1. In Colonial Days,   36

  2. Sources of Early Americanisms,   40

  3. New Words of English Material,   44

  4. Changed Meanings,   51

  5. Archaic English Words,   54

  6. Colonial Pronunciation,   58


  1. The New Nation,   63

  2. The Language in the Making,   72

  3. The Expanding Vocabulary,   76

  4. Loan-Words,   86

  5. Pronunciation,   94


  1. The Two Vocabularies,   97

  2. Differences in Usage,   102

  3. Honorifics,   117

  4. Euphemisms and Forbidden Words,   124


  1. International Exchanges,   131

  2. Points of Difference,   138

  3. Lost Distinctions,   143

  4. Foreign Influences Today,   149

  5. Processes of Word Formation,   159

  6. Pronunciation,   166


  1. Grammarians and Their Ways,   177

  2. Spoken American As It Is,   184

  3. The Verb,   192

  4. The Pronoun,   212

  5. The Adverb,   226

  6. The Noun and Adjective,   229

  7. The Double Negative,   231

  8. Pronunciation,   234


  1. Typical Forms,   242

  2. General Tendencies,   245

  3. The Influence of Webster,   247

  4. Exchanges,   255

  5. Simplified Spelling,   261

  6. Minor Differences,   264


  1. Surnames,   268

  2. Given Names,   283

  3. Geographical Names,   286

  4. Street Names,   298


  1. Proverb and Platitude,   301

  2. American Slang,   304

  3. The Future of the Language,   312






By Way of Introduction

§ 1

/The Diverging Streams/--Thomas Jefferson, with his usual prevision,
saw clearly more than a century ago that the American people, as they
increased in numbers and in the diversity of their national interests
and racial strains, would make changes in their mother tongue, as they
had already made changes in the political institutions of their
inheritance. "The new circumstances under which we are placed," he
wrote to John Waldo from Monticello on August 16, 1813, "call for new
words, new phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects.
An American dialect will therefore be formed."

Nearly a quarter of a century before this, another great American, and
one with an expertness in the matter that the too versatile Jefferson
could not muster, had ventured upon a prophecy even more bold and
specific. He was Noah Webster, then at the beginning of his stormy
career as a lexicographer. In his little volume of "Dissertations on
the English Language," printed in 1789 and dedicated to "His
Excellency, Benjamin Franklin, Esq., LL.D., F.R.S., late President of
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," Webster argued that the time for
regarding English usage and submitting to English authority had
already passed, and that "a future separation of the American tongue
from the English" was "necessary and unavoidable." "Numerous local
causes," he continued, "such as a new country, new associations of
people, new combinations of ideas in arts and sciences, and some
intercourse with tribes wholly unknown in Europe, will introduce new
words into the American tongue. These causes will produce, in a course
of time, a language in [Pg002] North America as different from the
future language of England as the modern Dutch, Danish and Swedish are
from the German, or from one another."[1]

Neither Jefferson nor Webster put a term upon his prophecy. They may
have been thinking, one or both, of a remote era, not yet come to
dawn, or they may have been thinking, with the facile imagination of
those days, of a period even earlier than our own. In the latter case,
they allowed far too little (and particularly Webster) for factors
that have worked powerfully against the influences they saw so clearly
in operation about them. One of these factors, obviously, has been the
vast improvement in communications across the ocean, a change scarcely
in vision a century ago. It has brought New York relatively nearer to
London today than it was to Boston, or even to Philadelphia, during
Jefferson's presidency, and that greater proximity has produced a
steady interchange of ideas, opinions, news and mere gossip. We
latter-day Americans know a great deal more about the everyday affairs
of England than the early Americans, for we read more English books,
and have more about the English in our newspapers, and meet more
Englishmen, and go to England much oftener. The effects of this
ceaseless traffic in ideas and impressions, so plainly visible in
politics, in ethics and aesthetics, and even in the minutae of social
intercourse, are also to be seen in the language. On the one hand
there is a swift exchange of new inventions on both sides, so that
much of our American slang quickly passes to London and the latest
English fashions in pronunciation are almost instantaneously imitated,
at least by a minority, in New York; and on the other hand the
English, by so constantly having the floor, force upon us, out of
their firmer resolution and certitude, a somewhat sneaking respect for
their own greater conservatism of speech, so that our professors of
the language, in the overwhelming main, combat all signs of
differentiation with the utmost diligence, and safeguard the doctrine
that the standards of English are the only reputable standards of

This doctrine, of course, is not supported by the known laws of
[Pg003] language, nor has it prevented the large divergences that we
shall presently examine, but all the same it has worked steadily
toward a highly artificial formalism, and as steadily against the
investigation of the actual national speech. Such grammar, so-called,
as is taught in our schools and colleges, is a grammar standing
four-legged upon the theorizings and false inferences of English
Latinists, eager only to break the wild tongue of Shakespeare to a
rule; and its frank aim is to create in us a high respect for a book
language which few of us ever actually speak and not many of us even
learn to write. That language, heavily artificial though it may be,
undoubtedly has notable merits. It shows a sonority and a stateliness
that you must go to the Latin of the Golden Age to match; its "highly
charged and heavy-shotted" periods, in Matthew Arnold's phrase, serve
admirably the obscurantist purposes of American pedagogy and of
English parliamentary oratory and leader-writing; it is something for
the literary artists of both countries to prove their skill upon by
flouting it. But to the average American, bent upon expressing his
ideas, not stupendously but merely clearly, it must always remain
something vague and remote, like Greek history or the properties of
the parabola, for he never speaks it or hears it spoken, and seldom
encounters it in his everyday reading. If he learns to write it, which
is not often, it is with a rather depressing sense of its
artificiality. He may master it as a Korean, bred in the colloquial
Onmun, may master the literary Korean-Chinese, but he never thinks in
it or quite feels it.

This fact, I daresay, is largely responsible for the notorious failure
of our schools to turn out students who can put their ideas into words
with simplicity and intelligibility. What their professors try to
teach is not their mother-tongue at all, but a dialect that stands
quite outside their common experience, and into which they have to
translate their thoughts, consciously and painfully. Bad writing
consists in making the attempt, and failing through lack of practise.
Good writing consists, as in the case of Howells, in deliberately
throwing overboard the principles so elaborately inculcated, or, as in
the case of Lincoln, in standing unaware of them. Thus the study of
the language he is [Pg004] supposed to use, to the average American,
takes on a sort of bilingual character. On the one hand, he is
grounded abominably in a grammar and syntax that have always been
largely artificial, even in the country where they are supposed to
prevail, and on the other hand he has to pick up the essentials of his
actual speech as best he may. "Literary English," says Van Wyck
Brooks,[2] "with us is a tradition, just as Anglo-Saxon law with us is
a tradition. They persist, not as the normal expressions of a race,
... but through prestige and precedent and the will and habit of a
dominating class largely out of touch with a national fabric
unconsciously taking form out of school." What thus goes on out of
school does not interest the guardians of our linguistic morals. No
attempt to deduce the principles of American grammar, or even of
American syntax, from the everyday speech of decently spoken Americans
has ever been made. There is no scientific study, general and
comprehensive in scope, of the American vocabulary, or of the
influences lying at the root of American word-formation. No American
philologist, so far as I know, has ever deigned to give the same sober
attention to the /sermo plebeius/ of his country that he habitually
gives to the mythical objective case in theoretical English, or to the
pronunciation of Latin, or to the irregular verbs in French.

§ 2

/The Academic Attitude/--This neglect of the vulgate by those
professionally trained to investigate it, and its disdainful dismissal
when it is considered at all, are among the strangest phenomena of
American scholarship. In all other countries the everyday speech of
the people, and even the speech of the illiterate, have the constant
attention of philologists, and the laws of their growth and variation
are elaborately studied. In France, to name but one agency, there is
the Société des Parlers de France, with its diligent inquiries into
changing forms; moreover, the Académie itself is endlessly concerned
with the [Pg005] subject, and is at great pains to observe and note
every fluctuation in usage.[3] In Germany, amid many other such works,
there are the admirable grammars of the spoken speech by Dr. Otto
Bremer. In Sweden there are several journals devoted to the study of
the vulgate, and the government has recently granted a subvention of
7500 /kronen/ a year to an organization of scholars called the
Undersökningen av Svenska Folkmaal, formed to investigate it
systematically.[4] In Norway there is a widespread movement to
overthrow the official Dano-Norwegian, and substitute a national
language based upon the speech of the peasants.[5] In Spain the
Academia is constantly at work upon its great Diccionario, Ortografía
and Gramática, and revises them at frequent intervals (the last time
in 1914), taking in all new words as they appear and all new forms of
old ones. And in Latin-America, to come nearer to our own case, the
native philologists have produced a copious literature on the matter
closest at hand, [Pg006] and one finds in it very excellent works
upon the Portuguese dialect of Brazil, and the variations of Spanish
in Mexico, the Argentine, Chili, Peru, Ecuador, Uraguay and even
Honduras and Costa Rica.[6] But in the United States the business has
attracted little attention, and less talent. The only existing formal
treatise upon the subject[7] was written by a Swede trained in Germany
and is heavy with errors and omissions. And the only usable dictionary
of Americanisms[8] was written in England, and is the work of an
expatriated lawyer. Not a single volume by a native philologist,
familiar with the language by daily contact and professionally
equipped for the business, is to be found in the meagre bibliography.

I am not forgetting, of course, the early explorations of Noah
Webster, of which much more anon, nor the labors of our later
dictionary makers, nor the inquiries of the American Dialect
Society,[9] nor even the occasional illuminations of such writers as
Richard Grant White, Thomas S. Lounsbury and Brander Matthews. But all
this preliminary work has left the main field almost uncharted.
Webster, as we shall see, was far more a reformer of the American
dialect than a student of it. He introduced radical changes into its
spelling and pronunciation, but he showed little understanding of its
direction and genius. One always sees in him, indeed, the teacher
rather than the scientific inquirer; the ardor of his desire to
expound and instruct was only matched by his infinite capacity for
observing inaccurately, and his profound ignorance of elementary
philological principles. In the preface to the first edition of his
American Dictionary, published in 1828--the first in which he added
the qualifying adjective to the title--he argued eloquently for the
right of Americans to shape their own speech without regard to
English [Pg007] precedents, but only a year before this he had told
Captain Basil Hall[10] that he knew of but fifty genuine
Americanisms--a truly staggering proof of his defective observation.
Webster was the first American professional scholar, and despite his
frequent engrossment in public concerns and his endless public
controversies, there was always something sequestered and almost
medieval about him. The American language that he described and argued
for was seldom the actual tongue of the folks about him, but often a
sort of Volapük made up of one part faulty reporting and nine parts
academic theorizing. In only one department did he exert any lasting
influence, and that was in the department of orthography. The fact
that our spelling is simpler and usually more logical than the English
we chiefly owe to him. But it is not to be forgotten that the majority
of his innovations, even here, were not adopted, but rejected, nor is
it to be forgotten that spelling is the least of all the factors that
shape and condition a language.

The same caveat lies against the work of the later makers of
dictionaries; they have gone ahead of common usage in the matter of
orthography, but they have hung back in the far more important matter
of vocabulary, and have neglected the most important matter of idiom
altogether. The defect in the work of the Dialect Society lies in a
somewhat similar circumscription of activity. Its constitution,
adopted in 1889, says that "its object is the investigation of the
spoken English of the United States and Canada," but that
investigation, so far, has got little beyond the accumulation of
vocabularies of local dialects, such as they are. Even in this
department its work is very far from finished, and the Dialect
Dictionary announced years ago has not yet appeared. Until its
collections are completed and synchronized, it will be impossible for
its members to make any profitable inquiry into the general laws
underlying the development of American, or even to attempt a
classification of the materials common to the whole speech. The
meagreness of the materials accumulated in the five slow-moving
volumes of /Dialect Notes/ shows clearly, indeed, how little the
American philologist is [Pg008] interested in the language that falls
upon his ears every hour of the day. And in /Modern Language Notes/
that impression is reinforced, for its bulky volumes contain
exhaustive studies of all the other living languages and dialects, but
only an occasional essay upon American.

Now add to this general indifference a persistent and often violent
effort to oppose any formal differentiation of English and American,
initiated by English purists but heartily supported by various
Americans, and you come, perhaps, to some understanding of the
unsatisfactory state of the literature of the subject. The pioneer
dictionary of Americanisms, published in 1816 by John Pickering, a
Massachusetts lawyer,[11] was not only criticized unkindly; it was
roundly denounced as something subtly impertinent and corrupting, and
even Noah Webster took a formidable fling at it.[12] Most of the
American philologists of the early days--Witherspoon, Worcester,
Fowler, Cobb and their like--were uncompromising advocates of
conformity, and combatted every indication of a national independence
in speech with the utmost vigilance. One of their company, true
enough, stood out against the rest. He was George Perkins Marsh, and
in his "Lectures on the English Language"[13] he argued that "in point
of naked syntactical accuracy, the English of America is not at all
inferior to that of England." But even Marsh expressed the hope that
Americans would not, "with malice prepense, go about to republicanize
our orthography and our syntax, our grammars and our dictionaries, our
nursery hymns (/sic/) and our Bibles" to the point of actual
separation.[14] Moreover, he was a philologist only by courtesy; the
regularly ordained school-masters were all against him. The fear
voiced by William C. Fowler, professor of rhetoric at Amherst, that
Americans might "break loose from the laws of the English
language"[15] altogether, was [Pg009] echoed by the whole fraternity,
and so the corrective bastinado was laid on.

It remained, however, for two professors of a later day to launch the
doctrine that the independent growth of American was not only immoral,
but a sheer illusion. They were Richard Grant White, for long the
leading American writer upon language questions, at least in popular
esteem, and Thomas S. Lounsbury, for thirty-five years professor of
the English language and literature in the Sheffield Scientific School
at Yale, and an indefatigable controversialist. Both men were of the
utmost industry in research, and both had wide audiences. White's
"Words and Their Uses," published in 1872, was a mine of erudition,
and his "Everyday English," following eight years later, was another.
True enough, Fitzedward Hall, the Anglo-Indian-American philologist,
disposed of many of his etymologies and otherwise did execution upon
him,[16] but in the main his contentions held water. Lounsbury was
also an adept and favorite expositor. His attacks upon certain
familiar pedantries of the grammarians were penetrating and effective,
and his two books, "The Standard of Usage in English" and "The
Standard of Pronunciation in English," not to mention his excellent
"History of the English Language" and his numerous magazine articles,
showed a profound knowledge of the early development of the language,
and an admirable spirit of free inquiry. But both of these laborious
scholars, when they turned from English proper to American English,
displayed an unaccountable desire to deny its existence altogether,
and to the support of that denial they brought a critical method that
was anything but unprejudiced. White devoted not less than eight long
articles in the /Atlantic Monthly/[17] to a review of the fourth
edition of John [Pg010] Russell Bartlett's American Glossary,[18] and
when he came to the end he had disposed of nine-tenths of Bartlett's
specimens and called into question the authenticity of at least half
of what remained. And no wonder, for his method was simply that of
erecting tests so difficult and so arbitrary that only the exceptional
word or phrase could pass them, and then only by a sort of chance. "To
stamp a word or a phrase as an Americanism," he said, "it is necessary
to show that (1) it is of so-called 'American' origin--that is, that
it first came into use in the United States of North America, or that
(2) it has been adopted in those States from some language other than
English, or has been kept in use there while it has /wholly/ passed
out of use in England." Going further, he argued that unless "the
simple words in compound names" were used in America "in a sense
different from that in which they are used in England" the compound
itself could not be regarded as an Americanism. The absurdity of all
this is apparent when it is remembered that one of his rules would bar
out such obvious Americanisms as the use of /sick/ in place of /ill/,
of /molasses/ for /treacle/, and of /fall/ for /autumn/, for all of
these words, while archaic in England, are by no means wholly extinct;
and that another would dispose of that vast category of compounds
which includes such unmistakably characteristic Americanisms as
/joy-ride/, /rake-off/, /show-down/, /up-lift/, /out-house/,
/rubber-neck/, /chair-warmer/, /fire-eater/ and /back-talk/.

Lounsbury went even further. In the course of a series of articles in
/Harper's Magazine/, in 1913,[19] he laid down the dogma that
"cultivated speech ... affords the only legitimate basis of comparison
between the language as used in England and in America," and then went

 In the only really proper sense of the term, an Americanism is a word
 or phrase naturally used by an educated American which under similar
 conditions would not be used by an educated Englishman. The emphasis,
 it will be seen, lies in the word "educated."

This curious criterion, fantastic as it must have seemed to [Pg011]
European philologists, was presently reinforced, for in his fourth
article Lounsbury announced that his discussion was "restricted to the
/written/ speech of educated men." The result, of course, was a
wholesale slaughter of Americanisms. If it was not impossible to
reject a word, like White, on the ground that some stray English poet
or other had once used it, it was almost always possible to reject it
on the ground that it was not admitted into the vocabulary of a
college professor when he sat down to compose formal book-English.
What remained was a small company, indeed--and almost the whole field
of American idiom and American grammar, so full of interest for the
less austere explorer, was closed without even a peek into it.

White and Lounsbury dominated the arena and fixed the fashion. The
later national experts upon the national language, with a few somewhat
timorous exceptions, pass over its peculiarities without noticing
them. So far as I can discover, there is not a single treatise in type
upon one of its most salient characters--the wide departure of some of
its vowel sounds from those of orthodox English. Marsh, C. H.
Grandgent and Robert J. Menner have printed a number of valuable
essays upon the subject, but there is no work that co-ordinates their
inquiries or that attempts otherwise to cover the field. When, in
preparing materials for the following chapters, I sought to determine
the history of the /a/-sound in America, I found it necessary to plow
through scores of ancient spelling-books, and to make deductions,
perhaps sometimes rather rash, from the works of Franklin, Webster and
Cobb. Of late the National Council of Teachers of English has
appointed a Committee on American Speech and sought to let some light
into the matter, but as yet its labors are barely begun and the
publications of its members get little beyond preliminaries. Such an
inquiry involves a laboriousness which should have intrigued
Lounsbury: he once counted the number of times the word /female/
appears in "Vanity Fair." But you will find only a feeble dealing with
the question in his book on pronunciation. Nor is there any adequate
work (for Schele de Vere's is full of errors and omissions) upon the
influences felt by American through contact with the languages of our
millions [Pg012] of immigrants, nor upon our peculiarly rich and
characteristic slang. There are several excellent dictionaries of
English slang, and many more of French slang, but I have been able to
find but one devoted exclusively to American slang, and that one is a
very bad one.

§ 3

/The View of Writing Men/--But though the native /Gelehrten/ thus
neglect the vernacular, or even oppose its study, it has been the
object of earnest lay attention since an early day, and that attention
has borne fruit in a considerable accumulation of materials, if not in
any very accurate working out of its origins and principles. The
English, too, have given attention to it--often, alas, satirically, or
even indignantly. For a long while, as we shall see, they sought to
stem its differentiation by heavy denunciations of its vagaries, and
so late as the period of the Civil War they attached to it that
quality of abhorrent barbarism which they saw as the chief mark of the
American people. But in later years they have viewed it with a greater
showing of scientific calm, and its definite separation from correct
English, at least as a spoken tongue, is now quite frankly admitted.
The Cambridge History of English Literature, for example, says that
English and American are now "notably dissimilar" in vocabulary, and
that the latter is splitting off into a distinct dialect.[20] The
Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, going further, says
that the two languages are already so far apart that "it is not
uncommon to meet with [American] newspaper articles of which an
untravelled Englishman would hardly be able to understand a
sentence."[21] A great many other academic authorities, including A.
H. Sayce and H. W. and F. G. Fowler, bear testimony to the same

On turning to the men actually engaged in writing English, and
particularly to those aspiring to an American audience, one finds
nearly all of them adverting, at some time or other, to the growing
difficulties of intercommunication. William Archer, [Pg013] Arnold
Bennett, H. G. Wells, Sidney Low, the Chestertons and Kipling are some
of those who have dealt with the matter at length. Low, in an article
in the /Westminster Gazette/[22] ironically headed "Ought American to
be Taught in our Schools?" has described how the latter-day British
business man is "puzzled by his ignorance of colloquial American" and
"painfully hampered" thereby in his handling of American trade. He

 In the United States of North America the study of the English tongue
 forms part of the educational scheme. I gather this because I find
 that they have professors of the English language and literature in
 the Universities there, and I note that in the schools there are
 certain hours alloted for "English" under instructors who specialize
 in that subject. This is quite right. English is still far from being
 a dead language, and our American kinsfolk are good enough to
 appreciate the fact.

 But I think we should return the compliment. We ought to learn the
 American language in our schools and colleges. At present it is
 strangely neglected by the educational authorities. They pay
 attention to linguistic attainments of many other kinds, but not to
 this. How many thousands of youths are at this moment engaged in
 puzzling their brains over Latin and Greek grammar only Whitehall
 knows. Every well-conducted seminary has some instructor who is under
 the delusion that he is teaching English boys and girls to speak
 French with a good Parisian accent. We teach German, Italian, even
 Spanish, Russian, modern Greek, Arabic, Hindustani. For a moderate
 fee you can acquire a passing acquaintance with any of these tongues
 at the Berlitz Institute and the Gouin Schools. But even in these
 polyglot establishments there is nobody to teach you American. I have
 never seen a grammar of it or a dictionary. I have searched in vain
 at the book-sellers for "How to Learn American in Three Weeks" or
 some similar compendium. Nothing of the sort exists. The native
 speech of one hundred millions of civilized people is as grossly
 neglected by the publishers as it is by the schoolmasters. You can
 find means to learn Hausa or Swahili or Cape Dutch in London more
 easily than the expressive, if difficult, tongue which is spoken in
 the office, the bar-room, the tram-car, from the snows of Alaska to
 the mouths of the Mississippi, and is enshrined in a literature that
 is growing in volume and favor every day.

Low then quotes an extract from an American novel appearing [Pg014]
serially in an English magazine--an extract including such
Americanisms as /side-stepper/, /saltwater-taffy/, /Prince-Albert/
(coat), /boob/, /bartender/ and /kidding/, and many characteristically
American extravagances of metaphor. It might be well argued, he goes
on, that this strange dialect is as near to "the tongue that
Shakespeare spoke" as "the dialect of Bayswater or Brixton," but that
philological fact does not help to its understanding. "You might
almost as well expect him [the British business man] to converse
freely with a Portuguese railway porter because he tried to stumble
through Caesar when he was in the Upper Fourth at school."

In the /London Daily Mail/, W. G. Faulkner lately launched this
proposed campaign of education by undertaking to explain various terms
appearing in American moving-pictures to English spectators. Mr.
Faulkner assumed that most of his readers would understand /sombrero/,
/sidewalk/, /candy-store/, /freight-car/, /boost/, /elevator/, /boss/,
/crook/ and /fall/ (for /autumn/) without help, but he found it
necessary to define such commonplace Americanisms as /hoodlum/,
/hobo/, /bunco-steerer/, /rubber-neck/, /drummer/, /sucker/, /dive/
(in the sense of a thieves' resort), /clean-up/, /graft/ and /to
feature/. Curiously enough, he proved the reality of the difficulties
he essayed to level by falling into error as to the meanings of some
of the terms he listed, among them /dead-beat/, /flume/, /dub/ and
/stag/. Another English expositor, apparently following him, thought
it necessary to add definitions of /hold-up/, /quitter/, /rube/,
/shack/, /road-agent/, /cinch/, /live-wire/ and /scab/,[23] but he,
too, mistook the meaning of /dead-beat/, and in addition he misdefined
/band-wagon/ and substituted /get-out/, seemingly an invention of his
own, for /get-away/. Faulkner, somewhat belated in his animosity,
seized the opportunity to read a homily upon the vulgarity and
extravagance of the American language, and argued that the
introduction of its coinages through the moving-picture theatre
(/Anglais, cinema/) "cannot be regarded without serious [Pg015]
misgivings, if only because it generates and encourages mental
indiscipline so far as the choice of expressions is concerned." In
other words, the greater pliability and resourcefulness of American is
a fault to be corrected by the English tendency to hold to that which
is established.

Cecil Chesterton, in the /New Witness/, recently called attention to
the increasing difficulty of intercommunication, not only verbally,
but in writing. The American newspapers, he said, even the best of
them, admit more and more locutions that puzzle and dismay an English
reader. After quoting a characteristic headline he went on:

 I defy any ordinary Englishman to say that that is the English
 language or that he can find any intelligible meaning in it. Even a
 dictionary will be of no use to him. He must know the language
 colloquially or not at all.... No doubt it is easier for an
 Englishman to understand American than it would be for a Frenchman to
 do the same, just as it is easier for a German to understand Dutch
 than it would be for a Spaniard. But it does not make the American
 language identical with the English.[24]

Chesterton, however, refrained from denouncing this lack of identity;
on the contrary, he allowed certain merits to American. "I do not want
anybody to suppose," he said, "that the American language is in any
way inferior to ours. In some ways it has improved upon it in vigor
and raciness. In other ways it adheres more closely to the English of
the best period." Testimony to the same end was furnished before this
by William Archer. "New words," he said, "are begotten by new
conditions of life; and as American life is far more fertile of new
conditions than ours, the tendency toward neologism cannot but be
stronger in America than in England. America has enormously enriched
the language, not only with new words, but (since the American mind
is, on the whole, quicker and wittier than the English) with apt and
luminous colloquial metaphors."[25]

The list of such quotations might be indefinitely prolonged. [Pg016]
There is scarcely an English book upon the United States which does
not offer some discussion, more or less profound, of American
peculiarities of speech, both as they are revealed in spoken discourse
(particularly pronunciation and intonation) and as they show
themselves in popular literature and in the newspapers, and to this
discussion protest is often added, as it very often is by the reviews
and newspapers. "The Americans," says a typical critic, "have so far
progressed with their self-appointed task of creating an American
language that much of their conversation is now incomprehensible to
English people."[26] On our own side there is almost equal evidence of
a sense of difference, despite the fact that the educated American is
presumably trained in orthodox English, and can at least read it
without much feeling of strangeness. "The American," says George Ade,
in his book of travel, "In Pastures New," "must go to England in order
to learn for a dead certainty that he does not speak the English
language.... This pitiful fact comes home to every American when he
arrives in London--that there are two languages, the English and the
American. One is correct; the other is incorrect. One is a pure and
limpid stream; the other is a stagnant pool, swarming with
bacilli."[27] This was written in 1906. Twenty-five years earlier Mark
Twain had made the same observation. "When I speak my native tongue in
its utmost purity in England," he said, "an Englishman can't
understand me at all."[28] The languages, continued Mark, "were
identical several generations ago, but our changed conditions and the
spread of our people far to the south and far to the west have made
many alterations in our pronunciation, and have introduced new words
among us and changed the meanings of old ones." Even before this the
great humorist had marked and hailed these differences. Already in
"Roughing It" he was celebrating "the vigorous new vernacular of the
[Pg017] occidental plains and mountains,"[29] and in all his writings,
even the most serious, he deliberately engrafted its greater liberty
and more fluent idiom upon the stem of English, and so lent the
dignity of his high achievement to a dialect that was as unmistakably
American as the point of view underlying it.

The same tendency is plainly visible in William Dean Howells. His
novels are mines of American idiom, and his style shows an undeniable
revolt against the trammels of English grammarians. In 1886 he made a
plea in /Harper's/ for a concerted effort to put American on its own
legs. "If we bother ourselves," he said, "to write what the critics
imagine to be 'English,' we shall be priggish and artificial, and
still more so if we make our Americans talk 'English.' ... On our lips
our continental English will differ more and more from the insular
English, and we believe that this is not deplorable but
desirable."[30] Howells then proceeded to discuss the nature of the
difference, and described it accurately as determined by the greater
rigidity and formality of the English of modern England. In American,
he said, there was to be seen that easy looseness of phrase and gait
which characterized the English of the Elizabethan era, and
particularly the Elizabethan hospitality to changed meanings and bold
metaphors. American, he argued, made new words much faster than
English, and they were, in the main, words of much greater daring and

The difference between the two tongues, thus noted by the writers of
both, was made disconcertingly apparent to the American troops when
they first got to France and came into contact with the English.
Fraternizing was made difficult by the wide divergence in vocabulary
and pronunciation--a divergence interpreted by each side as a sign of
uncouthness. The Y. M. C. A. made a characteristic effort to turn the
resultant feeling of strangeness and homesickness among the Americans
to account. In the /Chicago Tribune's/ Paris edition of July 7, 1917,
I find a large advertisement inviting them to make use of the Y. M. C.
A. [Pg018] clubhouse in the Avenue Montaigue, "where /American/ is
spoken." Earlier in the war the /Illinoiser Staats Zeitung/, no doubt
seeking to keep the sense of difference alive, advertised that it
would "publish articles daily in the /American/ language."

§ 4

/Foreign Observers/--What English and American laymen have thus
observed has not escaped the notice of continental philologists. The
first edition of Bartlett, published in 1848, brought forth a long and
critical review in the /Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen
und Literaturen/ by Prof. Felix Flügel,[31] and in the successive
volumes of the /Archiv/, down to our own day, there have been many
valuable essays upon Americanisms, by such men as Herrig, Koehler and
Koeppel. Various Dutch philologists, among them Barentz, Keijzer and
Van der Voort, have also discussed the subject, and a work in French
has been published by G. A. Barringer.[32] That, even to the lay
Continental, American and English now differ considerably, is
demonstrated by the fact that many of the popular German
/Sprachführer/ appear in separate editions, /Amerikanisch/ and
/Englisch/. This is true of the "Metoula Sprachführer" published by
Prof. F. Lanenscheidt[33] and of the "Polyglott Kuntz" books.[34] The
American edition of the latter starts off with the doctrine that
"/Jeder, der nach Nord-Amerika oder Australien will, muss Englisch
können/," but a great many of the words and phrases that appear in its
examples would be unintelligible to many Englishmen--/e.g./,
/free-lunch/, /real-estate agent/, /buckwheat/, /corn/ (for /maize/),
/conductor/, /pop-corn/ and /drug-store/--and a number of others would
suggest false meanings or otherwise puzzle--/e. g./, /napkin/,
/saloon/, /wash-stand/, /water-pitcher/ and /apple-pie/.[35] To
[Pg019] these pedagogical examples must be added that of Baedeker, of
guide-book celebrity. In his guide-book to the United States, prepared
for Englishmen, he is at pains to explain the meaning of various
American words and phrases.

A philologist of Scandinavian extraction, Elias Molee, has gone so far
as to argue that the acquisition of correct English, to a people grown
so mongrel in blood as the Americans, has become a useless burden. In
place of it he proposes a mixed tongue, based on English, but
admitting various elements from the other Germanic languages. His
grammar, however, is so much more complex than that of English that
most Americans would probably find his artificial "American" very
difficult of acquirement. At all events it has made no progress.[36]

§ 5

/The Characters of American/--The characters chiefly noted in American
speech by all who have discussed it are, first, its general uniformity
throughout the country, so that, dialects, properly speaking, are
confined to recent immigrants, to the native whites of a few isolated
areas and to the negroes of the South; and, secondly, its impatient
disdain of rule and precedent, and hence its large capacity
(distinctly greater than that of the English of England) for taking in
new words and phrases and for manufacturing new locutions out of its
own materials. The first of these characters has struck every
observer, native and foreign. In place of the local dialects of other
countries we have a general /Volkssprache/ for the whole nation, and
if it is conditioned [Pg020] at all it is only by minor differences
in pronunciation and by the linguistic struggles of various groups of
newcomers. "The speech of the United States," said Gilbert M. Tucker,
"is quite unlike that of Great Britain in the important particular
that here we have no dialects."[37] "We all," said Mr. Taft during his
presidency, "speak the same language and have the same ideas."
"Manners, morals and political views," said the /New York World/,
commenting upon this dictum, "have all undergone a standardization
which is one of the remarkable aspects of American evolution. Perhaps
it is in the uniformity of language that this development has been
most noteworthy. Outside of the Tennessee mountains and the back
country of New England there is no true dialect."[38] "While we have
or have had single counties as large as Great Britain," says another
American observer, "and in some of our states England could be lost,
there is practically no difference between the American spoken in our
4,039,000 square miles of territory, except as spoken by foreigners.
We, assembled here, would be perfectly understood by delegates from
Texas, Maine, Minnesota, Louisiana, or Alaska, or from whatever walk
of life they might come. We can go to any of the 75,000 postoffices in
this country and be entirely sure we will be understood, whether we
want to buy a stamp or borrow a match."[39] "From Portland, Maine, to
Portland, Oregon," agrees an English critic, "no trace of a distinct
dialect is to be found. The man from Maine, even though he may be of
inferior education and limited capacity, can completely understand the
man from Oregon."[40]

No other country can show such linguistic solidarity, nor any approach
to it--not even Canada, for there a large part of the population
resists learning English altogether. The Little Russian of the Ukraine
is unintelligible to the citizen of Petrograd; [Pg021] the Northern
Italian can scarcely follow a conversation in Sicilian; the Low German
from Hamburg is a foreigner in Munich; the Breton flounders in
Gascony. Even in the United Kingdom there are wide divergences.[41]
"When we remember," says the New International Encyclopaedia[42] "that
the dialects of the countries (/sic/) in England have marked
differences--so marked, indeed that it may be doubted whether a
Lancashire miner and a Lincolnshire farmer could understand each
other--we may well be proud that our vast country has, strictly
speaking, only one language." This uniformity was noted by the
earliest observers; Pickering called attention to it in the preface to
his Vocabulary and ascribed it, no doubt accurately, to the
restlessness of the Americans, their inheritance of the immigrant
spirit, "the frequent removals of people from one part of our country
to another." It is especially marked in vocabulary and grammatical
forms--the foundation stones of a living speech. There may be slight
differences in pronunciation and intonation--a Southern softness, a
Yankee drawl, a Western burr--but in the words they use and the way
they use them all Americans, even the least tutored, follow the same
line. One observes, of course, a polite speech and a common speech,
but the common speech is everywhere the same, and its uniform vagaries
take the place of the dialectic variations of other lands. A Boston
street-car conductor could go to work in Chicago, San Francisco or New
Orleans without running the slightest risk of misunderstanding his new
fares. Once he had picked up half a dozen localisms, he would be, to
all linguistic intents and purposes, fully naturalized.

Of the intrinsic differences that separate American from English the
chief have their roots in the obvious disparity between the
environment and traditions of the American people since the
seventeenth century and those of the English. The latter have lived
under a stable social order, and it has impressed upon their souls
their characteristic respect for what is customary and of [Pg022]
good report. Until the war brought chaos to their institutions, their
whole lives were regulated, perhaps more than those of any other
people save the Spaniards, by a regard for precedent. The Americans,
though largely of the same blood, have felt no such restraint, and
acquired no such habit of conformity. On the contrary, they have
plunged to the other extreme, for the conditions of life in their new
country have put a high value upon the precisely opposite qualities of
curiosity and daring, and so they have acquired that character of
restlessness, that impatience of forms, that disdain of the dead hand,
which now broadly marks them. From the first, says a recent literary
historian, they have been "less phlegmatic, less conservative than the
English. There were climatic influences, it may be; there was surely a
spirit of intensity everywhere that made for short effort."[43] Thus,
in the arts, and thus in business, in politics, in daily intercourse,
in habits of mind and speech. The American is not, in truth, lacking
in a capacity for discipline; he has it highly developed; he submits
to leadership readily, and even to tyranny. But, by a curious twist,
it is not the leadership that is old and decorous that fetches him,
but the leadership that is new and extravagant. He will resist
dictation out of the past, but he will follow a new messiah with
almost Russian willingness, and into the wildest vagaries of
economics, religion, morals and speech. A new fallacy in politics
spreads faster in the United States than anywhere else on earth, and
so does a new fashion in hats, or a new revelation of God, or a new
means of killing time, or a new metaphor or piece of slang.

Thus the American, on his linguistic side, likes to make his language
as he goes along, and not all the hard work of his grammar teachers
can hold the business back. A novelty loses nothing by the fact that
it is a novelty; it rather gains something, and particularly if it
meet the national fancy for the terse, the vivid, and, above all, the
bold and imaginative. The characteristic American habit of reducing
complex concepts to the starkest abbreviations was already noticeable
in colonial times, [Pg023] and such highly typical Americanisms as
/O. K./, /N. G./, and /P. D. Q./, have been traced back to the first
days of the republic. Nor are the influences that shaped these early
tendencies invisible today, for the country is still in process of
growth, and no settled social order has yet descended upon it.
Institution-making is still going on, and so is language-making. In so
modest an operation as that which has evolved /bunco/ from /buncombe/
and /bunk/ from /bunco/ there is evidence of a phenomenon which the
philologist recognizes as belonging to the most primitive and lusty
stages of speech. The American vulgate is not only constantly making
new words, it is also deducing roots from them, and so giving proof,
as Prof. Sayce says, that "the creative powers of language are even
now not extinct."[44]

But of more importance than its sheer inventions, if only because much
more numerous, are its extensions of the vocabulary, both absolutely
and in ready workableness, by the devices of rhetoric. The American,
from the beginning, has been the most ardent of recorded rhetoricians.
His politics bristles with pungent epithets; his whole history has
been bedizened with tall talk; his fundamental institutions rest as
much upon brilliant phrases as upon logical ideas. And in small things
as in large he exercises continually an incomparable capacity for
projecting hidden and often fantastic relationships into arresting
parts of speech. Such a term as /rubber-neck/ is almost a complete
treatise on American psychology; it reveals the national habit of mind
more clearly than any labored inquiry could ever reveal it. It has in
it precisely the boldness and disdain of ordered forms that are so
characteristically American, and it has too the grotesque humor of the
country, and the delight in devastating opprobriums, and the acute
feeling for the succinct and savory. The same qualities are in
/rough-house/, /water-wagon/, /near-silk/, /has-been/, /lame-duck/ and
a thousand other such racy substantives, and in all the great stock of
native verbs and adjectives. There is, indeed, but a shadowy boundary
in these new coinages between the various parts of speech. /Corral/,
borrowed [Pg024] from the Spanish, immediately becomes a verb and the
father of an adjective. /Bust/, carved out of /burst/, erects itself
into a noun. /Bum/, coming by way of an earlier /bummer/ from the
German /bummler/, becomes noun, adjective, verb and adverb. Verbs are
fashioned out of substantives by the simple process of prefixing the
preposition: /to engineer/, /to chink/, /to stump/, /to hog/. Others
grow out of an intermediate adjective, as /to boom/. Others are made
by torturing nouns with harsh affixes, as /to burglarize/ and /to
itemize/, or by groping for the root, as /to resurrect/. Yet others
are changed from intransitive to transitive: a sleeping-car /sleeps/
thirty passengers. So with the adjectives. They are made of
substantives unchanged: /codfish/, /jitney/. Or by bold combinations:
/down-and-out/, /up-state/, /flat-footed/. Or by shading down suffixes
to a barbaric simplicity: /scary/, /classy/, /tasty/. Or by working
over adverbs until they tremble on the brink between adverb and
adjective: /right/ and /near/ are examples.

All of these processes, of course, are also to be observed in the
English of England; in the days of its great Elizabethan growth they
were in the lustiest possible being. They are, indeed, common to all
languages; they keep language alive. But if you will put the English
of today beside the American of today you will see at once how much
more forcibly they are in operation in the latter than in the former.
English has been arrested in its growth by its purists and
grammarians. It shows no living change in structure and syntax since
the days of Anne, and very little modification in either pronunciation
or vocabulary. Its tendency is to conserve that which is established;
to say the new thing, as nearly as possible, in the old way; to combat
all that expansive gusto which made for its pliancy and resilience in
the days of Shakespeare. In place of the old loose-footedness there is
set up a preciosity which, in one direction, takes the form of
unyielding affectations in the spoken language, and in another form
shows itself in the heavy Johnsonese of current English writing--the
Jargon denounced by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in his Cambridge
lectures. This "infirmity of speech" Quiller-Couch finds "in
parliamentary debates and in the newspapers"; [Pg025] ... "it has
become the medium through which Boards of Government, County Councils,
Syndicates, Committees, Commercial Firms, express the processes as
well as the conclusions of their thought, and so voice the reason of
their being." Distinct from journalese, the two yet overlap, "and have
a knack of assimilating each other's vices."[45]

American, despite the gallant efforts of the professors, has so far
escaped any such suffocating formalization. We, too, of course, have
our occasional practitioners of the authentic English Jargon; in the
late Grover Cleveland we produced an acknowledged master of it. But in
the main our faults in writing lie in precisely the opposite
direction. That is to say, we incline toward a directness of statement
which, at its greatest, lacks restraint and urbanity altogether, and
toward a hospitality which often admits novelties for the mere sake of
their novelty, and is quite uncritical of the difference between a
genuine improvement in succinctness and clarity, and mere extravagant
raciness. "The tendency," says one English observer, "is ... to
consider the speech of any man, as any man himself, as good as any
other."[46] "All beauty and distinction," says another,[47] "are
ruthlessly sacrificed to force." Moreover, this strong revolt against
conventional bonds is by no means confined to the folk-speech, nor
even to the loose conversational English of the upper classes; it also
gets into more studied discourse, both spoken and written. I glance
through the speeches of Dr. Woodrow Wilson, surely a purist if we have
one at all, and find, in a few moments, half a dozen locutions that an
Englishman in like position would never dream of using, among them /we
must get a move on/,[48] /hog/ as a verb,[49] /gum-shoe/ as an
adjective with [Pg026] verbal overtones,[50] /onery/ in place of
/ordinary/,[51] and /that is going some/.[52] From the earliest days,
indeed, English critics have found this gipsy tendency in our most
careful writing. They denounced it in Marshall, Cooper, Mark Twain,
Poe, Lossing, Lowell and Holmes, and even in Hawthorne and Thoreau;
and it was no less academic a work than W. C. Brownell's "French
Traits" which brought forth, in a London literary journal, the dictum
that "the language most depressing to the cultured Englishman is the
language of the cultured American." Even "educated American English,"
agrees the chief of modern English grammarians, "is now almost
entirely independent of British influence, and differs from it
considerably, though as yet not enough to make the two dialects
--American English and British English--mutually unintelligible."[53]

American thus shows its character in a constant experimentation, a
wide hospitality to novelty, a steady reaching out for new and vivid
forms. No other tongue of modern times admits foreign words and
phrases more readily; none is more careless of precedents; none shows
a greater fecundity and originality of fancy. It is producing new
words every day, by trope, by agglutination, by the shedding of
inflections, by the merging of parts of speech, and by sheer
brilliance of imagination. It is full of what Bret Harte called the
"sabre-cuts of Saxon"; it meets Montaigne's ideal of "a succulent and
nervous speech, short and compact, not as much delicated and combed
out as vehement and brusque, rather arbitrary than monotonous, not
pedantic but soldierly, as Suetonius called Caesar's Latin." One
pictures the common materials of English dumped into a pot, exotic
flavorings added, and the bubblings assiduously and expectantly
skimmed. What is old and respected is already in decay the moment it
comes into contact with what is new and vivid. Let American confront a
novel problem alongside [Pg027] English, and immediately its superior
imaginativeness and resourcefulness become obvious. /Movie/ is better
than /cinema/; it is not only better American, it is better English.
/Bill-board/ is better than /hoarding. Office-holder/ is more honest,
more picturesque, more thoroughly Anglo-Saxon that /public-servant/.
/Stem-winder/ somehow has more life in it, more fancy and vividness,
than the literal /keyless-watch/. Turn to the terminology of
railroading (itself, by the way, an Americanism): its creation fell
upon the two peoples equally, but they tackled the job independently.
The English, seeking a figure to denominate the wedge-shaped fender in
front of a locomotive, called it a /plough/; the Americans,
characteristically, gave it the far more pungent name of
/cow-catcher/. So with the casting where two rails join. The English
called it a /crossing-plate/. The Americans, more responsive to the
suggestion in its shape, called it a /frog/.

This boldness of conceit, of course, makes for vulgarity. Unrestrained
by any critical sense--and the critical sense of the professors counts
for little, for they cry wolf too often--it flowers in such barbaric
inventions as /tasty/, /alright/, /no-account/, /pants/,
/go-aheadativeness/, /tony/, /semi-occasional/, /to fellowship/ and
/to doxologize/. Let it be admitted: American is not infrequently
vulgar; the Americans, too, are vulgar (Bayard Taylor called them
"Anglo-Saxons relapsed into semi-barbarism"); America itself is
unutterably vulgar. But vulgarity, after all, means no more than a
yielding to natural impulses in the face of conventional inhibitions,
and that yielding to natural impulses is at the heart of all healthy
language-making. The history of English, like the history of American
and every other living tongue, is a history of vulgarisms that, by
their accurate meeting of real needs, have forced their way into sound
usage, and even into the lifeless catalogues of the grammarians. The
colonial pedants denounced /to advocate/ as bitterly as they ever
denounced /to compromit/ or /to happify/, and all the English
authorities gave them aid, but it forced itself into the American
language despite them, and today it is even accepted as English and
has got into the Oxford Dictionary. /To donate/, so late as 1870, was
dismissed by Richard Grant White as ignorant and [Pg028] abominable
and to this day the English will have none of it, but there is not an
American dictionary that doesn't accept it, and surely no American
writer would hesitate to use it.[54] /Reliable/, /gubernatorial/,
/standpoint/ and /scientist/ have survived opposition of equal
ferocity. The last-named was coined by William Whewell, an Englishman,
in 1840, but was first adopted in America. Despite the fact that
Fitzedward Hall and other eminent philologists used it and defended
it, it aroused almost incredible opposition in England. So recently as
1890 it was denounced by the /London Daily News/ as "an ignoble
Americanism," and according to William Archer it was finally accepted
by the English only "at the point of the bayonet."[55]

The purist performs a useful office in enforcing a certain logical
regularity upon the process, and in our own case the omnipresent
example of the greater conservatism of the English corrects our native
tendency to go too fast, but the process itself is as inexorable in
its workings as the precession of the equinoxes, and if we yield to it
more eagerly than the English it is only a proof, perhaps, that the
future of what was once the Anglo-Saxon tongue lies on this side of
the water. "The story of English grammar," says Murison, "is a story
of simplification, of dispensing with grammatical forms."[56] And of
the most copious and persistent enlargement of vocabulary and mutation
of idiom ever recorded, perhaps, by descriptive philology. English now
has the brakes on, but American continues to leap in the dark, and the
prodigality of its movement is all the [Pg029] indication that is
needed of its intrinsic health, its capacity to meet the ever-changing
needs of a restless and iconoclastic people, constantly fluent in
racial composition, and disdainful of hampering traditions.
"Language," says Sayce, "is no artificial product, contained in books
and dictionaries and governed by the strict rules of impersonal
grammarians. It is the living expression of the mind and spirit of a
people, ever changing and shifting, whose sole standard of correctness
is custom and the common usage of the community.... The first lesson
to be learned is that there is no intrinsic right or wrong in the use
of language, no fixed rules such as are the delight of the teacher of
Latin prose. What is right now will be wrong hereafter, what language
rejected yesterday she accepts today."[57]

§ 6

/The Materials of American/--One familiar with the habits of
pedagogues need not be told that, in their grudging discussions of
American, they have spent most of their energies upon vain attempts to
classify its materials. White and Lounsbury, as I have shown, carried
the business to the limits of the preposterous; when they had finished
identifying and cataloguing Americanisms there were no more
Americanisms left to study. The ladies and gentlemen of the American
Dialect Society, though praiseworthy for their somewhat deliberate
industry, fall into a similar fault, for they are so eager to
establish minute dialectic variations that they forget the general
language almost altogether.

Among investigators of less learning there is a more spacious view of
the problem, and the labored categories of White and Lounsbury are
much extended. Pickering, the first to attempt a list of Americanisms,
rehearsed their origin under the following headings:

  1. "We have formed some new words."

  2. "To some old ones, that are still in use in England, we have
  affixed new significations."

  3. "Others, which have long been obsolete in England, are still
  retained in common use among us."

Bartlett, in the second edition of his dictionary, dated 1859,
increased these classes to nine;

  1. Archaisms, /i. e./, old English words, obsolete, or nearly so, in
  England, but retained in use in this country.

  2. English words used in a different sense from what they are in
  England. These include many names of natural objects differently

  3. Words which have retained their original meaning in the United
  States, though not in England.

  4. English provincialisms adopted into general use in America.

  5. Newly coined words, which owe their origin to the productions or
  to the circumstances of the country.

  6. Words borrowed from European languages, especially the French,
  Spanish, Dutch and German.

  7. Indian words.

  8. Negroisms.

  9. Peculiarities of pronunciation.

Some time before this, but after the publication of Bartlett's first
edition in 1848, William C. Fowler, professor of rhetoric at Amherst,
devoted a brief chapter to "American Dialects" in his well-known work
on English[58] and in it one finds the following formidable
classification of Americanisms:

  1. Words borrowed from other languages.

    a. Indian, as /Kennebec/, /Ohio/, /Tombigbee/; /sagamore/,
      /quahaug/, /succotash/.

    b. Dutch, as /boss/, /kruller/, /stoop/.

    c. German, as /spuke/ (?), /sauerkraut/.

    d. French, as /bayou/, /cache/, /chute/, /crevasse/, /levee/.

    e. Spanish, as /calaboose/, /chapparal/, /hacienda/, /rancho/,

    f. Negro, as /buckra/.

  2. Words "introduced from the necessity of our situation, in order
  to express new ideas."

    a. Words "connected with and flowing from our political
      institutions," as /selectman/, /presidential/, /congressional/,
      /caucus/, /mass-meeting/, /lynch-law/, /help/ (for /servants/).

    b. Words "connected with our ecclesiastical institutions," as
      /associational/, /consociational/, /to fellowship/, /to

    c. Words "connected with a new country," as /lot/, /diggings/,
      /betterments/, /squatter/.

  3. Miscellaneous Americanisms.

    a. Words and phrases become obsolete in England, as /talented/,
      /offset/ (for /set-off/), /back and forth/ (for /backward and

    b. Old words and phrases "which are now merely provincial in
      England," as /hub/, /whap/ (?), /to wilt/.

    c. Nouns formed from verbs by adding the French suffix /-ment/,
      as /publishment/, /releasement/, /requirement/.

    d. Forms of words "which fill the gap or vacancy between two
      words which are approved," as /obligate/ (between /oblige/ and
      /obligation/) and /variate/ (between /vary/ and /variation/).

    e. "Certain compound terms for which the English have different
      compounds," as /bank-bill/, (/bank-note/), /book-store/
      (/book-seller's shop/), /bottom-land/ (/interval land/),
      /clapboard/ (/pale/), /sea-board/ (/sea-shore/), /side-hill/

    f. "Certain colloquial phrases, apparently idiomatic, and very
      expressive," as /to cave in/, /to flare up/, /to flunk out/, /to
      fork over/, /to hold on/, /to let on/, /to stave off/, /to take

    g. Intensives, "often a matter of mere temporary fashion," as
      /dreadful/, /mighty/, /plaguy/, /powerful/.

    h. "Certain verbs expressing one's state of mind, but partially
      or timidly," as /to allot upon/ (for /to count upon/), /to
      calculate/, /to expect/ (/to think/ or /believe/), /to guess/,
      /to reckon/.

    i. "Certain adjectives, expressing not only quality, but one's
      subjective feelings in regard to it," as /clever/, /grand/,
      /green/, /likely/, /smart/, /ugly/.

    j. Abridgments, as /stage/ (for /stage-coach/), /turnpike/ (for
      /turnpike-road/), /spry/ (for /sprightly/), /to conduct/ (for
      /to conduct one's self/).

    k. "Quaint or burlesque terms," as to /tote/, /to yank/;
      /humbug/, /loafer/, /muss/, /plunder/ (for /baggage/), /rock/
      (for /stone/).

    l. "Low expressions, mostly political," as /slangwhanger/, /loco
      foco/, /hunker/; /to get the hang of/.

    m. "Ungrammatical expressions, disapproved by all," as /do
      don't/, /used to could/, /can't come it/, /Universal preacher/
      (for /Universalist/), /there's no two ways about it/.

Elwyn, in 1859, attempted no classification.[59] He confined his
glossary to archaic English words surviving in America, and sought
only to prove that they had come down "from our remotest ancestry" and
were thus undeserving of the reviling [Pg032] lavished upon them by
English critics. Schele de Vere, in 1872, followed Bartlett, and
devoted himself largely to words borrowed from the Indian dialects,
and from the French, Spanish and Dutch. But Farmer, in 1889,[60]
ventured upon a new classification, prefacing it with the following

 An Americanism may be defined as a word or phrase, old or new,
 employed by general or respectable usage in America in a way not
 sanctioned by the best standards of the English language. As a matter
 of fact, however, the term has come to possess a wider meaning, and
 it is now applied not only to words and phrases which can be so
 described, but also to the new and legitimately born words adapted to
 the general needs and usages, to the survivals of an older form of
 English than that now current in the mother country, and to the racy,
 pungent vernacular of Western life.

He then proceeded to classify his materials thus:

  1. Words and phrases of purely American derivation, embracing words
  originating in:

    a. Indian and aboriginal life.

    b. Pioneer and frontier life.

    c. The church.

    d. Politics.

    e. Trades of all kinds.

    f. Travel, afloat and ashore.

  2. Words brought by colonists, including:

    a. The German element.

    b. The French.

    c. The Spanish.

    d. The Dutch.

    e. The negro.

    f. The Chinese.

  3. Names of American things, embracing:

    a. Natural products.

    b. Manufactured articles.

  4. Perverted English words.

  5. Obsolete English words still in good use in America.

  6. English words, American by inflection and modification.

  7. Odd and ignorant popular phrases, proverbs, vulgarisms, and
  colloquialisms, cant and slang.

  8. Individualisms.

  9. Doubtful and miscellaneous.

Clapin, in 1902,[61] reduced these categories to four:

  1. Genuine English words, obsolete or provincial in England, and
  universally used in the United States.

  2. English words conveying, in the United States, a different
  meaning from that attached to them in England.

  3. Words introduced from other languages than the English:--French,
  Dutch, Spanish, German, Indian, etc.

  4. Americanisms proper, /i.e./, words coined in the country, either
  representing some new idea or peculiar product.

Thornton, in 1912, substituted the following:

  1. Forms of speech now obsolete or provincial in England, which
  survive in the United States, such as /allow/, /bureau/, /fall/,
  /gotten/, /guess/, /likely/, /professor/, /shoat/.

  2. Words and phrases of distinctly American origin, such as
  /belittle/, /lengthy/, /lightning-rod/, /to darken one's doors/, /to
  bark up the wrong tree/, /to come out at the little end of the
  horn/, /blind tiger/, /cold snap/, /gay Quaker/, /gone coon/, /long
  sauce/, /pay dirt/, /small potatoes/, /some pumpkins/.

  3. Nouns which indicate quadrupeds, birds, trees, articles of food,
  etc., that are distinctively American, such as /ground-hog/,
  /hang-bird/, /hominy/, /live-oak/, /locust/, /opossum/, /persimmon/,
  /pone/, /succotash/, /wampum/, /wigwam/.

  4. Names of persons and classes of persons, and of places, such as
  /Buckeye/, /Cracker/, /Greaser/, /Hoosier/, /Old Bullion/, /Old
  Hickory/, the /Little Giant/, /Dixie/, /Gotham/, the /Bay State/,
  the /Monumental City/.

  5. Words which have assumed a new meaning, such as /card/, /clever/,
  /fork/, /help/, /penny/, /plunder/, /raise/, /rock/, /sack/,
  /ticket/, /windfall/.

In addition, Thornton added a provisional class of "words and phrases
of which I have found earlier examples in American than in English
writers; ... with the /caveat/ that further research may reverse the
claim"--a class offering specimens in /alarmist/, /capitalize/,
/eruptiveness/, /horse of another colour/ (/sic!/), /the jig's up/,
/nameable/, /omnibus bill/, /propaganda/ and /whitewash/.

No more than a brief glance at these classifications is needed to show
that they hamper the inquiry by limiting its scope--not so much, to be
sure, as the ridiculous limitations of White and Lounsbury, but still
very seriously. They meet the ends of [Pg034] purely descriptive
lexicography, but largely leave out of account some of the most
salient characters of a living language, for example, pronunciation
and idiom. Only Bartlett and Farmer establish a separate category of
Americanisms produced by changes in pronunciation, though even
Thornton, of course, is obliged to take notice of such forms as /bust/
and /bile/. None of them, however, goes into the matter at any length,
nor even into the matter of etymology. Bartlett's etymologies are
scanty and often inaccurate; Schele de Vere's are sometimes quite
fanciful; Thornton offers scarcely any at all. The best of these
collections of Americanisms, and by long odds, is Thornton's. It
presents an enormous mass of quotations, and they are all very
carefully dated, and it corrects most of the more obvious errors in
the work of earlier inquirers. But its very dependence upon quotations
limits it chiefly to the written language, and so the enormously
richer materials of the spoken language are passed over, and
particularly the materials evolved during the past twenty years. One
searches the two fat volumes in vain for such highly characteristic
forms as /would of/, /near-accident/, and /buttinski/, the use of
/sure/ as an adverb, and the employment of /well/ as a sort of general
equivalent of the German /also/.

These grammatical and syntactical tendencies are beyond the scope of
Thornton's investigation, but it is plain that they must be prime
concerns of any future student who essays to get at the inner spirit
of the language. Its difference from standard English is not merely a
difference in vocabulary, to be disposed of in an alphabetical list;
it is, above all, a difference in pronunciation, in intonation, in
conjugation and declension, in metaphor and idiom, in the whole
fashion of using words. A page from one of Ring W. Lardner's baseball
stories contains few words that are not in the English vocabulary, and
yet the thoroughly American color of it cannot fail to escape anyone
who actually listens to the tongue spoken around him. Some of the
elements which enter into that color will be considered in the
following pages. The American vocabulary, of course, must be given
first attention, for in it the earliest American divergences are
embalmed and it tends to grow richer and freer year after year,
[Pg035] but attention will also be paid to materials and ways of
speech that are less obvious, and in particular to certain definite
tendencies of the grammar of spoken American, hitherto wholly


[1] Pp. 22-23.

[2] America's Coming of Age; New York, 1915, p. 15. See also the
preface to Every-Day English, by Richard Grant White; Boston, 1881, p.

[3] The common notion that the Académie combats changes is quite
erroneous. In the preface to the first edition of its dictionary
(1694) it disclaimed any purpose "to make new words and to reject
others at its pleasure." In the preface to the second edition (1718)
it confessed that "ignorance and corruption often introduce manners of
writing" and that "convenience establishes them." In the preface to
the third edition (1740) it admitted that it was "forced to admit
changes which the public has made." And so on. Says D. M. Robertson,
in A History of the French Academy (London, 1910): "The Academy
repudiates any assumption of authority over the language with which
the public in its own practise has not first clothed it. So much,
indeed, does it confine itself to an interpretation merely of the laws
of language that its decisions are sometimes contrary to its own
judgment of what is either desirable or expedient."

[4] Cf. /Scandinavian Studies and Notes/, vol. iv, no. 3, Aug. 1917,
p. 258.

[5] This movement won official recognition so long ago as 1885, when
the Storting passed the first of a series of acts designed to put the
two languages on equal footing. Four years later, after a campaign
going back to 1874, provision was made for teaching the /landsmaal/ in
the schools for the training of primary teachers. In 1899 a
professorship of the /landsmaal/ was established in the University of
Christiania. The school boards in the case of primary schools, and the
pupils in the case of middle and high schools are now permitted to
choose between the two languages, and the /landsmaal/ has been given
official status by the State Church. The chief impediment to its wider
acceptance lies in the fact that it is not, as it stands, a natural
language, but an artificial amalgamation of peasant dialects. It was
devised in 1848-50 by Ivar Aasen. /Vide/ The Language Question, /London
Times/ Norwegian Supplement, May 18, 1914.

[6] A few such works are listed in the bibliography. More of them are
mentioned in Americanismos, by Miguel de Toro y Gisbert; Paris, n. d.

[7] Maximilian Schele de Vere: Americanisms: The English of the New
World; New York, 1872.

[8] Richard H. Thornton: An American Glossary ..., 2 vols.; Phila. and
London, 1912.

[9] Organized Feb. 19, 1889, with Dr. J. J. Child, of Harvard, as its
first president.

[10] Author of Travels in North America; London, 1829.

[11] A Vocabulary or Collection of Words and Phrases which Have Been
Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States of America; Boston, 1816.

[12] A Letter to the Hon. John Pickering on the Subject of His
Vocabulary; Boston, 1817.

[13] 4th ed., New York, 1870, p. 669.

[14] /Op. cit./ p. 676.

[15] The English Language; New York 1850; rev. ed., 1855. This was the
first American text-book of English for use in colleges. Before its
publication, according to Fowler himself (rev. ed., p. xi), the
language was studied only "superficially" and "in the primary
schools." He goes on: "Afterward, when older, in the academy, during
their preparation for college, our pupils perhaps despised it, in
comparison with the Latin and the Greek; and in the college they do
not systematically study the language after they come to maturity."

[16] In Recent Exemplifications of False Philology; London, 1872.

[17] Americanisms, parts I-VIII, April, May, July, Sept., Nov., 1878;
Jan., March, May, 1879.

[18] A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to
the United States, 4th ed.; Boston, 1877.

[19] Feb., March, June, July, Sept.

[20] Vol. xiv, pp. 484-5; Cambridge, 1917.

[21] Vol. xxv, p. 209.

[22] July 18, 1913.

[23] Of the words cited as still unfamiliar in England, Thornton has
traced /hobo/ to 1891, /hold-up/ and /bunco/ to 1887, /dive/ to 1882,
/dead-beat/ to 1877, /hoodlum/ to 1872, /road-agent/ to 1866, /stag/
to 1856, /drummer/ to 1836 and /flume/ to 1792. All of them are
probably older than these references indicate.

[24] Summarized in /Literary Digest/, June 19, 1915.

[25] America Today, /Scribner's/, Feb. 1899, p. 218.

[26] /London Court Journal/, Aug. 28, 1892.

[27] In Pastures New; New York, 1906, p. 6.

[28] Concerning the American Language, in The Stolen White Elephant;
Boston, 1882. A footnote says that the essay is "part of a chapter
crowded out of A Tramp Abroad." (Hartford, 1880.)

[29] Hartford, 1872, p. 45.

[30] The Editor's Study, /Harper's Magazine/, Jan. 1886.

[31] Die englische Sprache in Nordamerika, band iv, heft i;
Braunschweig, 1848.

[32] Étude sur l'Anglais Parlé aux Etats Unis (la Langue Américaine),
/Actes de la Société Philologique de Paris/, March, 1874.

[33] Metoula-Sprachführer.... Englisch von Karl Blattner; Ausgabe für
Amerika; Berlin-Schöneberg, 1912.

[34] Polyglott Kuntze; Schnellste Erlernung jeder Sprache ohne Lehrer;
Amerikanisch; Bonn a. Rh., n. d.

[35] Like the English expositors of American slang, this German falls
into several errors. For example, he gives /cock/ for /rooster/,
/boots/ for /shoes/, /braces/ for /suspenders/ and /postman/ for
/letter-carrier/, and lists /iron-monger/, /joiner/ and /linen-draper/
as American terms. He also spells /wagon/ in the English manner, with
two /g/'s, and translates /Schweinefüsse/ as /pork-feet/. But he
spells such words as /color/ in the American manner and gives the
pronunciation of /clerk/ as the American /klörk/, not as the English

[36] Molee's notions are set forth in Plea for an American Language
...; Chicago, 1888; and Tutonish; Chicago, 1902. He announced the
preparation of A Dictionary of the American Language in 1888, but so
far as I know it has not been published. He was born in Wisconsin, of
Norwegian parents, in 1845, and pursued linguistic studies at the
University of Wisconsin, where he seems to have taken a Ph. B.

[37] American English, /North American Review/, Jan. 1883.

[38] Oct. 1, 1909.

[39] J. F. Healy, general manager of the Davis Colliery Co. at Elkins,
W. Va., in a speech before the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute, at
Wheeling, Dec. 1910; reprinted as The American Language; Pittsburgh,

[40] /Westminster Review/, July, 1888, p. 35.

[41] W. W. Skeat distinguishes no less than 9 dialects in Scotland, 3
in Ireland and 30 in England and Wales. /Vide/ English Dialects From
the Eighth Century to the Present Day; Cambridge, 1911, p. 107 /et

[42] /Art./ Americanisms, 2nd ed.

[43] F. L. Pattee: A History of American Literature Since 1870; New
York, 1916.

[44] A. H. Sayce: Introduction to the Science of Language, 2 vols.;
London, 1900. See especially vol. ii, ch. vi.

[45] /Cf./ the chapter, Interlude: On Jargon, in Quiller-Couch's On
the Art of Writing; New York, 1916. Curiously enough, large parts of
the learned critic's book are written in the very Jargon he attacks.

[46] Alexander Francis: Americans: an Impression; New York, 1900.

[47] G. Lowes Dickinson, in the /English Review/, quoted by /Current
Literature/, April, 1910.

[48] Speech before the Chamber of Commerce Convention, Washington,
Feb. 19, 1916.

[49] Speech at workingman's dinner, New York, Sept. 4, 1912.

[50] wit and Wisdom of Woodrow Wilson, comp. by Richard Linthicum; New
York, 1916, p. 54.

[51] Speech at Ridgewood, N. J., April 22, 1910.

[52] Wit and Wisdom ..., p. 56.

[53] Henry Sweet: A New English Grammar, Logical and Historical, 2
parts; Oxford, 1900-03, part i, p. 224.

[54] Despite this fact an academic and ineffective opposition to it
still goes on. On the Style Sheet of the /Century Magazine/ it is
listed among the "words and phrases to be avoided." It was prohibited
by the famous /Index Expurgatorius/ prepared by William Cullen Bryant
for the /New York Evening Post/, and his prohibition is still
theoretically in force, but the word is now actually permitted by the
/Post/. The /Chicago Daily News/ Style Book, dated July 1, 1908, also
bans it.

[55] /Scientist/ is now in the Oxford Dictionary. So are /reliable/,
/standpoint/ and /gubernatorial/. But the /Century Magazine/ still
bans /standpoint/ and the /Evening Post/ (at least in theory) bans
both /standpoint/ and /reliable/. The /Chicago Daily News/ accepts
/standpoint/, but bans /reliable/ and /gubernatorial/. All of these
words, of course, are now quite as good as /ox/ or /and/.

[56] /Art./ Changes in the Language Since Shakespeare's Time,
Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiv. p. 491.

[57] Introduction to the Science of Language, vol. ii, pp. 333-4.

[58] /Op. cit./, pp. 119-28.

[59] Alfred L. Elwyn, M. D.: Glossary of Supposed Americanisms ...;
Phila., 1859.

[60] John S. Farmer: Americanisms Old and New ...; London, 1889.

[61] Sylva Clapin: A New Dictionary of Americanisms, Being a Glossary
of Words Supposed to be Peculiar to the United States and the Dominion
of Canada; New York, 1902.



The Beginnings of American

§ 1

/In Colonial Days/--William Gifford, the first editor of the
/Quarterly Review/, is authority for the tale that some of the Puritan
clergy of New England, during the Revolution, proposed that English be
formally abandoned as the national language of America, and Hebrew
adopted in its place. An American chronicler, Charles Astor Bristed,
makes the proposed tongue Greek, and reports that the change was
rejected on the ground that "it would be more convenient for us to
keep the language as it is, and make the English speak Greek."[1] The
story, though it has the support of the editors of the Cambridge
History of American Literature,[2] has an apocryphal smack; one
suspects that the savagely anti-American Gifford invented it. But,
true or false, it well indicates the temper of those times. The
passion for complete political independence of England bred a general
hostility to all English authority, whatever its character, and that
hostility, in the direction of present concern to us, culminated in
the revolutionary attitude of Noah Webster's "Dissertations on the
English Language," printed in 1789. Webster harbored no fantastic
notion of abandoning English altogether, but he was eager to set up
American as a distinct and independent dialect. "Let us," he said,
"seize the present moment, and establish a national language as well
as a national government.... As an independent nation our honor
requires [Pg037] us to have a system of our own, in language as well
as government."

Long before this the challenge had been flung. Scarcely two years
after the Declaration of Independence Franklin was instructed by
Congress, on his appointment as minister to France, to employ "the
language of the United States," not simply English, in all his
"replies or answers" to the communications of the ministry of Louis
XVI. And eight years before the Declaration Franklin himself had drawn
up a characteristically American scheme of spelling reform, and had
offered plenty of proof in it, perhaps unconsciously, that the
standards of spelling and pronunciation in the New World had already
diverged noticeably from those accepted on the other side of the
ocean.[3] In acknowledging the dedication of Webster's "Dissertations"
Franklin endorsed both his revolt against English domination and his
forecast of widening differences in future, though protesting at the
same time against certain Americanisms that have since come into good
usage, and even migrated to England.[4]

This protest was marked by Franklin's habitual mildness, but in other
quarters dissent was voiced with far less urbanity. The growing
independence of the colonial dialect, not only in its spoken form, but
also in its most dignified written form, had begun, indeed, to attract
the attention of purists in both England and America, and they sought
to dispose of it in its infancy by /force majeure/. One of the first
and most vigorous of the attacks upon it was delivered by John
Witherspoon, a Scotch clergyman who came out in 1769 to be president
of Princeton /in partibus infidelium/. This Witherspoon brought a
Scotch hatred of the English with him, and at once became a leader of
the party of independence; he signed the Declaration to the tune of
much rhetoric, and was the only clergyman to sit in the Continental
Congress. But in matters of learning he was orthodox to the point of
hunkerousness, and the strange locutions that [Pg038] he encountered
on all sides aroused his pedagogic ire. "I have heard in this
country," he wrote in 1781, "in the senate, at the bar, and from the
pulpit, and see daily in dissertations from the press, errors in
grammar, improprieties and vulgarisms which hardly any person of the
same class in point of rank and literature would have fallen into in
Great Britain."[5] It was Witherspoon who coined the word
/Americanism/--and at once the English guardians of the sacred vessels
began employing it as a general synonym for vulgarism and barbarism.
Another learned immigrant, the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, soon joined him.
This Boucher was a friend of Washington, but was driven back to
England by his Loyalist sentiments. He took revenge by printing
various charges against the Americans, among them that of "making all
the haste they can to rid themselves of the [English] language."

After the opening of the new century all the British reviews
maintained an eager watchfulness for these abhorrent inventions, and
denounced them, when found, with the utmost vehemence. The
/Edinburgh/, which led the charge, opened its attack in October, 1804,
and the appearance of the five volumes of Chief Justice Marshall's
"Life of George Washington," during the three years following, gave
the signal for corrective articles in the /British Critic/, the
/Critical Review/, the /Annual/, the /Monthly/ and the /Eclectic/. The
/British Critic/, in April, 1808, admitted somewhat despairingly that
the damage was already done--that "the common speech of the United
States has departed very considerably from the standard adopted in
England." The others, however, sought to stay the flood by invective
against Marshall and, later, against his rival biographer, the Rev.
Aaron Bancroft. The /Annual/, in 1808, pronounced its high curse and
anathema upon "that torrent of barbarous phraseology" which was
pouring across the Atlantic, and which threatened "to destroy the
purity of the English language."[6] In Bancroft's "Life of George
Washington" [Pg039] (1808), according to the /British Critic/, there
were gross Americanisms, inordinately offensive to Englishmen, "at
almost every page."

The Rev. Jeremy Belknap, long anticipating Elwyn, White and Lounsbury,
tried to obtain a respite from this abuse by pointing out the obvious
fact that many of the Americanisms under fire were merely survivors of
an English that had become archaic in England, but this effort counted
for little, for on the one hand the British purists enjoyed the chase
too much to give it up, and on the other hand there began to dawn in
America a new spirit of nationality, at first very faint, which viewed
the differences objected to, not with shame, but with a fierce sort of
pride. In the first volume of the /North American Review/ William
Ellery Channing spoke out boldly for "the American language and
literature,"[7] and a year later Pickering published his defiant
dictionary of "words and phrases which have been supposed to be
peculiar to the United States." This thin collection of 500 specimens
set off a dispute which yet rages on both sides of the Atlantic.
Pickering, however, was undismayed. He had begun to notice the growing
difference between the English and American vocabulary and
pronunciation, he said, while living in London from 1799 to 1801, and
he had made his collections with the utmost care, and after taking
counsel with various prudent authorities, both English and American.
Already in the first year of the century, he continued, the English
had accused the people of the new republic of a deliberate "design to
effect an entire change in the language" and while no such design was
actually harbored, the facts were the facts, and he cited the current
newspapers, the speeches from pulpit and rostrum, and Webster himself
in support of them. This debate over Pickering's list, as I say, still
continues. Lounsbury, entrenched behind his grotesque categories, once
charged that four-fifths of the words in it had "no business to be
there," and [Pg040] Gilbert M. Tucker[8] has argued that only 70 of
them were genuine Americanisms. But a careful study of the list, in
comparison with the early quotations recently collected by Thornton,
seems to indicate that both of these judgments, and many others no
less, have done injustice to Pickering. He made the usual errors of
the pioneer, but his sound contributions to the subject were anything
but inconsiderable, and it is impossible to forget his diligence and
his constant shrewdness. He established firmly the native origin of a
number of words now in universal use in America--/e. g./,
/backwoodsman/, /breadstuffs/, /caucus/, /clapboard/, /sleigh/ and
/squatter/--and of such familiar derivatives as /gubernatorial/ and
/dutiable/, and he worked out the genesis of not a few loan-words,
including /prairie/, /scow/, /rapids/, /hominy/ and /barbecue/. It was
not until 1848, when the first edition of Bartlett appeared, that his
work was supplanted.

§ 2

/Sources of Early Americanisms/--The first genuine Americanisms were
undoubtedly words borrowed bodily from the Indian dialects--words, in
the main, indicating natural objects that had no counterparts in
England. We find /opossum/, for example, in the form of /opasum/, in
Captain John Smith's "Map of Virginia" (1612), and, in the form of
/apossoun/, in a Virginia document two years older. /Moose/ is almost
as old. The word is borrowed from the Algonquin /musa/, and must have
become familiar to the Pilgrim Fathers soon after their landing in
1620, for the woods of Massachusetts then swarmed with the huge
quadrupeds and there was no English name to designate them. Again,
there are /skunk/ (from the Abenaki Indian /seganku/), /hickory/,
/squash/, /paw-paw/, /raccoon/, /chinkapin/, /porgy/, /chipmunk/,
/pemmican/, /terrapin/, /menhaden/, /catalpa/, /persimmon/ and
/cougar/. Of these, /hickory/ and /terrapin/ are to be found in Robert
Beverley's "History and Present State of Virginia" (1705), and
/squash/, /chinkapin/ and /persimmon/ are in documents of the
preceding century. Many of these words, of course, were shortened
[Pg041] or otherwise modified on being taken into colonial English.
Thus /chinkapin/ was originally /checkinqumin/, and /squash/ appears
in early documents as /isquontersquash/, /askutasquash/,
/isquonkersquash/ and /squantersquash/. But William Penn, in a letter
dated August 16, 1683, used the latter in its present form. Its
variations show a familiar effort to bring a new and strange word into
harmony with the language--an effort arising from what philologists
call the law of Hobson-Jobson. This name was given to it by Col. Henry
Yule and A. C. Burnell, compilers of a standard dictionary of
Anglo-Indian terms. They found that the British soldiers in India,
hearing strange words from the lips of the natives, often converted
them into English words of similar sound, though of widely different
meaning. Thus the words /Hassan/ and /Hosein/, frequently used by the
Mohammedans of the country in their devotions, were turned into
/Hobson-Jobson/. The same process is constantly in operation
elsewhere. By it the French /route de roi/ has become /Rotten Row/ in
English, /écrevisse/ has become /crayfish/, and the English /bowsprit/
has become /beau pré/ (=/beautiful meadow/) in French. The word
/pigeon/, in /Pigeon English/, offers another example; it has no
connection with the bird, but merely represents a Chinaman's attempt
to pronounce the word /business/. No doubt /squash/ originated in the
same way. That /woodchuck/ did so is practically certain. Its origin
is to be sought, not in /wood/ and /chuck/, but in the Cree word
/otchock/, used by the Indians to designate the animal.

In addition to the names of natural objects, the early colonists, of
course, took over a great many Indian place-names, and a number of
words to designate Indian relations and artificial objects in Indian
use. To the last division belong /hominy/, /pone/, /toboggan/,
/canoe/, /tapioca/, /moccasin/, /pow-wow/, /papoose/, /tomahawk/,
/wigwam/, /succotash/ and /squaw/, all of which were in common
circulation by the beginning of the eighteenth century. Finally, new
words were made during the period by translating Indian terms, for
example, /war-path/, /war-paint/, /pale-face/, /medicine-man/,
/pipe-of-peace/ and /fire-water/. The total number of such borrowings,
direct and indirect, was a good deal larger [Pg042] than now appears,
for with the disappearance of the red man the use of loan-words from
his dialects has decreased. In our own time such words as /papoose/,
/sachem/, /tepee/, /wigwam/ and /wampum/ have begun to drop out of
everyday use;[9] at an earlier period the language sloughed off
/ocelot/, /manitee/, /calumet/, /supawn/, /samp/ and /quahaug/, or
began to degrade them to the estate of provincialisms.[10] A curious
phenomenon is presented by the case of /maize/, which came into the
colonial speech from some West Indian dialect, went over into orthodox
English, and from English into French, German and other continental
languages, and was then abandoned by the colonists. We shall see other
examples of that process later on.

Whether or not /Yankee/ comes from an Indian dialect is still
disputed. An early authority, John G. E. Heckwelder, argued that it
was derived from an Indian mispronunciation of the word /English/.[11]
Certain later etymologists hold that it originated more probably in an
Indian mishandling of the French word /Anglais/. Yet others derive it
from the Scotch /yankie/, meaning a gigantic falsehood. A fourth party
derive it from the Dutch, and cite an alleged Dutch model for "Yankee
Doodle," beginning "/Yanker/ didee doodle down."[12] Of these theories
that of Heckwelder is the most plausible. But here, as in other
directions, the investigation of American etymology remains sadly
incomplete. An elaborate dictionary of words derived from the Indian
languages, compiled by the late W. R. Gerard, is in the possession of
the Smithsonian Institution, but on account of a shortage of funds it
remains in manuscript. [Pg043]

From the very earliest days of English colonization the language of
the colonists also received accretions from the languages of the other
colonizing nations. The French word /portage/, for example, was
already in common use before the end of the seventeenth century, and
soon after came /chowder/, /cache/, /caribou/, /voyageur/, and various
words that, like the last-named, have since become localisms or
disappeared altogether. Before 1750 /bureau/,[13] /gopher/, /batteau/,
/bogus/, and /prairie/ were added, and /caboose/, a word of Dutch
origin, seems to have come in through the French. /Carry-all/ is also
French in origin, despite its English quality. It comes, by the law of
Hobson-Jobson, from the French /carriole/. The contributions of the
Dutch during the half century of their conflicts with the English
included /cruller/, /cold-slaw/, /dominie/ (for /parson/), /cookey/,
/stoop/, /span/ (of horses), /pit/ (as in /peach-pit/), /waffle/,
/hook/ (a point of land), /scow/, /boss/, /smearcase/ and /Santa
Claus/.[14] Schele de Vere credits them with /hay-barrack/, a
corruption of /hooiberg/. That they established the use of /bush/ as a
designation for back-country is very probable; the word has also got
into South African English. In American it has produced a number of
familiar derivatives, /e. g./, /bush-whacker/ and /bush-league/.
Barrère and Leland also credit the Dutch with /dander/, which is
commonly assumed to be an American corruption of /dandruff/. They say
that it is from the Dutch word /donder/ (=/thunder/). /Op donderen/,
in Dutch, means to burst into a sudden rage. The chief Spanish
contributions to American were to come after the War of 1812, with the
opening of the West, but /creole/, /calaboose/, /palmetto/, /peewee/,
/key/ (a small island), /quadroon/, /octoroon/, /barbecue/,
/pickaninny/ and /stampede/ had already entered the language in
colonial days. /Jerked beef/ came from the Spanish /charqui/ by the
law of Hobson-Jobson. The Germans who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682
also undoubtedly gave a few words to the language, though [Pg044] it
is often difficult to distinguish their contributions from those of
the Dutch. It seems very likely, however, that /sauerkraut/[15] and
/noodle/ are to be credited to them. Finally, the negro slaves brought
in /gumbo/, /goober/, /juba/ and /voodoo/ (usually corrupted to
/hoodoo/), and probably helped to corrupt a number of other
loan-words, for example /banjo/ and /breakdown/. /Banjo/ seems to be
derived from /bandore/ or /bandurria/, modern French and Spanish forms
of /tambour/, respectively. It may, however, be an actual negro word;
there is a term of like meaning, /bania/, in Senegambian. Ware says
that /breakdown/, designating a riotous negro dance, is a corruption
of the French /rigadon/. The word is not in the Oxford Dictionary.
Bartlett listed it as an Americanism, but Thornton rejected it,
apparently because, in the sense of a collapse, it has come into
colloquial use in England. Its etymology is not given in the American

§ 3

/New Words of English Material/--But of far more importance than these
borrowings was the great stock of new words that the colonists coined
in English metal--words primarily demanded by the "new circumstances
under which they were placed," but also indicative, in more than one
case, of a delight in the business for its own sake. The American,
even in the early eighteenth century, already showed many of the
characteristics that were to set him off from the Englishman later
on--his bold and somewhat grotesque imagination, his contempt for
authority, his lack of aesthetic sensitiveness, his extravagant humor.
Among the first colonists there were many men of education, culture
and gentle birth, but they were soon swamped by hordes of the ignorant
and illiterate, and the latter, cut off from the corrective influence
of books, soon laid their hands upon the language. It is impossible to
imagine the austere Puritan divines of Massachusetts inventing such
verbs as /to cowhide/ and /to logroll/, or such adjectives as
/no-account/ and /stumped/, or such adverbs as /no-how/ and [Pg045]
/lickety-split/, or such substantives as /bull-frog/, /hog-wallow/ and
/hoe-cake/; but under their eyes there arose a contumacious
proletariat which was quite capable of the business, and very eager
for it. In Boston, so early as 1628, there was a definite class of
blackguard roisterers, chiefly made up of sailors and artisans; in
Virginia, nearly a decade earlier, John Pory, secretary to Governor
Yeardley, lamented that "in these five moneths of my continuance here
there have come at one time or another eleven sails of ships into this
river, but fraighted more with ignorance than with any other
marchansize." In particular, the generation born in the New World was
uncouth and iconoclastic;[16] the only world it knew was a rough
world, and the virtues that environment engendered were not those of
niceness, but those of enterprise and resourcefulness.

Upon men of this sort fell the task of bringing the wilderness to the
ax and the plow, and with it went the task of inventing a vocabulary
for the special needs of the great adventure. Out of their loutish
ingenuity came a great number of picturesque names for natural
objects, chiefly boldly descriptive compounds: /bull-frog/,
/canvas-back/, /lightning-bug/, /mud-hen/, /cat-bird/, /razor-back/,
/garter-snake/, /ground-hog/ and so on. And out of an inventiveness
somewhat more urbane came such coinages as /live-oak/, /potato-bug/,
/turkey-gobbler/, /poke-weed/, /copper-head/, /eel-grass/,
/reed-bird/, /egg-plant/, /blue-grass/, /pea-nut/, /pitch-pine/,
/cling-stone/ (peach), /moccasin-snake/, /June-bug/ and /butter-nut/.
/Live-oak/ appears in a document of 1610; /bull-frog/ was familiar to
Beverley in 1705; so was /James-Town weed/ (later reduced to /Jimson
weed/, as the English /hurtleberry/ or /whortleberry/ was reduced to
/huckleberry/). These early Americans were not botanists. They were
often ignorant of the names of the plants they encountered, even when
those plants already had English names, and so they exercised their
fancy upon new ones. So arose /Johnny-jump-up/ for the /Viola
tricolor/, and /basswood/ for the common European /linden/ or
/lime-tree/ (/Tilia/), and /locust/ for the /Robinia pseudacacia/ and
its allies. The /Jimson weed/ itself was anything but a [Pg046]
novelty, but the pioneers apparently did not recognize it, and so we
find them ascribing all sorts of absurd medicinal powers to it, and
even Beverley solemnly reporting that "some Soldiers, eating it in a
Salad, turn'd natural Fools upon it for several Days." The grosser
features of the landscape got a lavish renaming, partly to distinguish
new forms and partly out of an obvious desire to attain a more literal
descriptiveness. I have mentioned /key/ and /hook/, the one borrowed
from the Spanish and the other from the Dutch. With them came /run/,
/branch/, /fork/, /bluff/, (noun), /neck/, /barrens/, /bottoms/,
/underbrush/, /bottom-land/, /clearing/, /notch/, /divide/, /knob/,
/riffle/, /gap/, /rolling-country/ and /rapids/,[17] and the extension
of /pond/ from artificial pools to small natural lakes, and of /creek/
from small arms of the sea to shallow feeders of rivers. Such common
English geographical terms as /downs/, /weald/, /wold/, /fen/, /bog/,
/fell/, /chase/, /combe/, /dell/, /heath/ and /moor/ disappeared from
the colonial tongue, save as fossilized in a few proper names. So did

With the new landscape came an entirely new mode of life--new foods,
new forms of habitation, new methods of agriculture, new kinds of
hunting. A great swarm of neologisms thus arose, and, as in the
previous case, they were chiefly compounds. /Back-country/,
/back-woods/, /back-woodsman/, /back-settlers/, /back-settlements/:
all these were in common use early in the eighteenth century.
/Back-log/ was used by Increase Mather in 1684. /Log-house/ appears in
the Maryland Archives for 1669.[18] /Hoe-cake/, /Johnny-cake/,
/pan-fish/, /corn-dodger/, /roasting-ear/, /corn-crib/, /corn-cob/ and
/pop-corn/ were all familiar before the Revolution. So were
/pine-knot/, /snow-plow/, /cold-snap/, /land-slide/, /salt-lick/,
/prickly-heat/, /shell-road/ and /cane-brake/. /Shingle/ was a novelty
in 1705, but one S. Symonds wrote to John Winthrop, of Ipswich, about
a /clapboarded/ house in 1637. /Frame-house/ seems to have come in
with /shingle/. /Trail/, /half-breed/, /Indian-summer/ and [Pg047]
/Indian-file/ were obviously suggested by the Red Men. /State-house/
was borrowed, perhaps, from the Dutch. /Selectman/ is first heard of
in 1685, displacing the English /alderman/. /Mush/ had displaced
/porridge/ by 1671. Soon afterward /hay-stack/ took the place of the
English /hay-cock/, and such common English terms as /byre/, /mews/,
/weir/, and /wain/ began to disappear. /Hired-man/ is to be found in
the Plymouth town records of 1737, and /hired-girl/ followed soon
after. So early as 1758, as we find by the diary of Nathaniel Ames,
the second-year students at Harvard were already called /sophomores/,
though for a while the spelling was often made /sophimores/.
/Camp-meeting/ was later; it did not appear until 1799. But
/land-office/ was familiar before 1700, and /side-walk/,
/spelling-bee/, /bee-line/, /moss-back/, /crazy-quilt/, /mud-scow/,
/stamping-ground/ and a hundred and one other such compounds were in
daily use before the Revolution. After that great upheaval the new
money of the confederation brought in a number of new words. In 1782
Gouverneur Morris proposed to the Continental Congress that the coins
of the republic be called, in ascending order, /unit/, /penny-bill/,
/dollar/ and /crown/. Later Morris invented the word /cent/,
substituting it for the English /penny/.[19] In 1785 Jefferson
proposed /mill/, /cent/, /dime/, /dollar/ and /eagle/, and this
nomenclature was adopted.

Various nautical terms peculiar to America, or taken into English from
American sources, came in during the eighteenth century, among them,
/schooner/, /cat-boat/ and /pungy/, not to recall /batteau/ and
/canoe/. According to a recent historian of the American merchant
marine,[20] the first schooner ever seen was launched at Gloucester,
Mass., in 1713. The word, it appears, was originally spelled
/scooner/. /To scoon/ was a verb borrowed by the New Englanders from
some Scotch dialect, and meant to skim or skip across the water like a
flat stone. As the first schooner left the ways and glided out into
Gloucester harbor, an enraptured spectator shouted: "Oh, see how she
scoons!" "A /scooner/ let her be!" replied Captain Andrew Robinson,
her [Pg048] builder--and all boats of her peculiar and novel
fore-and-aft rig took the name thereafter. The Dutch mariners borrowed
the term and changed the spelling, and this change was soon accepted
in America. The Scotch root came from the Norse /skunna/, to hasten,
and there are analogues in Icelandic, Anglo-Saxon and Old High German.
The origin of /cat-boat/ and /pungy/ I have been unable to determine.
Perhaps the latter is related in some way to /pung/, a one-horse sled
or wagon. /Pung/ was once widely used in the United States, but of
late it has sunk to the estate of a New England provincialism.
Longfellow used it, and in 1857 a writer in the /Knickerbocker
Magazine/ reported that /pungs/ filled Broadway, in New York, after a

Most of these new words, of course, produced derivatives, for example,
/to stack hay/, /to shingle/, /to shuck/ (/i. e./, corn), /to trail/
and /to caucus/. /Backwoods/ immediately begat /backwoodsman/ and was
itself turned into a common adjective. The colonists, indeed, showed a
beautiful disregard of linguistic nicety. At an early date they
shortened the English law-phrase, /to convey by deed/, to the simple
verb, /to deed/. Pickering protested against this as a barbarism, and
argued that no self-respecting law-writer would employ it, but all the
same it was firmly entrenched in the common speech and it has remained
there to this day. /To table/, for /to lay on the table/, came in at
the same time, and so did various forms represented by /bindery/, for
/bookbinder's shop/. /To tomahawk/ appeared before 1650, and /to
scalp/ must have followed soon after. Within the next century and a
half they were reinforced by many other such new verbs, and by such
adjectives made of nouns as /no-account/ and /one-horse/, and such
nouns made of verbs as /carry-all/ and /goner/, and such adverbs as
/no-how/. In particular, the manufacture of new verbs went on at a
rapid pace. In his letter to Webster in 1789, Franklin denounced /to
advocate/, /to progress/, and /to oppose/--a vain enterprise, for all
of them are now in perfectly good usage. /To advocate/, indeed, was
used by Thomas Nashe in 1589, and by John Milton half a century later,
but it seems to have been reinvented in America. In 1822 and again in
1838 Robert Southey, then poet laureate, led two belated attacks upon
it, as a barbarous Americanism, but [Pg049] its obvious usefulness
preserved it, and it remains in good usage on both sides of the
Atlantic today--one of the earliest of the English borrowings from
America. In the end, indeed, even so ardent a purist as Richard Grant
White adopted it, as he did /to placate/.[21]

Webster, though he agreed with Franklin in opposing /to advocate/,
gave his /imprimatur/ to /to appreciate/ (/i. e./, to rise in
value), and is credited by Sir Charles Lyell[22] with having himself
invented /to demoralize/. He also approved /to obligate/. /To
antagonize/ seems to have been given currency by John Quincy Adams,
/to immigrate/ by John Marshall, /to eventuate/ by Gouverneur Morris,
and /to derange/ by George Washington. Jefferson, always hospitable
to new words, used /to belittle/ in his "Notes on Virginia," and
Thornton thinks that he coined it. Many new verbs were made by
the simple process of prefixing the preposition to common nouns,
/e. g./, /to clerk/, /to dicker/, /to dump/, /to blow/, (/i. e./,
to bluster or boast), /to cord/ (/i. e./, wood) /to stump/, /to
room/ and /to shin/. Others were made by transforming verbs in the
orthodox vocabulary, /e. g./, /to cavort/ from /to curvet/, and /to
snoop/ from /to snook/. Others arose as metaphors, /e. g./, /to
whitewash/ (figuratively) and /to squat/ (on unoccupied land). Others
were made by hitching suffixes to nouns, /e. g./, /to negative/,
/to deputize/, /to locate/, /to legislate/, /to infract/, /to
compromit/ and /to happify/. Yet others seem to have been produced by
onomatopoeia, /e. g./, /to fizzle/, or to have arisen by some other
such spontaneous process, so far unintelligible, /e. g./, /to tote/.
With them came an endless series of verb-phrases, /e. g./, /to draw a
bead/, /to face the music/, /to darken one's doors/, /to take to the
woods/, /to fly off the handle/, /to go on the war-path/ and /to saw
wood/--all obvious products of frontier life. Many coinages of the
pre-Revolutionary era later disappeared. Jefferson used /to ambition/
but it dropped out nevertheless, and so did /to compromit/, (/i. e./,
to compromise), /to homologize/, and /to happify/. Fierce battles
raged 'round some of these words, and they were all violently derided
in England. Even so useful a verb as /to locate/, now in perfectly
good usage, [Pg050] was denounced in the third volume of the /North
American Review/, and other purists of the times tried to put down
/to legislate/.

The young and tender adjectives had quite as hard a row to hoe,
particularly /lengthy/. The /British Critic/ attacked it in November,
1793, and it also had enemies at home, but John Adams had used it in
his diary in 1759 and the authority of Jefferson and Hamilton was
behind it, and so it survived. Years later James Russell Lowell spoke
of it as "the excellent adjective,"[23] and boasted that American had
given it to English. /Dutiable/ also met with opposition, and
moreover, it had a rival, /customable/; but Marshall wrote it into his
historic decisions, and thus it took root. The same anonymous watchman
of the /North American Review/ who protested against /to locate/
pronounced his anathema upon "such barbarous terms as /presidential/
and /congressional/," but the plain need for them kept them in the
language. /Gubernatorial/ had come in long before this, and is to be
found in the New Jersey Archives of 1734. /Influential/ was denounced
by the Rev. Jonathan Boucher and by George Canning, who argued that
/influent/ was better, but it was ardently defended by William
Pinkney, of Maryland, and gradually made its way. /Handy/, /kinky/,
/law-abiding/, /chunky/, /solid/ (in the sense of well-to-do),
/evincive/, /complected/, /judgmatical/, /underpinned/, /blooded/ and
/cute/ were also already secure in revolutionary days. So with many
nouns. Jefferson used /breadstuffs/ in his Report of the Secretary of
State on Commercial Restrictions, December 16, 1793. /Balance/, in the
sense of remainder, got into the debates of the First Congress.
/Mileage/ was used by Franklin in 1754, and is now sound English.
/Elevator/, in the sense of a storage house for grain, was used by
Jefferson and by others before him. /Draw/, for /drawbridge/, comes
down from Revolutionary days. So does /slip/, in the sense of a berth
for vessels. So does /addition/, in the sense of a suburb. So,
finally, does /darkey/.

The history of many of these Americanisms shows how vain is the effort
of grammarians to combat the normal processes of [Pg051] language
development. I have mentioned the early opposition to /dutiable/,
/influential/, /presidential/, /lengthy/, /to locate/, /to oppose/,
/to advocate/, /to legislate/ and /to progress/. /Bogus/, /reliable/
and /standpoint/ were attacked with the same academic ferocity. All of
them are to be found in Bryant's /Index Expurgatorius/[24] (/circa/
1870), and /reliable/ was denounced by Bishop Coxe as "that abominable
barbarism" so late as 1886.[25] Edward S. Gould, another
uncompromising purist, said of /standpoint/ that it was "the bright
particular star ... of solemn philological blundering" and "the very
counterpart of Dogberry's /non-com/."[26] Gould also protested against
/to jeopardize/, /leniency/ and /to demean/, and Richard Grant White
joined him in an onslaught upon /to donate/. But all of these words
are in good use in the United States today, and some of them have gone
over into English.[27]

§ 4

/Changed Meanings/--A number of the foregoing contributions to the
American vocabulary, of course, were simply common English words with
changed meanings. /To squat/, in the sense of /to crouch/, had been
sound English for centuries; what the colonists did was to attach a
figurative meaning to it, and then bring that figurative meaning into
wider usage than the literal meaning. In a somewhat similar manner
they changed the significance of /pond/, as I have pointed out. So,
too, with /creek/. In English it designated (and still designates) a
small inlet or arm of a large river or of the sea; in American, so
early as 1674, it designated any small stream. Many other such changed
meanings crept into American in the early days. A typical one was the
use of /lot/ to designate a /parcel/ of land. Thornton says, perhaps
inaccurately, that it originated in the fact that the land in New
England was distributed by lot. Whatever the truth, /lot/, [Pg052] to
this day, is in almost universal use in the United States, though rare
in England. Our conveyancers, in describing real property, always
speak of "all that /lot/ or /parcel/ of land."[28] Other examples of
the application of old words to new purposes are afforded by
/freshet/, /barn/ and /team/. A /freshet/, in eighteenth century
English, meant any stream of fresh water; the colonists made it
signify an inundation. A /barn/ was a house or shed for storing crops;
in the colonies the word came to mean a place for keeping cattle also.
A /team/, in English, was a pair of draft horses; in the colonies it
came to mean both horses and vehicle.

The process is even more clearly shown in the history of such words as
/corn/ and /shoe/. /Corn/, in orthodox English, means grain for human
consumption, and especially wheat, /e. g./, the /Corn/ Laws. The
earliest settlers, following this usage, gave the name of /Indian
corn/ to what the Spaniards, following the Indians themselves, had
called /maíz/. But gradually the adjective fell off, and by the middle
of the eighteenth century /maize/ was called simply /corn/, and grains
in general were called /breadstuffs/. Thomas Hutchinson, discoursing
to George III in 1774, used /corn/ in this restricted sense, speaking
of "rye and /corn/ mixed." "What /corn/?" asked George. "/Indian
corn/," explained Hutchinson, "or, as it is called in authors,
/maize/."[29] So with /shoe/. In English it meant (and still means) a
topless article of foot-wear, but the colonists extended its meaning
to varieties covering the ankle, thus displacing the English /boot/,
which they reserved for foot coverings reaching at least to the knee.
To designate the English /shoe/ they began to use the word /slipper/.
This distinction between English and American usage still prevails,
despite the affectation which has lately sought to revive /boot/, and
with it its derivatives, /boot-shop/ and /bootmaker/.

/Store/, /shop/, /lumber/, /pie/, /dry-goods/, /cracker/, /rock/ and
/partridge/ among nouns and /to haul/, /to jew/, /to notify/ and /to
heft/ among verbs offer further examples of changed meanings. Down to
the [Pg053] middle of the eighteenth century /shop/ continued to
designate a retail establishment in America, as it does in England to
this day. /Store/ was applied only to a large establishment--one
showing, in some measure, the character of a warehouse. But in 1774 a
Boston young man was advertising in the /Massachusetts Spy/ for "a
/place/ as a /clerk/ in a /store/" (three Americanisms in a row!).
Soon afterward /shop/ began to acquire its special American meaning as
a factory, /e. g./, /machine-shop/. Meanwhile /store/ completely
displaced /shop/ in the English sense, and it remained for a late
flowering of Anglomania, as in the case of /boot/ and /shoe/, to
restore, in a measure, the /status quo ante/. /Lumber/, in eighteenth
century English, meant disused furniture, and this is its common
meaning in England today. But the colonists early employed it to
designate timber, and that use of it is now universal in America. Its
familiar derivatives, /e. g./, /lumber-yard/, /lumberman/,
/lumberjack/, greatly reinforce this usage. /Pie/, in English, means a
meat-pie; in American it means a fruit-pie. The English call a
fruit-pie a /tart/; the Americans call a meat-pie a /pot-pie/.
/Dry-goods/, in England, means "non-liquid goods, as corn" (/i. e./,
wheat); in the United States the term means "textile fabrics or
wares."[30] The difference had appeared before 1725. /Rock/, in
English, always means a large mass; in America it may mean a small
stone, as in /rock-pile/ and /to throw a rock/. The Puritans were
putting /rocks/ into the foundations of their meeting-houses so early
as 1712.[31] /Cracker/ began to be used for /biscuit/ before the
Revolution. /Tavern/ displaced /inn/ at the same time. As for
/partridge/, it is cited by a late authority[32] as a salient example
of changed meaning, along with /corn/ and /store/. In England the term
is applied only to the true partridge (/Perdix perdix/) and its nearly
related varieties, but in the United States it is also used to
designate the ruffed grouse (/Bonasa umbellus/), the common quail
(/Colinus virginianus/) and various [Pg054] other tetraonoid birds.
This confusion goes back to colonial times. So with /rabbit/. Properly
speaking, there are no native rabbits in the United States; they are
all hares. But the early colonists, for some unknown reason, dropped
the word /hare/ out of their vocabulary, and it is rarely heard in
American speech to this day. When it appears it is almost always
applied to the so-called Belgian hare, which, curiously enough, is not
a hare at all, but a true rabbit.

/To haul/, in English, means to move by force or violence; in the
colonies it came to mean to transport in a vehicle, and this meaning
survives in sound American. /To jew/, in English, means to cheat; the
colonists made it mean to haggle, and devised /to jew down/ to
indicate an effort to work a reduction in price. /To heft/, in
English, means to lift; the early Americans made it mean to weigh by
lifting, and kept the idea of weighing in its derivatives, /e. g./,
/hefty/. Finally, there is the familiar American misuse of /Miss/ or
/Mis'/ for /Mrs./. It was so widespread by 1790 that on November 17 of
that year Webster solemnly denounced it in the /American Mercury/.

§ 5

/Archaic English Words/--Most of the colonists who lived along the
American seaboard in 1750 were the descendants of immigrants who had
come in fully a century before; after the first settlements there had
been much less fresh immigration than many latter-day writers have
assumed. According to Prescott F. Hall, "the population of New England
... at the date of the Revolutionary War ... was produced out of an
immigration of about 20,000 persons /who arrived before 1640/,"[33]
and we have Franklin's authority for the statement that the total
population of the colonies in 1751, then about 1,000,000, had been
[Pg055] produced from an original immigration of less than 80,000.[34]
Even at that early day, indeed, the colonists had begun to feel that
they were distinctly separated, in culture and customs, from the
mother-country,[35] and there were signs of the rise of a new native
aristocracy, entirely distinct from the older aristocracy of the royal
governors' courts.[36] The enormous difficulties of communication with
England helped to foster this sense of separation. The round trip
across the ocean occupied the better part of a year, and was hazardous
and expensive; a colonist who had made it was a marked man,--as
Hawthorne said, "the /petit-maître/ of the colonies." Nor was there
any very extensive exchange of ideas, for though most of the books
read in the colonies came from England, the great majority of the
colonists, down to the middle of the century, seem to have read little
save the Bible and biblical commentaries, and in the native literature
of the time one seldom comes upon any reference to the English authors
who were glorifying the period of the Restoration and the reign of
Anne. Moreover, after 1760 the colonial eyes were upon France rather
than upon England, and Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire and the
Encyclopedists began to be familiar names to thousands who were
scarcely aware of Addison and Steele, or even of the great

The result of this isolation, on the one hand, was that proliferation
of the colonial speech which I have briefly reviewed, and on the other
hand, the preservation of many words and phrases that gradually became
obsolete in England. The Pilgrims of 1620 brought over with them the
English of James I and the Revised [Pg056] Version, and their
descendants of a century later, inheriting it, allowed its
fundamentals to be little changed by the academic overhauling that the
mother tongue was put to during the early part of the eighteenth
century. In part they were ignorant of this overhauling, and in part
they were indifferent to it. Whenever the new usage differed from that
of the Bible they were inclined to remain faithful to the Bible, not
only because of its pious authority but also because of the superior
pull of its imminent and constant presence. Thus when an artificial
prudery in English ordered the abandonment of the Anglo-Saxon /sick/
for the Gothic /ill/, the colonies refused to follow, for /sick/ was
in both the Old Testament and the New;[38] and that refusal remains in
force to this day.

A very large number of words and phrases, many of them now exclusively
American, are similar survivals from the English of the seventeenth
century, long since obsolete or merely provincial in England. Among
nouns Thornton notes /fox-fire/, /flap-jack/, /jeans/, /molasses/,
/beef/ (to designate the live animal), /chinch/, /cord-wood/,
/homespun/, /ice-cream/, /julep/ and /swingle-tree/; Halliwell[39]
adds /andiron/, /bay-window/, /cesspool/, /clodhopper/,
/cross-purposes/, /greenhorn/, /loophole/, /ragamuffin/, /riff-raff/,
/rigmarole/ and /trash/; and other authorities cite /stock/ (for
cattle), /fall/ (for autumn), /offal/, /din/, /underpinning/ and
/adze/. /Bub/, used in addressing a boy, is very old English, but
survives only in American. /Flap-jack/ goes back to Piers Plowman, but
has been obsolete in England for two centuries. /Muss/, in the sense
of a row, is also obsolete over there, but it is to be found in
"Anthony and Cleopatra." /Char/, as a noun, disappeared from English a
long time ago, but it survives in American as /chore/. Among the
adjectives similarly preserved are /to whittle/, /to wilt/ and /to
approbate/. /To guess/, in the American sense of /to suppose/, is to
be found in "Henry VI": [Pg057]

 Not all together; better far, I /guess/,
 That we do make our entrance several ways.

In "Measure for Measure" Escalus says "I /guess/ not" to Angelo. The
New English Dictionary offers examples much older--from Chaucer,
Wyclif and Gower. /To interview/ is in Dekker. /To loan/, in the
American sense of to lend, is in 34 and 35 Henry VIII, but it dropped
out of use in England early in the eighteenth century, and all the
leading dictionaries, both English and American, now call it an
Americanism.[40] /To fellowship/, once in good American use but now
reduced to a provincialism, is in Chaucer. Even /to hustle/, it
appears, is ancient. Among adjectives, /homely/, which means only
homelike or unadorned in England, was used in its American sense of
plain-featured by both Shakespeare and Milton. Other such survivors
are /burly/, /catty-cornered/, /likely/, /deft/, /copious/, /scant/
and /ornate/. Perhaps /clever/ also belongs to this category, that is,
in the American sense of amiable.

"Our ancestors," said James Russell Lowell, "unhappily could bring
over no English better than Shakespeare's." Shakespeare died in 1616;
the Pilgrims landed four years later; Jamestown was founded in 1607.
As we have seen, the colonists, saving a few superior leaders, were
men of small sensitiveness to the refinements of life and speech:
soldiers of fortune, amateur theologians, younger sons, neighborhood
"advanced thinkers," bankrupts, jobless workmen, decayed gentry, and
other such fugitives from culture--in brief, Philistines of the sort
who join tin-pot fraternal orders today, and march in parades, and
whoop for the latest mountebanks in politics. There was thus a touch
of rhetoric in Lowell's saying that they spoke the English of
Shakespeare; as well argue that the London grocers of 1885 spoke the
English of Pater. But in a larger sense he said truly, for these men
at least brought with them the vocabulary of Shakespeare--or a part of
it,--even if the uses he made of it were beyond their comprehension,
and they also brought with [Pg058] them that sense of ease in the
language, that fine disdain for formality, that bold experimentalizing
in words, which was so peculiarly Elizabethan. There were no
grammarians in that day; there were no purists that anyone listened
to; it was a case of saying your say in the easiest and most
satisfying way. In remote parts of the United States there are still
direct and almost pure-blooded descendants of those seventeenth
century colonists. Go among them, and you will hear more words from
the Shakespearean vocabulary, still alive and in common service, than
anywhere else in the world, and more of the loose and brilliant syntax
of that time, and more of its gipsy phrases.[41]

§ 6

/Colonial Pronunciation/--The debate that long raged over the
pronunciation of classical Latin exhibits the difficulty of
determining with exactness the shades of sound in the speech of a
people long departed from earth. The American colonists, of course,
are much nearer to us than the Romans, and so we should have
relatively little difficulty in determining just how they pronounced
this or that word, but against the fact of their nearness stands the
neglect of our philologists, or, perhaps more accurately, our lack of
philologists. What Sweet did to clear up the history of English
pronunciation,[42] and what Wilhelm Corssen did for Latin, no American
professor has yet thought to attempt for American. The literature is
almost, if not quite a blank. But here and there we may get a hint of
the facts, and though the sum of them is not large, they at least
serve to set at rest a number of popular errors.

One of these errors, chiefly prevalent in New England, is that the
so-called Boston pronunciation, with its broad /a/'s (making /last/,
/path/ and /aunt/ almost assonant with /bar/) comes down unbrokenly
from the day of the first settlements, and that it is in consequence
superior in authority to the pronunciation of the [Pg059] rest of the
country, with its flat /a/'s (making the same words assonant with
/ban/). A glance through Webster's "Dissertations" is sufficient to
show that the flat /a/ was in use in New England in 1789, for the
pronunciation of such words as /wrath/, /bath/ and /path/, as given by
him, makes them rhyme with /hath/.[43] Moreover, he gives /aunt/ the
same /a/-sound. From other sources come indications that the /a/ was
likewise flattened in such words as /plant/, /basket/, /branch/,
/dance/, /blast/, /command/ and /castle/, and even in /balm/ and
/calm/. Changes in the sound of the letter have been going on in
English ever since the Middle English period,[44] and according to
Lounsbury[45] they have moved toward the disappearance of the
Continental /a/, "the fundamental vowel-tone of the human voice."
Grandgent, another authority,[46] says that it became flattened "by
the sixteenth century" and that "until 1780 or thereabouts the
standard language had no broad /a/." Even in such words as /father/,
/car/ and /ask/ the flat /a/ was universally used. Sheridan, in the
dictionary he published in 1780,[47] actually gave no /ah/-sound in
his list of vowels. This habit of flatting the /a/ had been brought
over, of course, by the early colonists, and was as general in
America, in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, as in
England. Benjamin Franklin, when he wrote his "Scheme for a New
Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling," in 1768, apparently had no
suspicion that any other /a/ was possible. But between 1780 and 1790,
according to Grandgent, a sudden fashion for the broad /a/ (not the
/aw/-sound, as in /fall/, but the Continental sound as in /far/) arose
in England,[48] and this fashion soon found servile imitation in
Boston. But it was as much an affectation in those [Pg060] days as it
is today, and Webster indicated the fact pretty plainly in his
"Dissertations." How, despite his opposition, the broad /a/ prevailed
East of the Connecticut river, and how, in the end, he himself yielded
to it, and even tried to force it upon the whole nation--this will be
rehearsed in the next chapter.

The colonists remained faithful much longer than the English to
various other vowel-sounds that were facing change in the eighteenth
century, for example, the long /e/-sound in /heard/. Webster says that
the custom of rhyming /heard/ with /bird/ instead of with /feared/
came in at the beginning of the Revolution. "To most people in this
country," he adds, "the English pronunciation appears like
affectation." He also argues for rhyming /deaf/ with /leaf/, and
protests against inserting a /y/-sound before the /u/ in such words as
/nature/. Franklin's authority stands behind /git/ for /get/. This
pronunciation, according to Menner,[49] was correct in seventeenth
century England, and perhaps down to the middle of the next century.
So was the use of the Continental /i/-sound in /oblige/, making it
/obleege/. It is probable that the colonists clung to these
disappearing usages much longer than the English. The latter,
according to Webster, were unduly responsive to illogical fashions set
by the exquisites of the court and by popular actors. He blames
Garrick, in particular, for many extravagant innovations, most of them
not followed in the colonies. But Garrick was surely not responsible
for the use of a long /i/-sound in such words as /motive/, nor for the
corruption of /mercy/ to /marcy/. Webster denounced both of these
barbarisms. The second he ascribed somewhat lamely to the fact that
the letter /r/ is called /ar/, and proposed to dispose of it by
changing the /ar/ to /er/.

As for the consonants, the colonists seem to have resisted valiantly
that tendency to slide over them which arose in England after the
Restoration. Franklin, in 1768, still retained the sound of /l/ in
such words as /would/ and /should/, a usage not met with in England
after the year 1700. In the same way, according to Menner, the /w/ in
/sword/ was sounded in America "for some time after Englishmen had
abandoned it." The sensitive ear of Henry James detected an unpleasant
/r/-sound in the speech of Americans, long ago got rid of by the
English, so late as 1905; he even charged that it was inserted
gratuitously in innocent words.[50] The obvious slurring of the
consonants by Southerners is explained by a recent investigator[51] on
the ground that it began in England during the reign of Charles II,
and that most of the Southern colonists came to the New World at that
time. The court of Charles, it is argued, was under French influence,
due to the king's long residence in France and his marriage to
Henrietta Marie. Charles "objected to the inharmonious contractions
/will'nt/ (or /wolln't/) and /wasn't/ and /weren't/ ... and set the
fashion of using the softly euphonious /won't/ and /wan't/, which are
used in speaking to this day by the best class of Southerners." A more
direct French influence upon Southern pronunciation is also pointed
out. "With full knowledge of his /g's/ and his /r's/, ... [the
Southerner] sees fit to glide over them, ... and he carries over the
consonant ending one word to the vowel beginning the next, just as the
Frenchman does." The political importance of the South, in the years
between the Mecklenburg Declaration and the adoption of the
Constitution, tended to force its provincialisms upon the common
language. Many of the acknowledged leaders of the nascent nation were
Southerners, and their pronunciation, as well as their phrases, must
have become familiar everywhere. Pickering gives us a hint, indeed, at
the process whereby their usage influenced that of the rest of the

The Americans early dropped the /h/-sound in such words as /when/ and
/where/, but so far as I can determine they never elided it at the
beginning of words, save in the case of /herb/, and a few others. This
elision is commonly spoken of as a cockney vulgarism, but it has
extended to the orthodox English speech. In /ostler/ the initial /h/
is openly left off; in /hotel/ and /hospital/ it is [Pg062] seldom
sounded, even by the most careful Englishmen. Certain English words in
/h/, in which the /h/ is now sounded, betray its former silence by the
fact that not /a/ but /an/ is still put before them. It is still good
English usage to write /an hotel/ and /an historical/; it is the
American usage to write /a hotel/ and /a historical/.

The great authority of Webster was sufficient to establish the
American pronunciation of /schedule/. In England the /sch/ is always
given the soft sound, but Webster decided for the hard sound, as in
/scheme/. The variance persists to this day. The name of the last
letter of the alphabet, which is always /zed/ in English, is usually
made /zee/ in the United States. Thornton shows that this Americanism
arose in the eighteenth century.


[1] Bristed was a grandson of John Jacob Astor and was educated at
Cambridge. He contributed an extremely sagacious essay on The English
Language in America to a volume of Cambridge Essays published by a
group of young Cambridge men; London, 1855.

[2] Vol. i, p. vi.

[3] Scheme for a New Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling;
Philadelphia, 1768.

[4] Dec. 26, 1789. The Works of B. Franklin, ed. by A. F. Smyth; New
York, 1905, vol. i, p. 40.

[5] /The Druid/, No. 5; reprinted in Witherspoon's Collected Works,
edited by Ashbel Green, vol. iv; New York, 1800-1.

[6] /Vide/, in addition to the citations in the text, the /British
Critic/, Nov. 1793; Feb. 1810; the /Critical Review/, July 1807; Sept.
1809; the /Monthly Review/, May 1808; the /Eclectic Review/, Aug.

[7] 1815, pp. 307-14; reprinted in his Remarks on National Literature,
Boston, 1823.

[8] American English, /North American Review/, April, 1883.

[9] A number of such Indian words are preserved in the nomenclature of
Tammany Hall and in that of the Improved Order of Red Men, an
organization with more than 500,000 members. The Red Men, borrowing
from the Indians, thus name the months, in order: /Cold Moon/, /Snow/,
/Worm/, /Plant/, /Flower/, /Hot/, /Buck/, /Sturgeon/, /Corn/,
/Travelers'/, /Beaver/ and /Hunting/. They call their officers
/incohonee/, /sachem/, /wampum-keeper/, etc. But such terms, of
course, are not in general use.

[10] A long list of such obsolete Americanisms is given by Clapin in
his Dictionary.

[11] An Account of the History, Manners and Customs of the Indian
Nations....; Phila., 1818.

[12] /Cf./ Hans Brinker, by Mary Maples Dodge; New York, 1891.

[13] (/a/) A chest of drawers, (/b/) a government office. In both
senses the word is rare in English, though its use by the French is
familiar. In the United States its use in (/b/) has been extended,
/e. g./, in /employment-bureau/.

[14] From /Sint-Klaas/--/Saint Nicholas/. /Santa Claus/ has also
become familiar to the English, but the Oxford Dictionary still calls
the name an Americanism.

[15] The spelling is variously /sauerkraut/, /saurkraut/, /sourkraut/
and /sourkrout/.

[16] /Cf./ The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. i, pp.
14 and 22.

[17] The American origin of this last word has been disputed, but the
weight of evidence seems to show that it was borrowed from the
/rapides/ of the French Canadians. It is familiar in the United States
and Canada, but seldom met with in England.

[18] /Log-cabin/ came in later. Thornton's first quotation is dated
1818. The /Log-Cabin/ campaign was in 1840.

[19] Theo. Roosevelt: Gouverneur Morris; Boston, 1888, p. 104.

[20] William Brown Meloney: The Heritage of Tyre; New York, 1916, p.

[21] /Vide/ his preface to Every-Day English, pp. xxi and xv,

[22] /Vide/ Lyell's Travels in North America; London, 1845.

[23] Pref. to the Biglow Papers, 2nd series, 1866.

[24] Reprinted in Helpful Hints in Writing and Reading, comp. by
Grenville Kleiser; New York, 1911, pp. 15-17.

[25] A. Cleveland Coxe: Americanisms in England, /Forum/, Oct., 1886.

[26] Edwin S. Gould: Good English, or, Popular Errors in Language: New
York, 1867; pp. 25-27.

[27] /Cf./ Ch. I, § 5, and Ch. V, § 1.

[28] /Lott/ appears in the Connecticut Code of 1650. /Vide/ the
edition of Andrus; Hartford, 1822. On page 35 is "their landes,
/lotts/ and accommodations." On page 46 is "meadow and home /lotts/."

[29] /Vide/ Hutchinson's Diary, vol. i, p. 171; London, 1883-6.

[30] The definitions are from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current
English (1914) and the Standard Dictionary (1906), respectively.

[31] S. Sewall: Diary, April 14, 1712: "I lay'd a /Rock/ in the
North-east corner of the Foundation of the Meeting-house."

[32] The Americana, ... /art./ Americanisms: New York, 1903-6.

[33] Immigration, 2nd ed.; New York, 1913, p. 4. Sir J. R. Seeley
says, in The Expansion of England (2nd ed.; London, 1895, p. 84) that
the emigration from England to New England, after the meeting of the
Long Parliament (1640), was so slight for a full century that it
barely balanced "the counter-movement of colonists quitting the
colony." Richard Hildreth, in his History of the United States, vol.
i, p. 267, says that the departures actually exceeded the arrivals.

[34] Works, ed. by Sparks: vol. ii, p. 319.

[35] /Cf./ Pehr Kalm: Travels into N. America, tr. by J. R. Forster, 3
vols.; London, 1770-71.

[36] Sydney George Fisher: The True Story of the American Revolution;
Phila. and London, 1902, p. 27. See also John T. Morse's Life of
Thomas Jefferson in the American Statesmen series (Boston and New
York, 1898), p. 2. Morse points out that Washington, Jefferson and
Madison belonged to this new aristocracy, not to the old one.

[37] /Cf./ the Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. i, p.
119. Francis Jeffrey, writing on Franklin in the /Edinburgh Review/
for July, 1806, hailed him as a prodigy who had arisen "in a society
where there was no relish and no encouragement for literature."

[38] Examples of its use in the American sense, considered vulgar and
even indecent in England, are to be found in Gen. xlviii, 1; II Kings
viii, 7; John xi, 1, and Acts ix, 37.

[39] J. O. Halliwell (Phillips): A Dictionary of Archaisms and
Provincialisms, Containing Words now Obsolete in England All of Which
are Familiar and in Common Use in America, 2nd ed.; London, 1850.

[40] An interesting discussion of this verb appeared in the /New York
Sun/, Nov. 27, 1914.

[41] /Cf./ J. H. Combs: Old, Early and Elizabethan English in the
Southern Mountains, /Dialect Notes/, vol. iv, pt. iv, pp. 283-97.

[42] Henry Sweet: A History of English Sounds; London, 1876; Oxford,

[43] P. 124.

[44] /Cf./ /Art./ Changes in the Language Since Shakespeare's Time, by
W. Murison, in The Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiv,
p. 485.

[45] English Spelling and Spelling Reform; New York, 1909.

[46] C. H. Grandgent: Fashion and the Broad /A/, /Nation/, Jan. 7,

[47] Thomas Sheridan: A Complete Dictionary of the English Language;
London, 1780.

[48] It first appeared in Robert Nares' Elements of Orthography;
London, 1784. In 1791 it received full approbation in John Walker's
Critical Pronouncing Dictionary.

[49] Robert J. Menner; The Pronunciation of English in America,
/Atlantic Monthly/, March, 1915.

[50] The Question of Our Speech; Boston and New York, 1906, pp. 27-29.

[51] Elizabeth H. Hancock: Southern Speech, /Neale's Monthly/, Nov.,
1913, pp. 606-7.

[52] /Vide/ his remarks on /balance/ in his Vocabulary. See also
Marsh, p. 671.



The Period of Growth

§ 1

/The New Nation/--The American language thus began to be recognizably
differentiated from English in both vocabulary and pronunciation by
the opening of the nineteenth century, but as yet its growth was
hampered by two factors, the first being the lack of a national
literature of any pretentions and the second being an internal
political disharmony which greatly conditioned and enfeebled the
national consciousness. During the actual Revolution common aims and
common dangers forced the Americans to show a united front, but once
they had achieved political independence they developed conflicting
interests, and out of those conflicting interests came suspicions and
hatreds which came near wrecking the new confederation more than once.
Politically, their worst weakness, perhaps, was an inability to detach
themselves wholly from the struggle for domination still going on in
Europe. The surviving Loyalists of the revolutionary era--estimated by
some authorities to have constituted fully a third of the total
population in 1776--were ardently in favor of England, and such
patriots as Jefferson were as ardently in favor of France. This
engrossment in the quarrels of foreign nations was what Washington
warned against in his Farewell Address. It was at the bottom of such
bitter animosities as that between Jefferson and Hamilton. It inspired
and perhaps excused the pessimism of such men as Burr. Its net effect
was to make it difficult for the people of the new nation to think of
themselves, politically, as Americans. Their state of mind,
vacillating, uncertain, alternately timorous and [Pg064] pugnacious,
has been well described by Henry Cabot Lodge in his essay on
"Colonialism in America."[1] Soon after the Treaty of Paris was
signed, someone referred to the late struggle, in Franklin's hearing,
as the War for Independence. "Say, rather, the War of the Revolution,"
said Franklin. "The War for Independence is yet to be fought."

"That struggle," adds Lossing, "occurred, and that independence was
won, by the Americans in the War of 1812."[2] In the interval the new
republic had passed through a period of /Sturm und Drang/ whose
gigantic perils and passions we have begun to forget--a period in
which disaster ever menaced, and the foes within were no less bold and
pertinacious than the foes without. Jefferson, perhaps, carried his
fear of "monocrats" to the point of monomania, but under it there was
undoubtedly a body of sound fact. The poor debtor class (including
probably a majority of the veterans of the Revolution) had been fired
by the facile doctrines of the French Revolution to demands which
threatened the country with bankruptcy and anarchy, and the class of
property-owners, in reaction, went far to the other extreme. On all
sides, indeed, there flourished a strong British party, and
particularly in New England, where the so-called codfish aristocracy
(by no means extinct, even today) exhibited an undisguised Anglomania,
and looked forward confidently to a /rapprochement/ with the mother
country.[3] This Anglomania showed itself, not only in ceaseless
political agitation, but also in an elaborate imitation of English
manners. We have already seen, on Noah Webster's authority, how it
even extended to the pronunciation of the language.

The first sign of the dawn of a new national order came with the
election of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency in 1800. The issue in
the campaign was a highly complex one, but under it lay a plain
conflict between democratic independence and the [Pg065] old doctrine
of dependence and authority; and with the Alien and Sedition Laws
about his neck, so vividly reminiscent of the issues of the Revolution
itself, Adams went down to defeat. Jefferson was violently
anti-British and pro-French; he saw all the schemes of his political
opponents, indeed, as English plots; he was the man who introduced the
bugaboo into American politics. His first acts after his inauguration
were to abolish all ceremonial at the court of the republic, and to
abandon spoken discourses to Congress for written messages. That
ceremonial, which grew up under Washington, was an imitation, he
believed, of the formality of the abhorrent Court of St. James; as for
the speeches to Congress, they were palpably modelled upon the
speeches from the throne of the English kings. Both reforms met with
wide approval; the exactions of the English, particularly on the high
seas, were beginning to break up the British party. But confidence in
the solidarity and security of the new nation was still anything but
universal. The surviving doubts, indeed, were strong enough to delay
the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution,
providing for more direct elections of President and Vice-President,
until the end of 1804, and even then three of the five New England
states rejected it,[4] and have never ratified it, in fact, to this
day. Democracy was still experimental, doubtful, full of gunpowder. In
so far as it had actually come into being, it had come as a boon
conferred from above. Jefferson, its protagonist, was the hero of the
populace, but he was not of the populace himself, nor did he ever
quite trust it.

It was reserved for Andrew Jackson, a man genuinely of the people, to
lead and visualize the rise of the lower orders. Jackson, in his way,
was the archetype of the new American--ignorant, pushful, impatient of
restraint and precedent, an iconoclast, a Philistine, an Anglophobe in
every fibre. He came from the extreme backwoods and his youth was
passed amid surroundings but little removed from downright
savagery.[5] [Pg066] Thousands of other young Americans like him were
growing up at the same time--youngsters filled with a vast impatience
of all precedent and authority, revilers of all that had come down
from an elder day, incorrigible libertarians. They swarmed across the
mountains and down the great rivers, wrestling with the naked
wilderness and setting up a casual, impromptu sort of civilization
where the Indian still menaced. Schools were few and rudimentary;
there was not the remotest approach to a cultivated society; any
effort to mimic the amenities of the East, or of the mother country,
in manner or even in speech, met with instant derision. It was in
these surroundings and at this time that the thorough-going American
of tradition was born: blatant, illogical, elate, "greeting the
embarrassed gods" uproariously and matching "with Destiny for beers."
Jackson was unmistakably of that company in his every instinct and
idea, and it was his fate to give a new and unshakable confidence to
its aspiration at the Battle of New Orleans. Thereafter all doubts
began to die out; the new republic was turning out a success. And with
success came a vast increase in the national egoism. The hordes of
pioneers rolled down the western valleys and on to the great
plains.[6] America began to stand for something quite new in the
world--in government, in law, in public and private morals, in customs
and habits of mind, in the minutia of social intercourse. And
simultaneously the voice of America began to take on its
characteristic twang, and the speech of America began to differentiate
itself boldly and unmistakably from the speech of England. The average
Philadelphian or Bostonian of 1790 had not the slightest difficulty in
making himself understood by a visiting Englishman. But the average
Ohio boatman of 1810 or plainsman of 1815 was already speaking a
dialect that the Englishman would have shrunk from as barbarous and
unintelligible, and before long it began to leave [Pg067] its mark
upon and to get direction and support from a distinctively national

That literature, however, was very slow in coming to a dignified,
confident and autonomous estate. Down to Jefferson's day it was almost
wholly polemical, and hence lacking in the finer values; he himself,
an insatiable propagandist and controversialist, was one of its chief
ornaments. "The novelists and the historians, the essayists and the
poets, whose names come to mind when American literature is
mentioned," says a recent literary historian, "have all flourished
since 1800."[7] Pickering, so late as 1816, said that "in this country
we can hardly be said to have any authors by profession." It was a
true saying, though the new day was about to dawn; Bryant had already
written "Thanatopsis" and was destined to publish it the year
following. Difficulties of communication hampered the circulation of
the few native books that were written; it was easier for a man in the
South to get books from London than to get them from Boston or New
York, and the lack of a copyright treaty with England flooded the
country with cheap English editions. "It is much to be regretted,"
wrote Dr. David Ramsay, of Charleston, S. C., to Noah Webster in 1806,
"that there is so little intercourse in a literary way between the
states. As soon as a book of general utility comes out in any state it
should be for sale in all of them." Ramsay asked for little; the most
he could imagine was a sale of 2,000 copies for an American work in
America. But even that was far beyond the possibilities of the time.

An external influence of great potency helped to keep the national
literature scant and timorous during those early and perilous days. It
was the extraordinary animosity of the English critics, then at the
zenith of their pontifical authority, to all books of American origin
or flavor. This animosity, culminating in Sydney Smith's famous
sneer,[8] was but part of a [Pg068] larger hostility to all things
American, from political theories to table manners. The American,
after the war of 1812, became the pet abomination of the English, and
the chief butt of the incomparable English talent for moral
indignation. There was scarcely an issue of the /Quarterly Review/,
the /Edinburgh/, the /Foreign Quarterly/, the /British Review/ or
/Blackwood's/, for a generation following 1814, in which he was not
stupendously assaulted. Gifford, Sydney Smith and the poet Southey
became specialists in this business; it took on the character of a
holy war; even such mild men as Wordsworth were recruited for it. It
was argued that the Americans were rogues and swindlers, that they
lived in filth and squalor, that they were boors in social
intercourse, that they were poltroons and savages in war, that they
were depraved and criminal, that they were wholly devoid of the
remotest notion of decency or honor. The /Foreign Quarterly/, summing
up in January, 1844, pronounced them "horn-handed and pig-headed,
hard, persevering, unscrupulous, carnivorous, with a genius for
lying." Various Americans went to the defense of their countrymen,
among them, Irving, Cooper, Timothy Dwight, J. K. Paulding, John Neal,
Edward Everett and Robert Walsh. Paulding, in "John Bull in America,
or, the New Munchausen," published in 1825, attempted satire. Even an
Englishman, James Sterling, warned his fellow-Britons that, if they
continued their intolerant abuse, they would "turn into bitterness the
last drops of good-will toward England that exist in the United
States." But the avalanche of denunciation kept up, and even down to a
few years ago it was very uncommon for an Englishman to write of
American politics, or manners, or literature without betraying his
dislike. Not, indeed, until the Prussian began monopolizing the whole
British talent for horror and invective did the Yankee escape the

This gigantic pummelling, in the long run, was destined to encourage
an independent spirit in the national literature, if [Pg069] only by
a process of mingled resentment and despair, but for some time its
chief effect was to make American writers of a more delicate
aspiration extremely self-conscious and diffident. The educated
classes, even against their will, were influenced by the torrent of
abuse; they could not help finding in it an occasional reasonableness,
an accidental true hit. The result, despite the efforts of Channing,
Knapp and other such valiant defenders of the native author, was
uncertainty and skepticism in native criticism. "The first step of an
American entering upon a literary career," says Lodge, writing of the
first quarter of the century, "was to pretend to be an Englishman in
order that he might win the approval, not of Englishmen, but of his
own countrymen." Cooper, in his first novel, "Precaution," chose an
English scene, imitated English models, and obviously hoped to placate
the critics thereby. Irving, too, in his earliest work, showed a
considerable discretion, and his "History of New York," as everyone
knows, was first published anonymously. But this puerile spirit did
not last long. The English onslaughts were altogether too vicious to
be received lying down; their very fury demanded that they be met with
a united and courageous front. Cooper, in his second novel, "The Spy,"
boldly chose an American setting and American characters, and though
the influence of his wife, who came of a Loyalist family, caused him
to avoid any direct attack upon the English, he attacked them
indirectly, and with great effect, by opposing an immediate and
honorable success to their derisions. "The Spy" ran through three
editions in four months; it was followed by his long line of
thoroughly American novels; in 1834 he formally apologized to his
countrymen for his early truancy in "Precaution." Irving, too, soon
adopted a bolder tone, and despite his English predilections, he
refused an offer of a hundred guineas for an article for the
/Quarterly Review/, made by Gifford in 1828, on the ground that "the
/Review/ has been so persistently hostile to our country that I cannot
draw a pen in its service."

The same year saw the publication of the first edition of [Pg070]
Webster's American Dictionary of the English language, and a year
later followed Samuel L. Knapp's "Lectures on American Literature,"
the first history of the national letters ever attempted. Knapp, in
his preface, thought it necessary to prove, first of all, that an
American literature actually existed, and Webster, in his
introduction, was properly apologetic, but there was no real need for
timorousness in either case, for the American attitude toward the
attack of the English was now definitely changing from uneasiness to
defiance. The English critics, in fact, had overdone the thing, and
though their clatter was to keep up for many years more, they no
longer spread terror or had much influence. Of a sudden, as if in
answer to them, doubts turned to confidence, and then into the wildest
sort of optimism, not only in politics and business, but also in what
passed for the arts. Knapp boldly defied the English to produce a
"tuneful sister" surpassing Mrs. Sigourney; more, he argued that the
New World, if only by reason of its superior scenic grandeur, would
eventually hatch a poetry surpassing even that of Greece and Rome.
"What are the Tibers and Scamanders," he demanded, "measured by the
Missouri and the Amazon? Or what the loveliness of Illysus or Avon by
the Connecticut or the Potomack?"

In brief, the national feeling, long delayed at birth, finally leaped
into being in amazing vigor. "One can get an idea of the strength of
that feeling," says R. O. Williams, "by glancing at almost any book
taken at random from the American publications of the period. Belief
in the grand future of the United States is the key-note of everything
said and done. All things American are to be grand--our territory,
population, products, wealth, science, art--but especially our
political institutions and literature. The unbounded confidence in the
material development of the country which now characterizes the
extreme northwest of the United States prevailed as strongly
throughout the eastern part of the Union during the first thirty years
of the century; and over and above a belief in, and concern for,
materialistic progress, there were enthusiastic anticipations of
achievements in all the moral and intellectual fields of national
[Pg071] greatness."[10] Nor was that vast optimism wholly without
warrant. An American literature was actually coming into being, and
with a wall of hatred and contempt shutting in England, the new
American writers were beginning to turn to the Continent for
inspiration and encouragement. Irving had already drunk at Spanish
springs; Emerson and Bayard Taylor were to receive powerful impulses
from Germany, following Ticknor, Bancroft and Everett before them;
Bryant was destined to go back to the classics. Moreover, Cooper and
John P. Kennedy had shown the way to native sources of literary
material, and Longfellow was making ready to follow them; novels in
imitation of English models were no longer heard of; the ground was
preparing for "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Finally, Webster himself, as
Williams demonstrated, worked better than he knew. His American
Dictionary was not only thoroughly American: it was superior to any of
the current dictionaries of the English, so much so that for a good
many years it remained "a sort of mine for British lexicography to

Thus all hesitations disappeared, and there arose a national
consciousness so soaring and so blatant that it began to dismiss all
British usage and opinion as puerile and idiotic. William L. Marcy,
when Secretary of State under Pierce (1853-57), issued a circular to
all American diplomatic and consular officers, loftily bidding them
employ only "the American language" in communicating with him. The
Legislature of Indiana, in an act approved February 15, 1838,
establishing the state university at Bloomington,[11] provided that it
should instruct the youth of the new commonwealth (it had been
admitted to the Union in 1816) "in the American, learned and foreign
languages ... and literature." Such grandiose pronunciamentos [Pg072]
well indicate and explain the temper of the era.[12] It was a time of
expansion and braggadocia. The new republic would not only produce a
civilization and a literature of its own; it would show the way for
all other civilizations and literatures. Rufus Wilmot Griswold, the
enemy of Poe, rose from his decorous Baptist pew to protest that so
much patriotism amounted to insularity and absurdity, but there seems
to have been no one to second the motion. It took, indeed, the vast
shock of the Civil War to unhorse the optimists. While the Jackson
influence survived, it was the almost unanimous national conviction
that "he who dallies is a dastard, and he who doubts is damned."

§ 2

/The Language in the Making/--All this jingoistic bombast, however,
was directed toward defending, not so much the national vernacular as
the national beautiful letters. True enough, an English attack upon a
definite American locution always brought out certain critical
minute-men, but in the main they were anything but hospitable to the
racy neologisms that kept crowding up from below, and most of them
were eager to be accepted as masters of orthodox English and very
sensitive to the charge that their writing was bestrewn with
Americanisms. A glance through the native criticism of the time will
show how ardently even the most uncompromising patriots imitated the
Johnsonian jargon then fashionable in England. Fowler and Griswold
followed pantingly in the footsteps of Macaulay; their prose is
extraordinarily ornate and self-conscious, and one searches it in vain
for any concession to colloquialism. Poe, the master of them all,
achieved a style so elephantine that many an English leader-writer
must have studied it with envy. A few bolder spirits, as we have seen,
spoke out for national freedom in language as well as in
letters--among them, Channing--but in the main the Brahmins of the
time were conservatives in [Pg073] that department, and it is
difficult to imagine Emerson or Irving or Bryant sanctioning the
innovations later adopted so easily by Howells. Lowell and Walt
Whitman, in fact, were the first men of letters, properly so called,
to give specific assent to the great changes that were firmly fixed in
the national speech during the half century between the War of 1812
and the Civil War. Lowell did so in his preface to the second series
of "The Biglow Papers." Whitman made his declaration in "An American
Primer." In discussing his own poetry, he said: "It is an attempt to
give the spirit, the body and the man, new words, new potentialities
of speech--an American, a cosmopolitan (for the best of America is the
best cosmopolitanism) range of self-expression." And then: "The
Americans are going to be the most fluent and melodious-voiced people
in the world--and the most perfect users of words. The new times, the
new people, the new vistas need a new tongue according--yes, and what
is more, they will have such a new tongue." To which, as everyone
knows, Whitman himself forthwith contributed many daring (and still
undigested) novelties, /e. g./, /camerado/, /romanza/, /Adamic/ and
/These States/.

Meanwhile, in strong contrast to the lingering conservatism above
there was a wild and lawless development of the language below, and in
the end it forced itself into recognition, and profited by the
literary declaration of independence of its very opponents. "The /jus
et norma loquendi/," says W. R. Morfill, the English philologist, "do
not depend upon scholars." Particularly in a country where scholarship
is still new and wholly cloistered, and the overwhelming majority of
the people are engaged upon novel and highly exhilarating tasks, far
away from schools and with a gigantic cockiness in their hearts. The
remnants of the Puritan civilization had been wiped out by the rise of
the proletariat under Jackson, and whatever was fine and sensitive in
it had died with it. What remained of an urbane habit of mind and
utterance began to be confined to the narrowing feudal areas of the
south, and to the still narrower refuge of the Boston Brahmins, now,
for the first time, a definitely recognized caste of /intelligentsia/,
self-charged with carrying the [Pg074] torch of culture through a new
Dark Age. The typical American, in Paulding's satirical phrase, became
"a bundling, gouging, impious" fellow, without either "morals,
literature, religion or refinement." Next to the savage struggle for
land and dollars, party politics was the chief concern of the people,
and with the disappearance of the old leaders and the entrance of
pushing upstarts from the backwoods, political controversy sank to an
incredibly low level. Bartlett, in the introduction to the second
edition of his Glossary, describes the effect upon the language. First
the enfranchised mob, whether in the city wards or along the western
rivers, invented fantastic slang-words and turns of phrase; then they
were "seized upon by stump-speakers at political meetings"; then they
were heard in Congress; then they got into the newspapers; and finally
they came into more or less good usage. Much contemporary evidence is
to the same effect. Fowler, in listing "low expressions" in 1850,
described them as "chiefly political." "The vernacular tongue of the
country," said Daniel Webster, "has become greatly vitiated, depraved
and corrupted by the style of the congressional debates." Thornton, in
the appendix to his Glossary, gives some astounding specimens of
congressional oratory between the 20's and 60's, and many more will
reward the explorer who braves the files of the /Congressional Globe/.
This flood of racy and unprecedented words and phrases beat upon and
finally penetrated the retreat of the /literati/, but the purity of
speech cultivated there had little compensatory influence upon the
vulgate. The newspaper was now enthroned, and /belles lettres/ were
cultivated almost in private, and as a mystery. It is probable,
indeed, that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Ten Nights in a Bar-room," both
published in the early 50's, were the first contemporary native books,
after Cooper's day, that the American people, as a people, ever read.
Nor did the pulpit, now fast falling from its old high estate, lift a
corrective voice. On the contrary, it joined the crowd, and Bartlett
denounces it specifically for its bad example, and cites, among its
crimes against the language, such inventions as /to doxologize/ and
/to funeralize/. [Pg075] To these novelties, apparently without any
thought of their uncouthness, Fowler adds to /missionate/ and

As I say, the pressure from below broke down the defenses of the
purists, and literally forced a new national idiom upon them. Pen in
hand, they might still achieve laborious imitations of Johnson and
Macaulay, but their mouths began to betray them. "When it comes to
talking," wrote Charles Astor Bristed for Englishmen in 1855, "the
most refined and best educated American, who has habitually resided in
his own country, the very man who would write, on some serious topic,
volumes in which no peculiarity could be detected, will, in half a
dozen sentences, use at least as many words that cannot fail to strike
the inexperienced Englishman who hears them for the first time."
Bristed gave a specimen of the American of that time, calculated to
flabbergast his inexperienced Englishman; you will find it in the
volume of Cambridge Essays, already cited. His aim was to explain and
defend Americanisms, and so shut off the storm of English reviling,
and he succeeded in producing one of the most thoughtful and
persuasive essays on the subject ever written. But his purpose failed
and the attack kept up, and eight years afterward the Very Rev. Henry
Alford, D.D., dean of Canterbury, led a famous assault. "Look at those
phrases," he said, "which so amuse us in their speech and books; at
their reckless exaggeration and contempt for congruity; and then
compare the character and history of the nation--its blunted sense of
moral obligation and duty to man; its open disregard of conventional
right where aggrandizement is to be obtained; and I may now say, its
reckless and fruitless maintenance of the most cruel and unprincipled
war in the history of the world."[13] In his American edition of 1866
Dr. Alford withdrew this reference to the Civil War and somewhat
ameliorated his indignation otherwise, but he clung to the main counts
in his indictment, and most Englishmen, I daresay, still give them a
certain support. The American is no longer a [Pg076] "vain,
egotistical, insolent, rodomontade sort of fellow"; America is no
longer the "brigand confederation" of the /Foreign Quarterly/ or "the
loathsome creature, ... maimed and lame, full of sores and ulcers" of
Dickens; but the Americanism is yet regarded with a bilious eye, and
pounced upon viciously when found. Even the friendliest English
critics seem to be daunted by the gargantuan copiousness of American
inventions in speech. Their position, perhaps, was well stated by
Capt. Basil Hall, author of the celebrated "Travels in North America,"
in 1827. When he argued that "surely such innovations are to be
deprecated," an American asked him this question: "If a word becomes
universally current in America, why should it not take its station in
the language?" "Because," replied Hall in all seriousness, "there are
words enough in our language already."

§ 3

/The Expanding Vocabulary/--A glance at some of the characteristic
coinages of the time, as they are revealed in the /Congressional
Globe/, in contemporary newspapers and political tracts, and in that
grotesque small literature of humor which began with Judge Thomas C.
Haliburton's "Sam Slick" in 1835, is almost enough to make one
sympathize with Dean Alford. Bartlett quotes /to doxologize/ from the
/Christian Disciple/, a quite reputable religious paper of the 40's.
/To citizenize/ was used and explained by Senator Young, of Illinois,
in the Senate on February 1, 1841, and he gave Noah Webster as
authority for it. /To funeralize/ and /to missionate/, along with
/consociational/, were contributions of the backwoods pulpit; perhaps
it also produced /hell-roaring/ and /hellion/, the latter of which was
a favorite of the Mormons and even got into a sermon by Henry Ward
Beecher. /To deacon/, a verb of decent mien in colonial days,
signifying to read a hymn line by line, responded to the rough humor
of the time, and began to mean to swindle or adulterate, /e. g./, to
put the largest berries at the top of the box, to extend one's fences
/sub rosa/, or to mix sand with sugar. A great rage for extending the
vocabulary by the use of suffixes seized upon [Pg077] the corn-fed
etymologists, and they produced a formidable new vocabulary in /-ize/,
/-ate/, /-ify/, /-acy/, /-ous/ and /-ment/. Such inventions as /to
obligate/, /to concertize/, /to questionize/, /retiracy/,
/savagerous/, /coatee/ (a sort of diminutive for coat) and /citified/
appeared in the popular vocabulary, and even got into more or less
good usage. Fowler, in 1850, cited /publishment/ and /releasement/
with no apparent thought that they were uncouth. And at the same time
many verbs were made by the simple process of back formation, as, /to
resurrect/, /to excurt/, /to resolute/, /to burgle/[14] and /to

Some of these inventions, after flourishing for a generation or more,
were retired with blushes during the period of aesthetic consciousness
following the Civil War, but a large number have survived to our own
day, and are in good usage. Not even the most bilious purist would
think of objecting to /to affiliate/, /to itemize/, /to resurrect/ or
/to Americanize/ today, and yet all of them gave grief to the
judicious when they first appeared in the debates of Congress, brought
there by statesmen from the backwoods. Nor to such simpler verbs of
the period as /to corner/ (/i. e./, the market), /to boss/ and /to
lynch/.[16] Nor perhaps to /to boom/, /to boost/, /to kick/ (in the
sense of to protest), /to coast/ (on a sled), /to engineer/, /to
collide/, /to chink/ (/i. e./, logs), /to feaze/, /to splurge/, /to
aggravate/ (in the sense of to anger), /to yank/ and /to crawfish/.
These verbs have entered into the very fibre of the American vulgate,
and so have many nouns derived from them, /e. g./, /boomer/,
/boom-town/, /bouncer/, /kicker/, /kick/, /splurge/, /roller-coaster/.
A few of them, /e. g./, /to collide/ and /to feaze/, were [Pg078]
archaic English terms brought to new birth; a few others, /e. g./, /to
holler/[17] and /to muss/, were obviously mere corruptions. But a good
many others, /e. g./, /to bulldoze/, /to hornswoggle/ and /to scoot/,
were genuine inventions, and redolent of the soil.

With the new verbs came a great swarm of verb-phrases, some of them
short and pithy and others extraordinarily elaborate, but all showing
the true national talent for condensing a complex thought, and often a
whole series of thoughts, into a vivid and arresting image. Of the
first class are /to fill the bill/, /to fizzle out/, /to make tracks/,
/to peter out/, /to plank down/, /to go back on/, /to keep tab/, /to
light out/ and /to back water/. Side by side with them we have
inherited such common coins of speech as /to make the fur fly/, /to
cut a swath/, /to know him like a book/, /to keep a stiff upper lip/,
/to cap the climax/, /to handle without gloves/, /to freeze on to/,
/to go it blind/, /to pull wool over his eyes/, /to know the ropes/,
/to get solid with/, /to spread one's self/, /to run into the ground/,
/to dodge the issue/, /to paint the town red/, /to take a back seat/
and /to get ahead of/. These are so familiar that we use them and hear
them without thought; they seem as authentically parts of the English
idiom as /to be left at the post/. And yet, as the labors of Thornton
have demonstrated, all of them are of American nativity, and the
circumstances surrounding the origin of some of them have been
accurately determined. Many others are palpably the products of the
great movement toward the West, for example, /to pan out/, /to strike
it rich/, /to jump/ or /enter a claim/, /to pull up stakes/, /to rope
in/, /to die with one's boots on/, /to get the deadwood on/, /to get
the drop/, /to back and fill/ (a steamboat phrase used figuratively)
and /to get the bulge on/. And in many others the authentic American
is no less plain, for example, in /to kick the bucket/, /to put a bug
in his [Pg079] ear/, /to see the elephant/, /to crack up/, /to do up
brown/, /to bark up the wrong tree/, /to jump on with both feet/, /to
go the whole hog/, /to make a kick/, /to buck the tiger/, /to let it
slide/ and /to come out at the little end of the horn/. /To play
possum/ belongs to this list. To it Thornton adds /to knock into a
cocked hat/, despite its English sound, and /to have an ax to grind/.
/To go for/, both in the sense of belligerency and in that of
partisanship, is also American, and so is /to go through/ (/i. e./, to

Of adjectives the list is scarcely less long. Among the coinages of
the first half of the century that are in good use today are
/non-committal/, /highfalutin/, /well-posted/, /down-town/,
/played-out/, /flat-footed/, /whole-souled/ and /true-blue/. The first
appears in a Senate debate of 1841; /highfalutin/ in a political
speech of the same decade. Both are useful words; it is impossible,
not employing them, to convey the ideas behind them without
circumlocution. The use of /slim/ in the sense of meagre, as in /slim
chance/, /slim attendance/ and /slim support/, goes back still
further. The English use /small/ in place of it. Other, and less
respectable contributions of the time are /brash/, /brainy/, /peart/,
/locoed/, /pesky/, /picayune/, /scary/, /well-heeled/, /hardshell/
(/e. g./, Baptist), /low-flung/, /codfish/ (to indicate opprobrium)
and /go-to-meeting/. The use of /plumb/ as an adjective, as in /plumb
crazy/, is an English archaism that was revived in the United States
in the early years of the century. In the more orthodox adverbial form
of /plump/ it still survives, for example, in "she fell /plump/ into
his arms." But this last is also good English.

The characteristic American substitution of /mad/ for /angry/ goes
back to the eighteenth century, and perhaps denotes the survival of an
English provincialism. Witherspoon noticed it and denounced it in
1781, and in 1816 Pickering called it "low" and said that it was not
used "except in very familiar conversation." But it got into much
better odor soon afterward, and by 1840 it passed unchallenged. Its
use is one of the peculiarities that Englishmen most quickly notice in
American colloquial speech today. In formal written discourse it is
less often encountered, probably because the English marking of it has
so conspicuously singled it out. But it is constantly met with
[Pg080] in the newspapers and in the /Congressional Record/, and it is
not infrequently used by such writers as Howells and Dreiser. In the
familiar simile, /as mad as a hornet/, it is used in the American
sense. But /as mad as a March hare/ is English, and connotes insanity,
not mere anger. The English meaning of the word is preserved in
/mad-house/ and /mad-dog/, but I have often noticed that American
rustics, employing the latter term, derive from it a vague notion, not
that the dog is demented, but that it is in a simple fury. From this
notion, perhaps, comes the popular belief that dogs may be thrown into
hydrophobia by teasing and badgering them.

It was not, however, among the verbs and adjectives that the American
word-coiners of the first half of the century achieved their gaudiest
innovations, but among the substantives. Here they had temptation and
excuse in plenty, for innumerable new objects and relations demanded
names, and here they exercised their fancy without restraint. Setting
aside loan words, which will be considered later, three main varieties
of new nouns were thus produced. The first consisted of English words
rescued from obsolescence or changed in meaning, the second of
compounds manufactured of the common materials of the mother tongue,
and the third of entirely new inventions. Of the first class, good
specimens are /deck/ (of cards), /gulch/, /gully/ and /billion/, the
first three old English words restored to usage in America and the
last a sound English word changed in meaning. Of the second class,
examples are offered by /gum-shoe/, /mortgage-shark/, /dug-out/,
/shot-gun/, /stag-party/, /wheat-pit/, /horse-sense/, /chipped-beef/,
/oyster-supper/, /buzz-saw/, /chain-gang/ and /hell-box/. And of the
third there are instances in /buncombe/, /greaser/, /conniption/,
/bloomer/, /campus/, /galoot/, /maverick/, /roustabout/, /bugaboo/ and

Of these coinages, perhaps those of the second class are most numerous
and characteristic. In them American exhibits one of its most marked
tendencies: a habit of achieving short cuts in speech by a process of
agglutination. Why explain laboriously, as an Englishman might, that
the notes of a new bank (in a day of innumerable new banks) are
insufficiently secure? Call [Pg081] them /wild-cat/ notes and have
done! Why describe a gigantic rain storm with the lame adjectives of
everyday? Call it a /cloud-burst/ and immediately a vivid picture of
it is conjured up. /Rough-neck/ is a capital word; it is more apposite
and savory than the English /navvy/, and it is overwhelmingly more
American.[18] /Square-meal/ is another. /Fire-eater/ is yet another.
And the same instinct for the terse, the eloquent and the picturesque
is in /boiled-shirt/, /blow-out/, /big-bug/, /claim-jumper/,
/spread-eagle/, /come-down/, /back-number/, /claw-hammer/ (coat),
/bottom-dollar/, /poppy-cock/, /cold-snap/, /back-talk/, /back-taxes/,
/calamity-howler/, /cut-off/, /fire-bug/, /grab-bag/, /grip-sack/,
/grub-stake/, /pay-dirt/, /tender-foot/, /stocking-feet/,
/ticket-scalper/, /store-clothes/, /small-potatoes/, /cake-walk/,
/prairie-schooner/, /round-up/, /snake-fence/, /flat-boat/,
/under-the-weather/, /on-the-hoof/, and /jumping-off-place/. These
compounds (there must be thousands of them) have been largely
responsible for giving the language its characteristic tang and color.
Such specimens as /bell-hop/, /semi-occasional/, /chair-warmer/ and
/down-and-out/ are as distinctively American as baseball or the

The spirit of the language appears scarcely less clearly in some of
the coinages of the other classes. There are, for example, the English
words that have been extended or restricted in meaning, /e. g./,
/docket/ (for court calendar), /betterment/ (for improvement to
property), /collateral/ (for security), /crank/ (for fanatic),
/jumper/ (for tunic), /tickler/ (for memorandum or reminder),[19]
/carnival/ (in such phrases as /carnival of crime/), /scrape/ (for
fight or difficulty),[20] /flurry/ (of snow, or in the market),
/suspenders/, /diggings/ (for habitation) and /range/. Again, there
are the new assemblings of English materials, /e. g./, /doggery/,
/rowdy/, /teetotaler/, /goatee/, /tony/ and /cussedness/. Yet again,
there are the purely artificial words, /e. g./, /sockdolager/,
/hunkydory/, /scalawag/, /guyascutis/, /spondulix/, /slumgullion/,
/rambunctious/, /scrumptious/, [Pg082] /to skedaddle/, /to
absquatulate/ and /to exfluncticate/.[21] In the use of the last-named
coinages fashions change. In the 40's /to absquatulate/ was in good
usage, but it has since disappeared. Most of the other inventions of
the time, however, have to some extent survived, and it would be
difficult to find an American of today who did not know the meaning of
/scalawag/ and /rambunctious/ and who did not occasionally use them. A
whole series of artificial American words groups itself around the
prefix /ker/, for example, /ker-flop/, /ker-splash/, /ker-thump/,
/ker-bang/, /ker-plunk/, /ker-slam/ and /ker-flummux/. This prefix and
its onomatopoeic daughters have been borrowed by the English, but
Thornton and Ware agree that it is American. Its origin has not been
determined. As Sayce says, "the native instinct of language breaks out
wherever it has the chance, and coins words which can be traced back
to no ancestors."

In the first chapter I mentioned the superior imaginativeness revealed
by Americans in meeting linguistic emergencies, whereby, for example,
in seeking names for new objects introduced by the building of
railroads, they surpassed the English /plough/ and /crossing-plate/
with /cow-catcher/ and /frog/. That was in the 30's. Already at that
early day the two languages were so differentiated that they produced
wholly distinct railroad nomenclatures. Such commonplace American
terms as /box-car/, /caboose/, /air-line/ and /ticket-agent/ are still
quite unknown in England. So are /freight-car/, /flagman/, /towerman/,
/switch/, /switching-engine/, /switch-yard/, /switchman/,
/track-walker/, /engineer/, /baggage-room/, /baggage-check/,
/baggage-smasher/, /accommodation-train/, /baggage-master/,
/conductor/, /express-car/, /flat-car/, /hand-car/, /way-bill/,
/expressman/, /express-office/, /fast-freight/, /wrecking-crew/,
/jerk-water/, /commutation-ticket/, /commuter/, /round-trip/,
/mileage-book/, /ticket-scalper/, /depot/, /limited/, /hot-box/,
iron-horse, /stop-over/, /tie/, /rail/, /fish-plate/, /run/,
/train-boy/, /chair-car/, /club-car/, /diner/, /sleeper/, /bumpers/,
/mail-clerk/, /passenger-coach/, /day-coach/, /excursionist/, [Pg083]
/excursion-train/, /railroad-man/, /ticket-office/, /truck/ and
/right-of-way/, not to mention the verbs, /to flag/, /to derail/, /to
express/, /to dead-head/, /to side-swipe/, /to stop-over/, /to fire/
(/i. e./, a locomotive), /to switch/, /to side-track/, /to railroad/,
/to commute/, /to telescope/ and /to clear the track/. These terms are
in constant use in America; their meaning is familiar to all
Americans; many of them have given the language everyday figures of
speech.[22] But the majority of them would puzzle an Englishman, just
as the English /luggage-van/, /permanent-way/, /goods-waggon/,
/guard/, /carrier/, /booking-office/, /return-ticket/, /railway-rug/,
/R. S. O./ (railway sub-office), /tripper/, /line/, /points/, /shunt/,
/metals/ and /bogie/ would puzzle the average untravelled American.

In two other familiar fields very considerable differences between
English and American are visible; in both fields they go back to the
era before the Civil War. They are politics and that department of
social intercourse which has to do with drinking. Many characteristic
American political terms originated in revolutionary days, and have
passed over into English. Of such sort are /caucus/ and /mileage/. But
the majority of those in common use today were coined during the
extraordinarily exciting campaigns following the defeat of Adams by
Jefferson. Charles Ledyard Norton has devoted a whole book to their
etymology and meaning;[23] the number is far too large for a list of
them to be attempted here. But a few characteristic specimens may be
recalled, for example, the simple agglutinates: /omnibus-bill/,
/banner-state/, /favorite-son/, /anxious-bench/, /gag-rule/,
/office-seeker/ and /straight-ticket/; the humorous metaphors:
/pork-barrel/, /pie-counter/, /wire-puller/, /land-slide/,
/carpet-bagger/, /lame-duck/ and /on the fence/; the old words put to
new uses: /plank/, /platform/, /machine/, /precinct/, /slate/,
/primary/, /floater/, /repeater/, /bolter/, /stalwart/, /filibuster/,
/regular/ and /fences/; the new coinages: /gerrymander/, /heeler/,
/buncombe/, /roorback/, /mugwump/ and /to bulldoze/; the new
derivatives: /abolitionist/, /candidacy/, /boss-rule/, [Pg084]
/per-diem/, /to lobby/ and /boodler/; and the almost innumerable verbs
and verb-phrases: /to knife/, /to split a ticket/, /to go up Salt
River/, /to bolt/, /to eat crow/, /to boodle/, /to divvy/, /to grab/
and /to run/. An English candidate never /runs/; he /stands/. To
/run/, according to Thornton, was already used in America in 1789; it
was universal by 1820. /Platform/ came in at the same time. /Machine/
was first applied to a political organization by Aaron Burr. The use
of /mugwump/ is commonly thought to have originated in the Blaine
campaign of 1884, but it really goes back to the 30's. /Anxious-bench/
(or /anxious-seat/) at first designated only the place occupied by the
penitent at revivals, but was used in its present political sense in
Congress so early as 1842. /Banner-state/ appears in /Niles' Register/
for December 5, 1840. /Favorite-son/ appears in an ode addressed to
Washington on his visit to Portsmouth, N. H., in 1789, but it did not
acquire its present ironical sense until it was applied to Martin Van
Buren. Thornton has traced /bolter/ to 1812, /filibuster/ to 1863,
/roorback/ to 1844, and /split-ticket/ to 1842. /Regularity/ was an
issue in Tammany Hall in 1822.[24] There were /primaries/ in New York
city in 1827, and hundreds of /repeaters/ voted. In 1829 there were
/lobby-agents/ at Albany, and they soon became /lobbyists/; in 1832
/lobbying/ had already extended to Washington. All of these terms are
now as firmly imbedded in the American vocabulary as /election/ or

In the department of conviviality the imaginativeness of Americans has
been shown in both the invention and the naming of new and often
highly complex beverages. So vast has been the production of
novelties, in fact, that England has borrowed many of them, and their
names with them. And not only England: one buys /cocktails/ and
/gin-fizzes/ in "American bars" that stretch from Paris to Yokohama.
/Cocktail/, /stone-fence/ and /sherry-cobbler/ were mentioned by
Irving in 1809;[25] by Thackeray's day they were already well-known in
England. Thornton traces the /sling/ to 1788, and the /stinkibus/ and
/anti-fogmatic/, [Pg085] both now extinct, to the same year. The
origin of the /rickey/, /fizz/, /sour/, /cooler/, /skin/, /shrub/ and
/smash/, and of such curious American drinks as the /horse's neck/,
/Mamie Taylor/, /Tom-and-Jerry/, /Tom-Collins/, /John-Collins/,
/bishop/, /stone-wall/, /gin-fix/, /brandy-champarelle/,
/golden-slipper/, /hari-kari/, /locomotive/, /whiskey-daisy/,
/blue-blazer/, /black-stripe/, /white-plush/ and /brandy-crusta/ is
quite unknown; the historians of alcoholism, like the philologists,
have neglected them.[26] But the essentially American character of
most of them is obvious, despite the fact that a number have gone over
into English. The English, in naming their drinks, commonly display a
far more limited imagination. Seeking a name, for example, for a
mixture of whiskey and soda-water, the best they could achieve was
/whiskey-and-soda/. The Americans, introduced to the same drink, at
once gave it the far more original name of /high-ball/. So with
/ginger-ale/ and /ginger-pop/. So with /minerals/ and /soft-drinks/.
Other characteristic Americanisms (a few of them borrowed by the
English) are /red-eye/, /corn-juice/, /eye-opener/, /forty-rod/,
/squirrel-whiskey/, /phlegm-cutter/, /moon-shine/, /hard-cider/,
/apple-jack/ and /corpse-reviver/, and the auxiliary drinking terms,
/speak-easy/, /sample-room/, /blind-pig/, /barrel-house/, /bouncer/,
/bung-starter/, /dive/, /doggery/, /schooner/, /shell/, /stick/,
/duck/, /straight/, /saloon/, /finger/, /pony/ and /chaser/. Thornton
shows that /jag/, /bust/, /bat/ and /to crook the elbow/ are also
Americanisms. So are /bartender/ and /saloon-keeper/. To them might be
added a long list of common American synonyms for /drunk/, for
example, /piffled/, /pifflicated/, /awry-eyed/, /tanked/, /snooted/,
/stewed/, /ossified/, /slopped/, /fiddled/, /edged/, /loaded/,
/het-up/, /frazzled/, /jugged/, /soused/, /jiggered/, /corned/,
/jagged/ and /bunned/. Farmer and Henley list /corned/ and /jagged/
among English synonyms, but the former is obviously an Americanism
derived from /corn-whiskey/ or /corn-juice/, and Thornton says that
the latter originated on this side of the Atlantic also. [Pg086]

§ 4

/Loan-Words/--The Indians of the new West, it would seem, had little
to add to the contributions already made to the American vocabulary
by the Algonquins of the Northeast. The American people, by the
beginning of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, knew
almost all they were destined to know of the aborigine, and they had
names for all the new objects that he had brought to their notice and
for most of his peculiar implements and ceremonies. A few translated
Indian terms, /e. g./, /squaw-man/, /big-chief/, /great-white-father/
and /happy-hunting ground/, represent the meagre fresh stock that
the western pioneers got from him. Of more importance was the
suggestive and indirect effect of his polysynthetic dialects, and
particularly of his vivid proper names, /e. g./, /Rain-in-the-Face/,
/Young-Man-Afraid-of-His-Wife/ and /Voice-Like-Thunder/. These names,
and other word-phrases like them, made an instant appeal to American
humor, and were extensively imitated in popular slang. One of the
surviving coinages of that era is /Old-Stick-in-the-Mud/, which
Farmer and Henley note as having reached England by 1823.

Contact with the French in Louisiana and along the Canadian border,
and with the Spanish in Texas and further West, brought many more new
words. From the Canadian French, as we have already seen, /prairie/,
/batteau/, /portage/ and /rapids/ had been borrowed during colonial
days; to these French contributions /bayou/, /picayune/, /levee/,
/chute/, /butte/, /crevasse/, and /lagniappe/ were now added, and
probably also /shanty/ and /canuck/. The use of /brave/ to designate
an Indian warrior, almost universal until the close of the Indian
wars, was also of French origin.

From the Spanish, once the Mississippi was crossed, and particularly
after the Mexican war, in 1846, there came a swarm of novelties, many
of which have remained firmly imbedded in the language. Among them
were numerous names of strange objects: /lariat/, /lasso/, /ranch/,
/loco/ (weed), /mustang/, /sombrero/, /canyon/, /desperado/, /poncho/,
/chapparel/, /corral/, /broncho/, /plaza/, [Pg087] /peon/, /cayuse/,
/burro/, /mesa/, /tornado/, /sierra/ and /adobe/. To them, as soon as
gold was discovered, were added /bonanza/, /eldorado/, /placer/ and
/vigilante/. /Cinch/ was borrowed from the Spanish /cincha/ in the
early Texas days, though its figurative use did not come in until much
later. /Ante/, the poker term, though the etymologists point out its
obvious origin in the Latin, probably came into American from the
Spanish. Thornton's first example of its use in its current sense is
dated 1857, but Bartlett reported it in the form of /anti/ in 1848.
/Coyote/ came from the Mexican dialect of Spanish; its first parent
was the Aztec /coyotl/. /Tamale/ had a similar origin, and so did
/frijole/ and /tomato/. None of these is good Spanish.[27] As usual,
derivatives quickly followed the new-comers, among them /peonage/,
/broncho-buster/, /ranchman/ and /ranch-house/, and the verbs /to
ranch/, /to lasso/, /to corral/, /to ante up/, and /to cinch/. /To
vamose/ (from the Spanish /vamos/, let us go), came in at the same
time. So did /sabe/. So did /gazabo/.

This was also the period of the first great immigrations, and the
American people now came into contact, on a large scale, with peoples
of divergent race, particularly Germans, Irish Catholics from the
South of Ireland (the Irish of colonial days "were descendants of
Cromwell's army, and came from the North of Ireland"),[28] and, on the
Pacific Coast, Chinese. So early as the 20's the immigration to the
United States reached 25,000 in a year; in 1824 the Legislature of New
York, in alarm, passed a restrictive act.[29] The Know-Nothing
movement of the 50's need not concern us here. Suffice it to recall
that the immigration of 1845 passed the 100,000 mark, and that that of
1854 came within sight of 500,000. These new Americans, most of them
Germans and Irish, did not all remain in the East; a great many spread
through the West and Southwest with the other pioneers. Their effect
upon the language was not large, [Pg088] perhaps, but it was still
very palpable, and not only in the vocabulary. Of words of German
origin, /saurkraut/ and /noodle/, as we have seen, had come in during
the colonial period, apparently through the so-called Pennsylvania
Dutch, /i. e./, a mixture, much debased, of the German dialects of
Switzerland, Suabia and the Palatinate. The new immigrants now
contributed /pretzel/, /pumpernickel/, /hausfrau/, /lager-beer/,
/pinocle/, /wienerwurst/, /dumb/ (for stupid), /frankfurter/,
/bock-beer/, /schnitzel/, /leberwurst/, /blutwurst/, /rathskeller/,
/schweizer/ (cheese), /delicatessen/, /hamburger/ (/i. e./, steak),
/kindergarten/ and /katzenjammer/.[30] From them, in all probability,
there also came two very familiar Americanisms, /loafer/ and /bum/.
The former, according to the Standard Dictionary, is derived from the
German /laufen/; another authority says that it originated in a German
mispronounciation of /lover/, /i. e./, as /lofer/.[31] Thornton shows
that the word was already in common use in 1835. /Bum/ was originally
/bummer/, and apparently derives from the German /bummler/.[32] Both
words have produced derivatives: /loaf/ (noun), /to loaf/,
/corner-loafer/, /common-loafer/, /to bum/, /bum/ (adj.) and
/bummery/, not to mention /on the [Pg089] bum/. /Loafer/ has migrated
in England, but /bum/ is still unknown there in the American sense. In
English, indeed, /bum/ is used to designate an unmentionable part of
the body and is thus not employed in polite discourse.

Another example of debased German is offered by the American /Kriss
Kringle/. It is from /Christkindlein/, or /Christkind'l/, and properly
designates, of course, not the patron saint of Christmas, but the
child in the manger. A German friend tells me that the form /Kriss
Kringle/, which is that given in the Standard Dictionary, and the form
/Krisking'l/, which is that most commonly used in the United States,
are both quite unknown in Germany. Here, obviously, we have an example
of a loan-word in decay. Whole phrases have gone through the same
process, for example, /nix come erous/ (from /nichts kommt heraus/)
and /'rous mit 'im/ (from /heraus mit ihm/). These phrases, like /wie
geht's/ and /ganz gut/, are familiar to practically all Americans, no
matter how complete their ignorance of correct German. Most of them
know, too, the meaning of /gesundheit/, /kümmel/, /seidel/,
/wanderlust/, /stein/, /speck/, /maennerchor/, /schützenfest/,
/sängerfest/, /turnverein/, /hoch/, /yodel/, /zwieback/, and /zwei/
(as in /zwei bier/). I have found /snitz/ (=/schnitz/) in /Town
Topics/.[33] /Prosit/ is in all American dictionaries.[34] /Bower/, as
used in cards, is an Americanism derived from the German /bauer/,
meaning the jack. The exclamation, /ouch!/ is classed as an
Americanism by Thornton, and he gives an example dated 1837. The New
English Dictionary refers it to the German /autsch/, and Thornton says
that "it may have come across with the Dunkers or the Mennonites."
/Ouch/ is not heard in English, save in the sense of a clasp or buckle
set with precious stones (=OF /nouche/), and even in that sense it is
archaic. /Shyster/ is very probably German also; Thornton has traced
it back to the 50's.[35] /Rum-dumb/ is grounded upon the [Pg090]
meaning of /dumb/ borrowed from the German; it is not listed in the
English slang dictionaries.[36] Bristed says that the American meaning
of /wagon/, which indicates almost any four-wheeled, horse-drawn
vehicle in this country but only the very heaviest in England, was
probably influenced by the German /wagen/. He also says that the
American use of /hold on/ for /stop/ was suggested by the German /halt
an/, and White says that the substitution of /standpoint/ for /point
of view/, long opposed by all purists, was first made by an American
professor who sought "an Anglicized form" of the German /standpunkt/.
The same German influence may be behind the general facility with
which American forms compound nouns. In most other languages, for
example, Latin and French, the process is rare, and even English lags
far behind American. But in German it is almost unrestricted. "It is,"
says L. P. Smith, "a great step in advance toward that ideal language
in which meaning is expressed, not by terminations, but by the simple
method of word position."

The immigrants from the South of Ireland, during the period under
review, exerted an influence upon the language that was vastly greater
than that of the Germans, both directly and indirectly, but their
contributions to the actual vocabulary were probably less. They gave
American, indeed, relatively few new words; perhaps /shillelah/,
/colleen/, /spalpeen/, /smithereens/ and /poteen/ exhaust the
unmistakably Gaelic list. /Lallapalooza/ is also probably an Irish
loan-word, though it is not Gaelic. It apparently comes from
/allay-foozee/, a Mayo provincialism, signifying a sturdy fellow.
/Allay-foozee/, in its turn, comes from the French /Allez-fusil/,
meaning "Forward the muskets!"--a memory, [Pg091] according to P. W.
Joyce,[37] of the French landing at Killala in 1798. Such phrases as
/Erin go bragh/ and such expletives as /begob/ and /begorry/ may
perhaps be added: they have got into American, though they are surely
not distinctive Americanisms. But of far more importance than these
few contributions to the vocabulary were certain speech habits that
the Irish brought with them--habits of pronunciation, of syntax and
even of grammar. These habits were, in part, the fruit of efforts to
translate the idioms of Gaelic into English, and in part borrowings
from the English of the age of James I. The latter, preserved by Irish
conservatism in speech,[38] came into contact in America with habits
surviving, with more or less change, from the same time, and so gave
those American habits an unmistakable reinforcement. The Yankees, so
to speak, had lived down such Jacobean pronunciations as /tay/ for
/tea/ and /desave/ for /deceive/, and these forms, on Irish lips,
struck them as uncouth and absurd, but they still clung, in their
common speech, to such forms as /h'ist/ for /hoist/, /bile/ for
/boil/, /chaw/ for /chew/, /jine/ for /join/,[39] /sass/ for /sauce/,
/heighth/ for /height/ and /rench/ for /rinse/ and /lep/ for /leap/,
and the employment of precisely the same forms by the thousands of
Irish immigrants who spread through the country undoubtedly gave them
a certain support, and so protected them, in a measure, from the
assault of the purists. And the same support was given to /drownded/
for /drowned/, /oncet/ for /once/, /ketch/ for /catch/, /ag'in/ for
/against/ and /onery/ for /ordinary/. [Pg092]

Certain usages of Gaelic, carried over into the English of Ireland,
fell upon fertile soil in America. One was the employment of the
definite article before nouns, as in French and German. An Irishman
does not say "I am good at Latin," but "I am good at /the/ Latin." In
the same way an American does not say "I had measles," but "I had
/the/ measles." There is, again, the use of the prefix /a/ before
various adjectives and gerunds, as in /a-going/ and /a-riding/. This
usage, of course, is native to English, as /aboard/ and /afoot/
demonstrate, but it is much more common in the Irish dialect, on
account of the influence of the parallel Gaelic form, as in
/a-n-aice/=/a-near/, and it is also much more common in American.
There is, yet again, a use of intensifying suffixes, often set down as
characteristically American, which was probably borrowed from the
Irish. Examples are /no-siree/ and /yes-indeedy/, and the later
/kiddo/ and /skiddoo/. As Joyce shows, such suffixes, in
Irish-English, tend to become whole phrases. The Irishman is almost
incapable of saying plain yes or no; he must always add some extra and
gratuitous asseveration.[40] The American is in like case. His speech
bristles with intensives: /bet your life/, /not on your life/, /well I
guess/, /and no mistake/, and so on. The Irish extravagance of speech
struck a responsive chord in the American heart. The American
borrowed, not only occasional words, but whole phrases, and some of
them have become thoroughly naturalized. Joyce, indeed, shows the
Irish origin of scores of locutions that are now often mistaken for
native Americanisms, for example, /great shakes/, /dead/ (as an
intensive), /thank you kindly/, /to split one's sides/ (/i. e./,
laughing), and /the tune the old cow died of/, not to mention many
familiar similes and proverbs. Certain Irish pronunciations, Gaelic
rather than archaic English, got into American during the nineteenth
century. Among them, one recalls /bhoy/, which entered our political
slang in the middle 40's and survived into our own time. Again, there
is the very characteristic American word /ballyhoo/, signifying
[Pg093] the harangue of a /ballyhoo-man/, or /spieler/ (that is,
barker) before a cheap show, or, by metaphor, any noisy speech. It is
from /Ballyhooly/, the name of a village in Cork, once notorious for
its brawls. Finally, there is /shebang/. Schele de Vere derives it
from the French /cabane/, but it seems rather more likely that it is
from the Irish /shebeen/.

The propagation of Irishisms in the United States was helped, during
many years, by the enormous popularity of various dramas of Irish
peasant life, particularly those of Dion Boucicault. So recently as
1910 an investigation made by the /Dramatic Mirror/ showed that some
of his pieces, notably "Kathleen Mavourneen," "The Colleen Bawn" and
"The Shaugraun," were still among the favorites of popular audiences.
Such plays, at one time, were presented by dozens of companies, and a
number of Irish actors, among them Andrew Mack, Chauncey Olcott and
Boucicault himself, made fortunes appearing in them. An influence also
to be taken into account is that of Irish songs, once in great vogue.
But such influences, like the larger matter of American borrowings
from Anglo-Irish, remain to be investigated. So far as I have been
able to discover, there is not a single article in print upon the
subject. Here, as elsewhere, our philologists have wholly neglected a
very interesting field of inquiry.

From other languages the borrowings during the period of growth were
naturally less. Down to the last decades of the nineteenth century,
the overwhelming majority of immigrants were either Germans or Irish;
the Jews, Italians and Slavs were yet to come. But the first Chinese
appeared in 1848, and soon their speech began to contribute its
inevitable loan-words. These words, of course, were first adopted by
the miners of the Pacific Coast, and a great many of them have
remained California localisms, among them such verbs as /to yen/ (to
desire strongly, as a Chinaman desires opium) and /to flop-flop/ (to
lie down), and such nouns as /fun/, a measure of weight. But a number
of others have got into the common speech of the whole country, /e. g./,
/fan-tan/, /kow-tow/, /chop-suey/, /ginseng/, /joss/, /yok-a-mi/
and /tong/. Contrary to the popular opinion, /dope/ and /hop/ are not
from the Chinese. [Pg094] Neither, in fact, is an Americanism, though
the former has one meaning that is specially American, /i. e./, that
of information or formula, as in /racing-dope/ and /to dope out/. Most
etymologists derive the word from the Dutch /doop/, a sauce. In
English, as in American, it signifies a thick liquid, and hence the
viscous cooked opium. /Hop/ is simply the common name of the
/Humuluslupulus/. The belief that hops have a soporific effect is very
ancient, and hop-pillows were brought to America by the first English

The derivation of /poker/, which came into American from California in
the days of the gold rush, has puzzled etymologists. It is commonly
derived from /primero/, the name of a somewhat similar game, popular
in England in the sixteenth century, but the relation seems rather
fanciful. It may possibly come, indirectly, from the Danish word
/pokker/, signifying the devil. /Pokerish/, in the sense of alarming,
was a common adjective in the United States before the Civil War;
Thornton gives an example dated 1827. Schele de Vere says that
/poker/, in the sense of a hobgoblin, was still in use in 1871, but he
derives the name of the game from the French /poche/ (=/pouche/,
/pocket/). He seems to believe that the bank or pool, in the early
days, was called the /poke/. Barrère and Leland, rejecting all these
guesses, derive /poker/ from the Yiddish /pochger/, which comes in
turn from the verb /pochgen/, signifying to conceal winnings or
losses. This /pochgen/ is obviously related to the German /pocher/
(=/boaster/, /braggart/). There were a good many German Jews in
California in the early days, and they were ardent gamblers. If
Barrère and Leland are correct, then /poker/ enjoys the honor of being
the first loan-word taken into American from the Yiddish.

§ 5

/Pronunciation/--Noah Webster, as we saw in the last chapter, sneered
at the broad /a/, in 1789, as an Anglomaniac affectation. In the
course of the next 25 years, however, he seems to have suffered a
radical change of mind, for in "The American Spelling Book," published
in 1817, he ordained it in /ask/, /last/, /mass/, /aunt/, [Pg095]
/grant/, /glass/ and their analogues, and in his 1829 revision he
clung to this pronunciation, beside adding /master/, /pastor/,
/amass/, /quaff/, /laugh/, /craft/, etc., and even /massive/. There is
some difficulty, however, in determining just what sound he proposed
to give the /a/, for there are several /a/-sounds that pass as broad,
and the two main ones differ considerably. One appears in /all/, and
may be called the /aw/-sound. The other is in /art/, and may be called
the /ah/-sound. A quarter of a century later Richard Grant White
distinguished between the two, and denounced the former as "a British
peculiarity." Frank H. Vizetelly, writing in 1917, still noted the
difference, particularly in such words as /daunt/, /saunter/ and
/laundry/. It is probable that Webster, in most cases, intended to
advocate the /ah/-sound, as in /father/, for this pronunciation now
prevails in New England. Even there, however, the /a/ often drops to a
point midway between /ah/ and /aa/, though never actually descending
to the flat /aa/, as in /an/, /at/ and /anatomy/.

But the imprimatur of the Yankee Johnson was not potent enough to stay
the course of nature, and, save in New England, the flat /a/ swept the
country. He himself allowed it in /stamp/ and /vase/. His successor
and rival, Lyman Cobb, decided for it in /pass/, /draft/, /stamp/ and
/dance/, though he kept to the /ah/-sound in /laugh/, /path/, /daunt/
and /saunter/. By 1850 the flat /a/ was dominant everywhere West of
the Berkshires and South of New Haven, and had even got into such
proper names as /Lafayette/ and /Nevada/.[41]

Webster failed in a number of his other attempts to influence American
pronunciation. His advocacy of /deef/ for /deaf/ had popular support
while he lived, and he dredged up authority for it out of Chaucer and
Sir William Temple, but the present pronunciation gradually prevailed,
though /deef/ remains familiar in the common speech. Joseph E.
Worcester and other rival lexicographers stood against many of his
pronunciations, and he took the field against them in the prefaces to
the successive editions of his spelling-books. Thus, in that to "The
Elementary Spelling [Pg096] Book," dated 1829, he denounced the
"affectation" of inserting a /y/-sound before the /u/ in such words as
/gradual/ and /nature/, with its compensatory change of /d/ into a
French /j/ and of /t/ into /ch/. The English lexicographer, John
Walker, had argued for this "affectation" in 1791, but Webster's
prestige, while he lived, remained so high in some quarters that he
carried the day, and the older professors at Yale, it is said,
continued to use /natur/ down to 1839.[42] He favored the
pronunciation of /either/ and /neither/ as /ee-ther/ and /nee-ther/,
and so did most of the English authorities of his time. The original
pronunciation of the first syllable, in England, probably made it
rhyme with /bay/, but the /ee/-sound was firmly established by the end
of the eighteenth century. Toward the middle of the following century,
however, there arose a fashion of an /ai/-sound, and this affectation
was borrowed by certain Americans. Gould, in the 50's, put the
question, "Why do you say /i/-ther and /ni/-ther?" to various
Americans. The reply he got was: "The words are so pronounced by the
best-educated people in England." This imitation still prevails in the
cities of the East. "All of us," says Lounsbury, "are privileged in
these latter days frequently to witness painful struggles put forth to
give to the first syllable of these words the sound of /i/ by those
who have been brought up to give it the sound of /e/. There is
apparently an impression on the part of some that such a pronunciation
establishes on a firm foundation an otherwise doubtful social
standing."[43] But the vast majority of Americans continue to say
/ee-ther/ and not /eye-ther/. White and Vizetelly, like Lounsbury,
argue that they are quite correct in so doing. The use of /eye-ther/,
says White, is no more than "a copy of a second-rate British


[1] In Studies in History; Boston, 1884.

[2] Benson J. Lossing: Our Country....; New York, 1879.

[3] The thing went, indeed, far beyond mere hope. In 1812 a conspiracy
was unearthed to separate New England from the republic and make it an
English colony. The chief conspirator was one John Henry, who acted
under the instructions of Sir John Craig, Governor-General of Canada.

[4] Maine was not separated from Massachusetts until 1820.

[5] /Vide/ Andrew Jackson...., by William Graham Sumner; Boston, 1883,
pp. 2-10.

[6] Indiana and Illinois were erected into territories during
Jefferson's first term, and Michigan during his second term. Kentucky
was admitted to the union in 1792, Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1803.
Lewis and Clark set out for the Pacific in 1804. The Louisiana
Purchase was ratified in 1803, and Louisiana became a state in 1812.

[7] Barrett Wendell: A Literary History of America; New York, 1900.

[8] "In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book? or
goes to an American play? or looks at an American picture or statue?"
/Edinburgh Review/, Jan., 1820.

[9] /Cf./ As Others See Us, by John Graham Brooks; New York, 1908, ch.
vii. Also, The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. i, pp.

[10] Our Dictionaries and Other English Language Topics; New York,
1890, pp. 30-31.

[11] It is curious to note that the center of population of the United
States, according to the last census, is now "in southern Indiana, in
the western part of Bloomington city, Monroe county." Can it be that
this early declaration of literary independence laid the foundation
for Indiana's recent pre-eminence in letters? /Cf./ The Language We
Use, by Alfred Z. Reed, /New York Sun/, March 13, 1918.

[12] Support also came from abroad. Czar Nicholas I, of Russia,
smarting under his defeat in the Crimea, issued an order that his own
state papers should be prepared in Russian and American--not English.

[13] A Plea for the Queen's English; London, 1863; 2nd ed., 1864;
American ed., New York, 1866.

[14] J. R. Ware, in Passing English of the Victorian Era, says that
/to burgle/ was introduced to London by W. S. Gilbert in The Pirates
of Penzance (April 3, 1880). It was used in America 30 years before.

[15] This process, of course, is philologically respectable, however
uncouth its occasional products may be. By it we have acquired many
everyday words, among them, /to accept/ (from /acceptum/), /to exact/
(from /exactum/), /to darkle/ (from /darkling/), and /pea/ (from

[16] All authorities save one seem to agree that this verb is a pure
Americanism, and that it is derived from the name of Charles Lynch, a
Virginia justice of the peace, who jailed many Loyalists in 1780
without warrant in law. The dissentient, Bristed, says that /to linch/
is in various northern English dialects, and means to beat or

[17] The correct form of this appears to be /halloo/ or /holloa/, but
in America it is pronounced /holler/ and usually represented in print
by /hollo/ or /hollow/. I have often encountered /holloed/ in the past
tense. But the Public Printer frankly accepts /holler/. /Vide/ the
/Congressional Record/, May 12, 1917, p. 2309. The word, in the form
of /hollering/, is here credited to "Hon." John L. Burnett, of
Alabama. There can be no doubt that the hon. gentleman said
/hollering/, and not /holloaing/, or /holloeing/, or /hollowing/, or
/hallooing/. /Hello/ is apparently a variation of the same word.

[18] /Rough-neck/ is often cited, in discussions of slang, as a
latter-day invention, but Thornton shows that it was used in Texas in

[19] This use goes back to 1839.

[20] Thornton gives an example dated 1812. Of late the word has lost
its final /e/ and shortened its vowel, becoming /scrap/.

[21] /Cf./ Terms of Approbation and Eulogy.... by Elise L. Warnock,
/Dialect Notes/, vol. iv, part 1, 1913. Among the curious recent
coinages cited by Miss Warnock are /scallywampus/, /supergobosnoptious/,
/hyperfirmatious/, /scrumdifferous/ and /swellellegous/.

[22] /E.g./, /single-track mind/, /to jump the rails/, /to collide
head-on/, /broad-gauge man/, /to walk the ties/, /blind-baggage/,
/underground-railroad/, /tank-town/.

[23] Political Americanisms....; New York and London, 1890.

[24] Gustavus Myers: The History of Tammany Hall; 2nd ed.; New York,
1917, ch. viii.

[25] Knickerbocker's History of New York; New York, 1809, p. 241.

[26] Extensive lists of such drinks, with their ingredients, are to be
found in the Hoffman House Bartender's Guide, by Charles Mahoney, 4th
ed.; New York, 1916; in The Up-to-date Bartenders' Guide, by Harry
Montague; Baltimore, 1913; and in Wehman Brothers' Bartenders' Guide;
New York, 1912. An early list, from the /Lancaster (Pa.) Journal/ of
Jan. 26, 1821, is quoted by Thornton, vol. ii, p. 985.

[27] Many such words are listed in Félix Ramos y Duarte's Diccionaro
de Mejicanismos, 2nd ed. Mexico City, 1898; and in Miguel de Toro y
Gisbert's Americanismos; Paris, n. d.

[28] Prescott F. Hall: Immigration.... New York, 1913, p. 5.

[29] Most of the provisions of this act, however, were later declared
unconstitutional. Several subsequent acts met the same fate.

[30] The majority of these words, it will be noted, relate to eating
and drinking. They mirror the profound effect of German immigration
upon American drinking habits and the American cuisine. It is a
curious fact that loan-words seldom represent the higher aspirations
of the creditor nation. French and German have borrowed from English,
not words of lofty significance, but such terms as /beefsteak/,
/roast-beef/, /pudding/, /grog/, /jockey/, /tourist/, /sport/,
/five-o'clock-tea/, /cocktail/ and /sweepstakes/. "The contributions
of England to European civilization, as tested by the English words in
Continental languages," says L. P. Smith, "are not, generally, of a
kind to cause much national self-congratulation." Nor would a German,
I daresay, be very proud of the German contributions to American.

[31] /Vide/ a paragraph in /Notes and Queries/, quoted by Thornton,
vol. i, p. 248.

[32] Thornton offers examples of this form ranging from 1856 to 1885.
During the Civil War the word acquired the special meaning of looter.
The Southerners thus applied it to Sherman's men. /Vide/ Southern
Historical Society Papers, vol. xii, p. 428; Richmond, 1884. Here is a
popular rhyme that survived until the early 90's:

 Isidor, psht, psht!
 Vatch de shtore, psht, psht!
 Vhile I ketch de /bummer/
 Vhat shtole de suit of clothes!

/Bummel-zug/ is common German slang for slow train.

[33] Jan. 24, 1918, p. 4.

[34] Nevertheless, when I once put it into a night-letter a Western
Union office refused to accept it, the rules requiring all
night-letters to be in "plain English." Meanwhile, the English have
borrowed it from American, and it is actually in the Oxford

[35] The word is not in the Oxford Dictionary, but Cassell gives it
and says that it is German and an Americanism. The Standard Dictionary
does not give its etymology. Thornton's first example, dated 1856,
shows a variant spelling, /shuyster/, thus indicating that it was then
recent. All subsequent examples show the present spelling. It is to be
noted that the suffix /-ster/ is not uncommon in English, and that it
usually carries a deprecatory significance, as in /trickster/,
/punster/, /gamester/, etc.

[36] The use of /dumb/ for stupid is widespread in the United States.
/Dumb-head/, obviously from the German /dummkopf/, appears in a list
of Kansas words collected by Judge J. C. Ruppenthal, of Russell,
Kansas. (/Dialect Notes/, vol. iv, pt. v, 1916, p. 322.) It is also
noted in Nebraska and the Western Reserve, and is very common in
Pennsylvania. /Uhrgucker/ (=/uhr-gucken/) is also on the Kansas list
of Judge Ruppenthal.

[37] English As We Speak It in Ireland, 2nd ed.; London and Dublin,
1910, pp. 179-180.

[38] "Our people," says Dr. Joyce, "are very conservative in retaining
old customs and forms of speech. Many words accordingly that are
discarded as old-fashioned--or dead and gone--in England, are still
flourishing--alive and well, in Ireland. [They represent] ... the
classical English of Shakespeare's time," pp. 6-7.

[39] Pope rhymed /join/ with /mine/, /divine/ and /line/; Dryden
rhymed /toil/ with /smile/. William Kenrick, in 1773, seems to have
been the first English lexicographer to denounce this pronunciation.
/Tay/ survived in England until the second half of the eighteenth
century. Then it fell into disrepute, and certain purists, among them
Lord Chesterfield, attempted to change the /ea/-sound to /ee/ in all
words, including even /great/. /Cf./ the remarks under /boil/ in A
Desk-Book of Twenty-Five Thousand Words Frequently Mispronounced, by
Frank H. Vizetelly; New York, 1917. Also, The Standard of
Pronunciation in English, by T. S. Lounsbury; New York, 1904, pp.

[40] Amusing examples are to be found in Donlevy's Irish Catechism. To
the question, "Is the Son God?" the answer is not simply "Yes," but
"Yes, certainly He is." And to the question, "Will God reward the good
and punish the wicked?", the answer is "Certainly; there is no doubt
He will."

[41] Richard Meade Bache denounced it, in /Lafayette/, during the
60's. /Vide/ his Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech, 2nd ed.,
Philadelphia, 1869, p. 65.

[42] R. J. Menner: The Pronunciation of English in America, /Atlantic
Monthly/, March, 1915, p. 361.

[43] The Standard of Pronunciation in English, pp. 109-112.



American and English Today

§ 1

/The Two Vocabularies/--By way of preliminary to an examination of the
American of today I offer a brief list of terms in common use that
differ in American and English. Here are 200 of them, all chosen from
the simplest colloquial vocabularies and without any attempt at plan
or completeness:

 /American/                      /English/

 ash-can                         dust-bin

 baby-carriage                   pram

 backyard                        garden

 baggage                         luggage

 baggage-car                     luggage-van

 ballast (railroad)              metals

 bath-tub                        bath

 beet                            beet-root

 bid (noun)                      tender

 bill-board                      hoarding

 boarder                         paying-guest

 boardwalk (seaside)             promenade

 bond (finance)                  debenture

 boot                            Blucher, or Wellington

 brakeman                        brakesman

 bucket                          pail

 bumper (car)                    buffer

 bureau                          chest of drawers

 calendar (court)                cause-list

 campaign (political)            canvass

 can (noun)                      tin

 candy                           sweets

 cane                            stick

 canned-goods                    tinned-goods

 car (railroad)                  carriage, van or waggon

 checkers (game)                 draughts

 chicken-yard                    fowl-run

 chief-clerk                     head-clerk

 city-editor                     chief-reporter

 city-ordinance                  by-law

 clipping (newspaper)            cutting

 coal-oil                        paraffin

 coal-scuttle                    coal-hod

 commission-merchant             factor

 conductor (of a train)          guard

 corn                            maize, or Indian corn

 corner (of a street)            crossing

 corset                          stays

 counterfeiter                   coiner

 cow-catcher                     plough

 cracker                         biscuit

 cross-tie                       sleeper

 delicatessen-store              Italian-warehouse

 department-store                stores

 Derby (hat)                     bowler

 dime-novel                      shilling-shocker

 druggist                        chemist

 drug-store                      chemist's-shop

 drummer                         bagman

 dry-goods-store                 draper's-shop

 editorial                       leader, or leading-article

 elevator                        lift

 elevator-boy                    lift-man

 excursionist                    tripper

 express-company                 carrier

 filing-cabinet                  nest-of-drawers

 fire-department                 fire-brigade

 fish-dealer                     fishmonger

 floor-walker                    shop-walker

 fraternal-order                 friendly-society

 freight                         goods

 freight-agent                   goods-manager

 freight-car                     goods-waggon

 frog (railway)                  crossing-plate

 garters (men's)                 sock-suspenders

 gasoline                        petrol

 grade (railroad)                gradient

 grain                           corn

 grain-broker                    corn-factor

 grip                            hold-all

 groceries                       stores

 hardware-dealer                 ironmonger

 haystack                        haycock

 headliner                       topliner

 hod-carrier                     hodman

 hog-pen                         piggery

 hospital (private)              nursing-home

 huckster                        coster (monger)

 hunting                         shooting

 Indian                          Red Indian

 Indian Summer                   St. Martin's Summer

 instalment-business             credit-trade

 instalment-plan                 hire-purchase plan

 janitor                         caretaker

 legal-holiday                   bank-holiday

 letter-box                      pillar-box

 letter-carrier                  postman

 livery-stable                   mews[1]

 locomotive engineer             engine-driver

 lumber                          deals

 mad                             angry

 Methodist                       Wesleyan

 molasses                        treacle

 monkey-wrench                   spanner

 moving-picture-theatre          cinema

 napkin (dinner)                 serviette

 necktie                         tie, or cravat

 news-dealer                     news-agent

 newspaper-man                   pressman, or journalist

 oatmeal                         porridge

 officeholder                    public-servant

 orchestra (seats in a theatre)  stalls

 overcoat                        great-coat

 package                         parcel

 parlor                          drawing-room

 parlor-car                      saloon-carriage

 patrolman (police)              constable

 pay-day                         wage-day

 peanut                          monkey-nut

 pie (fruit)                     tart

 pitcher                         jug

 poorhouse                       workhouse

 post-paid                       post-free

 potpie                          pie

 prepaid                         carriage-paid

 press (printing)                machine

 program (of a meeting)          agenda

 proof-reader                    corrector-of-the-press

 public-school                   board-school

 quotation-marks                 inverted-commas

 railroad                        railway

 railroad-man                    railway-servant

 rails                           line

 rare (of meat)                  underdone

 receipts (in business)          takings

 Rhine-wine                      Hock

 road-bed (railroad)             permanent-way

 road-repairer                   road-mender

 roast                           joint

 roll-call                       division

 rooster                         cock

 round-trip-ticket               return-ticket

 rutabaga                        mangel-wurzel

 saleswoman                      shop-assistant

 saloon                          public-house

 scarf-pin                       tie-pin

 scow                            lighter

 sewer                           drain

 shirtwaist                      blouse

 shoe                            boot

 shoemaker                       bootmaker

 shoestring                      bootlace

 shoe-tree                       boot-form

 sick                            ill

 sidewalk                        pavement

 silver (collectively)           plate

 sled                            sledge

 sleigh                          sledge

 soft-drinks                     minerals

 spigot                          tap

 squash                          vegetable-marrow

 stem-winder                     keyless-watch

 stockholder                     shareholder

 stocks                          shares

 store-fixtures                  shop-fittings

 street-cleaner                  crossing-sweeper

 street-railway                  tramway

 subway                          tube, or underground

 suspenders (men's)              braces

 sweater                         jersey

 switch (noun, railway)          points

 switch (verb, railway)          shunt

 taxes (municipal)               rates

 taxpayer (local)                ratepayer

 tenderloin (of beef)            under-cut

 ten-pins                        nine-pins

 thumb-tack                      drawing-pin

 ticket-office                   booking-office

 tinner                          tinker

 tin-roof                        leads

 track (railroad)                line

 trained-nurse                   hospital-nurse

 transom (of door)               fanlight

 trolley-car                     tramcar

 truck (vehicle)                 lorry

 truck (of a railroad car)       bogie

 trunk                           box

 typewriter (operator)           typist

 typhoid-fever                   enteric

 undershirt                      vest

 vaudeville-theatre              music-hall

 vegetables                      greens

 vest                            waistcoat

 warden (of a prison)            governor

 warehouse                       stores

 wash-rag                        face-cloth

 wash-stand                      wash-hand-stand

 wash-wringer                    mangle

 waste-basket                    waste-paper-basket

 whipple-tree[2]                 splinter-bar

 witness-stand                   witness-box

 wood-alcohol                    methylated-spirits


§ 2

/Differences in Usage/--The differences here listed, most of them
between words in everyday employment, are but examples of a divergence
in usage which extends to every department of daily life. In his
business, in his journeys from his home to his office, in his dealings
with his family and servants, in his sports and amusements, in his
politics and even in his religion the American uses, not only words
and phrases, but whole syntactical constructions, that are
unintelligible to the Englishman, or intelligible only after laborious
consideration. A familiar anecdote offers an example in miniature. It
concerns a young American woman living in a region of prolific
orchards who is asked by a visiting Englishman what the residents do
with so much fruit. Her reply is a pun: "We eat all we can, and what
we can't we can." This answer would mystify nine Englishmen out of
ten, for in the first place it involves the use of the flat American
/a/ in /can't/ and in the second place it applies an unfamiliar name
to the vessel that every Englishman knows as a /tin/, and then adds to
the confusion by deriving a verb from the substantive. There are no
such things as /canned-goods/ in England; over there they are
/tinned/. The /can/ that holds them is a /tin/; /to can/ them is /to
tin/ them.... And they are counted, not as /groceries/, but as
/stores/, and advertised, not on /bill-boards/ but on /hoardings/.[3]
And the cook who prepares them for the table is not /Nora/ or
/Maggie/, but /Cook/, and if she does other work in addition she is
not a /girl for general housework/, but a /cook-general/, and not
/help/, but a /servant/. And the boarder who eats them is not a
/boarder/ at all, but a /paying-guest/, though he is said /to board/.
And the grave of the tin, once it is emptied, is not the /ash-can/,
but the /dust-bin/, and the man who carries it away is not the
/garbage-man/ or the /ash-man/ or the /white-wings/, but the

An Englishman, entering his home, does not walk in upon the [Pg103]
/first floor/, but upon the /ground floor/. What he calls the /first
floor/ (or, more commonly, /first storey/, not forgetting the
penultimate /e/!) is what we call the /second floor/, and so on up to
the roof--which is covered not with /tin/, but with /slate/, /tiles/
or /leads/. He does not /take/ a paper; he /takes in/ a paper. He does
not ask his servant, "is there any /mail/ for me?" but, "are there any
/letters/ for me?" for /mail/, in the American sense, is a word that
he seldom uses, save in such compounds as /mail-van/ and /mail-train/.
He always speaks of it as /the post/. The man who brings it is not a
/letter-carrier/, but a /postman/. It is /posted/, not /mailed/, at a
/pillar-box/, not at a /mail-box/. It never includes /postal-cards/,
but only /post-cards/; never /money-orders/, but only /postal-orders/.
The Englishman dictates his answers, not to a /typewriter/, but to a
/typist/; a /typewriter/ is merely the machine. If he desires the
recipient to call him by telephone he doesn't say, "/phone me/ at a
quarter /of/ eight," but "/ring me up/ at a quarter /to/ eight." And
when the call comes he says "/are you there?/" When he gets home, he
doesn't find his wife waiting for him in the /parlor/ or
/living-room/,[4] but in the /drawing-room/ or in her /sitting-room/,
and the tale of domestic disaster that she has to tell does not
concern the /hired-girl/ but the /slavey/ and the /scullery-maid/. He
doesn't bring her a box of /candy/, but a box of /sweets/. He doesn't
leave a /derby/ hat in the hall, but a /bowler/. His wife doesn't wear
/shirtwaists/ but /blouses/. When she buys one she doesn't say
"/charge it/" but "/put it down/." When she orders a /tailor-made
suit/, she calls it a /coat-and-skirt/. When she wants a /spool of
thread/ she asks for a /reel of cotton/. Such things are bought, not
in the /department-stores/, but at the /stores/, which are
substantially the same thing. In these stores /calico/ means a plain
cotton cloth; in the United States it means a printed cotton cloth.
Things bought on the instalment plan in England are said to be bought
on the /hire-purchase/ plan or system; the instalment business itself
is the /credit-trade/. Goods ordered by /post/ (not mail) on which the
dealer pays the cost of transportation are said to be sent, not
/postpaid/ or /prepaid/, but /post-free/ or /carriage-paid/. [Pg104]

An Englishman does not wear /suspenders/ and /neckties/, but /braces/
and /cravats/. /Suspenders/ are his wife's garters; his own are
/sock-suspenders/. The family does not seek sustenance in a /rare
tenderloin/ and /squash/, but in /underdone under-cut/ and /vegetable
marrow/. It does not eat /beets/, but /beet-roots/. The wine on the
table, if miraculously German, is not /Rhine wine/, but /Hock/.... The
maid who laces the stays of the mistress of the house is not /Maggie/
but /Robinson/. The nurse-maid is not /Lizzie/ but /Nurse/. So, by the
way, is a trained nurse in a hospital, whose full style is not /Miss
Jones/, but /Nurse Jones/. And the hospital itself, if private, is not
a hospital at all, but a /nursing-home/, and its trained nurses are
plain /nurses/, or /hospital nurses/, or maybe /nursing sisters/. And
the white-clad young gentlemen who make love to them are not /studying
medicine/ but /walking the hospitals/. Similarly, an English law
student does not study law, but /the/ law.

If an English boy goes to a /public school/, it is not a sign that he
is getting his education free, but that his father is paying a good
round sum for it and is accepted as a gentleman. A /public school/
over there corresponds to our /prep school/; it is a place maintained
chiefly by endowments, wherein boys of the upper classes are prepared
for the universities. What we know as a /public school/ is called a
/board school/ in England, not because the pupils are boarded but
because it is managed by a school board. English school-boys are
divided, not into /classes/, or /grades/, but into /forms/, which are
numbered, the lowest being the /first form/. The benches they sit on
are also called /forms/. The principal of an English school is a
/head-master/ or /head-mistress/; the lower pedagogues used to be
/ushers/, but are now /assistant masters/ (or /mistresses/). The head
of a university is a /chancellor/. He is always some eminent public
man, and a /vice-chancellor/ performs his duties. The head of a mere
college may be a /president/, /principal/, /rector/, /dean/ or
/provost/. At the universities the students are not divided into
/freshmen/, /sophomores/, /juniors/ and /seniors/, as with us, but are
simply /first-year men/, /second-year men/, and so on. Such
distinctions, however, are not as important in England as in America;
members of the university (they are called [Pg105] /members/, not
/students/) do not flock together according to seniority. An English
university man does not /study/; he /reads/. He knows nothing of
/frats/, /class-days/, /senior-proms/ and such things; save at
Cambridge and Dublin he does not even have a /commencement/. On the
other hand his daily speech is full of terms unintelligible to an
American student, for example, /wrangler/, /tripos/, /head/,
/pass-degree/ and /don/.

The upkeep of board-schools in England comes out of the /rates/, which
are local taxes levied upon householders. For that reason an English
municipal taxpayer is called a /ratepayer/. The functionaries who
collect and spend his money are not /office-holders/ but
/public-servants/. The head of the local police is not a /chief of
police/, but a /chief constable/. The fire /department/ is the fire
/brigade/. The /street-cleaner/ is a /crossing-sweeper/. The parish
/poorhouse/ is a /workhouse/. If it is maintained by two or more
parishes jointly it becomes a /union/. A pauper who accepts its
hospitality is said to be /on the rates/. A policeman is a /bobby/
familiarly and /constable/ officially. He is commonly mentioned in the
newspapers, not by his surname, but as /P. C. 643a/--/i. e./, Police
Constable No. 643a. The /fire laddie/, the /ward executive/, the
/roundsman/, the /strong-arm squad/ and other such objects of American
devotion are unknown in England. An English saloon-keeper is
officially a licensed /victualler/. His saloon is a /public house/,
or, colloquially, a /pub/. He does not sell beer by the /bucket/ or
/can/ or /growler/ or /schooner/, but by the /pint/. He and his
brethren, taken together, are the /licensed trade/. His back-room is a
/parlor/. If he has a few upholstered benches in his place he usually
calls it a /lounge/. He employs no /bartenders/ or /mixologists/.
/Barmaids/ do the work, with maybe a /barman/ to help.

The American language, as we have seen, has begun to take in the
English /boot/ and /shop/, and it is showing hospitality to
/head-master/, /haberdasher/ and /week-end/, but /subaltern/, /civil
servant/, /porridge/, /moor/, /draper/, /treacle/, /tram/ and /mufti/
are still strangers in the United States, as /bleachers/, /picayune/,
/air-line/, /campus/, /chore/, /scoot/, /stogie/ and /hoodoo/ are in
England. A /subaltern/ is a commissioned officer in the army, under
the rank of [Pg106] captain. A /civil servant/ is a public servant in
the national civil service; if he is of high rank, he is usually
called a /permanent official/. /Porridge/, /moor/, /scullery/,
/draper/, /treacle/ and /tram/, though unfamiliar, still need no
explanation. /Mufti/ means ordinary male clothing; an army officer out
of uniform is said to be in /mufti/. To this officer a sack-suit or
business-suit is a /lounge-suit/. He carries his clothes, not in a
/trunk/ or /grip/ or /suit-case/, but in a /box/. He does not /miss/ a
train; he /loses/ it. He does not ask for a /round-trip/ ticket, but
for a /return/ ticket. If he proposes to go to the theatre he does not
/reserve/ or /engage/ seats; he /books/ them, and not at the
/box-office/, but at the /booking-office/. If he sits downstairs, it
is not in the /orchestra/, but in the /stalls/. If he likes
vaudeville, he goes to a /music-hall/, where the /head-liners/ are
/top-liners/. If he has to stand in line, he does it, not in a /line/,
but in a /queue/.

In England a corporation is a /public company/ or /limited liability
company/. The term /corporation/, over there, is applied to the mayor,
aldermen and sheriffs of a city, as in /the London corporation/. An
Englishman writes /Ltd./ after the name of an incorporated bank or
trading company as we write /Inc./ He calls its president its
/chairman/ or /managing director/. Its stockholders are its
/shareholders/, and hold /shares/ instead of /stock/ in it. Its bonds
are /debentures/. The place wherein such companies are floated and
looted--the Wall Street of England--is called the /City/, with a
capital /C/. Bankers, stock-jobbers, promoters, directors and other
such leaders of its business are called /City/ men. The financial
editor of a newspaper is its /City/ editor. Government bonds are
/consols/, or /stocks/, or the /funds/.[5] To have /money in the
stocks/ is to own such bonds. Promissory notes are /bills/. An
Englishman hasn't a /bank-account/, but a /banking-account/. He draws
/cheques/ (not /checks/), not on his /bank/, but on his /bankers/.[6]
In England there is a rigid distinction between a /broker/ and a
/stock-broker/. A /broker/ means, not a dealer in [Pg107] securities,
as in our /Wall Street broker/, but a dealer in second-hand furniture.
/To have the brokers/[7] /in the house/ means to be bankrupt, with
one's very household goods in the hands of one's creditors.

/Tariff reform/, in England, does not mean a movement toward free
trade, but one toward protection. The word /Government/, meaning what
we call the administration, is always capitalized and plural, /e. g./,
"The Government /are/ considering the advisability, etc." /Vestry/,
/committee/, /council/, /ministry/ and even /company/ are also plural,
though sometimes not capitalized. A member of Parliament does not
/run/ for office; he /stands/.[8] He does not make a /campaign/, but a
/canvass/. He does not represent a /district/, but a /division/ or
/constituency/. He never makes a /stumping trip/, but always a
/speaking tour/. When he looks after his fences he calls it /nursing
the constituency/. At a political meeting (they are often rough in
England) the /bouncers/ are called /stewards/; the suffragettes used
to delight in stabbing them with hatpins. A member of Parliament is
not afflicted by the numerous bugaboos that menace an American
congressman. He knows nothing of /lame ducks/, /pork barrels/,
/gag-rule/, /junkets/, /gerrymanders/, /omnibus bills/, /snakes/,
/niggers in the woodpile/, /Salt river/, /crow/, /bosses/, /ward
heelers/, /men higher up/, /silk-stockings/, /repeaters/, /ballot-box
stuffers/ and /straight/ and /split tickets/ (he always calls them
/ballots/ or /voting papers/). He has never heard of /direct
primaries/, the /recall/ or the /initiative and referendum/. A
/roll-call/ in Parliament is a /division/. A member speaking is said
to be /up/ or /on his legs/. When the house adjourns it is said to
/rise/. A member referring to another in the course of a debate does
not say "the gentleman from Manchester," but "the /honorable/
gentleman" (written /hon. gentleman/) or, if he happens to be a privy
councillor, "the /right honorable/ gentleman," or, if he is a member
for one of the universities, "the /honorable and learned/ gentleman."
If the speaker chooses to be intimate or facetious, he may say "my
honorable /friend/." [Pg108]

In the United States a /pressman/ is a man who runs a printing press;
in England he is a newspaper reporter, or, as the English usually say,
a /journalist/.[9] This journalist works, not at /space/ rates, but at
/lineage/ rates. A printing press is a /machine/. An editorial in a
newspaper is a /leading article/ or /leader/. An editorial paragraph
is a /leaderette/. A newspaper clipping is a /cutting/. A proof-reader
is a /corrector of the press/. A pass to the theatre is an /order/.
The room-clerk of a hotel is the /secretary/. A real-estate agent or
dealer is an /estate-agent/. The English keep up most of the old
distinctions between physicians and surgeons, barristers and
solicitors. A surgeon is often plain /Mr./, and not /Dr./ Neither he
nor a doctor has an /office/, but always a /surgery/ or /consulting
room/. A barrister is greatly superior to a solicitor. He alone can
address the higher courts and the parliamentary committees; a
solicitor must keep to office work and the courts of first instance. A
man with a grievance goes first to his solicitor, who then /instructs/
or /briefs/ a barrister for him. If that barrister, in the course of
the trial, wants certain evidence removed from the record, he moves
that it be /struck out/, not /stricken out/, as an American lawyer
would say. Only barristers may become judges. An English barrister,
like his American brother, takes a /retainer/ when he is engaged. But
the rest of his fee does not wait upon the termination of the case: he
expects and receives a /refresher/ from time to time. A barrister is
never admitted to the bar, but is always /called/. If he becomes a
/King's Counsel/, or /K. C./ (a purely honorary appointment), he is
said to have /taken silk/.

The common objects and phenomena of nature are often differently named
in English and American. As we saw in a previous chapter, such
Americanisms as /creek/ and /run/, for small streams, are practically
unknown in England, and the English /moor/ and /downs/ early
disappeared from American. The Englishman knows the meaning of /sound/
(/e. g./, Long Island /Sound/), but he [Pg109] nearly always uses
/channel/ in place of it. In the same way the American knows the
meaning of the English /bog/, but rejects the English distinction
between it and /swamp/, and almost always uses /swamp/, or /marsh/
(often elided to /ma'sh/). The Englishman seldom, if ever, describes a
severe storm as a /hurricane/, a /cyclone/, a /tornado/ or a
/blizzard/. He never uses /cold-snap/, /cloudburst/ or /under the
weather/. He does not say that the temperature is /29 degrees/
(Fahrenheit) or that the thermometer or the mercury is at 29 degrees,
but that there are /three degrees of frost/. He calls ice water
/iced-water/. He knows nothing of /blue-grass/ country or of
/pennyr'yal/. What we call the /mining regions/ he knows as the /black
country/. He never, of course, uses /down-East/ or /up-State/. Many of
our names for common fauna and flora are unknown to him save as strange
Americanisms, /e. g./, /terrapin/, /moose/, /persimmon/, /gumbo/,
/egg-plant/, /alfalfa/, /sweet-corn/, /sweet-potato/ and /yam/. Until
lately he called the /grapefruit/ a /shaddock/. He still calls the
/beet/ a /beet-root/ and the /rutabaga/ a /mangel-wurzel/. He is
familiar with many fish that we seldom see, /e. g./, the /turbot/. He
also knows the /hare/, which is seldom heard of in America. But he
knows nothing of /devilled-crabs/, /crab-cocktails/, /clam-chowder/ or
/oyster-stews/, and he never goes to /oyster-suppers/, /clam-bakes/ or
/burgoo-picnics/. He doesn't buy /peanuts/ when he goes to the circus.
He calls them /monkey-nuts/, and to eat them publicly is /infra dig/.
The common American use of /peanut/ as an adjective of disparagement,
as in /peanut politics/, is incomprehensible to him.

In England a /hack/ is not a public coach, but a horse let out at
hire, or one of similar quality. A life insurance policy is usually
not an insurance policy at all, but an /assurance/ policy. What we
call the normal income tax is the /ordinary/ tax; what we call the
surtax is the /supertax/.[10] An Englishman never lives /on/ a street,
but always /in/ it. He never lives in a /block/ of houses, but in a
/row/; it is never in a /section/ of the city, but always in a
/district/. Going home by train he always takes the /down-train/, no
matter whether he be proceeding southward to Wimbleton, [Pg110]
westward to Shepherd's Bush, northward to Tottenham or eastward to
Noak's Hill. A train headed toward London is always an /up-train/, and
the track it runs on is the /up-line/. /Eastbound/ and /westbound/
tracks and trains are unknown in England. When an Englishman boards a
bus it is not at a /street-corner/, but at a /crossing/, though he is
familiar with such forms as Hyde Park /Corner/. The place he is bound
for is not three /squares/ or /blocks/ away, but three /turnings/.
/Square/, in England, always means a small park. A backyard is a
/garden/. A subway is always a /tube/, or the /underground/, or the
/Metro/. But an underground passage for pedestrians is a /subway/.
English streets have no /sidewalks/; they always call them /pavements/
or /footways/. An automobile is always a /motor-car/ or /motor/.
/Auto/ is almost unknown, and with it the verb /to auto/. So is
/machine/. So is /joy-ride/.

An Englishman always calls russet, yellow or tan shoes /brown/ shoes
(or, if they cover the ankle, /boots/). He calls a pocketbook a
/purse/, and gives the name of /pocketbook/ to what we call a
/memorandum-book/. His walking-stick is always a /stick/, never a
/cane/. By /cord/ he means something strong, almost what we call
/twine/; a thin cord he always calls a /string/; his /twine/ is the
lightest sort of /string/. When he applies the adjective /homely/ to a
woman he means that she is simple and home-loving, not necessarily
that she is plain. He uses /dessert/, not to indicate the whole last
course at dinner, but to designate the fruit only; the rest is /ices/
or /sweets/. He uses /vest/, not in place of /waistcoat/, but in place
of /undershirt/. Similarly, he applies /pants/, not to his trousers,
but to his drawers. An Englishman who inhabits bachelor quarters is
said to live in /chambers/; if he has a flat he calls it a /flat/, and
not an /apartment/;[11] /flat-houses/ are often /mansions/. The
janitor or superintendent thereof is a /care-taker/. The scoundrels
who snoop around in search of divorce evidence are not /private
detectives/, but /private enquiry agents/. [Pg111]

The Englishman is naturally unfamiliar with baseball, and in
consequence his language is bare of the countless phrases and
metaphors that it has supplied to American. Many of these phrases and
metaphors are in daily use among us, for example, /fan/, /rooter/,
/bleachers/, /batting-average/, /double-header/, /pennant-winner/,
/gate-money/, /busher/, /minor-leaguer/, /glass-arm/, /to strike out/,
/to foul/, /to be shut out/, /to coach/, /to play ball/, /on the
bench/, /on to his curves/ and /three strikes and out/. The national
game of draw-poker has also greatly enriched American with terms that
are either quite unknown to the Englishman, or known to him only as
somewhat dubious Americanisms, among them /cold-deck/, /kitty/,
/full-house/, /divvy/, /a card up his sleeve/, /three-of-a-kind/, /to
ante up/, /to pony up/, /to hold out/, /to cash in/, /to go it one
better/, /to chip in/ and /for keeps/. But the Englishman uses many
more racing terms and metaphors than we do, and he has got a good many
phrases from other games, particularly cricket. The word /cricket/
itself has a definite figurative meaning. It indicates, in general,
good sportsmanship. To take unfair advantage of an opponent is not
/cricket/. The sport of boating, so popular on the Thames, has also
given colloquial English some familiar terms, almost unknown in the
United States, /e. g./, /punt/ and /weir/. Contrariwise, /pungy/,
/batteau/ and /scow/ are unheard of in England, and /canoe/ is not
long emerged from the estate of an Americanism.[12] The game known as
/ten-pins/ in America is called /nine-pins/ in England, and once had
that name over here. The Puritans forbade it, and its devotees changed
its name in order to evade the prohibition.[13] Finally, there is
/soccer/, a form of football quite unknown in the United States. What
we call simply football is /Rugby/ or /Rugger/ to the Englishman. The
word /soccer/ is derived from /association/; the rules of the game
were [Pg112] established by the London Football Association. /Soccer/
is one of the relatively few English experiments in ellipsis. Another
is to be found in /Bakerloo/, the name of one of the London
underground lines, from /Baker-street/ and /Waterloo/, its termini.

The English have an ecclesiastical vocabulary with which we are almost
unacquainted, and it is in daily use, for the church bulks large in
public affairs over there. Such terms as /vicar/, /canon/, /verger/,
/prebendary/, /primate/, /curate/, /non-conformist/, /dissenter/,
/convocation/, /minster/, /chapter/, /crypt/, /living/,
/presentation/, /glebe/, /benefice/, /locum tenens/, /suffragan/,
/almoner/, /dean/ and /pluralist/ are to be met with in the English
newspapers constantly, but on this side of the water they are seldom
encountered. Nor do we hear much of /matins/, /lauds/, /lay-readers/,
/ritualism/ and the /liturgy/. The English use of /holy orders/ is
also strange to us. They do not say that a young man is /studying for
the ministry/, but that he is /reading for holy orders/. They do not
say that he is /ordained/, but that he /takes orders/. Save he be in
the United Free Church of Scotland, he is never a /minister/; save he
be a nonconformist, he is never a /pastor/; a clergyman of the
Establishment is always either a /rector/, a /vicar/ or a /curate/,
and colloquially a /parson/.

In American /chapel/ simply means a small church, usually the branch
of some larger one; in English it has the special sense of a place of
worship unconnected with the establishment. Though three-fourths of
the people of Ireland are Catholics (in Munster and Connaught, more
than nine-tenths), and the Protestant Church of Ireland has been
disestablished since 1871, a Catholic place of worship in the country
is still a /chapel/ and not a /church/.[14] So is a Methodist
wailing-place in England, however large it may be, though now and then
/tabernacle/ is substituted. In the same way the English Catholics
sometimes vary /chapel/ with /oratory/, as in /Brompton Oratory/. A
Methodist, in Great [Pg113] Britain, is not a /Methodist/, but a
/Wesleyan/. Contrariwise, what the English call simply a /churchman/
is an /Episcopalian/ in the United States, what they call the /Church/
(always capitalized!) is the /Protestant Episcopal/ Church,[15] what
they call a /Roman Catholic/ is simply a /Catholic/, and what they
call a /Jew/ is usually softened (if he happens to be an advertiser)
to a /Hebrew/. The English Jews have no such idiotic fear of the plain
name as that which afflicts the more pushing and obnoxious of the race
in America.[16] "News of /Jewry/" is a common head-line in the /London
Daily Telegraph/, which is owned by Lord Burnham, a Jew, and has had
many Jews on its staff, including Judah P. Benjamin, the American. The
American language, of course, knows nothing of /dissenters/. Nor of
such gladiators of dissent as the /Plymouth Brethren/, nor of the
/nonconformist conscience/, though the United States suffers from it
even more damnably than England. The English, to make it even, get on
without /circuit-riders/, /holy-rollers/, /Dunkards/, /Seventh Day
Adventists/ and other such American /ferae naturae/, and are born,
live, die and go to heaven without the aid of either the /uplift/ or
the /chautauqua/.

In music the English cling to an archaic and unintelligible
nomenclature, long since abandoned in America. Thus they call a double
whole note a /breve/, a whole note a /semibreve/, a half note a /minim/,
a quarter note a /crotchet/, an eighth note a /quaver/, a sixteenth note
a /semi-quaver/, a thirty-second note a /demisemiquaver/, and a
sixty-fourth note a /hemidemisemiquaver/, or /semidemisemiquaver/. If,
by any chance, an English musician should write a one-hundred-and-
twenty-eighth note he probably wouldn't know what to call it. This
clumsy terminology goes back to the days of plain chant, with its
/longa/, /brevis/, /semi-brevis/, /minima/ and /semiminima/. The French
and Italians cling to a system almost as confusing, but the Germans use
/ganze/, /halbe/, /viertel/, [Pg114] /achtel/, etc. I have been unable
to discover the beginnings of the American system, but it would seem to
be borrowed from the German. Since the earliest times the majority of
music teachers in the United States have been Germans, and most of the
rest have had German training.

In the same way the English hold fast to a clumsy and inaccurate
method of designating the sizes of printers' types. In America the
simple point system makes the business easy; a line of /14-point/ type
occupies exactly the vertical space of two lines of /7-point/. But the
English still indicate differences in size by such arbitrary and
confusing names as /brilliant/, /diamond/, /small pearl/, /pearl/,
/ruby/, /ruby-nonpareil/, /nonpareil/, /minion-nonpareil/, /emerald/,
/minion/, /brevier/, /bourgeois/, /long primer/, /small pica/, /pica/,
/English/, /great primer/ and /double pica/. They also cling to a
fossil system of numerals in stating ages. Thus, an Englishman will
say that he is /seven-and-forty/, not that he is /forty-seven/. This
is probably a direct survival, preserved by more than a thousand years
of English conservatism, of the Anglo-Saxon /seofan-and-feowertig/. He
will also say that he weighs eleven /stone/ instead of 154 pounds. A
/stone/ is 14 pounds, and it is always used in stating the heft of a
man. Finally, he employs such designations of time as /fortnight/ and
/twelvemonth/ a great deal more than we do, and has certain special
terms of which we know nothing, for example, /quarter-day/, /bank
holiday/, /long vacation/, /Lady Day/ and /Michaelmas/. /Per contra/,
he knows nothing whatever of our /Thanksgiving/, /Arbor/, /Labor/ and
/Decoration Days/, or of /legal holidays/, or of /Yom Kippur/.

In English usage, to proceed, the word /directly/ is always used to
signify /immediately/; in American a contingency gets into it, and it
may mean no more than /soon/. In England /quite/ means "completely,
wholly, entirely, altogether, to the utmost extent, nothing short of,
in the fullest sense, positively, absolutely"; in America it is
conditional, and means only nearly, approximately, substantially, as
in "he sings /quite/ well." An Englishman does not say "I will pay you
/up/" for an injury, but "I will pay you /back/." He doesn't look /up/
a definition in a dictionary; he looks it /out/. He doesn't say, being
ill, "I am /getting/ on well," but [Pg115] "I am /going/ on well." He
doesn't use the American "different /from/" or "different /than/"; he
uses "different /to/." He never adds the pronoun in such locutions as
"it hurts /me/," but says simply "it hurts." He never "catches /up
with you/" on the street; he "catches /you up/." He never says "are
you through?" but "have you finished?" He never uses /to notify/ as a
transitive verb; an official act may be /notified/, but not a person.
He never uses /gotten/ as the perfect participle of /get/; he always
uses plain /got/.[17] An English servant never washes the /dishes/;
she always washes the /dinner/ or /tea things/. She doesn't /live
out/, but /goes into service/. She smashes, not the /mirror/, but the
/looking-glass/. Her beau is not her /fellow/, but her /young man/.
She does not /keep company/ with him but /walks out/ with him.

That an Englishman always calls out "/I/ say!", and not simply "say!"
when he desires to attract a friend's attention or register a
protestation of incredulity--this perhaps is too familiar to need
notice. His "/hear, hear!/" and "/oh, oh!/" are also well known. He is
much less prodigal with /good-bye/ than the American; he uses
/good-day/ and /good-afternoon/ far more often. A shop-assistant would
never say /good-bye/ to a customer. To an Englishman it would have a
subtly offensive smack; /good-afternoon/ would be more respectful.
Another word that makes him flinch is /dirt/. He never uses it, as we
do, to describe the soil in the garden; he always says /earth/.
Various very common American phrases are quite unknown to him, for
example, /over his signature/, /on time/ and /planted to corn/. The
first-named he never uses, and he has no equivalent for it; an
Englishman who issues a signed statement simply makes it /in writing/.
He knows nothing of our common terms of disparagement, such as /kike/,
/wop/, /yap/ and /rube/. His pet-name for a tiller of the soil is not
/Rube/ or /Cy/, but /Hodge/. When he goes gunning he does not call it
/hunting/, but /shooting/; /hunting/ is reserved for the chase of the

An intelligent Englishwoman, coming to America to live, told me that
the two things which most impeded her first communications with
untravelled Americans, even above the gross differences [Pg116]
between England and American pronunciation and intonation, were the
complete absence of the general utility adjective /jolly/ from the
American vocabulary, and the puzzling omnipresence and versatility of
the American verb /to fix/. In English colloquial usage /jolly/ means
almost anything; it intensifies all other adjectives, even including
/miserable/ and /homesick/. An Englishman is /jolly/ tired, /jolly/
hungry or /jolly well/ tired; his wife is /jolly/ sensible; his dog is
/jolly/ keen; the prices he pays for things are /jolly dear/ (never
/steep/ or /stiff/ or /high/: all Americanisms). But he has no noun to
match the American /proposition/, meaning proposal, business, affair,
case, consideration, plan, theory, solution and what not: only the
German /zug/ can be ranged beside it.[18] And he has no verb in such
wide practise as /to fix/. In his speech it means only to make fast or
to determine. In American it may mean to repair, as in "the plumber
/fixed/ the pipe"; to dress, as in "Mary /fixed/ her hair"; to
prepare, as in "the cook is /fixing/ the gravy"; to bribe, as in "the
judge was /fixed/"; to settle, as in "the quarrel was /fixed/ up"; to
heal, as in "the doctor /fixed/ his boil"; to finish, as in "Murphy
/fixed/ Sweeney in the third round"; to be well-to-do, as in "John is
well-/fixed/"; to arrange, as in "I /fixed/ up the quarrel"; to be
drunk, as in "the whiskey /fixed/ him"; to punish, as in "I'll /fix/
him"; and to correct, as in "he /fixed/ my bad Latin." Moreover, it is
used in all its English senses. An Englishman never goes to a dentist
to have his teeth /fixed/. He does not /fix/ the fire; he /makes it
up/, or /mends/ it. He is never /well-fixed/, either in money or by

The English use /quite/ a great deal more than we do, and, as we have
seen, in a different sense. /Quite rich/, in American, [Pg117] means
tolerably rich, richer than most; /quite so/, in English, is identical
in meaning with /exactly so/. In American /just/ is almost equivalent
to the English /quite/, as in /just lovely/. Thornton shows that this
use of /just/ goes back to 1794. The word is also used in place of
/exactly/ in other ways, as in /just in time/, /just how many/ and
/just what do you mean?/

§ 3

/Honorifics/--Among the honorifics and euphemisms in everyday use one
finds many notable divergences between the two languages. On the one
hand the English are almost as diligent as the Germans in bestowing
titles of honor upon their men of mark, and on the other hand they are
very careful to withhold such titles from men who do not legally bear
them. In America every practitioner of any branch of the healing art,
even a chiropodist or an osteopath, is a doctor /ipso facto/, but in
England, as we have seen, a good many surgeons lack the title and it
is not common in the lesser ranks. Even graduate physicians may not
have it, but here there is a yielding of the usual meticulous
exactness, and it is customary to address a physician in the second
person as /Doctor/, though his card may show that he is only
/Medicinae Baccalaureus/, a degree quite unknown in America. Thus an
Englishman, when he is ill, always sends for the /doctor/, as we do.
But a surgeon is usually plain /Mr./[20] An English veterinarian or
dentist or druggist or masseur is never /Dr./

Nor /Professor/. In all save a few large cities of America every male
pedagogue is a professor, and so is every band leader, dancing master
and medical consultant. But in England the title is very rigidly
restricted to men who hold chairs in the universities, a necessarily
small body. Even here a superior title [Pg118] always takes
precedence. Thus, it used to be /Professor/ Almroth Wright, but now it
is always /Sir/ Almroth Wright. Huxley was always called /Professor/
Huxley until he was appointed to the Privy Council. This appointment
gave him the right to have /Right Honourable/ put before his name, and
thereafter it was customary to call him simply /Mr./ Huxley, with the
/Right Honourable/, so to speak, floating in the air. The combination,
to an Englishman, was more flattering than /Professor/, for the
English always esteem political dignities far more than the dignities
of learning. This explains, perhaps, why their universities distribute
so few honorary degrees. In the United States every respectable
Protestant clergyman is a D.D., and it is almost impossible for a man
to get into the papers without becoming an LL.D.,[21] but in England
such honors are granted only grudgingly. So with military titles. To
promote a war veteran from sergeant to colonel by acclamation, as is
often done in the United States, is unknown over there. The English
have nothing equivalent to the gaudy tin soldiers of our governors'
staffs, nor to the bespangled colonels and generals of the Knights
Templar and Patriarchs Militant, nor to the nondescript captains and
majors of our country towns. An English railroad conductor (/railway
guard/) is never /Captain/, as he always is in the United States. Nor
are military titles used by the police. Nor is it the custom to make
every newspaper editor a colonel, as is done south of the Potomac. Nor
is an attorney-general or postmaster-general called /General/. Nor are
the glories of public office, after they have officially come to an
end, embalmed in such clumsy quasi-titles as /ex-United States
Senator/, /ex-Judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals/, /ex-Federal
Trade Commissioner/ and /former Chief of the Fire Department/.

But perhaps the greatest difference between English and American usage
is presented by /the Honorable/. In the United States the title is
applied loosely to all public officials of apparent respectability,
from senators and ambassadors to the mayors of [Pg119] fifth-rate
cities and the members of state legislatures, and with some show of
official sanction to many of them, especially congressmen. But it is
questionable whether this application has any actual legal standing,
save perhaps in the case of certain judges. Even the President of the
United States, by law, is not /the Honorable/, but simply /the
President/. In the First Congress the matter of his title was
exhaustively debated; some members wanted to call him /the Honorable/
and others proposed /His Excellency/ and even /His Highness/. But the
two Houses finally decided that it was "not proper to annex any style
or title other than that expressed by the Constitution." Congressmen
themselves are not /Honorables/. True enough, the /Congressional
Record/, in printing a set speech, calls it "Speech of /Hon./ John
Jones" (without the /the/ before the /Hon./--a characteristic
Americanism), but in reporting the ordinary remarks of a member it
always calls him plain /Mr./ Nevertheless, a country congressman would
be offended if his partisans, in announcing his appearance on the
stump, did not prefix /Hon./ to his name. So would a state senator. So
would a mayor or governor. I have seen the sergeant-at-arms of the
United States Senate referred to as /Hon./ in the records of that
body.[22] More, the prefix is actually usurped by the Superintendent
of State Prisons of New York.[23]

In England the thing is more carefully ordered, and bogus /Hons./ are
unknown. The prefix is applied to both sexes and belongs by law,
/inter alia/, to all present or past maids of honor, to all justices
of the High Court during their terms of office, to the Scotch Lords of
Session, to the sons and daughters of viscounts and barons, to the
younger sons and all daughters of earls, and to the members of the
legislative and executive councils of the colonies. But /not/ to
members of Parliament, though each is, in debate, an /hon. gentleman/.
Even a member of the cabinet is not an /Hon./, though he is a /Right
Hon./ by virtue of membership in the Privy Council, of which the
Cabinet is legally merely a committee. This last honorific belongs,
not only to [Pg120] privy councillors, but also to all peers lower
than marquesses (those above are /Most Hon./), to Lord Mayors during
their terms of office, to the Lord Advocate and to the Lord Provosts
of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Moreover, a peeress whose husband is a
/Right Hon./ is a /Right Hon./ herself.

The British colonies follow the jealous usage of the mother-country.
Even in Canada the lawless American example is not imitated. I have
before me a "Table of Titles to be Used in Canada," laid down by royal
warrant, which lists those who are /Hons./ and those who are not
/Hons./ in the utmost detail. Only privy councillors of Canada (not to
be confused with imperial privy councillors) are permitted to retain
the prefix after going out of office, though ancients who were
legislative councillors at the time of the union, July 1, 1867, may
still use it by a sort of courtesy, and former speakers of the
Dominion Senate and House of Commons and various retired judges may do
so on application to the King, countersigned by the governor-general.
The following are lawfully /the Hon./, but only during their tenure of
office: the solicitor-general, the speaker of the House of Commons,
the presidents and speakers of the provincial legislatures, members of
the executive councils of the provinces, the chief justice, the judges
of the Supreme and Exchequer Courts, the judges of the Supreme Courts
of Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Prince
Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the judges of the Courts of
Appeal of Manitoba and British Columbia, the Chancery Court of Prince
Edward Island, and the Circuit Court of Montreal--these, and no more.
A lieutenant-governor of a province is not /the Hon./, but /His
Honor/. The governor-general is /His Excellency/, and so is his wife,
but in practise they usually have superior honorifics, and do not
forget to demand their use.

But though an Englishman, and, following him, a colonial, is thus very
careful to restrict /the Hon./ to proper uses, he always insists, when
he serves without pay as an officer of any organization, to indicate
his volunteer character by writing /Hon./ before the name of his
office. If he leaves it off it is a sign that he is a hireling. Thus,
the agent of the New Zealand [Pg121] government in London, a paid
officer, is simply the /agent/, but the agents at Brisbane and
Adelaide, in Australia, who serve for the glory of it, are /hon.
agents/. In writing to a Briton one must be careful to put /Esq./,
behind his name, and not /Mr./, before it. The English make a clear
distinction between the two forms. /Mr./, on an envelope, indicates
that the sender holds the receiver to be his inferior; one writes to
/Mr./ John Jackson, one's green-grocer, but to James Thompson, /Esq./,
one's neighbor. Any man who is entitled to the /Esq./ is a
/gentleman/, by which an Englishman means a man of sound connections
and dignified occupation--in brief, of ponderable social position.
Thus a dentist, a shop-keeper or a clerk can never be a gentleman in
England, even by courtesy, and the qualifications of an author, a
musical conductor, a physician, or even a member of Parliament have to
be established. But though he is thus enormously watchful of masculine
dignity, an Englishman is quite careless in the use of /lady/. He
speaks glibly of /lady-clerks/, /lady-typists/, /lady-doctors/ and
/lady-inspectors/. In America there is a strong disposition to use the
word less and less, as is revealed by the substitution of /saleswoman/
and /salesgirl/ for the /saleslady/ of yesteryear. But in England
/lady/ is still invariably used instead of woman in such compounds as
/lady-golfer/, /lady-secretary/ and /lady-champion/. The /women's
singles/, in England tennis, are always /ladies' singles/; /women's
wear/, in English shops, is always /ladies' wear/. Perhaps the cause
of this distinction between /lady/ and /gentleman/ has been explained
by Price Collier in "England and the English." In England, according
to Collier, the male is always first. His comfort goes before his
wife's comfort, and maybe his dignity also. /Gentleman-clerk/ or
/gentleman-author/ would make an Englishman howl, though he uses
/gentleman-rider/. So would the growing American custom of designating
the successive heirs of a private family by the numerals proper to
royalty. John Smith /3rd/ and William Simpson /IV/ are gravely
received at Harvard; at Oxford they would be ragged unmercifully.

An Englishman, in speaking or writing of public officials, avoids
those long and clumsy combinations of title and name [Pg122] which
figure so copiously in American newspapers. Such locutions as
/Assistant Secretary of the Interior/ Jones, /Fourth Assistant
Postmaster-General/ Brown, /Inspector of Boilers/ Smith, /Judge of the
Appeal Tax Court/ Robinson, /Chief Clerk of the Treasury/ Williams and
/Collaborating Epidermologist/ White[24] are quite unknown to him.
When he mentions a high official, such as the Secretary for Foreign
Affairs, he does not think it necessary to add the man's name; he
simply says "the Secretary for Foreign Affairs" or "the Foreign
Secretary." And so with the Lord Chancellor, the Chief Justice, the
Prime Minister, the Bishop of Carlisle, the Chief Rabbi, the First
Lord (of the Admiralty), the Master of Pembroke (College), the Italian
Ambassador, and so on. Certain ecclesiastical titles are sometimes
coupled to surnames in the American manner, as in /Dean Stanley/, and
/Canon Wilberforce/, but /Prime Minister Lloyd-George/ would seem
heavy and absurd. But in other directions the Englishman has certain
clumsinesses of his own. Thus, in writing a letter to a relative
stranger, he sometimes begins it, not /My dear Mr. Jones/ but /My dear
John Joseph Jones/. He may even use such a form as /My dear Secretary
for War/ in place of the American /My dear Mr. Secretary/. In English
usage, incidentally, /My dear/ is more formal than simply /Dear/. In
America, of course, this distinction is lost, and such forms as /My
dear John Joseph Jones/ appear only as conscious imitations of English

I have spoken of the American custom of dropping the definite article
before /Hon./ It extends to /Rev./ and the like, and has the authority
of very respectable usage behind it. The opening sentence of the
/Congressional Record/ is always: "The Chaplain, /Rev./--------, D.D.,
offered the following prayer." When chaplains for the army or navy are
confirmed by the Senate they always appear in the /Record as Revs./,
never as /the Revs./ I also find the honorific without the article in
the New International Encyclopaedia, in the /World/ Almanac, and in a
widely-popular [Pg123] American grammar-book.[25] So long ago as
1867, Gould protested against this elision as barbarous and idiotic,
and drew up the following /reductio ad absurdum/:

 At last annual meeting of Black Book Society, honorable John Smith
 took the chair, assisted by reverend John Brown and venerable John
 White. The office of secretary would have been filled by late John
 Green, but for his decease, which rendered him ineligible. His place
 was supplied by inevitable John Black. In the course of the evening
 eulogiums were pronounced on distinguished John Gray and notorious
 Joseph Brown. Marked compliment was also paid to able historian
 Joseph White, discriminating philosopher Joseph Green, and learned
 professor Joseph Black. But conspicuous speech of the evening was
 witty Joseph Gray's apostrophe to eminent astronomer Jacob Brown,
 subtle logician Jacob White, etc., etc.[26]

Richard Grant White, a year or two later, joined the attack in the New
York /Galaxy/, and William Cullen Bryant included the omission of the
article in his /Index Expurgatorius/, but these anathemas were as
ineffective as Gould's irony. The more careful American journals, of
course, incline to the /the/, and I note that it is specifically
ordained on the Style-sheet of the /Century Magazine/, but the
overwhelming majority of American newspapers get along without it, and
I have often noticed its omission on the sign-boards at church
entrances.[27] In England it is never omitted. [Pg124]

§ 4

/Euphemisms and Forbidden Words/--But such euphemisms as /lady-clerk/
are, after all, much rarer in English than in American usage. The
Englishman seldom tries to gloss menial occupations with sonorous
names; on the contrary, he seems to delight in keeping their menial
character plain. He says /servants/, not /help/. Even his railways and
banks have /servants/; the chief trades-union of the English railroad
men is the Amalgamated Society of Railway /Servants/. He uses
/employé/ in place of /clerk/, /workman/ or /laborer/ much less often
than we do. True enough he calls a boarder a /paying-guest/, but that
is probably because even a boarder may be a gentleman. Just as he
avoids calling a fast train the /limited/, the /flier/ or the
/cannon-ball/, so he never calls an /undertaker/ a /funeral director/
or /mortician/,[28] or a /dentist/ a /dental surgeon/ or /ontologist/,
or an /optician/ an /optometrist/, or a /barber shop/ (he always makes
it /barber's shop/) a /tonsorial parlor/, or a common public-house a
/café/, a /restaurant/, an /exchange/, a /buffet/ or a /hotel/, or a
tradesman a /storekeeper/ or /merchant/, or a fresh-water college a
/university/. A /university/, in England, always means a collection of
colleges.[29] He avoids displacing terms of a disparaging or
disagreeable significance with others less brutal, or thought to be
less brutal, /e. g./, /ready-to-wear/ or /ready-tailored/ for
/ready-made/, /used/ or /slightly-used/ for /second-hand/,
/mahoganized/ for /imitation-mahogany/, /aisle manager/ for
/floor-walker/ (he makes it /shop-walker/), /loan-office/ for
/pawn-shop/. Also, he is careful not to use such words as /rector/,
/deacon/ and /baccalaureate/ in merely rhetorical senses.[30] [Pg125]

When we come to words, that, either intrinsically or by usage, are
improper, a great many curious differences between English and
American reveal themselves. The Englishman, on the whole, is more
plain-spoken than the American, and such terms as /bitch/, /mare/ and
/in foal/ do not commonly daunt him, largely, perhaps, because of his
greater familiarity with country life; but he has a formidable index
of his own, and it includes such essentially harmless words as /sick/,
/stomach/, /bum/ and /bug/. The English use of /ill/ for /sick/ I have
already noticed, and the reasons for the English avoidance of /bum/.
/Sick/, over there, means nauseated, and when an Englishman says that
he was /sick/ he means that he vomited, or, as an American would say,
was /sick at the stomach/. The older (and still American) usage,
however, survives in various compounds. /Sick-list/, for example, is
official in the Navy,[31] and /sick-leave/ is known in the Army,
though it is more common to say of a soldier that he is /invalided
home/. /Sick-room/ and /sick-bed/ are also in common use, and
/sick-flag/ is used in place of the American /quarantine-flag/. But an
Englishman hesitates to mention his stomach in the presence of ladies,
though he discourses freely about his liver. To avoid the necessity he
employs such euphemisms as /Little Mary/. As for /bug/, he restricts
its use very rigidly to the /Cimex lectularius/, or common bed-bug,
and hence the word has a highly impolite connotation. All other
crawling things he calls /insects/. An American of my acquaintance
once greatly offended an English friend by using /bug/ for /insect/.
The two were playing billiards one summer evening in the Englishman's
house, and various flying things came through the window and alighted
on the cloth. The American, essaying a shot, remarked that he had
killed a /bug/ with his cue. To the Englishman this seemed a
slanderous reflection upon the cleanliness of his house.[32] [Pg126]

The Victorian era saw a great growth of absurd euphemisms in England,
including /second wing/ for the leg of a fowl, but it was in America
that the thing was carried farthest. Bartlett hints that /rooster/
came into use in place of /cock/ as a matter of delicacy, the latter
word having acquired an indecent significance, and tells us that, at
one time, even /bull/ was banned as too vulgar for refined ears. In
place of it the early purists used /cow-creature/, /male-cow/ and even
/gentleman-cow/.[33] /Bitch/, /ram/, /buck/ and /sow/ went the same
way, and there was a day when even /mare/ was prohibited. Bache tells
us that /pismire/ was also banned, /antmire/ being substituted for it.
In 1847 the word /chair/ was actually barred out and /seat/ was
adopted in its place.[34] These were the palmy days of euphemism. The
delicate /female/ was guarded from all knowledge, and even from all
suspicion, of evil. "To utter aloud in her presence the word /shirt/,"
says one historian, "was an open insult."[35] Mrs. Trollope, writing
in 1832, tells of "a young German gentleman of perfectly good manners"
who "offended one of the principal families ... by having pronounced
the word /corset/ before the ladies of it."[36] The word /woman/, in
those sensitive days, became a term of reproach, comparable to the
German /mensch/; the uncouth /female/ took its place.[37] In the same
way the legs of the fair became /limbs/ and their breasts /bosoms/,
and /lady/ was substituted for /wife/. /Stomach/, under the ban in
England, was transformed, by some unfathomable magic, into a euphemism
denoting the whole region from the nipples to the pelvic arch. It was
during [Pg127] this time that the newspapers invented such locutions
as /interesting/ (or /delicate/) /condition/, /criminal operation/,
/house of ill/ (or /questionable/) /repute/, /disorderly-house/,
/sporting-house/, /statutory offense/, /fallen woman/ and /criminal
assault/. Servant girls ceased to be seduced, and began to be
/betrayed/. Various French terms, /enceinte/ and /accouchement/ among
them, were imported to conceal the fact that lawful wives occasionally
became pregnant and had lyings-in.

White, between 1867 and 1870, launched various attacks upon these
ludicrous gossamers of speech, and particularly upon /enceinte/, /limb/
and /female/, but only /female/ succumbed. The passage of the notorious
Comstock Postal Act, in 1873, greatly stimulated the search for
euphemisms. Once that act was upon the statute-books and Comstock
himself was given the amazingly inquisitorial powers of a post-office
inspector, it became positively dangerous to print certain ancient and
essentially decent English words. To this day the effects of that old
reign of terror are still visible. We yet use /toilet/ and /public
comfort station/ in place of better terms,[38] and such idiotic forms
as /red-light district/, /disorderly-house/, /blood-poison/,
/social-evil/, /social disease/ and /white slave/ ostensibly conceal
what every flapper is talking about. The word /cadet/, having a foreign
smack and an innocent native meaning, is preferred to the more accurate
/procurer/; even prostitutes shrink from the forthright /pimp/, and
employ a characteristic American abbreviation, /P. I./--a curious
brother to /S. O. B./ and /2 o'clock/. Nevertheless, a movement toward
honesty is getting on its legs. The vice crusaders, if they have
accomplished nothing else, have at least forced the newspapers to use
the honest terms, /syphilis/, /prostitute/, /brothel/ and /venereal
disease/, albeit somewhat gingerly. It is, perhaps, significant of the
change going on that the /New York Evening Post/ [Pg128] recently
authorized its reporters to use /street-walker/.[39] But in certain
quarters the change is viewed with alarm, and curious traces of the old
prudery still survive. The Department of Health of New York City, in
April, 1914, announced that its efforts to diminish venereal disease
were much handicapped because "in most newspaper offices the words
/syphilis/ and /gonorrhea/ are still tabooed, and without the use of
these terms it is almost impossible to correctly state the problem."
The Army Medical Corps, in the early part of 1918, encountered the same
difficulty: most newspapers refused to print its bulletins regarding
venereal disease in the army. One of the newspaper trade journals
thereupon sought the opinions of editors upon the subject, and all of
them save one declared against the use of the two words. One editor put
the blame upon the Postoffice, which still cherishes the Comstock
tradition. Another reported that "at a recent conference of the Scripps
Northwest League editors" it was decided that "the use of such terms as
/gonorrhea/, /syphilis/, and even /venereal diseases/ would not add to
the tone of the papers, and that the term /vice diseases/ can be
readily substituted."[40] The Scripps papers are otherwise anything but
distinguished for their "tone," but in this department they yield to
the Puritan habit. An even more curious instance of prudery came to my
notice in Philadelphia several years ago. A one-act play of mine, "The
Artist," was presented at the Little Theatre there, and during its run,
on February 26, 1916, the /Public Ledger/ reprinted some of the
dialogue. One of the characters in the piece is /A Virgin/. At every
occurrence a change was made to /A Young Girl/. Apparently, even
/virgin/ is still regarded as too frank in Philadelphia.[41] Fifty
years [Pg129] ago the very word /decent/ was indecent in the South: no
respectable woman was supposed to have any notion of the difference
between /decent/ and /indecent/.

In their vocabularies of opprobrium and profanity English and
Americans diverge sharply. The English /rotter/ and /blighter/ are
practically unknown in America, and there are various American
equivalents that are never heard in England. A /guy/, in the American
vulgate, simply signifies a man; there is not necessarily any
disparaging significance. But in English, high or low, it means one
who is making a spectacle of himself. The derivative verb, /to guy/,
is unknown in English; its nearest equivalent is /to spoof/, which is
unknown in American. The average American, I believe, has a larger
vocabulary of profanity than the average Englishman, and swears a good
deal more, but he attempts an amelioration of many of his oaths by
softening them to forms with no apparent meaning. /Darn/
(=/dern/=/durn/) for /damn/ is apparently of English origin, but it is
heard ten thousand times in America to once in England. So is
/dog-gone/. Such euphemistic written forms as /damphool/ and /damfino/
are also far more common in this country. /All-fired/ for
/hell-fired/, /gee-whiz/ for /Jesus/, /tarnal/ for /eternal/,
/tarnation/ for /damnation/, /cuss/ for /curse/, /goldarned/ for
/God-damned/, /by gosh/ for /by God/ and /great Scott/ for /great God/
are all Americanisms; Thornton has traced /all-fired/ to 1835,
/tarnation/ to 1801 and /tarnal/ to 1790. /By golly/ has been found in
English literature so early as 1843, but it probably originated in
America; down to the Civil War it was the characteristic oath of the
negro slaves. Such terms as /bonehead/, /pinhead/ and /boob/ have been
invented, perhaps, to take the place of the English /ass/, which has a
flavor of impropriety in America on account of its identity in sound
with the American pronunciation of /arse/.[42] At an earlier day /ass/
was always differentiated by making it /jackass/. Another word that is
improper in America but not in England is /tart/. To an Englishman the
word connotes sweetness, and so, if he be of the lower orders, he may
apply [Pg130] it to his sweetheart. But to the American it signifies
a prostitute, or, at all events, a woman of too ready an amiability.

But the most curious disparity between the profane vocabulary of the
two tongues is presented by /bloody/. This word is entirely without
improper significance in America, but in England it is regarded as the
vilest of indecencies. The sensation produced in London when George
Bernard Shaw put it into the mouth of a woman character in his play,
"Pygmalion," will be remembered. "The interest in the first English
performance," said the /New York Times/,[43] "centered in the
heroine's utterance of this banned word. It was waited for with
trembling, heard shudderingly, and presumably, when the shock
subsided, interest dwindled." But in New York, of course, it failed to
cause any stir. Just why it is regarded as profane and indecent by the
English is one of the mysteries of the language. The theory that it
has some blasphemous reference to the blood of Christ is disputed by
many etymologists. It came in during the latter half of the
seventeenth century, and at the start it apparently meant no more than
"in the manner of a blood," /i. e./, a rich young roisterer of the
time. Thus, /bloody drunk/ was synonymous with as /drunk as a lord/.
The adjective remained innocuous for 200 years. Then it suddenly
acquired its present abhorrent significance. It is regarded with such
aversion by the English that even the lower orders often substitute
/bleeding/ as a euphemism.

So far no work devoted wholly to the improper terms of English and
American has been published, but this lack may be soon remedied by a
compilation made by a Chicago journalist. It is entitled "The Slang of
Venery and Its Analogues," and runs to two large volumes. A small
edition, mimeographed for private circulation, was issued in 1916. I
have examined this work and found it of great value. If the influence
of comstockery is sufficient to prevent its publication in the United
States, as seems likely, it will be printed in Switzerland.


[1] It should be noted that /mews/ is used only in the larger cities.
In the small towns /livery-stable/ is commoner. /Mews/ is quite
unknown in America save as an occasional archaism.

[2] Sometimes /whiffle-tree/.

[3] The latter has crept into American of late. I find it on p. 58 of
The United States at War, a pamphlet issued by the Library of
Congress, 1917. The compiler of this pamphlet is a savant bearing the
fine old British name of Herman H. B. Meyer.

[4] /Living-room/, however, is gradually making its way in England. It
was apparently suggested, in America, by the German /wohnzimmer/.

[5] This form survives in the American term /city-stock/, meaning the
bonds of a municipality. But government securities are always called

[6] /Cf./ A Glossary of Colloquial Slang and Technical Terms in Use in
the Stock Exchange and in the Money Market, by A. J. Wilson, London,

[7] Or /bailiffs/.

[8] But he is /run/ by his party organization. /Cf./ The Government of
England, by A. Lawrence Lowell; New York, 1910, vol. ii, p. 29.

[9] Until very recently no self-respecting American newspaper reporter
would call himself a /journalist/. He always used /newspaper man/, and
referred to his vocation, not as a profession, but as the newspaper
/business/. This old prejudice, however, now seems to be breaking
down. /Cf./ Don't Shy at Journalist, /The Editor and Publisher and
Journalist/, June 27, 1914.

[10] /Cf./ a speech of Senator La Follette, /Congressional Record/,
Aug. 27, 1917, p. 6992.

[11] According to the New International Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (/Art./
Apartment House), the term /flat/ "is usually in the United States
restricted to apartments in houses having no elevator or hall
service." In New York such apartments are commonly called /walk-up
apartments/. Even with the qualification, /apartment/ is better than

[12] Canoeing was introduced into England by John MacGregor in 1866,
and there is now a Royal Canoe Club. In America the canoe has been
familiar from the earliest times, and in Mme. Sarah Kemble Knight's
diary (1704) there is much mention of /cannoos/. The word itself is
from an Indian dialect, probably the Haitian, and came into American
through the Spanish, in which it survives as /canoa/.

[13] "An act was passed to prohibit playing /nine-pins/; as soon as
the law was put in force, it was notified everywhere, '/Ten-pins/
played here.'"--Capt. Marryat: Diary in America, vol. iii, p. 195.

[14] "The term /chapel/," says Joyce, in English as We Speak It in
Ireland, "has so ingrained itself in my mind that to this hour the
word instinctively springs to my lips when I am about to mention a
Catholic place of worship; and I always feel some sort of hesitation
or reluctance in substituting the word /church/. I positively could
not bring myself to say, 'Come, it is time now to set out for
/church/' It must be either /mass/ or chapel."

[15] Certain dissenters, of late, show a disposition to borrow the
American usage. Thus the /Christian World/, organ of the English
Congregationalists, uses /Episcopal/ to designate the Church of

[16] So long ago as the 70's certain Jews petitioned the publishers of
Webster's and Worcester's dictionaries to omit their definitions of
the verb /to jew/, and according to Richard Grant White, the publisher
of Worcester's complied. Such a request, in England, would be greeted
with derision.

[17] But nevertheless he uses /begotten/, not /begot/.

[18] This specimen is from the /Congressional Record/ of Dec. 11,
1917: "I do not like to be butting into this /proposition/, but I look
upon this postoffice business as a purely business /proposition/." The
speaker was "Hon" Homer P. Snyder, of New York. In the /Record/ of
Jan. 12, 1918, p. 8294, /proposition/ is used as a synonym for state
of affairs.

[19] Already in 1855 Bristed was protesting that /to fix/ was having
"more than its legitimate share of work all over the Union." "In
English conversation," he said, "the panegyrical adjective of all work
is /nice/; in America it is /fine/." This was before the adoption of
/jolly/ and its analogues, /ripping/, /stunning/, /rattling/, etc.

[20] In the Appendix to the Final Report of the Royal Commission on
Venereal Diseases, London, 1916, p. iv., I find the following: "/Mr./
C. J. Symonds, F.R.C.S., M.D.; /Mr./ F. J. McCann, F.R.C.S., M.D.;
/Mr./ A. F. Evans, F.R.C.S". /Mr./ Symonds is consulting surgeon to
Guy's Hospital, /Mr./ McCann is an eminent London gynecologist, and
/Mr./ Evans is a general surgeon in large practise. All would be
called /Doctor/ in the United States.

[21] Among the curious recipients of this degree have been Gumshoe
Bill Stone, Uncle Joe Cannon and Josephus Daniels. Billy Sunday, the
evangelist, is a D.D.

[22] /Congressional Record/, May 16, 1918, p. 7147.

[23] /Vide/ his annual reports, printed at Sing Sing Prison.

[24] I encountered this gem in /Public Health Reports/, a government
publication, for April 26, 1918, p. 619.

[25] For the /Record/ see the issue of Dec. 14, 1917, p. 309. For the
New International Encyclopaedia see the article on Brotherhood of
Andrew and Philip. For the /World/ Almanac see the article on Young
People's Society of Christian Endeavor, ed. of 1914. The grammar-book
is Longman's Briefer Grammar; New York, 1908, p. 160. The editor is
George J. Smith, a member of the board of examiners of the New York
City Department of Education.

[26] Edwin S. Gould: Good English; New York, 1867, pp. 56-57.

[27] Despite the example of Congress, however, the Department of State
inserts the /the/. /Vide/ the /Congressional Record/, May 4, 1918, p.
6552. But the War Department, the Treasury and the Post Office omit
it. /Vide/ the /Congressional Record/, May 11, 1918, p. 6895 and p.
6914 and May 14, p. 7004, respectively. So, it appears, does the White
House. /Vide/ the /Congressional Record/, May 10, 1918, p. 6838, and
June 12, 1918, p. 8293.

[28] In the 60's an undertaker was often called an /embalming surgeon/
in America.

[29] In a list of American "universites" I find the Christian of
Canton, Mo., with 125 students; the Lincoln, of Pennsylvania, with
184; the Southwestern Presbyterian, of Clarksville, Tenn., with 86;
and the Newton Theological, with 77. Most of these, of course, are
merely country high-schools.

[30] The Rev. John C. Stephenson in the /New York Sun/, July 10, 1914:
... "that empty courtesy of addressing every clergyman as /Doctor/....
And let us abolish the abuse of ... /baccalaureate/ sermons for
sermons before graduating classes of high schools and the like."

[31] /Cf./ Dardanelles Commission Report; London, 1916, p. 58, § 47.

[32] Edgar Allan Poe's "The Gold /Bug/" is called "The Golden
/Beetle/" in England. Twenty-five years ago an Englishman named
/Buggey/, laboring under the odium attached to the name, had it
changed to /Norfolk-Howard/, a compound made up of the title and
family name of the Duke of Norfolk. The wits of London at once doubled
his misery by adopting /Norfolk-Howard/ as a euphemism for /bed-bug/.

[33] A recent example of the use of /male-cow/ was quoted in the
/Journal/ of the American Medical Association, Nov. 17, 1917,
advertising page 24.

[34] /New York Organ/ (a "/family journal/ devoted to temperance,
morality, education and general literature"), May 29, 1847. One of the
editors of this delicate journal was T. S. Arthur, author of Ten
Nights in a Bar-room.

[35] John Graham Brooks: As Others See Us; New York, 1908, p. 11.

[36] Domestic Manners of the Americans, 2 vols.; London, 1832; vol. i,
p. 132.

[37] /Female/, of course, was epidemic in England too, but White says
that it was "not a Briticism," and so early as 1839 the Legislature of
Maryland expunged it from the title of a bill "to protect the
reputation of unmarried /females/," substituting /women/, on the
ground that /female/ "was an Americanism in that application."

[38] The French /pissoir/, for instance, is still regarded as indecent
in America, and is seldom used in England, but it has gone into most
of the Continental languages. It is curious to note, however, that
these languages also have their pruderies. Most of them, for example,
use /W. C./, an abbreviation of the English /water-closet/, as a
euphemism. The whole subject of national pruderies, in both act and
speech, remains to be investigated.

[39] Even the /Springfield Republican/, the last stronghold of Puritan
/Kultur/, printed the word on Oct. 11, 1917, in a review of New
Adventures, by Michael Monahan.

[40] /Pep/, July, 1918, p. 8.

[41] Perhaps the Quaker influence is to blame. At all events,
Philadelphia is the most pecksniffian of American cities, and thus
probably leads the world. Early in 1918, when a patriotic
moving-picture entitled "To Hell with the Kaiser" was sent on tour
under government patronage, the word /hell/ was carefully toned down,
on the Philadelphia billboards, to /h----/.

[42] /Cf./ R. M. Bache: Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech; Phila.,
1869, p. 34 /et seq./

[43] April 14, 1914.



Tendencies in American

§ 1

/International Exchanges/--More than once, during the preceding
chapters, we encountered Americanisms that had gone over into English,
and English locutions that had begun to get a foothold in the United
States. Such exchanges are made very frequently and often very
quickly, and though the guardians of English still attack every new
Americanism vigorously, even when, as in the case of /scientist/, it
is obviously sound and useful, they are often routed by public
pressure, and have to submit in the end with the best grace possible.
For example, consider /caucus/. It originated in Boston at some
indeterminate time before 1750, and remained so peculiarly American
for more than a century following that most of the English visitors
before the Civil War remarked its use. But, according to J. Redding
Ware,[1] it began to creep into English political slang about 1870,
and in the 80's it was lifted to good usage by the late Joseph
Chamberlain. Ware, writing in the first years of the present century,
said that the word had become "very important" in England, but was
"not admitted into dictionaries." But in the Concise Oxford
Dictionary, dated 1914, it is given as a sound English word, though
its American origin is noted. The English, however, use it in a sense
that has become archaic in America, thus preserving an abandoned
American meaning in the same way that many abandoned British meanings
have been preserved on this side. In the United States the word means,
and has meant for years, a meeting of some division, [Pg132] large or
small, of a political or legislative body for the purpose of agreeing
upon a united course of action in the main assembly. In England it
means the managing committee of a party or fraction--something
corresponding to our national committee, or state central committee,
or steering committee, or to the half-forgotten congressional caucuses
of the 20's. It has a disparaging significance over there, almost
equal to that of our words /organization/ and /machine/. Moreover, it
has given birth to two derivatives of like quality, both unknown in
America--/caucusdom/, meaning machine control, and /caucuser/, meaning
a machine politician.[2]

A good many other such Americanisms have got into good usage in
England, and new ones are being exported constantly. Farmer describes
the process of their introduction, and assimilation. American books,
newspapers and magazines, especially the last, circulate in England in
large number, and some of their characteristic locutions pass into
colloquial speech. Then they get into print, and begin to take on
respectability. "The phrase, 'as the Americans say,'" he continues,
"might in some cases be ordered from the type foundry as a logotype,
so frequently does it do introduction duty."[3] Ware shows another
means of ingress: the argot of sailors. Many of the Americanisms he
notes as having become naturalized in England, /e. g./, /boodle/,
/boost/ and /walk-out/, are credited to Liverpool as a sort of
half-way station. Travel brings in still more: England swarms with
Americans, and Englishmen themselves, visiting America, bring home new
and racy phrases. Bishop Coxe says[4] that [Pg133] Dickens, in his
"American Notes," gave English currency to /reliable/, /influential/,
/talented/ and /lengthy/. Bristed, writing in 1855, said that
/talented/ was already firmly fixed in the English vocabulary by that
time. All four words are in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, and only
/lengthy/ is noted as "originally an Americanism." Finally, there is
the influence of the moving pictures. Hundreds of American films are
shown in England every week, and the American words and phrases
appearing in their titles, sub-titles and other explanatory legends
thus become familiar to the English. "The patron of the picture
palace," says W. G. Faulkner, in an article in the /London Daily
Mail/, "learns to think of his railway station as a /depot/; he has
alternatives to one of our newest words, /hooligan/, in /hoodlum/ and
/tough/; he watches a /dive/, which is a thieves' kitchen or a room in
which bad characters meet, and whether the villain talks of /dough/ or
/sugar/ he knows it is money to which he is referring. The musical
ring of the word /tramp/ gives way to the stodgy /hobo/ or
/dead-beat/. It may be that the plot reveals an attempt to deceive
some simple-minded person. If it does, the innocent one is spoken of
as a /sucker/, a /come-on/, a /boob/, or a /lobster/ if he is stupid
into the bargain."

Mr. Faulkner goes on to say that a great many other Americanisms are
constantly employed by Englishmen "who have not been affected by the
avalanche ... which has come upon us through the picture palace."
"Thus today," he says, "we hear people speak of the /fall/ of the
year, a /stunt/ they have in hand, their desire to /boost/ a
particular business, a /peach/ when they mean a pretty girl, a
/scab/--a common term among strikers,--the /glad-eye/, /junk/ when
they mean worthless material, their efforts /to make good/, the
/elevator/ in the hotel or office, the /boss/ or manager, the /crook/
or swindler; and they will tell you that they have the /goods/--that
is, they possess the requisite qualities for a given position." The
venerable Frederic Harrison, writing in the /Fortnightly Review/ in
the Spring of 1918, denounced this tendency with a vigor recalling the
classical anathemas of Dean Alford and Sydney Smith.[5] "Stale
American phrases, ..." [Pg134] he said, "are infecting even our
higher journalism and our parliamentary and platform oratory.... A
statesman is now /out/ for victory; he is /up against/ pacificism....
He has a /card up his sleeve/, by which the enemy are at last to be
/euchred/. Then a fierce fight in which hundreds of noble fellows are
mangled or drowned is a /scrap/.... To criticise a politician is to
call for his /scalp/.... The other fellow is beaten to a /frazzle/."
And so on. "Bolshevism," concluded Harrison sadly, "is ruining
language as well as society."

But though there are still many such alarms by constables of the
national speech, the majority of Englishmen continue to make
borrowings from the tempting and ever-widening American vocabulary.
What is more, some of these loan-words take root, and are presently
accepted as sound English, even by the most watchful. The two Fowlers,
in "The King's English," separate Americanisms from other current
vulgarisms, but many of the latter on their list are actually American
in origin, though they do not seem to know it--for example, /to
demean/ and /to transpire/. More remarkable still, the Cambridge
History of English Literature lists /backwoodsman/, /know-nothing/ and
/yellow-back/ as English compounds, apparently in forgetfulness of
their American origin, and adds /skunk/, /squaw/ and /toboggan/ as
direct importations from the Indian tongues, without noting that they
came through American, and remained definite Americanisms for a long
while.[6] It even adds /musquash/, a popular name for the /Fiber
zibethicus/, borrowed from the Algonquin /muskwessu/ but long since
degenerated to /musk-rat/ in America. /Musquash/ has been in disuse in
this country, indeed, since the middle of the last century, save as a
stray localism, but the English have preserved it, and it appears in
the Oxford Dictionary.[7]

A few weeks in London or a month's study of the London [Pg135]
newspapers will show a great many other American pollutions of the
well of English. The argot of politics is full of them. Many beside
/caucus/ were introduced by Joseph Chamberlain, a politician skilled
in American campaign methods and with an American wife to prompt him.
He gave the English their first taste of /to belittle/, one of the
inventions of Thomas Jefferson. /Graft/ and /to graft/ crossed the
ocean in their nonage. /To bluff/ has been well understood in England
for 30 years. It is in Cassell's and the Oxford Dictionaries, and has
been used by no less a magnifico than Sir Almroth Wright.[8] /To
stump/, in the form of /stump-oratory/, is in Carlyle's "Latter-Day
Pamphlets," /circa/ 1850, and /caucus/ appears in his "Frederick the
Great;"[9] though, as we have seen on the authority of Ware, it did
not come into general use in England until ten years later. /Buncombe/
(usually spelled /bunkum/) is in all the later English dictionaries.
In the London stock market and among English railroad men various
characteristic Americanisms have got a foothold. The meaning of
/bucket-shop/ and /to water/, for example, is familiar to every London
broker's clerk. English trains are now /telescoped/ and carry
/dead-heads/, and in 1913 a rival to the Amalgamated Order of Railway
/Servants/ was organized under the name of the National Union of
/Railway Men/. The beginnings of a movement against the use of
/servant/ are visible in other directions, and the American /help/
threatens to be substituted; at all events, /Help Wanted/
advertisements are now occasionally encountered in English newspapers.
But it is American verbs that seem to find the way into English least
difficult, particularly those compounded with prepositions and
adverbs, such as /to pan out/ and /to swear off/. Most of them, true
enough, [Pg136] are still used as conscious Americanisms, but used
they are, and with increasing frequency. The highly typical American
verb /to loaf/ is now naturalized, and Ware says that /The Loaferies/
is one of the common nicknames of the Whitechapel workhouse.

It is curious, reading the fulminations of American purists of the
last generation, to note how many of the Americanisms they denounced
have not only got into perfectly good usage at home but even broken
down all guards across the ocean. /To placate/ and /to antagonize/ are
examples. The Oxford Dictionary distinguishes between the English and
American meanings of the latter: in England a man may antagonize only
another man, in America he may antagonize a mere idea or thing. But,
as the brothers Fowler show, even the English meaning is of American
origin, and no doubt a few more years will see the verb completely
naturalized in Britain. /To placate/, attacked vigorously by all
native grammarians down to (but excepting) White, now has the
authority of the /Spectator/, and is accepted by Cassell. /To donate/
is still under the ban, but /to transpire/ has been used by the
/London Times/. Other old bugaboos that have been embraced are
/gubernatorial/, /presidential/ and /standpoint/. White labored long
and valiantly to convince Americans that the adjective derived from
/president/ should be without the /i/ in its last syllable, following
the example of /incidental/, /regimental/, /monumental/,
/governmental/, /oriental/, /experimental/ and so on; but in vain, for
/presidential/ is now perfectly good English. /To demean/ is still
questioned, but English authors of the first rank have used it, and it
will probably lose its dubious character very soon.

The flow of loan-words in the opposite direction meets with little
impediment, for social distinction in America is still largely
dependent upon English recognition, and so there is an eager imitation
of the latest English fashions in speech. This emulation is most
noticeable in the large cities of the East, and particularly in what
Schele de Vere called "Boston and the Boston dependencies." New York
is but little behind. The small stores there, if they are of any
pretentions, are now almost invariably called /shops/. Shoes for the
well-to-do are no longer [Pg137] /shoes/, but /boots/, and they are
sold in /bootshops/. One encounters, too, in the side-streets off
Fifth avenue, a multitude of /gift-shops/, /tea-shops/ and
/haberdashery-shops/. In Fifth avenue itself there are several
/luggage-shops/. In August, 1917, signs appeared in the New York
surface cars in which the conductors were referred to as /guards/.
This effort to be English and correct was exhibited over the sign
manual of Theodore P. Shonts, president of the Interborough, a
gentleman of Teutonic name, but evidently a faithful protector of the
king's English. On the same cars, however, painted notices, surviving
from some earlier régime, mentioned the guards as /conductors/. /To
Let/ signs are now as common in all our cities as /For Rent/ signs. We
all know the /charwoman/, and have begun to forget our native
modification of /char/, to wit, /chore/. Every apartment-house has a
/tradesmen's-entrance/. In Charles street, in Baltimore, some time
ago, the proprietor of a fashionable stationery store directed me, not
to the elevator, but to the /lift/.

Occasionally, some uncompromising patriot raises his voice against
these importations, but he seldom shows the vigorous indignation of
the English purists, and he seldom prevails. White, in 1870, warned
Americans against the figurative use of /nasty/ as a synonym for
/disagreeable/.[10] This use of the word was then relatively new in
England, though, according to White, the /Saturday Review/ and the
/Spectator/ had already succumbed. His objections to it were
unavailing; /nasty/ quickly got into American and has been there ever
since. In 1883 Gilbert M. Tucker protested against /good-form/,
/traffic/ (in the sense of travel), /to bargain/ and /to tub/ as
Briticisms that we might well do without, but all of them took root
and are perfectly sound American today. There is, indeed, no
intelligible reason why such English inventions and improvements
should not be taken in, even though the motive behind the welcome to
them may occasionally cause a smile. English, after all, is the mother
of American, and the child, until lately, was still at nurse. The
English, confronted by some of our fantastic innovations, may well
regard them as impudences to be put down, but what they [Pg138] offer
in return often fits into our vocabulary without offering it any
outrage. American, indeed, is full of lingering Briticisms, all
maintaining a successful competition with native forms. If we take
back /shop/ it is merely taking back something that /store/ has never
been able to rid us of: we use /shop-worn/, /shoplifter/, /shopping/,
/shopper/, /shop-girl/ and /to shop/ every day. In the same way the
word /penny/ has survived among us, despite the fact that there has
been no American coin of that name for more than 125 years. We have
/nickel-in-the-slot/ machines, but when they take a cent we call them
/penny-in-the-slot/ machines. We have /penny-arcades/ and
/penny-whistles/. We do not play /cent/-ante, but /penny/-ante. We
still "turn an honest /penny/" and say "a /penny/ for your thoughts."
The pound and the shilling became extinct a century ago, but the penny
still binds us to the mother tongue.

§ 2

/Points of Difference/--These exchanges and coalescences, however,
though they invigorate each language with the blood of the other and
are often very striking in detail, are neither numerous enough nor
general enough to counteract the centrifugal force which pulls them
apart. The simple fact is that the spirit of English and the spirit of
American have been at odds for nearly a century, and that the way of
one is not the way of the other. The loan-words that fly to and fro,
when examined closely, are found to be few in number both relatively
and absolutely: they do not greatly affect the larger movements of the
two languages. Many of them, indeed, are little more than temporary
borrowings; they are not genuinely adopted, but merely momentarily
fashionable. The class of Englishmen which affects American phrases is
perhaps but little larger, taking one year with another, than the
class of Americans which affects English phrases. This last class, it
must be plain, is very small. Leave the large cities and you will have
difficulty finding any members of it. It is circumscribed, not because
there is any very formidable prejudice against English locutions as
such, [Pg139] but simply because recognizably English locutions, in a
good many cases, do not fit into the American language. The American
thinks in American and the Englishman in English, and it requires a
definite effort, usually but defectively successful, for either to put
his thoughts into the actual idiom of the other.

The difficulties of this enterprise are well exhibited, though quite
unconsciously, by W. L. George in a chapter entitled "Litany of the
Novelist" in his book of criticism, "Literary Chapters."[11] This
chapter, it is plain by internal evidence, was written, not for
Englishmen, but for Americans. A good part of it, in fact, is in the
second person--we are addressed and argued with directly. And
throughout there is an obvious endeavor to help out comprehension by a
studied use of purely American phrases and examples. One hears, not of
the /East End/, but of the /East Side/; not of the /City/, but of
/Wall Street/; not of /Belgravia/ or the /West End/, but of /Fifth
avenue/; not of /bowler/ hats, but of /Derbys/; not of idlers in
/pubs/, but of /saloon loafers/; not of /pounds/, /shillings/ and
/pence/, but of /dollars/ and /cents/. In brief, a gallant attempt
upon a strange tongue, and by a writer of the utmost skill--but a
hopeless failure none the less. In the midst of his best American,
George drops into Briticism after Briticism, some of them quite as
unintelligible to the average American reader as so many Gallicisms.
On page after page they display the practical impossibility of the
enterprise: /back-garden/ for /back-yard/, /perambulator/ for
/baby-carriage/, /corn/-market for /grain/-market, coal-/owner/ for
coal-/operator/, /post/ for /mail/, and so on. And to top them there
are English terms that have no American equivalents at all, for
example, /kitchen-fender/.

The same failure, perhaps usually worse, is displayed every time an
English novelist or dramatist essays to put an American into a novel
or a play, and to make him speak American. However painstakingly it is
done, the Englishman invariably falls into capital blunders, and the
result is derided by Americans as Mark Twain derided the miners' lingo
of Bret Harte, and for the same reason. The thing lies deeper than
vocabulary and [Pg140] even than pronunciation and intonation; the
divergences show themselves in habits of speech that are fundamental
and almost indefinable. And when the transoceanic gesture is from the
other direction they become even plainer. An Englishman, in an
American play, seldom shows the actual speech habit of the Sassenach;
what he shows is the speech habit of an American actor trying to
imitate George Alexander. "There are not five playwrights in America,"
said Channing Pollock one day, "who can write English"--that is, the
English of familiar discourse. "Why should there be?" replied Louis
Sherwin. "There are not five thousand people in America who can
/speak/ English."[12]

The elements that enter into the special character of American have
been rehearsed in the first chapter: a general impatience of rule and
restraint, a democratic enmity to all authority, an extravagant and
often grotesque humor, an extraordinary capacity for metaphor[13]--in
brief, all the natural marks of what Van Wyck Brooks calls "a popular
life which bubbles with energy and spreads and grows and slips away
ever more and more from the control of tested ideas, a popular life
with the lid off."[14] This is the spirit of America, and from it the
American language is nourished. Brooks, perhaps, generalizes a bit too
lavishly. Below the surface there is also a curious conservatism, even
a sort of timorousness; in a land of manumitted peasants the primary
trait of the peasant is bound to show itself now and then; as Wendell
Phillips once said, "more than any other people, we Americans are
afraid of one another"--that is, afraid of opposition, of derision, of
all the consequences of singularity. But in the field of language, as
in that of politics, this suspicion of the new is often transformed
into a suspicion of the merely unfamiliar, and so its natural tendency
toward conservatism is overcome. It is of the essence of democracy
that it remain a government by amateurs, and under a government by
amateurs it is precisely the expert who is most questioned--and it is
the expert [Pg141] who commonly stresses the experience of the past.
And in a democratic society it is not the iconoclast who seems most
revolutionary, but the purist. The derisive designation of /high-brow/
is thoroughly American in more ways than one. It is a word put
together in an unmistakably American fashion, it reflects an habitual
American attitude of mind, and its potency in debate is peculiarly
national too.

I daresay it is largely a fear of the weapon in it--and there are many
others of like effect in the arsenal--which accounts for the far
greater prevalence of idioms from below in the formal speech of
America than in the formal speech of England. There is surely no
English novelist of equal rank whose prose shows so much of colloquial
looseness and ease as one finds in the prose of Howells: to find a
match for it one must go to the prose of the neo-Celts, professedly
modelled upon the speech of peasants, and almost proudly defiant of
English grammar and syntax, and to the prose of the English themselves
before the Restoration. Nor is it imaginable that an Englishman of
comparable education and position would ever employ such locutions as
those I have hitherto quoted from the public addresses of Dr.
Wilson--that is, innocently, seriously, as a matter of course. The
Englishman, when he makes use of coinages of that sort, does so in
conscious relaxation, and usually with a somewhat heavy sense of
doggishness. They are proper to the paddock or even to the dinner
table, but scarcely to serious scenes and occasions. But in the United
States their use is the rule rather than the exception; it is not the
man who uses them, but the man who doesn't use them, who is marked
off. Their employment, if high example counts for anything, is a
standard habit of the language, as their diligent avoidance is a
standard habit of English.

A glance through the /Congressional Record/ is sufficient to show how
small is the minority of purists among the chosen leaders of the
nation. Within half an hour, turning the pages at random, I find scores
of locutions that would paralyze the stenographers in the House of
Commons, and they are in the speeches, not of wild mavericks from the
West, but of some of the chief men of the two Houses. Surely no Senator
occupied a more conspicuous [Pg142] position, during the first year of
the war, than Lee S. Overman, of North Carolina, chairman of the
Committee on Rules, and commander of the administration forces on the
floor. Well, I find Senator Overman using /to enthuse/ in a speech of
the utmost seriousness and importance, and not once, but over and over
again.[15] I turn back a few pages and encounter it again--this time in
the mouth of General Sherwood, of Ohio. A few more, and I find a fit
match for it, to wit, /to biograph/.[16] The speaker here is Senator L.
Y. Sherman, of Illinois. In the same speech he uses /to resolute/. A
few more, and various other characteristic verbs are unearthed: /to
demagogue/,[17] /to dope out/[18] /to fall down/[19] (in the sense of
to fail), /to jack up/,[20] /to phone/,[21] /to peeve/,[22] /to come
across/,[23] /to hike/, /to butt in/,[24] /to back pedal/, /to get
solid with/, /to hooverize/, /to trustify/, /to feature/, /to insurge/,
/to haze/, /to reminisce/, /to camouflage/, /to play for a sucker/, and
so on, almost /ad infinitum/. And with them, a large number of highly
American nouns, chiefly compounds, all pressing upward for recognition:
/tin-Lizzie/, /brain-storm/, /come-down/, /pin-head/, /trustification/,
/pork-barrel/, /buck-private/, /dough-boy/, /cow-country/. And
adjectives: /jitney/, /bush/ (for rural), /balled-up/,[25] /dolled-up/,
/phoney/, /tax-paid/.[26] And phrases: /dollars to doughnuts/, /on the
job/, /that gets me/, /one best bet/. And back-formations: /ad/,
/movie/, /photo/. And [Pg143] various substitutions and Americanized
inflections: /over/ for /more than/, /gotten/ for /got/ in the present
perfect,[27] /rile/ for /roil/, /bust/ for /burst/. This last, in
truth, has come into a dignity that even grammarians will soon hesitate
to question. Who, in America, would dare to speak of /bursting/ a
broncho, or of a /trust-burster/?[28]

§ 3

/Lost Distinctions/--This general iconoclasm reveals itself especially
in a disdain for most of the niceties of modern English. The American,
like the Elizabethan Englishman, is usually quite unconscious of them
and even when they have been instilled into him by the hard labor of
pedagogues he commonly pays little heed to them in his ordinary
discourse. The English distinction between /will/ and /shall/ offers a
salient case in point. This distinction, it may be said at once, is
far more a confection of the grammarians than a product of the natural
forces shaping the language. It has, indeed, little etymological
basis, and is but imperfectly justified logically. One finds it
disregarded in the Authorized Version of the Bible, in all the plays
of Shakespeare, in the essays of the reign of Anne, and in some of the
best examples of modern English literature. The theory behind it is so
inordinately abstruse that the Fowlers, in "The King's English,"[29]
require 20 pages to explain it, and even then they come to the
resigned conclusion that the task is hopeless. "The idiomatic use [of
the two auxiliaries]," they say, "is so complicated that those who are
not to the manner born can hardly acquire it."[30] Well, even those
who are to the manner born seem to find [Pg144] it difficult, for at
once the learned authors cite blunder in the writings of Richardson,
Stevenson, Gladstone, Jowett, Oscar Wilde, and even Henry Sweet,
author of the best existing grammar of the English language. In
American the distinction is almost lost. No ordinary American, save
after the most laborious reflection, would detect anything wrong in
this sentence from the /London Times/, denounced as corrupt by the
Fowlers: "We must reconcile what we would like to do with what we can
do." Nor in this by W. B. Yeats: "The character who delights us may
commit murder like Macbeth ... and yet we will rejoice in every
happiness that comes to him." Half a century ago, impatient of the
effort to fasten the English distinction upon American, George P.
Marsh attacked it as of "no logical value or significance whatever,"
and predicted that "at no very distant day this verbal quibble will
disappear, and one of the auxiliaries will be employed, with all
persons of the nominative, exclusively as the sign of the future, and
the other only as an expression of purpose or authority."[31] This
prophecy has been substantially verified. /Will/ is sound American
"with all persons of the nominative," and /shall/ is almost invariably
an "expression of purpose or authority."[32]

And so, though perhaps not to the same extent, with /who/ and /whom/.
Now and then there arises a sort of panicky feeling that /whom/ is
being neglected, and so it is trotted out,[33] but in the [Pg145]
main the American language tends to dispense with it, at least in its
least graceful situations. Noah Webster, always the pragmatic
reformer, denounced it so long ago as 1783. Common sense, he argued,
was on the side of "/who/ did he marry?" Today such a form as "/whom/
are you talking to?" would seem somewhat affected in ordinary
discourse in America; "/who/ are you talking to?" is heard a thousand
times oftener--and is doubly American, for it substitutes /who/ for
/whom/ and puts a preposition at the end of a sentence: two crimes
that most English purists would seek to avoid. It is among the
pronouns that the only remaining case inflections in English are to be
found, if we forget the possessive, and even here these survivors of
an earlier day begin to grow insecure. Lounsbury's defense of "it is
/me/,"[34] as we shall see in the next chapter, has support in the
history and natural movement of the language, and that movement is
also against the preservation of the distinction between /who/ and
/whom/. The common speech plays hob with both of the orthodox
inflections, despite the protests of grammarians, and in the long run,
no doubt, they will be forced to yield to its pressure, as they have
always yielded in the past. Between the dative and accusative on the
one side and the nominative on the other there has been war in the
English language for centuries, and it has always tended to become a
war of extermination. Our now universal use of /you/ for /ye/ in the
nominative shows the dative and accusative swallowing the nominative,
and the practical disappearance of /hither/, /thither/ and /whither/,
whose place is now taken by /here/, /there/ and /where/, shows a
contrary process. In such wars a /posse comitatus/ marches ahead of
the disciplined army. American stands to English in the relation of
that posse to that army. It is incomparably more enterprising, more
contemptuous of precedent and authority, more impatient of rule.

A shadowy line often separates what is currently coming into sound
usage from what is still regarded as barbarous. No self-respecting
American, I daresay, would defend /ain't/ as a substitute [Pg146] for
/isn't/, say in "he /ain't/ the man," and yet /ain't/ is already
tolerably respectable in the first person, where English countenances
the even more clumsy /aren't/. /Aren't/ has never got a foothold in
the American first person; when it is used at all, which is very
rarely, it is always as a conscious Briticism. Facing the alternative
of employing the unwieldy "am I not in this?" the American turns
boldly to "/ain't/ I in this?" It still grates a bit, perhaps, but
/aren't/ grates even more. Here, as always, the popular speech is
pulling the exacter speech along, and no one familiar with its
successes in the past can have much doubt that it will succeed again,
soon or late. In the same way it is breaking down the inflectional
distinction between adverb and adjective, so that "I feel /bad/"
begins to take on the dignity of a national idiom, and /sure/, /to go
big/ and /run slow/[35] become almost respectable. When, on the
entrance of the United States into the war, the Marine Corps chose
"treat 'em /rough/" as its motto, no one thought to raise a
grammatical objection, and the clipped adverb was printed upon
hundreds of thousands of posters and displayed in every town in the
country, always with the imprimatur of the national government. So,
again, American, in its spoken form, tends to obliterate the
distinction between nearly related adjectives, /e. g./, /healthful/
and /healthy/, /tasteful/ and /tasty/. And to challenge the somewhat
absurd text-book prohibition of terminal prepositions, so that "where
are we /at/?" loses its old raciness. And to dally with the double
negative, as in "I have no doubt /but/ that."[36]

But these tendencies, or at least the more extravagant of them, belong
to the next chapter. How much influence they exert, even [Pg147]
indirectly, is shown by the American disdain of the English precision
in the use of the indefinite pronoun. I turn to the /Saturday Evening
Post/, and in two minutes find: "/one/ feels like an atom when /he/
begins to review /his/ own life and deeds."[37] The error is very rare
in English; the Fowlers, seeking examples of it, could get them only
from the writings of a third-rate woman novelist, Scotch to boot. But
it is so common in American that it scarcely attracts notice. Neither
does the appearance of a redundant /s/ in such words as /towards/,
/downwards/, /afterwards/ and /heavenwards/. In England this /s/ is
used relatively seldom, and then it usually marks a distinction in
meaning, as it does on both sides of the ocean between /beside/ and
/besides/. "In modern standard English," says Smith,[38] "though not
in the English of the United States, a distinction which we feel, but
many of us could not define, is made between /forward/ and /forwards/;
/forwards/ being used in definite contrast to any other direction, as
'if you move at all, you can only move /forwards/,' while /forward/ is
used where no such contrast is implied, as in the common phrase 'to
bring a matter forward.'"[39] This specific distinction, despite
Smith, probably retains some force in the United States too, but in
general our usage allows the /s/ in cases where English usage would
certainly be against it. Gould, in the 50's, noted its appearance at
the end of such words as /somewhere/ and /anyway/, and denounced it as
vulgar and illogical. Thornton has traced /anyways/ back to 1842 and
shown that it is an archaism, and to be found in the Book of Common
Prayer (/circa/ 1560); perhaps it has been preserved by analogy with
/sideways/. Henry James, in "The Question of Our Speech," attacked
"such forms of impunity as /somewheres else/ and /nowheres else/, /a
good ways on/ and /a good ways off/" as "vulgarisms with what a great
deal of general credit for what we good-naturedly call 'refinement'
appears so able to coexist."[40] /Towards/ and /afterwards/, though
frowned upon in England, are now quite sound in American. I [Pg148]
find the former in the title of an article in /Dialect Notes/, which
plainly gives it scholastic authority.[41] More (and with no little
humor), I find it in the deed of a fund given to the American Academy
of Arts and Letters to enable the gifted philologs of that sanhedrin
"to consider its duty /towards/ the conservation of the English
language in its beauty and purity."[42] Both /towards/ and
/afterwards/, finally, are included in the /New York Evening Post's/
list of "words no longer disapproved when in their proper places,"
along with /over/ for /more than/, and /during/ for /in the course

In the last chapter we glanced at several salient differences between
the common coin of English and the common coin of American--that is,
the verbs and adjectives in constant colloquial use--the
rubber-stamps, so to speak, of the two languages. America has two
adverbs that belong to the same category. They are /right/ and /good/.
Neither holds the same place in English. Thornton shows that the use
of /right/, as in /right away/, /right good/ and /right now/, was
already widespread in the United States early in the last century; his
first example is dated 1818. He believes that the locution was
"possibly imported from the southwest of Ireland." Whatever its
origin, it quickly attracted the attention of English visitors.
Dickens noted /right away/ as an almost universal Americanism during
his first American tour, in 1842, and poked fun at it in the second
chapter of "American Notes." /Right/ is used as a synonym for
/directly/, as in /right away/, /right off/, /right now/ and /right on
time/; for /moderately/, as in /right well/, /right smart/, /right
good/ and /right often/, and in place of /precisely/, as in /right
there/. Some time ago, in an article on Americanisms, an English
critic called it "that most distinctively American word," and
concocted the following dialogue to instruct the English in its use:

 How do I get to----?

 Go /right/ along, and take the first turning (/sic/) on the /right/,
 and you are /right/ there.




Like W. L. George, this Englishman failed in his attempt to write
correct American despite his fine pedagogical passion. No American
would ever say "take the first turning"; he would say "turn at the
first corner." As for /right away/, R. O. Williams argues that "so far
as analogy can make good English, it is as good as one could
choose."[44] Nevertheless, the Oxford Dictionary admits it only as an
Americanism, and avoids all mention of the other American uses of
/right/ as an adverb. /Good/ is almost as protean. It is not only used
as a general synonym for all adjectives and adverbs connoting
satisfaction, as in /to feel good/, /to be treated good/, /to sleep
good/, but also as a reinforcement to other adjectives and adverbs, as
in "I hit him /good/ and hard" and "I am /good/ and tired." Of late
/some/ has come into wide use as an adjective-adverb of all work,
indicating special excellence or high degree, as in /some girl/, /some
sick/, /going some/, etc. It is still below the salt, but threatens to
reach a more respectable position. One encounters it in the newspapers
constantly and in the /Congressional Record/, and not long ago a
writer in the /Atlantic Monthly/[45] hymned it ecstatically as "/some/
word--a true super-word, in fact" and argued that it could be used "in
a sense for which there is absolutely no synonym in the dictionary."
Basically, it appears to be an adjective, but in many of its common
situations the grammarians would probably call it an adverb. It gives
no little support to the growing tendency, already noticed, to break
down the barrier between the two parts of speech.

§ 4

/Foreign Influences Today/--No other great nation of today supports so
large a foreign population as the United States, [Pg150] either
relatively or absolutely; none other contains so many foreigners
forced to an effort, often ignorant and ineffective, to master the
national language. Since 1820 nearly 35,000,000 immigrants have come
into the country, and of them probably not 10,000,000 brought any
preliminary acquaintance with English with them. The census of 1910
showed that nearly 1,500,000 persons then living permanently on
American soil could not speak it at all; that more than 13,000,000 had
been born in other countries, chiefly of different language; and that
nearly 20,000,000 were the children of such immigrants, and hence
under the influence of their speech habits. Altogether, there were
probably at least 25,000,000 whose house language was not the vulgate,
and who thus spoke it in competition with some other language. No
other country houses so many aliens. In Great Britain the alien
population, for a century past, has never been more than 2 per cent of
the total population, and since the passage of the Alien Act of 1905
it has tended to decline steadily. In Germany, in 1910, there were but
1,259,873 aliens in a population of more than 60,000,000, and of these
nearly a half were German-speaking Austrians and Swiss. In France, in
1906, there were 1,000,000 foreigners in a population of 39,000,000
and a third of them were French-speaking Belgians, Luxembourgeois and
Swiss. In Italy, in 1911, there were but 350,000 in a population of

This large and constantly reinforced admixture of foreigners has
naturally exerted a constant pressure upon the national language, for
the majority of them, at least in the first generation, have found it
quite impossible to acquire it in any purity, and even their children
have grown up with speech habits differing radically from those of
correct English. The effects of this pressure are obviously two-fold;
on the one hand the foreigner, struggling with a strange and difficult
tongue, makes efforts to simplify it as much as possible, and so
strengthens the native tendency to disregard all niceties and
complexities, and on the other hand he corrupts it with words and
locutions from the language he has brought with him, and sometimes
with whole idioms and grammatical forms. We have seen, in earlier
chapters, how the [Pg151] Dutch and French of colonial days enriched
the vocabulary of the colonists, how the German immigrants of the
first half of the nineteenth century enriched it still further, and
how the Irish of the same period influenced its everyday usages. The
same process is still going on. The Italians, the Slavs, and, above
all, the Russian Jews, make steady contributions to the American
vocabulary and idiom, and though these contributions are often
concealed by quick and complete naturalization their foreignness to
English remains none the less obvious. /I should worry/,[46] in its
way, is correct English, but in essence it is as completely Yiddish as
/kosher/, /ganof/, /schadchen/, /oi-yoi/, /matzoh/ or /mazuma/.[47]
/Black-hand/, too, is English in form, but it is nevertheless as
plainly an Italian loan-word as /spaghetti/, /mafia/ or /padrone/.

The extent of such influences upon American, and particularly upon
spoken American, remains to be studied; in the whole literature I can
find but one formal article upon the subject. That article[48] deals
specifically with the suffix /-fest/, which came into American from
the German and was probably suggested by familiarity with
/sängerfest/. There is no mention of it in any of the dictionaries of
Americanisms, and yet, in such forms as /talk-fest/ and /gabfest/ it
is met with almost daily. So with /-heimer/, /-inski/ and /-bund/.
Several years ago /-heimer/ had a great vogue in slang, and was
rapidly done to death. But /wiseheimer/ remains [Pg152] in colloquial
use as a facetious synonym for /smart-aleck/, and after awhile it may
gradually acquire dignity. Far lowlier words, in fact, have worked
their way in. /Buttinski/, perhaps, is going the same route. As for
the words in /-bund/, many of them are already almost accepted.
/Plunder-bund/ is now at least as good as /pork-barrel/ and
/slush-fund/, and /money-bund/ is frequently heard in Congress.[49]
Such locutions creep in stealthily, and are secure before they are
suspected. Current slang, out of which the more decorous language
dredges a large part of its raw materials, is full of them. /Nix/ and
/nixy/, for /no/, are debased forms of the German /nichts/; /aber
nit/, once as popular as /camouflage/, is obviously /aber nicht/. And
a steady flow of nouns, all needed to designate objects introduced by
immigrants, enriches the vocabulary. The Hungarians not only brought
their national condiment with them; they also brought its name,
/paprika/, and that name is now thoroughly American.[50] In the same
way the Italians brought in /camorra/, /padrone/, /spaghetti/ and a
score of other substantives, and the Jews made contributions from
Yiddish and Hebrew and greatly reinforced certain old borrowings from
German. Once such a loan-word gets in it takes firm root. During the
first year of American participation in the World War an effort was
made, on patriotic grounds, to substitute /liberty-cabbage/ for
/sour-kraut/, but it quickly failed, for the name had become as
completely Americanized as the thing itself, and so /liberty-cabbage/
seemed affected and absurd. In the same way a great many other German
words survived the passions of the time. Nor could all the influence
of the professional patriots obliterate that German influence which
has fastened upon the American /yes/ something of the quality of /ja/.

Constant familiarity with such contributions from foreign languages
and with the general speech habits of foreign peoples has made
American a good deal more hospitable to loan-words than English, even
in the absence of special pressure. Let the same [Pg153] word knock
at the gates of the two languages, and American will admit it more
readily, and give it at once a wider and more intimate currency.
Examples are afforded by /café/, /vaudeville/, /employé/, /boulevard/,
/cabaret/, /toilette/, /exposé/, /kindergarten/, /dépôt/, /fête/ and
/menu/. /Café/, in American, is a word of much larger and more varied
meaning than in English and is used much more frequently, and by many
more persons. So is /employé/, in the naturalized form of /employee/.
So is /toilet/: we have even seen it as a euphemism for native terms
that otherwise would be in daily use. So is /kindergarten/: I read
lately of a /kindergarten/ for the elementary instruction of
conscripts. Such words are not unknown to the Englishman, but when he
uses them it is with a plain sense of their foreignness. In American
they are completely naturalized, as is shown by the spelling and
pronunciation of most of them. An American would no more think of
attempting the French pronunciation of /depot/ or of putting the
French accents upon it than he would think of spelling /toilet/ with
the final /te/ or of essaying to pronounce /Anheuser/ in the German
manner. Often curious battles go on between such loan-words and their
English equivalents, and with varying fortunes. In 1895 Weber and
Fields tried to establish /music-hall/ in New York, but it quickly
succumbed to /vaudeville-theatre/, as /variety/ had succumbed to
/vaudeville/ before it. In the same way /lawn-fete/ (without the
circumflex accent, and commonly pronounced /feet/) has elbowed out the
English /garden-party/. But now and then, when the competing loan-word
happens to violate American speech habits, a native term ousts it. The
French /crèche/ offers an example; it has been entirely displaced by

The English, in this matter, display their greater conservatism very
plainly. Even when a loan-word enters both English and American
simultaneously a sense of foreignness lingers about it on the other
side of the Atlantic much longer than on this side, and it is used
with far more self-consciousness. The word /matinée/ offers a
convenient example. To this day the English commonly print it in
italics, give it its French accent, and pronounce it with some attempt
at the French manner. But in America it is entirely naturalized, and
the most ignorant man [Pg154] uses it without any feeling that it is
strange. The same lack of any sense of linguistic integrity is to be
noticed in many other directions--for example, in the freedom with
which the Latin /per/ is used with native nouns. One constantly sees
/per day/, /per dozen/, /per hundred/, /per mile/, etc., in American
newspapers, even the most careful, but in England the more seemly /a/
is almost always used, or the noun itself is made Latin, as in /per
diem/. /Per/, in fact, is fast becoming an everyday American word.
Such phrases as "as /per/ your letter (or order) of the 15th inst."
are incessantly met with in business correspondence. The same greater
hospitality is shown by the readiness with which various un-English
prefixes and affixes come into fashion, for example, /super-/ and
/-itis/. The English accept them gingerly; the Americans take them in
with enthusiasm, and naturalize them instanter.[51]

The same deficiency in reserve is to be noted in nearly all other
colonialized dialects. The Latin-American variants of Spanish, for
example, have adopted a great many words which appear in true Castilian
only as occasional guests. Thus in Argentina /matinée/, /menu/,
/début/, /toilette/ and /femme de chambre/ are perfectly good
Argentine, and in Mexico /sandwich/ and /club/ have been thoroughly
naturalized. The same thing is to be noted in the French of Haiti, in
the Portuguese of Brazil, and even in the Danish of Norway. Once a
language spreads beyond the country of its origin and begins to be used
by people born, in the German phrase, to a different /Sprachgefühl/,
the sense of loyalty to its vocabulary is lost, along with the
instinctive feeling for its idiomatic habits. How far this destruction
of its forms may go in the absence of strong contrary influences is
exhibited by the rise of the Romance languages from the vulgar Latin of
the Roman provinces, and, here at home, by the decay of foreign
languages in competition with English. The Yiddish that the Jews from
Russia bring in is German debased with Russian, Polish and [Pg155]
Hebrew; in America, it quickly absorbs hundreds of words and idioms
from the speech of the streets. Various conflicting German dialects,
among the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch and in the German areas of the
Northwest, combine in a patois that, in its end forms, shows almost as
much English as German. Classical examples of it are "es giebt gar kein
/use/," "Ich kann es nicht /ständen/" and "mein /stallion/ hat über die
/fenz gescheumpt/ und dem nachbar sein /whiet/ abscheulich
/gedämätscht/."[52] The use of /gleiche/ for /to like/, by false
analogy from /gleich/ (=/like/, /similar/) is characteristic. In the
same way the Scandinavians in the Northwest corrupt their native
Swedish and Dano-Norwegian. Thus, American-Norwegian is heavy with such
forms as /strit-kar/, /reit-evé/, /nekk-töi/ and /staits-pruessen/, for
/street-car/, /right away/, /necktie/ and /states-prison/, and admits
such phrases as "det /meka/ ingen /difrens/."[53]

The changes that Yiddish has undergone in America, though rather
foreign to the present inquiry, are interesting enough to be noticed.
First of all, it has admitted into its vocabulary a large number of
everyday substantives, among them /boy/, /chair/, /window/, /carpet/,
/floor/, /dress/, /hat/, /watch/, /ceiling/, /consumption/,
/property/, /trouble/, /bother/, /match/, /change/, /party/,
/birthday/, /picture/, /paper/ (only in the sense of /newspaper/),
/gambler/, /show/, /hall/, /kitchen/, /store/, /bedroom/, /key/,
/mantelpiece/, /closet/, /lounge/, /broom/, /tablecloth/, /paint/,
/landlord/, /fellow/, /tenant/, /shop/, /wages/, /foreman/, /sleeve/,
/collar/, /cuff/, /button/, /cotton/, /thimble/, /needle/, /pocket/,
/bargain/, /sale/, /remnant/, /sample/, /haircut/, /razor/, /waist/,
/basket/, /school/, /scholar/, /teacher/, /baby/, /mustache/,
/butcher/, /grocery/, /dinner/, /street/ and /walk/. And with them
many characteristic Americanisms, [Pg156] for example, /bluffer/,
/faker/, /boodler/, /grafter/, /gangster/, /crook/, /guy/, /kike/,
/piker/, /squealer/, /bum/, /cadet/, /boom/, /bunch/, /pants/, /vest/,
/loafer/, /jumper/, /stoop/, /saleslady/, /ice-box/ and /raise/, with
their attendant verbs and adjectives. These words are used constantly;
many of them have quite crowded out the corresponding Yiddish words.
For example, /ingel/, meaning /boy/ (it is a Slavic loan-word in
Yiddish), has been obliterated by the English word. A Jewish immigrant
almost invariably refers to his son as his /boy/, though strangely
enough he calls his daughter his /meidel/. "Die /boys/ mit die
/meidlach/ haben a good time" is excellent American Yiddish. In the
same way /fenster/ has been completely displaced by /window/, though
/tür/ (=/door/) has been left intact. /Tisch/ (=/table/) also remains,
but /chair/ is always used, probably because few of the Jews had
chairs in the old country. There the /beinkel/, a bench without a
back, was in use; chairs were only for the well-to-do. /Floor/ has
apparently prevailed because no invariable corresponding word was
employed at home: in various parts of Russia and Poland a floor is a
/dill/, a /podlogé/, or a /bricke/. So with /ceiling/. There were six
different words for it.

Yiddish inflections have been fastened upon most of these loan-words.
Thus, "er hat ihm /abgefaked/" is "he cheated him," /zubumt/ is the
American /gone to the bad/, /fix'n/ is to /fix/, /usen/ is /to use/,
and so on. The feminine and diminutive suffix /-ké/ is often added to
nouns. Thus /bluffer/ gives rise to /blufferké/ (=/hypocrite/), and
one also notes /dresské/, /hatké/, /watchké/ and /bummerké/. "Oi! is
sie a /blufferké/!" is good American Yiddish for "isn't she a
hypocrite!" The suffix /-nick/, signifying agency, is also freely
applied. /Allrightnick/ means an upstart, an offensive boaster, one of
whom his fellows would say "He is all right" with a sneer. Similarly,
/consumptionick/ means a victim of tuberculosis. Other suffixes are
/-chick/ and /-ige/, the first exemplified in /boychick/, a diminutive
of /boy/, and the second in /next-doorige/, meaning the woman
next-door, an important person in ghetto social life. Some of the
loan-words, of course, undergo changes on Yiddish-speaking lips. Thus,
/landlord/ becomes /lendler/, /lounge/ becomes /lunch/, /tenant/
becomes /tenner/, and /whiskers/ loses its final /s/. "Wie gefällt dir
sein /whisker/?" (=how do you like his beard?) [Pg157] is good
Yiddish, ironically intended. /Fellow/, of course, changes to the
American /feller/, as in "Rosie hat schon a /feller/" (=Rosie has got
a /feller/, /i. e./, a sweetheart). /Show/, in the sense of /chance/,
is used constantly, as in "git ihm a /show/" (=give him a chance).
/Bad boy/ is adopted bodily, as in "er is a /bad boy/." To /shut up/
is inflected as one word, as in "er hat nit gewolt /shutup'n/" (=he
wouldn't shut up). /To catch/ is used in the sense of to obtain, as in
"/catch'n/ a gmilath chesed" (=to raise a loan). Here, by the way,
/gmilath chesed/ is excellent Biblical Hebrew. /To bluff/, unchanged
in form, takes on the new meaning of to lie: a /bluffer/ is a liar.
Scores of American phrases are in constant use, among them, /all
right/, /never mind/, /I bet you/, /no sir/ and /I'll fix you/. It is
curious to note that /sure Mike/, borrowed by the American vulgate
from Irish English, has gone over into American Yiddish. Finally, to
make an end, here are two complete and characteristic American Yiddish
sentences: "Sie wet /clean'n/ die /rooms/, /scrub'n/ dem /floor/,
/wash'n/ die /windows/, /dress'n/ dem /boy/ und gehn in
/butcher-store/ und in /grocery/. Dernoch vet sie machen /dinner/ und
gehn in /street/ für a /walk/."[54]

American itself, in the Philippines, and to a lesser extent in Porto
Rico and on the Isthmus, has undergone similar changes under the
influence of Spanish and the native dialects. Maurice P. Dunlap[55]
offers the following specimen of a conversation between two Americans
long resident in Manila:

 Hola, amigo.

 Komusta kayo.

 Porque were you hablaing with ese señorita?

 She wanted a job as lavandera.


 Ten cents, conant, a piece, so I told her no kerry.

 Have you had chow? Well, spera till I sign this chit and I'll take a
 paseo with you.


Here we have an example of Philippine American that shows all the
tendencies of American Yiddish. It retains the general forms of
American, but in the short conversation, embracing but 41 different
words, there are eight loan-words from the Spanish (/hola/, /amigo/,
/porque/, /ese/, /señorita/, /lavandera/, /cuanto/ and /paseo/), two
Spanish locutions in a debased form (/spera/ for /espera/ and /no
kerry/ for /no quiro/), two loan-words from the Taglog (/komusta/ and
/kayo/), two from Pigeon English (/chow/ and /chit/), one
Philippine-American localism (/conant/), and a Spanish verb with an
English inflection (/hablaing/).

The immigrant in the midst of a large native population, of course,
exerts no such pressure upon the national language as that exerted
upon an immigrant language by the native, but nevertheless his
linguistic habits and limitations have to be reckoned with in dealing
with him, and the concessions thus made necessary have a very
ponderable influence upon the general speech. In the usual sense, as
we have seen, there are no dialects in American; two natives, however
widely their birthplaces may be separated, never have any practical
difficulty understanding each other. But there are at least
quasi-dialects among the immigrants--the Irish, the German, the
Scandinavian, the Italian, the Jewish, and so on--and these
quasi-dialects undoubtedly leave occasional marks, not only upon the
national vocabulary, but also upon the general speech habits of the
country, as in the case, for example, of the pronunciation of /yes/,
already mentioned, and in that of the substitution of the diphthong
/oi/ for the /ur-/sound in such words as /world/, /journal/ and
/burn/--a Yiddishism now almost universal among the lower classes of
New York, and threatening to spread.[56] More important, however, is
the support given to a native tendency by the foreigner's incapacity
for employing (or even comprehending) syntax of any complexity, or
words not of the simplest. This is the tendency toward succinctness
[Pg159] and clarity, at whatever sacrifice of grace. One English
observer, Sidney Low, puts the chief blame for the general
explosiveness of American upon the immigrant, who must be communicated
with in the plainest words available, and is not socially worthy of
the suavity of circumlocution anyhow.[57] In his turn the immigrant
seizes upon these plainest words as upon a sort of convenient Lingua
Franca--his quick adoption of /damn/ as a universal adjective is
traditional--and throws his influence upon the side of the underlying
speech habit when he gets on in the vulgate. Many characteristic
Americanisms of the sort to stagger lexicographers--for example,
/near-silk/--have come from the Jews, whose progress in business is a
good deal faster than their progress in English. Others, as we have
seen, have come from the German immigrants of half a century ago, from
the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch (who are notoriously ignorant and
uncouth), and from the Irish, who brought with them a form of English
already very corrupt. The same and similar elements greatly reinforce
the congenital tendencies of the dialect--toward the facile
manufacture of compounds, toward a disregard of the distinctions
between parts of speech, and, above all, toward the throwing off of
all etymological restraints.

§ 5

/Processes of Word Formation/--Some of these tendencies, it has been
pointed out, go back to the period of the first growth of American,
and were inherited from the English of the time. They are the products
of a movement which, reaching its height in the English of Elizabeth,
was dammed up at home, so to speak, by the rise of linguistic
self-consciousness toward the end of the reign of Anne, but continued
almost unobstructed in the colonies. For example, there is what
philologists call the habit of back-formation--a sort of instinctive
search, etymologically unsound, for short roots in long words. This
habit, in Restoration days, precipitated a quasi-English word,
/mobile/, from the Latin [Pg160] /mobile vulgus/, and in the days of
William and Mary it went a step further by precipitating /mob/ from
/mobile/. /Mob/ is now sound English, but in the eighteenth century it
was violently attacked by the new sect of purists,[58] and though it
survived their onslaught they undoubtedly greatly impeded the
formation and adoption of other words of the same category. But in the
colonies the process went on unimpeded, save for the feeble protests
of such stray pedants as Witherspoon and Boucher. /Rattler/ for
/rattlesnake/, /pike/ for /turnpike/, /draw/ for /drawbridge/, /coon/
for /raccoon/, /possum/ for /opossum/, /cuss/ for /customer/, /cute/
for /acute/, /squash/ for /askutasquash/--these American
back-formations are already antique; /Sabbaday/ for /Sabbath-day/ has
actually reached the dignity of an archaism. To this day they are
formed in great numbers; scarcely a new substantive of more than two
syllables comes in without bringing one in its wake. We have thus
witnessed, within the past two years, the genesis of scores now in
wide use and fast taking on respectability; /phone/ for /telephone/,
/gas/ for /gasoline/, /co-ed/ for /co-educational/, /pop/ for
/populist/, /frat/ for /fraternity/, /gym/ for /gymnasium/, /movie/
for /moving-picture/, /prep-school/ for /preparatory-school/, /auto/
for /automobile/, /aero/ for /aeroplane/. Some linger on the edge of
vulgarity: /pep/ for /pepper/, /flu/ for /influenza/, /plute/ for
/plutocrat/, /pen/ for /penitentiary/, /con/ for /confidence/ (as in
/con-man/, /con-game/ and /to con/), /convict/ and /consumption/,
/defi/ for /defiance/, /beaut/ for /beauty/, /rep/ for /reputation/,
/stenog/ for /stenographer/, /ambish/ for /ambition/, /vag/ for
/vagrant/, /champ/ for /champion/, /pard/ for /partner/, /coke/ for
/cocaine/, /simp/ for /simpleton/, /diff/ for /difference/. Others are
already in perfectly good usage: /smoker/ for /smoking-car/, /diner/
for /dining-car/, /sleeper/ for /sleeping-car/, /oleo/ for
/oleomargarine/, /hypo/ for /hyposulphite of soda/, /Yank/ for
/Yankee/, /confab/ for /confabulation/, /memo/ for /memorandum/,
/pop-concert/ for /popular-concert/. /Ad/ for /advertisement/ is
struggling hard for recognition; some of its compounds, /e. g./,
/ad-writer/, /want-ad/, /display-ad/, /ad-card/, /ad-rate/,
/column-ad/ and /ad-man/, are already accepted in technical
terminology. /Boob/ for /booby/ promises to become sound American in a
few years; its synonyms are no more respectable than it is. At
[Pg161] its heels is /bo/ for /hobo/, an altogether fit successor to
/bum/ for /bummer/.[59]

A parallel movement shows itself in the great multiplication of common
abbreviations. "Americans, as a rule," says Farmer, "employ
abbreviations to an extent unknown in Europe.... This trait of the
American character is discernible in every department of the national
life and thought."[60] /O. K./, /C. O. D./, /N. G./, /G. O. P./ (get
out and push) and /P. D. Q./, are almost national hall-marks; the
immigrant learns them immediately after /damn/ and /go to hell/.
Thornton traces /N. G./ to 1840; /C. O. D./ and /P. D. Q./ are
probably as old. As for /O. K./, it was in use so early as 1790, but
it apparently did not acquire its present significance until the 20's;
originally it seems to have meant "ordered recorded."[11] During the
presidential campaign of 1828 Jackson's enemies, seeking to prove his
illiteracy, alleged that he used it for "oll korrect." Of late the
theory has been put forward that it is derived from an Indian word,
/okeh/, signifying "so be it," and Dr. Woodrow Wilson is said to
support this theory and to use /okeh/ in endorsing government papers,
but I am unaware of the authority upon which the etymology is based.
Bartlett says that the figurative use of /A No. 1/, as in /an A No. 1
man/, also originated in America, but this may not be true. There can
be little doubt, however, about /T. B./ (for /tuberculosis/), /G. B./
(for /grand bounce/), /23/, /on the Q. T./, and /D. & D./ (/drunk and
disorderly/). The language breeds such short forms of speech
prodigiously; every trade and profession has a host of them; they are
innumerable in the slang of sport.[61]

What one sees under all this, account for it as one will, is a double
habit, the which is, at bottom, sufficient explanation of the gap
which begins to yawn between English and American, particularly on the
spoken plane. On the one hand it is a habit of verbal economy--a
jealous disinclination to waste two words on what can be put into one,
a natural taste for the brilliant and [Pg162] succinct, a disdain of
all grammatical and lexicographical daintiness, born partly, perhaps,
of ignorance, but also in part of a sound sense of their imbecility.
And on the other hand there is a high relish and talent for
metaphor--in Brander Matthews' phrase, "a figurative vigor that the
Elizabethans would have realized and understood." Just as the American
rebels instinctively against such parliamentary circumlocutions as "I
am not prepared to say" and "so much by way of being,"[62] just as he
would fret under the forms of English journalism, with its reporting
empty of drama, its third-person smothering of speeches and its
complex and unintelligible jargon,[63] just so, in his daily speech
and writing he chooses terseness and vividness whenever there is any
choice, and seeks to make one when it doesn't exist. There is more
than mere humorous contrast between the famous placard in the
wash-room of the British Museum: "These Basins Are For Casual
Ablutions Only," and the familiar sign at American railroad-crossings:
"Stop! Look! Listen!" Between the two lies an abyss separating two
cultures, two habits of mind, two diverging tongues. It is almost
unimaginable that Englishmen, journeying up and down in elevators,
would ever have stricken the teens out of their speech, turning
/sixteenth/ into simple /six/ and /twenty-fourth/ into /four/; the
clipping is almost as far from their way of doing things as the
climbing so high in the air. Nor have they the brilliant facility of
Americans for making new words of grotesque but penetrating tropes, as
in /corn-fed/, /tight-wad/, /bone-head/, /bleachers/ and /juice/ (for
/electricity/); when they attempt such things the result is often
lugubrious; two hundred years of schoolmastering has dried up their
inspiration. Nor have they the fine American hand for devising new
verbs; /to maffick/ and /to limehouse/ are their best specimens in
twenty years, and both have an almost pathetic flatness. Their
business with the language, indeed, is not in this department. They
are [Pg163] not charged with its raids and scoutings, but with the
organization of its conquests and the guarding of its accumulated

For the student interested in the biology of language, as opposed to its
paleontology, there is endless material in the racy neologisms of
American, and particularly in its new compounds and novel verbs. Nothing
could exceed the brilliancy of such inventions as /joy-ride/,
/high-brow/, /road-louse/, /sob-sister/, /nature-faker/, /stand-patter/,
/lounge-lizard/, /hash-foundry/, /buzz-wagon/, /has-been/,
/end-seat-hog/, /shoot-the-chutes/ and /grape-juice-diplomacy/. They are
bold; they are vivid; they have humor; they meet genuine needs.
/Joy-ride/, I note, is already going over into English, and no wonder.
There is absolutely no synonym for it; to convey its idea in orthodox
English would take a whole sentence. And so, too, with certain single
words of metaphorical origin: /barrel/ for large and illicit wealth,
/pork/ for unnecessary and dishonest appropriations of public money,
/joint/ for illegal liquor-house, /tenderloin/ for gay and dubious
neighborhood.[64] Most of these, and of the new compounds with them,
belong to the vocabulary of disparagement. Here an essential character
of the American shows itself: his tendency to combat the disagreeable
with irony, to heap ridicule upon what he is suspicious of or doesn't

The rapidity with which new verbs are made in the United States is
really quite amazing. Two days after the first regulations of the Food
Administration were announced, /to hooverize/ appeared spontaneously
in scores of newspapers, and a week later it was employed without any
visible sense of its novelty in the debates of Congress and had taken
on a respectability equal to that of /to bryanize/, /to fletcherize/
and /to oslerize/. /To electrocute/ appeared inevitably in the first
public discussion of capital [Pg164] punishment by electricity; /to
taxi/ came in with the first taxi-cabs; /to commute/ no doubt
accompanied the first commutation ticket; /to insurge/ attended the
birth of the Progressive balderdash. Of late the old affix /-ize/,
once fecund of such monsters as /to funeralize/, has come into favor
again, and I note, among its other products, /to belgiumize/, /to
vacationize/, /to picturize/ and /to scenarioize/. In a newspaper
headline I even find /to s o s/, in the form of its gerund.[65] Many
characteristic American verbs are compounds of common verbs and
prepositions or adverbs, with new meanings imposed. Compare, for
example, /to give/ and /to give out/, /to go back/ and /to go back
on/, /to beat/ and /to beat it/, /to light/ and /to light out/, /to
butt/ and /to butt in/, /to turn/ and /to turn down/, /to show/ and
/to show up/, /to put/ and /to put over/, /to wind/ and /to wind up/.
Sometimes, however, the addition seems to be merely rhetorical, as in
/to start off/, /to finish up/, /to open up/ and /to hurry up/. /To
hurry up/ is so commonplace in America that everyone uses it and no
one notices it, but it remains rare in England. /Up/ seems to be
essential to many of these latter-day verbs, /e. g./, /to pony up/,
/to doll up/, /to ball up/; without it they are without significance.
Nearly all of them are attended by derivative adjectives or nouns;
/cut-up/, /show-down/, /kick-in/, /come-down/, /hang-out/,
/start-off/, /run-in/, /balled-up/, /dolled-up/, /wind-up/, /bang-up/,
/turn-down/, /jump-off/.

In many directions the same prodigal fancy shows itself--for example,
in the free interchange of parts of speech, in the bold inflection of
words not inflected in sound English, and in the invention of wholly
artificial words. The first phenomenon has already concerned us. Would
an English literary critic of any pretensions employ such a locution
as "all by her /lonesome/"? I have a doubt of it--and yet I find that
phrase in a serious book by the critic of the /New Republic/.[66]
Would an English M. P. use "he has another /think/ coming" in debate?
Again I doubt it--but even more anarchistic dedications of verbs and
adjectives to substantival use are to be found in the /Congressional
Record/ every day. /Jitney/ is an old American substantive lately
[Pg165] revived; a month after its revival it was also an adjective,
and before long it may also be a verb and even an adverb. /To lift up/
was turned tail first and made a substantive, and is now also an
adjective and a verb. /Joy-ride/ became a verb the day after it was
born as a noun. And what of /livest/? An astounding inflection,
indeed--but with quite sound American usage behind it. The
/Metropolitan Magazine/, of which Col. Roosevelt is an editor,
announces on its letter paper that it is "the /livest/ magazine in
America," and /Poetry/, the organ of the new poetry movement, prints
at the head of its contents page the following encomium from the /New
York Tribune/: "the /livest/ art in America today is poetry, and the
/livest/ expression of that art is in this little Chicago monthly."

Now and then the spirit of American shows a transient faltering, and
its inventiveness is displaced by a banal extension of meaning, so
that a single noun comes to signify discrete things. Thus /laundry/,
meaning originally a place where linen is washed, has come to mean
also the linen itself. So, again, /gun/ has come to mean fire-arms of
all sorts, and has entered into such compounds as /gun-man/ and
/gun-play/. And in the same way /party/ has been borrowed from the
terminology of the law and made to do colloquial duty as a synonym for
/person/. But such evidences of poverty are rare and abnormal; the
whole movement of the language is toward the multiplication of
substantives. A new object gets a new name, and that new name enters
into the common vocabulary at once. /Sundae/ and /hokum/ are late
examples; their origin is dubious and disputed, but they met genuine
needs and so they seem to be secure. A great many more such
substantives are deliberate inventions, for example, /kodak/,
/protectograph/, /conductorette/, /bevo/, /klaxon/, /vaseline/,
/jap-a-lac/, /resinol/, /autocar/, /postum/, /crisco/, /electrolier/,
/addressograph/, /alabastine/, /orangeade/, /pianola/, /victrola/,
/dictagraph/, /kitchenette/, /crispette/, /cellarette/, /uneeda/,
/triscuit/ and /peptomint/. Some of these indicate attempts at
description: /oleomargarine/, /phonograph/ and /gasoline/ are older
examples of that class. Others represent efforts to devise
designations that will meet the conditions of advertising psychology
and the trade-marks law, to wit, that they [Pg166] be (/a/) new,
(/b/) easily remembered, and (/c/) not directly descriptive. Probably
the most successful invention of this sort is /kodak/, which was
devised by George Eastman, inventor of the portable camera so called.
/Kodak/ has so far won acceptance as a common noun that Eastman is
often forced to assert his proprietary right to it.[67] /Vaseline/ is
in the same position. The annual crop of such inventions in the United
States is enormous.[68] The majority die, but a hearty few always

Of analogous character are artificial words of the /scalawag/ and
/rambunctious/ class, the formation of which constantly goes on. Some
of them are shortened compounds: /grandificent/ (from /grand/ and
/magnificent/), /sodalicious/ (from /soda/ and /delicious/) and
/warphan/(/age/) (from /war/ and /orphan/(/age/)).[69] Others are made
up of common roots and grotesque affixes: /swelldoodle/,
/splendiferous/ and /peacharino/. Yet others are mere extravagant
inventions: /scallywampus/, /supergobsloptious/ and /floozy/. Most of
these are devised by advertisement writers or college students, and
belong properly to slang, but there is a steady movement of selected
specimens into the common vocabulary. The words in /-doodle/ hint at
German influences, and those in /-ino/ owe something to Italian, or at
least to popular burlesques of what is conceived to be Italian.

§ 6

/Pronunciation/--"Language," said Sayce, in 1879, "does not consist of
letters, but of sounds, and until this fact has been brought home to
us our study of it will be little better than an [Pg167] exercise of
memory."[70] The theory, at that time, was somewhat strange to English
grammarians and etymologists, despite the investigations of A. J.
Ellis and the massive lesson of Grimm's law; their labors were largely
wasted upon deductions from the written word. But since then, chiefly
under the influence of Continental philologists, and particularly of
the Dane, J. O. H. Jespersen, they have turned from orthographical
futilities to the actual sounds of the tongue, and the latest and best
grammar of it, that of Sweet, is frankly based upon the spoken English
of educated Englishmen--not, remember, of conscious purists, but of
the general body of cultivated folk. Unluckily, this new method also
has its disadvantages. The men of a given race and time usually write
a good deal alike, or, at all events, attempt to write alike, but in
their oral speech there are wide variations. "No two persons," says a
leading contemporary authority upon English phonetics,[71] "pronounce
exactly alike." Moreover, "even the best speaker commonly uses more
than one style." The result is that it is extremely difficult to
determine the prevailing pronunciation of a given combination of
letters at any time and place. The persons whose speech is studied
pronounce it with minute shades of difference, and admit other
differences according as they are conversing naturally or endeavoring
to exhibit their pronunciation. Worse, it is impossible to represent a
great many of these shades in print. Sweet, trying to do it,[72] found
himself, in the end, with a preposterous alphabet of 125 letters.
Prince L.-L. Bonaparte more than doubled this number, and Ellis
brought it to 390.[73] Other phonologists, English and Continental,
have gone floundering into the same bog. The dictionary-makers, forced
to a far greater economy of means, are brought into obscurity. The
difficulties of the enterprise, in fact, are probably unsurmountable.
It is, as White says, "almost impossible for one person to express to
another by signs the [Pg168] sound of any word." "Only the voice," he
goes on, "is capable of that; for the moment a sign is used the
question arises, What is the value of that sign? The sounds of words
are the most delicate, fleeting and inapprehensible things in
nature.... Moreover, the question arises as to the capability to
apprehend and distinguish sounds on the part of the person whose
evidence is given."[74] Certain German orthoepists, despairing of the
printed page, have turned to the phonograph, and there is a Deutsche
Grammophon-Gesellschaft in Berlin which offers records of specimen
speeches in a great many languages and dialects, including English.
The phonograph has also been put to successful use in language
teaching by various American correspondence schools.

In view of all this it would be hopeless to attempt to exhibit in
print the numerous small differences between English and American
pronunciation, for many of them are extremely delicate and subtle, and
only their aggregation makes them plain. According to a recent and
very careful observer,[75] the most important of them do not lie in
pronunciation at all, properly so called, but in intonation. In this
direction, he says, one must look for the true characters "of the
English accent." I incline to agree with White,[76] that the pitch of
the English voice is somewhat higher than that of the American, and
that it is thus more penetrating. The nasal twang which Englishmen
observe in the /vox Americana/, though it has high overtones, is
itself not high pitched, but rather low pitched, as all constrained
and muffled tones are apt to be. The causes of that twang have long
engaged phonologists, and in the main they agree that there is a
physical basis for it--that our generally dry climate and rapid
changes of temperature produce an actual thickening of the membranes
concerned in the production of sound.[77] We are, in brief, a somewhat
snuffling [Pg169] people, and much more given to catarrhs and coryzas
than the inhabitants of damp Britain. Perhaps this general impediment
to free and easy utterance, subconsciously apprehended, is responsible
for the American tendency to pronounce the separate syllables of a
word with much more care than an Englishman bestows upon them; the
American, in giving /extraordinary/ six distinct syllables instead of
the Englishman's grudging four, may be seeking to make up for his
natural disability. Marsh, in his "Lectures on the English
Language,"[78] sought two other explanations of the fact. On the one
hand, he argued that the Americans of his day read a great deal more
than the English, and were thus much more influenced by the spelling
of words, and on the other hand he pointed out that "our flora shows
that the climate of even our Northern States belongs ... to a more
Southern type than that of England," and that "in Southern latitudes
... articulation is generally much more distinct than in Northern
regions." In support of the latter proposition he cited the
pronunciation of Spanish, Italian and Turkish, as compared with that
of English, Danish and German--rather unfortunate examples, for the
pronunciation of German is at least as clear as that of Italian.
Swedish would have supported his case far better: the Swedes debase
their vowels and slide over their consonants even more markedly than
the English. Marsh believed that there was a tendency among Southern
peoples to throw the accent back, and that this helped to "bring out
all the syllables." One finds a certain support for this notion in
various American peculiarities of stress. /Advertisement/ offers an
example. The prevailing American pronunciation, despite incessant
pedagogical counterblasts, puts the accent on the penult, whereas the
English pronunciation stresses the second syllable. /Paresis/
illustrates the same tendency. The English accent the first syllable,
but, as Krapp says, American usage clings to the [Pg170] accent on
the second syllable.[79] There are, again, /pianist/, /primarily/ and
/telegrapher/. The English accent the first syllable of each; we
commonly accent the second. In /temporarily/ they also accent the
first; we accent the third. Various other examples might be cited. But
when one had marshalled them their significance would be at once set
at naught by four very familiar words, /mamma/, /papa/, /inquiry/ and
/ally/. Americans almost invariably accent each on the first syllable;
Englishmen stress the second. For months, during 1918, the publishers
of the Standard Dictionary, advertising that work in the street-cars,
explained that /ally/ should be accented on the second syllable, and
pointed out that owners of their dictionary were safeguarded against
the vulgarism of accenting it on the first. Nevertheless, this free
and highly public instruction did not suffice to exterminate /al´ly/.
I made note of the pronunciations overheard, with the word constantly
on all lips. But one man of my acquaintance regularly accented the
second syllable, and he was an eminent scholar, professionally devoted
to the study of language.

Thus it is unsafe, here as elsewhere, to generalize too facilely, and
particularly unsafe to exhibit causes with too much assurance. "Man
frage nicht warum," says Philipp Karl Buttmann. "Der Sprachgebrauch
lässt sich nur beobachten."[80] But the greater distinctness of
American utterance, whatever its genesis and machinery, is palpable
enough in many familiar situations. "The typical American accent,"
says Vizetelly, "is often harsh and unmusical, but it sounds all of
the letters to be sounded, and slurs, but does not distort, the
rest."[81] An American, for example, almost always sounds the first
/l/ in /fulfill/; an Englishman makes the first syllable /foo/. An
American sounds every syllable in /extraordinary/, /literary/,
/military/, /secretary/ and the other words of the /-ary/-group; an
Englishman never pronounces the /a/ of the penultimate syllable.
/Kindness/, with the /d/ silent, would attract notice in the United
States; in England, according to [Pg171] Jones,[82] the /d/ is "very
commonly, if not usually" omitted. /Often/, in America, commonly
retains a full /t/; in England it is actually and officially /offen/.
Let an American and an Englishman pronounce /program/ (/me/). Though
the Englishman retains the long form of the last syllable in writing,
he reduces it in speaking to a thick triple consonant, /grm/; the
American enunciates it clearly, rhyming it with /damn/. Or try the two
with any word ending in /-g/, say /sporting/ or /ripping/. Or with any
word having /r/ before a consonant, say /card/, /harbor/, /lord/ or
/preferred/. "The majority of Englishmen," says Menner, "certainly do
not pronounce the /r/ ...; just as certainly the majority of educated
Americans pronounce it distinctly."[83] Henry James, visiting the
United States after many years of residence in England, was much
harassed by this persistent /r/-sound, which seemed to him to resemble
"a sort of morose grinding of the back teeth."[84] So sensitive to it
did he become that he began to hear where it was actually
non-existent, save as an occasional barbarism, for example, in
/Cuba-r/, /vanilla-r/ and /California-r/. He put the blame for it, and
for various other departures from the strict canon of contemporary
English, upon "the American common school, the American newspaper, and
the American Dutchman and Dago." Unluckily for his case, the full
voicing of the /r/ came into American long before the appearance of
any of these influences. The early colonists, in fact, brought it with
them from England, and it still prevailed there in Dr. Johnson's day,
for he protested publicly against the "rough snarling sound" and led
the movement which finally resulted in its extinction.[85] Today,
extinct, it is mourned by English purists, and the Poet Laureate
denounces the clergy of the Established Church for saying "the /sawed/
of the /Laud/" instead of "the sword of the Lord."[86]

But even in the matter of elided consonants American is not always the
conservator. We cling to the /r/, we preserve the final [Pg172] /g/,
we give /nephew/ a clear /f/-sound instead of the clouded English
/v/-sound, and we boldly nationalize /trait/ and pronounce its final
/t/, but we drop the second /p/ from /pumpkin/ and change the /m/ to
/n/, we change the /ph/(=/f/)-sound to plain /p/ in /diphtheria/,
/diphthong/ and /naphtha/,[87] we relieve /rind/ of its final /d/,
and, in the complete sentence, we slaughter consonants by
assimilation. I have heard Englishmen say /brand-new/, but on American
lips it is almost invariably /bran-new/. So nearly universal is this
nasalization in the United States that certain American lexicographers
have sought to found the term upon /bran/ and not upon /brand/. Here
the national speech is powerfully influenced by Southern dialectical
variations, which in turn probably derive partly from French example
and partly from the linguistic limitations of the negro. The latter,
even after two hundred years, has great difficulties with our
consonants, and often drops them. A familiar anecdote well illustrates
his speech habit. On a train stopping at a small station in Georgia a
darkey threw up a window and yelled "Wah ee?" The reply from a black
on the platform was "Wah oo?" A Northerner aboard the train, puzzled
by this inarticulate dialogue, sought light from a Southern passenger,
who promptly translated the first question as "Where is he?" and the
second as "Where is who?" A recent viewer with alarm[88] argues that
this conspiracy against the consonants is spreading, and that English
printed words no longer represent the actual sounds of the American
language. "Like the French," he says, "we have a marked /liaison/--the
borrowing of a letter from the preceding word. We invite one another
to 'c'meer' (=come here) ... 'Hoo-zat?' (=who is that?) has as good a
/liaison/ as the French /vois avez/." This critic believes that
American tends to abandon /t/ for /d/, as in /Sadd'y/ (=Saturday) and
/siddup/ (=sit up), and to get rid of /h/, as in "ware-zee?" (=where
is he?). But here we invade the vulgar speech, which belongs to the
next chapter. [Pg173]

Among the vowels the most salient difference between English and
American pronunciation, of course, is marked off by the flat American
/a/. This flat /a/, as we have seen, has been under attack at home for
nearly a century. The New Englanders, very sensitive to English
example, substitute a broad /a/ that is even broader than the English,
and an /a/ of the same sort survives in the South in a few words,
/e. g./, /master/, /tomato/ and /tassel/, but everywhere else in the
country the flat /a/ prevails. Fashion and the example of the stage
oppose it,[89] and it is under the ban of an active wing of
schoolmasters, but it will not down. To the average American, indeed,
the broad /a/ is a banner of affectation, and he associates it
unpleasantly with spats, Harvard, male tea-drinking, wrist watches and
all the other objects of his social suspicion. He gets the flat sound,
not only into such words as /last/, /calf/, /dance/ and /pastor/, but
even into /piano/ and /drama/. /Drama/ is sometimes /drayma/ west of
Connecticut, but almost never /drahma/ or /drawma/. /Tomato/ with the
/a/ of /bat/, may sometimes borrow the /a/ of /plate/, but /tomahto/
is confined to New England and the South. /Hurrah/, in American, has
also borrowed the /a/ of /plate/; one hears /hurray/ much oftener than
/hurraw/. Even /amen/ frequently shows that /a/, though not when sung.
Curiously enough, it is displaced in /patent/ by the true flat /a/.
The English rhyme the first syllable of the word with /rate/; in
America it always rhymes with /rat/.

The broad /a/ is not only almost extinct outside of New England; it
begins to show signs of decay even there. At all events, it has
gradually disappeared from many words, and is measurably less sonorous
in those in which it survives than it used to be. A century ago it
appeared, not only in /dance/, /aunt/, /glass/, /past/, etc., but also
in /Daniel/, /imagine/, /rational/ and /travel/.[90] And in 1857
Oliver Wendell Holmes reported it in /matter/, /handsome/,
/caterpillar/, /apple/ and /satisfaction/. It has been displaced in
virtually all of these, even in the most remote reaches of the back
country, [Pg174] by the national flat /a/. Grandgent[91] says that
the broad /a/ is now restricted in New England to the following

 1. when followed by /s/ or /ns/, as in /last/ and /dance/.

 2. when followed by /r/ preceding another consonant, as in /cart/.

 3. when followed by /lm/, as in /calm/.

 4. when followed by /f/, /s/ or /th/, as in /laugh/, /pass/ and

The /u/-sound also shows certain differences between English and
American usage. The English reduce the last syllable of /figure/ to
/ger/; the educated American preserves the /u/-sound as in /nature/.
The English make the first syllable of /courteous/ rhyme with /fort/;
the American standard rhymes it with /hurt/. The English give an
/oo/-sound to the /u/ of /brusque/; in America the word commonly
rhymes with /tusk/. A /u/-sound, as everyone knows, gets into the
American pronunciation of /clerk/, by analogy with /insert/; the
English cling to a broad /a/-sound, by analogy with /hearth/. Even the
latter, in the United States, is often pronounced to rhyme with
/dearth/. The American, in general, is much less careful than the
Englishman to preserve the shadowy /y/-sound before /u/ in words of
the /duke/-class. He retains it in /few/, but surely not in /new/. Nor
in /duke/, /blue/, /stew/, /due/, /duty/ and /true/. Nor even in
/Tuesday/. Purists often attack the simple /oo/-sound. In 1912, for
example, the Department of Education of New York City warned all the
municipal high-school teachers to combat it.[92] But it is doubtful
that one pupil in a hundred was thereby induced to insert the /y/ in
/induced/. Finally there is /lieutenant/. The Englishman pronounces
the first syllable /left/; the American invariably makes it /loot/.
White says that the prevailing American pronunciation is relatively
recent. "I never heard it," he reports, "in my boyhood."[93] He was
born in New York in 1821.

The /i/-sound presents several curious differences. The English make
it long in all words of the /hostile/-class; in America it is commonly
short, even in /puerile/. The English also lengthen it in /sliver/; in
America the word usually rhymes with /liver/. The [Pg175] short /i/,
in England, is almost universally substituted for the /e/ in /pretty/,
and this pronunciation is also inculcated in most American schools,
but I often hear an unmistakable /e/-sound in the United States,
making the first syllable rhyme with /bet/. Contrariwise, most
Americans put the short /i/ into /been/, making it rhyme with /sin/.
In England it shows a long /e/-sound, as in /seen/. A recent poem by
an English poet makes the word rhyme with /submarine/, /queen/ and
/unseen/.[94] The /o/-sound, in American, tends to convert itself into
an /aw/-sound. /Cog/ still retains a pure /o/, but one seldom hears it
in /log/ or /dog/. Henry James denounces this "flatly-drawling group"
in "The Question of Our Speech,"[95] and cites /gawd/, /dawg/,
/sawft/, /lawft/, /gawne/, /lawst/ and /frawst/ as horrible examples.
But the English themselves are not guiltless of the same fault. Many
of the accusations that James levels at American, in truth, are echoed
by Robert Bridges in "A Tract on the Present State of English
Pronunciation." Both spend themselves upon opposing what, at bottom,
are probably natural and inevitable movements--for example, the
gradual decay of all the vowels to one of neutral color, represented
by the /e/ of /danger/, the /u/ of /suggest/, the second /o/ of
/common/ and the /a/ of /prevalent/. This decay shows itself in many
languages. In both English and High German, during their middle
periods, all the terminal vowels degenerated to /e/--now sunk to the
aforesaid neutral vowel in many German words, and expunged from
English altogether. The same sound is encountered in languages so
widely differing otherwise as Arabic, French and Swedish. "Its
existence," says Sayce, "is a sign of age and decay; meaning has
become more important than outward form, and the educated intelligence
no longer demands a clear pronunciation in order to understand what is

All these differences between English and American pronunciation,
separately considered, seem slight, but in the aggregate they are
sufficient to place serious impediments between mutual [Pg176]
comprehension. Let an Englishman and an American (not of New England)
speak a quite ordinary sentence, "My aunt can't answer for my dancing
the lancers even passably," and at once the gap separating the two
pronunciations will be manifest. Here only the /a/ is involved. Add a
dozen everyday words--/military/, /schedule/, /trait/, /hostile/,
/been/, /lieutenant/, /patent/, /nephew/, /secretary/, /advertisement/,
and so on--and the strangeness of one to the other is augmented. "Every
Englishman visiting the States for the first time," said an English
dramatist some time ago, "has a difficulty in making himself understood.
He often has to repeat a remark or a request two or three times to make
his meaning clear, especially on railroads, in hotels and at bars. The
American visiting England for the first time has the same trouble."[97]
Despite the fact that American actors imitate English pronunciation to
the best of their skill, this visiting Englishman asserted that the
average American audience is incapable of understanding a genuinely
English company, at least "when the speeches are rattled off in
conversational style." When he presented one of his own plays with an
English company, he said, many American acquaintances, after witnessing
the performance, asked him to lend them the manuscript, "that they might
visit it again with some understanding of the dialogue."[98]


[1] In Passing English of the Victorian Era; London, n. d., p. 68.

[2] The Oxford Dictionary, following the late J. H. Trumbull, the
well-known authority on Indian languages, derives the word from the
Algonquin /cau-cau-as-u/, one who advises. But most other authorities,
following Pickering, derive it from /caulkers/. The first caucuses, it
would appear, were held in a caulkers' shop in Boston, and were called
/caulkers' meetings/. The Rev. William Gordon, in his History of the
Rise and Independence of the United States, Including the Late War,
published in London in 1788, said that "more than fifty years ago Mr.
Samuel Adams' father and twenty others, one or two from the north end
of the town [Boston], where the ship business is carried on, used to
meet, make a /caucus/, and lay their plans for introducing certain
persons into places of trust and power."

[3] Americanisms Old and New; p. vii.

[4] A. Cleveland Coxe: Americanisms in England, /Forum/, Oct. 1886.

[5] Reprinted, in part, in the /New York Sun/, May 12, 1918.

[6] Vol. xiv. pp. 507, 512.

[7] In this connection it is curious to note that, though the raccoon
is an animal quite unknown in England, there was, until lately, a
destroyer called the /Raccoon/ in the British Navy. This ship was lost
with all hands off the Irish coast, Jan. 9, 1918.

[8] The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage; London, 1913, p. 9.
/To bluff/ has also gone into other languages, notably the Spanish.
During the Cuban revolution of March, 1917, the newspapers of Havana,
objecting to the dispatches sent out by American correspondents,
denounced the latter as /los blofistas/. Meanwhile, /to bluff/ has
been shouldered out in the country of its origin, at least
temporarily, by a verb borrowed from the French, /to camouflage/. This
first appeared in the Spring of 1917.

[9] Book iv, ch. iii. The first of the six volumes was published in
1858 and the last in 1865.

[10] Words and Their Use, new ed.; New York, 1876, p. 198.

[11] Boston, 1918, pp. 1-43.

[12] /Green Book Magazine/, Nov., 1913, p. 768.

[13] An interesting note on this characteristic is in College Words
and Phrases, by Eugene H. Babbitt, /Dialect Notes/, vol. ii, pt. i, p.

[14] America's Coming of Age; p. 15.

[15] March 26, 1918, pp. 4376-7.

[16] Jan. 14, 1918, p. 903.

[17] Mr. Campbell, of Kansas, in the House, Jan. 19, 1918, p. 1134.

[18] Mr. Hamlin, of Missouri, in the House, Jan. 19, 1918, p. 1154.

[19] Mr. Kirby, of Arkansas, in the Senate, Jan. 24, 1918, p. 1291;
Mr. Lewis, of Illinois, in the Senate, June 6, 1918, p. 8024.

[20] Mr. Weeks of Massachusetts, in the Senate, Jan. 17, 1918, p. 988.

[21] Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, in the Senate, Jan. 17, 1918, p.

[22] Mr. Borland, of Missouri, in the House, Jan. 29, 1918, p. 1501.

[23] May 4, 1917, p. 1853.

[24] Mr. Snyder, of New York, Dec. 11, 1917.

[25] /Balled-up/ and its verb, /to ball up/, were originally somewhat
improper, no doubt on account of the slang significance of /ball/, but
of late they have made steady progress toward polite acceptance.

[26] After the passage of the first War Revenue Act cigar-boxes began
to bear this inscription: "The contents of this box have been /taxed
paid/ as cigars of Class B as indicated by the Internal Revenue stamp
affixed." Even /tax-paid/, which was later substituted, is obviously
better than this clumsy double inflection.

[27] Mr. Bankhead, of Alabama, in the Senate, May 14, 1918, p. 6995.

[28] /Bust/ seems to be driving out /burst/ completely when used
figuratively. Even in a literal sense it creeps into more or less
respectable usage. Thus I find "a /busted/ tire" in a speech by Gen.
Sherwood, of Ohio, in the House, Jan. 24, 1918. The familiar American
derivative, /buster/, as in /Buster Brown/, is unknown to the English.

[29] Pp. 133-154.

[30] L. Pearsall Smith, in The English Language, p. 29, says that "the
differentiation is ... so complicated that it can hardly be mastered
by those born in parts of the British Islands in which it has not yet
been established"--/e. g./, all of Ireland and most of Scotland.

[31] Quoted by White, in Words and Their Uses, pp. 264-5. White,
however, dissented vigorously and devoted 10 pages to explaining the
difference between the two auxiliaries. Most of the other authorities
of the time were also against Marsh--for example, Richard Meade Bache
(See his Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech, p. 92 /et seq./). Sir
Edmund Head, governor-general of Canada from 1854 to 1861, wrote a
whole book upon the subject: /Shall/ and /Will/, or Two Chapters on
Future Auxiliary Verbs; London, 1856.

[32] The probable influence of Irish immigration upon the American
usage is not to be overlooked. Joyce says flatly (English As We Speak
It in Ireland, p. 77) that, "like many another Irish idiom this is
also found in American society chiefly through the influence of the
Irish." At all events, the Irish example must have reinforced it. In
Ireland "/Will/ I light the fire, ma'am?" is colloquially sound.

[33] Often with such amusing results as "/whom/ is your father?" and
"/whom/ spoke to me?" The exposure of excesses of that sort always
attracts the wits, especially Franklin P. Adams.

[34] "It is /I/" is quite as unsound historically. The correct form
would be "it /am/ I" or "I am it." Compare the German: "ich /bin/ es,"
not, "es /ist/ ich."

[35] A common direction to motormen and locomotive engineers. The
English form is "slow down." I note, however, that "drive slow/ly/" is
in the taxicab shed at the Pennsylvania Station, in New York.

[36] I quote from a speech made by Senator Sherman, of Illinois, in
the United States Senate on June 20, 1918. /Vide/ /Congressional
Record/ for that day, p. 8743. Two days later, "There is no question
/but/ that" appeared in a letter by John Lee Coulter, A.M., Ph.D.,
dean of West Virginia University. It was read into the /Record/ of
June 22 by Mr. Ashwell, one of the Louisiana representatives. Even the
pedantic Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, oozing Harvard from every pore,
uses /but that/. /Vide/ the /Record/ for May 14, 1918, p. 6996.

[37] June 15, 1918, p. 62.

[38] The English Language, p. 79.

[39] This phrase, of course, is a Briticism, and seldom used in
America. The American form is "to take a matter up."

[40] P. 30.

[41] A Contribution /Towards/, etc., by Prof. H. Tallichet, vol. 1,
pt. iv.

[42] /Yale Review/, April, 1918, p. 545.

[43] I Speak United States, /Saturday Review/, Sept. 22, 1894.

[44] Our Dictionaries, pp. 84-86.

[45] Should Language Be Abolished? by Harold Goddard, /Atlantic
Monthly/, July, 1918, p. 63.

[46] In Yiddish, /ish ka bibble/. The origin and meaning of the phrase
have been variously explained. The prevailing notion seems to be that
it is a Yiddish corruption of the German /nicht gefiedelt/ (=/not
fiddled/=/not flustered/). But this seems to me to be fanciful. To the
Jews /ish/ is obviously the first personal pronoun and /kaa/ probably
corruption of /kann/. As for /bibble/ I suspect that it is the
offspring of /bedibbert/ (=/embarrassed/, /intimidated/). The phrase
thus has an ironical meaning, /I should be embarrassed/, almost
precisely equivalent to /I should worry/.

[47] All of which, of course, are coming into American, along with
many other Yiddish words. These words tend to spread far beyond the
areas actually settled by Jews. Thus I find /mazuma/ in A Word-List
from Kansas, from the collectanea of Judge J. C. Ruppenthal, of
Russell, Kansas, /Dialect Notes/, vol. iv. pt. v, 1916, p. 322.

[48] Louise Pound: Domestication of the Suffix /-fest/, /Dialect
Notes/, vol. iv, pt. v, 1916. Dr. Pound, it should be mentioned, has
also printed a brief note on /-inski/. Her observation of American is
peculiarly alert and accurate.

[49] For example, see the /Congressional Record/ for April 3, 1918, p.

[50] /Paprika/ is in the Standard Dictionary, but I have been unable
to find it in any English dictionary. Another such word is /kimono/,
from the Japanese.

[51] /Cf./ Vogue Affixes in Present-Day Word-Coinage, by Louise Pound,
/Dialect Notes/, vol. v, pt. i, 1918. Dr. Pound ascribes the vogue of
/super-/ to German influences, and is inclined to think that /-dom/
may be helped by the German /-thum/.

[52] /Vide/ Pennsylvania Dutch, by S. S. Haldeman; Philadelphia, 1872.
Also, The Pennsylvania German Dialect, by M. D. Learned; Baltimore,
1889. Also Die Zukunft deutscher Bildung in Amerika, by O. E. Lessing,
/Monatshefte für deutsche Sprache und Pedagogik/, Dec., 1916. Also,
Where Do You Stand? by Herman Hagedorn; New York, 1918, pp. 106-7.
Also, On the German Dialect Spoken in the Valley of Virginia, by H. M.
Hays, /Dialect Notes/, vol. iii, pt. iv, 1908, pp. 263-78.

[53] /Vide/ Notes on American-Norwegian, by Nils Flaten, /Dialect
Notes/, vol. ii, 1900. Also, for similar corruptions, The Jersey Dutch
Dialect, by J. Dyneley Prince, /ibid./, vol. iii, pt. vi, 1910, pp.
461-84. Also, see under Hempl, Flom, Bibaud, Buies and A. M. Elliott
in the bibliography.

[54] For all these examples of American Yiddish I am indebted to the
kindness of Abraham Cahan, editor of the /Jewish Daily Forward/. Mr.
Cahan is not only editor of the chief Yiddish newspaper of the United
States, but also an extraordinarily competent writer of English, as
his novel, The Rise of David Levinsky, demonstrates.

[55] What Americans Talk in the Philippines, /American Review of
Reviews/, Aug., 1913.

[56] /Cf./ The English of the Lower Classes in New York City and
Vicinity, /Dialect Notes/, vol. i, pt. ix, 1896. It is curious to note
that the same corruption occurs in the Spanish spoken in Santo
Domingo. The Dominicans thus change /porque/ into /poique/. /Cf./
Santo Domingo, by Otto Schoenrich; New York, 1918, p. 172. See also
High School Circular No. 17, Dept. of Education, City of New York,
June 19, 1912, p. 6.

[57] The American People, 2 vols.; New York, 1909-11, vol. ii, pp.
449-50. For a discussion of this effect of contact with foreigners
upon a language see also Beach-la-Mar, by William Churchill;
Washington, 1911, p. 11 /et seq./

[58] /Vide/ Lounsbury: The Standard of Usage in English, pp. 65-7.

[59] For an exhaustive discussion of these formations /cf./ Clipped
Words, by Elizabeth Wittman, /Dialect Notes/, vol. iv, pt. ii, 1914.

[60] Americanisms Old and New, p. 1.

[61] /Cf./ Semi-Secret Abbreviations, by Percy W. Long, /Dialect
Notes/, vol. iv, pt. iii, 1915.

[62] The classical example is in a parliamentary announcement by Sir
Robert Peel: "When that question is made to me in a proper time, in a
proper place, under proper qualifications, and with proper motives, I
will hesitate long before I will refuse to take it into

[63] /Cf./ On the Art of Writing, by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch; p. 100
/et seq./

[64] This use of /tenderloin/ is ascribed to Alexander (alias
"Clubber") Williams, a New York police captain. /Vide/ the /New York
Sun/, July 11, 1913. Williams, in 1876, was transferred from an
obscure precinct to West Thirtieth Street. "I've been having chuck
steak ever since I've been on the force," he said, "and now I'm going
to have a bit of tenderloin." "The name," says the /Sun/, "has endured
more than a generation, moving with the changed amusement geography of
the city, and has been adopted in all parts of the country."

[65] /New York Evening Mail/, Feb. 2, 1918, p. 1.

[66] Horizons, by Francis Hackett; New York, 1918, p. 53.

[67] It has even got into the Continental languages. In October, 1917,
the Verband Deutscher Amateurphotographen-Vereine was moved to issue
the following warning: "Es gibt kein deutschen /Kodaks/. /Kodak/, als
Sammelname für photographische Erzeugnisse ist falsch und bezeichnet
nur die Fabrikate der Eastman-/Kodak/-Company. Wer von einem /Kodak/
spricht und nur allgemein eine photographische Kamera meint, bedenkt
nicht, dass er mit der Weiterverbreitung dieses Wortes die deutsche
Industrie zugunsten der amerikanisch-englischen schädigt."

[68] /Cf./ Word-Coinage and Modern Trade Names, by Louise Pound,
/Dialect Notes/, vol. iv, pt. i, 1913, pp. 29-41. Most of these
coinages produce derivatives, /e. g./, /bevo-officer/, /to kodak/,

[69] This conscious shortening, of course, is to be distinguished from
the shortening that goes on in words by gradual decay, as in
/Christmas/ (from /Christ's mass/) and /daisy/ (from /day's eye/).

[70] The Science of Language, vol. ii, p. 339.

[71] Daniel Jones: The Pronunciation of English, 2nd ed.; Cambridge,
1914, p. 1. Jones is lecturer in phonetics at University College,

[72] /Vide/ his Handbook of Phonetics, p. xv, /et seq./

[73] It is given in Ellis' Early English Pronunciation, p. 1293 /et
seq./ and in Sayce's The Science of Language, vol. i, p. 353 /et seq./

[74] Every-Day English, p. 29.

[75] Robert J. Menner: The Pronunciation of English in America,
/Atlantic Monthly/, March, 1915, p. 366.

[76] Words and Their Uses, p. 58.

[77] The following passage from Kipling's American Notes, ch. i, will
be recalled: "Oliver Wendell Holmes says that the Yankee schoolmarm,
the cider and the salt codfish of the Eastern states are responsible
for what he calls a nasal accent. I know better. They stole books from
across the water without paying for 'em, and the snort of delight was
fixed in their nostrils for ever by a just Providence. That is why
they talk a foreign tongue today."

[78] Lecture xxx. The English Language in America.

[79] Modern English, p. 166. /Cf./ A Desk-Book of 25,000 Words
Frequently Mispronounced, by Frank H. Vizetelly, p. 652.

[80] Lexilogus, 2nd ed.; Berlin, 1860, p. 239. An English translation
was published in London in 1846.

[81] A Desk-Book of 25,000 Words Frequently Mispronounced, p. xvi.

[82] The Pronunciation of English, p. 17.

[83] The Pronunciation of English in America, /op. cit./, p. 362.

[84] The Question of Our Speech, p. 29 /et seq./

[85] /Cf./ The Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiv, p.

[86] Robert Bridges: A Tract on the Present State of English
Pronunciation; Oxford, 1913.

[87] An interesting discussion of this peculiarity is in Some Variant
Pronunciations in the New South, by William A. Read, /Dialect Notes/,
vol. iii, pt. vii, 1911, p. 504 /et seq./

[88] Hugh Mearns: Our Own, Our Native Speech, /McClure's Magazine/,
Oct., 1916.

[89] The American actor imitates, not only English pronunciation in
all its details, but also English dress and bearing. His struggles
with such words as /extraordinary/ are often very amusing.

[90] /Cf./ Duncan Mackintosh: Essai Raisonné sur la Grammaire et la
Pronunciation Anglais; Boston, 1797.

[91] Fashion and the Broad /A/, /Nation/, Jan 7, 1915.

[92] High School Circular No. 17, June 19, 1912.

[93] Every-Day English, p. 243.

[94] Open Boats, by Alfred Noyes, New York, 1917, pp. 89-91.

[95] P. 30.

[96] The Science of Language, vol. i, p. 259.

[97] B. MacDonald Hastings, /New York Tribune/, Jan. 19, 1913.

[98] Various minor differences between English and American
pronunciation, not noted here, are discussed in British and American
Pronunciation, by Louise Pound, /School Review/, vol. xxiii, no. 6,
June, 1915.



The Common Speech

§ 1

/Grammarians and Their Ways/--So far, in the main, the language
examined has been of a relatively pretentious and self-conscious
variety--the speech, if not always of formal discourse, then at least
of literate men. Most of the examples of its vocabulary and idiom, in
fact, have been drawn from written documents or from written reports
of more or less careful utterances, for example, the speeches of
members of Congress and of other public men. The whole of Thornton's
excellent material is of this character. In his dictionary there is
scarcely a locution that is not supported by printed examples.

It must be obvious that such materials, however lavishly set forth,
cannot exhibit the methods and tendencies of a living speech with
anything approaching completeness, nor even with accuracy. What men
put into writing and what they say when they take sober thought are
very far from what they utter in everyday conversation. All of us, no
matter how careful our speech habits, loosen the belt a bit, so to
speak, when we speak familiarly to our fellows, and pay a good deal
less heed to precedents and proprieties, perhaps, than we ought to. It
was a sure instinct that made Ibsen put "bad grammar" into the mouth
of Nora Helmar in "A Doll's House." She is a general's daughter and
the wife of a professor, but even professor's wives are not above
occasional bogglings of the cases of pronouns and the conjugations of
verbs. The professors themselves, in truth, must have the same habit,
for sometimes they show plain signs of it in print. More than once,
plowing through profound and interminable treatises of grammar and
syntax in [Pg178] preparation for the present work, I have
encountered the cheering spectacle of one grammarian exposing, with
contagious joy, the grammatical lapses of some other grammarian. And
nine times out of ten, a few pages further on, I have found the
enchanted purist erring himself.[1] The most funereal of the sciences
is saved from utter horror by such displays of human malice and
fallibility. Speech itself, indeed, would become almost impossible if
the grammarians could follow their own rules unfailingly, and were
always right.

But here we are among the learned; and their sins, when detected and
exposed, are at least punished by conscience. What are of more
importance, to those interested in language as a living thing, are the
offendings of the millions who are not conscious of any wrong. It is
among these millions, ignorant of regulation and eager only to express
their ideas clearly and forcefully, that language undergoes its great
changes and constantly renews its vitality. These are the genuine
makers of grammar, marching miles ahead of the formal grammarians.
Like the Emperor Sigismund, each man among them may well say: "/Ego
sum ... super grammaticam/." It is competent for any individual to
offer his contribution--his new word, his better idiom, his novel
figure of speech, his short cut in grammar or syntax--and it is by the
general vote of the whole body, not by the verdict of a small school,
that the fate of the innovation is decided. As Brander Matthews says,
there is not even representative government in the matter; the /posse
comitatus/ decides directly, and despite the sternest protest,
finally. The ignorant, the rebellious and the daring come forward with
their brilliant barbarisms; the learned and conservative bring up
their objections. "And when both sides have been heard, there is a
show of hands; and by this the irrevocable decision of the community
itself is rendered."[2] Thus it was that the Romance languages were
fashioned out of the wreck of Latin, the vast [Pg179] influence of
the literate minority to the contrary notwithstanding. Thus it was,
too, that English lost its case inflections and many of its old
conjugations, and that our /yes/ came to be substituted for the
/gea-se/ (=/so be it/) of an earlier day, and that we got rid of
/whom/ after /man/ in /the man I saw/, and that our stark pronoun of
the first person was precipitated from the German /ich/. And thus it
is that, in our own day, the language faces forces in America which,
not content with overhauling and greatly enriching its materials, now
threaten to work changes in its very structure.

Where these tendencies run strongest, of course, is on the plane of
the vulgar spoken language. Among all classes the everyday speech
departs very far from orthodox English, and even very far from any
recognizable spoken English, but among those lower classes which make
up the great body of the people it gets so far from orthodox English
that it gives promise, soon or late, of throwing off its old bonds
altogether, or, at any rate, all save the loosest of them. Behind it
is the gigantic impulse that I have described in earlier chapters: the
impulse of an egoistic and iconoclastic people, facing a new order of
life in highly self-conscious freedom, to break a relatively stable
language, long since emerged from its period of growth, to their novel
and multitudinous needs, and, above all, to their experimental and
impatient spirit. This impulse, it must be plain, would war fiercely
upon any attempt at formal regulation, however prudent and elastic; it
is often rebellious for the mere sake of rebellion. But what it comes
into conflict with, in America, is nothing so politic, and hence
nothing so likely to keep the brakes upon it. What it actually
encounters here is a formalism that is artificial, illogical and
almost unintelligible--a formalism borrowed from English grammarians,
and by them brought into English, against all fact and reason, from
the Latin. "In most of our grammars, perhaps in all of those issued
earlier than the opening of the twentieth century," says Matthews, "we
find linguistic laws laid down which are in blank contradiction with
the genius of the language."[3] In brief, the American [Pg180]
school-boy, hauled before a pedagogue to be instructed in the
structure and organization of the tongue he speaks, is actually
instructed in the structure and organization of a tongue that he never
hears at all, and seldom reads, and that, in more than one of the
characters thus set before him, does not even exist.

The effects of this are two-fold. On the one hand he conceives an
antipathy to a subject so lacking in intelligibility and utility. As
one teacher puts it, "pupils tire of it; often they see nothing in it,
because there /is/ nothing in it."[4] And on the other hand, the
school-boy goes entirely without sympathetic guidance in the living
language that he actually speaks, in and out of the classroom, and
that he will probably speak all the rest of his life. All he hears in
relation to it is a series of sneers and prohibitions, most of them
grounded, not upon principles deduced from its own nature, but upon
its divergences from the theoretical language that he is so
unsuccessfully taught. The net result is that all the instruction he
receives passes for naught. It is not sufficient to make him a master
of orthodox English and it is not sufficient to rid him of the
speech-habits of his home and daily life. Thus he is thrown back upon
these speech-habits without any helpful restraint or guidance, and
they make him a willing ally of the radical and often extravagant
tendencies which show themselves in the vulgar tongue. In other words,
the very effort to teach him an excessively tight and formal English
promotes his use of a loose and rebellious English. And so the
grammarians, with the traditional fatuity of their order, labor for
the destruction of the grammar they defend, and for the decay of all
those refinements of speech that go with it.

The folly of this system, of course, has not failed to attract the
attention of the more intelligent teachers, nor have they failed to
observe the causes of its failure. "Much of the fruitlessness of the
study of English grammar," says Wilcox,[5] "and many of the obstacles
encountered in its study are due to 'the difficulties created by the
grammarians.' These difficulties arise chiefly from three
sources--excessive classification, multiplication of terms for a
single conception, and the attempt to treat the English language as if
it were highly inflected." So long ago as the 60's Richard Grant White
began an onslaught upon all such punditic stupidities. He saw clearly
that "the attempt to treat English as if it were highly inflected" was
making its intelligent study almost impossible, and proposed boldly
that all English grammar-books be burned.[6] Of late his ideas have
begun to gain a certain acceptance, and as the literature of
denunciation has grown[7] the grammarians have been constrained to
overhaul their texts. When I was a school-boy, during the penultimate
decade of the last century, the chief American grammar was "A
Practical Grammar of the English Language," by Thomas W. Harvey.[8]
This formidable work was almost purely synthetical: it began with a
long series of definitions, wholly unintelligible to a child, and
proceeded into a maddening maze of pedagogical distinctions, puzzling
even to an adult. The latter-day grammars, at least those for the
elementary schools, are far more analytical and logical. For example,
there is "Longmans' Briefer Grammar," by George J. Smith,[9] a text
now in very wide use. This book starts off, not with page after page
of abstractions, but with a well-devised examination of the complete
sentence, and the characters and relations of the parts of speech are
very simply and clearly developed. But before the end the author
begins to succumb to precedent, and on page 114 I find [Pg182]
paragraph after paragraph of such dull, flyblown pedantry as this:

 Some Intransitive Verbs are used to link the Subject and some
 Adjective or Noun. These Verbs are called Copulative Verbs, and the
 Adjective or Noun is called the Attribute.

 The Attribute always describes or denotes the person or thing denoted
 by the Subject.

 Verbals are words that are derived from Verbs and express action or
 being without asserting it. Infinitives and Participles are Verbals.

And so on. Smith, in his preface, says that his book is intended, "not
so much to 'cover' the subject of grammar as to /teach/ it," and calls
attention to the fact, somewhat proudly, that he has omitted "the
rather hard subject of gerunds," all mention of conjunctive adverbs,
and even the conjugation of verbs. Nevertheless, he immerses himself
in the mythical objective case of nouns on page 108, and does not
emerge until the end.[10] "The New-Webster-Cooley Course in
English,"[11] another popular text, carries reform a step further. The
subject of case is approached through the personal pronouns, where it
retains its only surviving intelligibility, and the more lucid /object
form/ is used in place of /objective case/. Moreover, the pupil is
plainly informed, later on, that "a noun has in reality but two
case-forms: a possessive and a common case-form." This is the best
concession to the facts yet made by a text-book grammarian. But no one
familiar with the habits of the pedagogical mind need be told that its
interior pull is against even such mild and obvious reforms. Defenders
of the old order are by no means silent; a fear seems to prevail that
grammar, robbed of its imbecile classifications, may collapse
entirely. Wilcox records how the Council of English Teachers of New
Jersey, but a few years ago, spoke out boldly for the recognition of
no less than five cases [Pg183] in English. "Why five?" asks Wilcox.
"Why not eight, or ten, or even thirteen? Undoubtedly because there
are five cases in Latin."[12] Most of the current efforts at
improvement, in fact, tend toward a mere revision and multiplication
of classifications; the pedant is eternally convinced that
pigeon-holing and relabelling are contributions to knowledge. A
curious proof in point is offered by a pamphlet entitled
"Reorganization of English in Secondary Schools," compiled by James
Fleming Hosic and issued by the National Bureau of Education.[13] The
aim of this pamphlet is to rid the teaching of English, including
grammar, of its accumulated formalism and ineffectiveness--to make it
genuine instruction instead of a pedantic and meaningless routine. And
how is this revolutionary aim set forth? By a meticulous and merciless
splitting of hairs, a gigantic manufacture of classifications and
sub-classifications, a colossal display of professorial bombast and

I could cite many other examples. Perhaps, after all, the disease is
incurable. What such laborious stupidity shows at bottom is simply
this: that the sort of man who is willing to devote his life to
teaching grammar to children, or to training school-marms to do it, is
not often the sort of man who is intelligent enough to do it
competently. In particular, he is not often intelligent enough to
grapple with the fluent and ever-amazing permutations of a living and
rebellious speech. The only way he can grapple with it at all is by
first reducing it to a fixed and formal organization--in brief, by
first killing it and embalming it. The difference in the resultant
proceedings is not unlike that between a gross dissection and a
surgical operation. The difficulties of the former are quickly
mastered by any student of normal sense, but even the most casual of
laparotomies calls for a man of special skill and address. Thus the
elementary study of the national language, at least in America, is
almost monopolized by dullards. Children are taught it by men and
women who observe it inaccurately and expound it ignorantly. In most
other fields the pedagogue meets a certain corrective competition and
[Pg184] criticism. The teacher of any branch of applied mathematics,
for example, has practical engineers at his elbow and they quickly
expose and denounce his defects; the college teacher of chemistry,
however limited his equipment, at least has the aid of text-books
written by actual chemists. But English, even in its most formal
shapes, is chiefly taught by those who cannot write it decently and
who get no aid from those who can. One wades through treatise after
treatise on English style by pedagogues whose own style is atrocious.
A Huxley or a Stevenson might have written one of high merit and
utility--but Huxley and Stevenson had other fish to fry, and so the
business was left to Prof. Balderdash. Consider the standard texts on
prosody--vast piles of meaningless words--hollow babble about
spondees, iambics, trochees and so on--idiotic borrowings from dead
languages. Two poets, Poe and Lanier, blew blasts of fresh air through
that fog, but they had no successors, and it has apparently closed in
again. In the department of prose it lies wholly unbroken; no
first-rate writer of English prose has ever written a text-book upon
the art of writing it.

§ 2

/Spoken American As It Is/--But here I wander afield. The art of prose
has little to do with the stiff and pedantic English taught in
grammar-schools and a great deal less to do with the loose and lively
English spoken by the average American in his daily traffic. The thing
of importance is that the two differ from each other even more than
they differ from the English of a Huxley or a Stevenson. The
school-marm, directed by grammarians, labors heroically, but all her
effort goes for naught. The young American, like the youngster of any
other race, inclines irresistibly toward the dialect that he hears at
home, and that dialect, with its piquant neologisms, its high disdain
of precedent, its complete lack of self-consciousness, is almost the
antithesis of the hard and stiff speech that is expounded out of
books. It derives its principles, not from the subtle logic [Pg185]
of learned and stupid men, but from the rough-and-ready logic of every
day. It has a vocabulary of its own, a syntax of its own, even a
grammar of its own. Its verbs are conjugated in a way that defies all
the injunctions of the grammar books; it has its contumacious rules of
tense, number and case; it has boldly re-established the double
negative, once sound in English; it admits double comparatives,
confusions in person, clipped infinitives; it lays hands on the
vowels, changing them to fit its obscure but powerful spirit; it
disdains all the finer distinctions between the parts of speech.

This highly virile and defiant dialect, and not the fossilized English
of the school-marm and her books, is the speech of the Middle American
of Joseph Jacobs' composite picture--the mill-hand in a small city of
Indiana, with his five years of common schooling behind him, his
diligent reading of newspapers, and his proud membership in the Order
of Foresters and the Knights of the Maccabees.[14] Go into any part of
the country, North, East, South or West, and you will find multitudes
of his brothers--car conductors in Philadelphia, immigrants of the
second generation in the East Side of New York, iron-workers in the
Pittsburgh region, corner grocers in St. Louis, holders of petty
political jobs in Atlanta and New Orleans, small farmers in Kansas or
Kentucky, house carpenters in Ohio, tinners and plumbers in
Chicago,--genuine Americans all, hot for the home team, marchers in
parades, readers of the yellow newspapers, fathers of families, sheep
on election day, undistinguished norms of the /Homo Americanus/. Such
typical Americans, after a fashion, know English. They can read
it--all save the "hard" words, /i. e./, all save about 90 per cent of
the words of Greek and Latin origin.[15] They can understand perhaps
two-thirds of it as it comes from the lips of a political orator or
clergyman. They have a feeling that it is, in some recondite sense,
superior to the common speech of their kind. They recognize a fluent
command of it as the salient mark of a "smart" and [Pg186] "educated"
man, one with "the gift of gab." But they themselves never speak it or
try to speak it, nor do they look with approbation on efforts in that
direction by their fellows.

In no other way, indeed, is the failure of popular education made more
vividly manifest. Despite a gigantic effort to enforce certain speech
habits, universally in operation from end to end of the country, the
masses of the people turn almost unanimously to very different speech
habits, nowhere advocated and seldom so much as even accurately
observed. The literary critic, Francis Hackett, somewhere speaks of
"the enormous gap between the literate and unliterate American." He is
apparently the first to call attention to it. It is the national
assumption that no such gap exists--that all Americans, at least if
they be white, are so outfitted with sagacity in the public schools
that they are competent to consider any public question intelligently
and to follow its discussion with understanding. But the truth is, of
course, that the public school accomplishes no such magic. The
inferior man, in America as elsewhere, remains an inferior man despite
the hard effort made to improve him, and his thoughts seldom if ever
rise above the most elemental concerns. What lies above not only does
not interest him; it actually excites his derision, and he has coined
a unique word, /high-brow/, to express his view of it. Especially in
speech is he suspicious of superior pretension. The school-boy of the
lower orders would bring down ridicule upon himself, and perhaps
criticism still more devastating, if he essayed to speak what his
teachers conceive to be correct English, or even correct American,
outside the school-room. On the one hand his companions would laugh at
him as a prig, and on the other hand his parents would probably cane
him as an impertinent critic of their own speech. Once he has made his
farewell to the school-marm, all her diligence in this department goes
for nothing.[16] The boys with whom he plays baseball speak a tongue
that is not the one taught in school, and so do the youths with whom
he will begin learning a trade tomorrow, and the girl he will marry
later on, and the saloon-keepers, star pitchers, vaudeville comedians,
business [Pg187] sharpers and political mountebanks he will look up
to and try to imitate all the rest of his life.

So far as I can discover, there has been but one attempt by a
competent authority to determine the special characters of this
general tongue of the /mobile vulgus/. That authority is Dr. W. W.
Charters, now head of the School of Education at the University of
Illinois. In 1914 Dr. Charters was dean of the faculty of education
and professor of the theory of teaching in the University of Missouri,
and one of the problems he was engaged upon was that of the teaching
of grammar. In the course of this study he encountered the theory that
such instruction should be confined to the rules habitually
violated--that the one aim of teaching grammar was to correct the
speech of the pupils, and that it was useless to harass them with
principles which they already instinctively observed. Apparently
inclining to this somewhat dubious notion, Dr. Charters applied to the
School Board of Kansas City for permission to undertake an examination
of the language actually used by the children in the elementary
schools of that city, and this permission was granted. The materials
thereupon gathered were of two classes. First, the teachers of grades
III to VII inclusive in all the Kansas City public-schools were
instructed to turn over to Dr. Charters all the written work of their
pupils, "ordinarily done in the regular order of school work" during a
period of four weeks. Secondly, the teachers of grades II to VII
inclusive were instructed to make note of "all oral errors in grammar
made in the school-room and around the school-building" during the
five school-days of one week, by children of any age, and to dispatch
these notes to Dr. Charters also. The result was an accumulation of
material so huge that it was unworkable with the means at hand, and so
the investigator and his assistants reduced it. Of the oral reports,
two studies were made, the first of those from grades III and VII and
the second of those from grades VI and VII. Of the written reports,
only those from grades VI and VII of twelve typical schools were

The ages thus covered ran from nine or ten to fourteen or fifteen, and
perhaps five-sixths of the material studied came from [Pg188]
children above twelve. Its examination threw a brilliant light upon
the speech actually employed by children near the end of their
schooling in a typical American city, and, /per corollary/, upon the
speech employed by their parents and other older associates. If
anything, the grammatical and syntactical habits revealed were a bit
less loose than those of the authentic /Volkssprache/, for practically
all of the written evidence was gathered under conditions which
naturally caused the writers to try to write what they conceived to be
correct English, and even the oral evidence was conditioned by the
admonitory presence of the teachers. Moreover, it must be obvious that
a child of the lower classes, during the period of its actual study of
grammar, probably speaks better English than at any time before or
afterward, for it is only then that any positive pressure is exerted
upon it to that end. But even so, the departures from standard usage
that were unearthed were numerous and striking, and their tendency to
accumulate in definite groups showed plainly the working of general

Thus, no less than 57 per cent of the oral errors reported by the
teachers of grades III and VII involved the use of the verb, and
nearly half of these, or 24 per cent, of the total, involved a
confusion of the past tense form and the perfect participle. Again,
double negatives constituted 11 per cent of the errors, and the misuse
of adjectives or of adjectival forms for adverbs ran to 4 per cent.
Finally, the difficulties of the objective case among the pronouns,
the last stronghold of that case in English, were responsible for 7
per cent, thus demonstrating a clear tendency to get rid of it
altogether. Now compare the errors of these children, half of whom, as
I have just said, were in grade III, and hence wholly uninstructed in
formal grammar, with the errors made by children of the second oral
group--that is, children of grades VI and VII, in both of which
grammar is studied. Dr. Charters' tabulations show scarcely any
difference in the [Pg189] character and relative rank of the errors
discovered. Those in the use of the verb drop from 57 per cent of the
total to 52 per cent, but the double negatives remain at 7 per cent
and the errors in the case of pronouns at 11 per cent.

In the written work of grades VI and VII, however, certain changes
appear, no doubt because of the special pedagogical effort against the
more salient oral errors. The child, pen in hand, has in mind the
cautions oftenest heard, and so reveals something of that greater
exactness which all of us show when we do any writing that must bear
critical inspection. Thus, the relative frequency of confusions
between the past tense forms of verbs and the perfect participles
drops from 24 per cent to 5 per cent, and errors based on double
negatives drop to 1 per cent. But this improvement in one direction
merely serves to unearth new barbarisms in other directions, concealed
in the oral tables by the flood of errors now remedied. It is among
the verbs that they are still most numerous; altogether, the errors
here amount to exactly 50 per cent of the total. Such locutions as /I
had went/ and /he seen/ diminish relatively and absolutely, but in all
other situations the verb is treated with the lavish freedom that is
so characteristic of the American common speech. Confusions of the
past and present tenses jump from 2 per cent to 19 per cent, thus
eloquently demonstrating the tenacity of the error. And mistakes in
the forms of nouns and pronouns increase from 2 per cent to 16: a
shining proof of a shakiness which follows the slightest effort to
augment the vocabulary of everyday.

The materials collected by Dr. Charters and his associates are not, of
course, presented in full, but his numerous specimens must strike
familiar chords in every ear that is alert to the sounds and ways of
the /sermo vulgus/. What he gathered in Kansas City might have been
gathered just as well in San Francisco, or New Orleans, or Chicago, or
New York, or in Youngstown, O., or Little Rock, Ark., or Waterloo,
Iowa. In each of these places, large or small, a few localisms might
have been noted--/oi/ substituted for ur in New York, /you-all/ in the
South, a few Germanisms in Pennsylvania and in the upper Mississippi
[Pg190] Valley, a few Spanish locutions in the Southwest, certain
peculiar vowel-forms in New England--but in the main the report would
have been identical with the report he makes. That vast uniformity
which marks the people of the United States, in political doctrine, in
social habit, in general information, in reaction to ideas, in
prejudices and enthusiasms, in the veriest details of domestic custom
and dress, is nowhere more marked than in language. The incessant
neologisms of the national speech sweep the whole country almost
instantly, and the iconoclastic changes which its popular spoken form
are undergoing show themselves from coast to coast. "He hurt
/his/self," cited by Dr. Charters, is surely anything but a Missouri
localism; one hears it everywhere. And so, too, one hears "she invited
/him/ and /I/," and "it hurt /terrible/," and "I /set/ there," and
"this /here/ man," and "no, I /never, neither/", and "he /ain't/
here," and "where is he /at/?" and "it seems /like/ I remember," and
"if I /was/ you," and "/us/ fellows," and "he /give/ her hell." And
"he /taken/ and kissed her," and "he /loaned/ me a dollar," and "the
man was /found/ two dollars," and "the bee /stang/ him," and "I
/wouldda/ thought," and "/can/ I have one?" and "he got /hisn/," and
"the boss /left/ him off," and "the baby /et/ the soap," and "/them/
are the kind I like," and "he /don't/ care," and "no one has /their/
ticket," and "how /is/ the folks?" and "if you would /of gotten/ in
the car you could /of rode/ down."

Curiously enough, this widely dispersed and highly savory
dialect--already, as I shall show, come to a certain grammatical
regularity--has attracted the professional writers of the country
almost as little as it has attracted the philologists. There are
foreshadowings of it in "Huckleberry Finn," in "The Biglow Papers" and
even in the rough humor of the period that began with J. C. Neal and
company and ended with Artemus Ward and Josh Billings, but in those
early days it had not yet come to full flower; it wanted the influence
of the later immigrations to take on its present character. The
enormous dialect literature of twenty years ago left it almost
untouched. Localisms were explored diligently, but the general dialect
went virtually unobserved. It is not in "Chimmie Fadden"; it is not
in [Pg191] "David Harum"; it is not even in the pre-fable stories of
George Ade, perhaps the most acute observer of average,
undistinguished American types, urban and rustic, that American
literature has yet produced. The business of reducing it to print had
to wait for Ring W. Lardner, a Chicago newspaper reporter. In his
grotesque tales of base-ball players, so immediately and so deservedly
successful and now so widely imitated,[18] Lardner reports the common
speech not only with humor, but also with the utmost accuracy. The
observations of Charters and his associates are here reinforced by the
sharp ear of one specially competent, and the result is a mine of
authentic American.

In a single story by Lardner, in truth, it is usually possible to
discover examples of almost every logical and grammatical peculiarity
of the emerging language, and he always resists very stoutly the
temptation to overdo the thing. Here, for example, are a few typical
sentences from "The Busher's Honeymoon":[19]

 I and Florrie /was/ married the day before yesterday just /like/ I
 told you we /was/ going to be.... You /was/ wise to get married in
 Bedford, where /not nothing/ is nearly half so dear.... The sum of
 what I have /wrote/ down is $29.40.... Allen told me I /should ought/
 to give the priest $5.... I never /seen/ him before.... I didn't used
 to eat /no/ lunch in the playing season except when I /knowed/ I was
 not going to work.... I guess the meals /has/ cost me all together
 about $1.50, and I have /eat/ very little myself....

 I was willing to tell her all about /them/ two poor girls.... They
 must not be /no/ mistake about who is the boss in my house. Some men
 /lets/ their /wife/ run all over them.... Allen has /went/ to a
 college football game. One of the reporters /give/ him a pass.... He
 called up and said he /hadn't/ only the one pass, but he was not
 hurting my feelings /none/.... The flat across the hall from this
 /here/ one is for rent.... If we should /of boughten/ furniture it
 would cost us in the neighborhood of $100, even without /no/
 piano.... I consider myself lucky to /of/ found out about this before
 it was too late and somebody else had /of/ gotten the tip.... It will
 always be /ourn/, even when we move away.... Maybe you could /of did/
 better if you had /of went/ at it in a different way.... Both /her/
 and you /is/ welcome at my house.... I never /seen/ so much wine
 /drank/ in my life....


Here are specimens to fit into most of Charters' categories--verbs
confused as to tense, pronouns confused as to case, double and even
triple negatives, nouns and verbs disagreeing in number, /have/
softened to /of/, /n/ marking the possessive instead of /s/, /like/
used in place of /as/, and the personal pronoun substituted for the
demonstrative adjective. A study of the whole story would probably
unearth all the remaining errors noted in Kansas City. Lardner's
baseball player, though he has pen in hand and is on his guard, and is
thus very careful to write /would not/ instead of /wouldn't/ and even
/am not/ instead of /ain't/, offers a comprehensive and highly
instructive panorama of popular speech habits. To him the forms of the
subjunctive mood have no existence, and /will/ and /shall/ are
identical, and adjectives and adverbs are indistinguishable, and the
objective case is merely a variorum form of the nominative. His past
tense is, more often than not, the orthodox present tense. All fine
distinctions are obliterated in his speech. He uses invariably the
word that is simplest, the grammatical form that is handiest. And so
he moves toward the philological millennium dreamed of by George T.
Lanigan, when "the singular verb shall lie down with the plural noun,
and a little conjugation shall lead them."

§ 3

/The Verb/--A study of the materials amassed by Charters and Lardner,
if it be reinforced by observation of what is heard on the streets
every day, will show that the chief grammatical peculiarities of
spoken American lie among the verbs and pronouns. The nouns in common
use, in the overwhelming main, are quite sound in form. Very often, of
course, they do not belong to the vocabulary of English, but they at
least belong to the vocabulary of American: the proletariat, setting
aside transient slang, calls things by their proper names, and
pronounces those names more or less correctly. The adjectives, too,
are treated rather politely, and the adverbs, though commonly
transformed into adjectives, are not further mutilated. But the verbs
and pronouns undergo changes which set off the common speech very
[Pg193] sharply from both correct English and correct American. Their
grammatical relationships are thoroughly overhauled and sometimes they
are radically modified in form.

This process is natural and inevitable, for it is among the verbs and
pronouns, as we have seen, that the only remaining grammatical
inflections in English, at least of any force or consequence, are to
be found, and so they must bear the chief pressure of the influences
that have been warring upon all inflections since the earliest days.
The primitive Indo-European language, it is probable, had eight cases
of the noun; the oldest known Teutonic dialect reduced them to six; in
Anglo-Saxon they fell to four, with a weak and moribund instrumental
hanging in the air; in Middle English the dative and accusative began
to decay; in Modern English they have disappeared altogether, save as
ghosts to haunt grammarians. But we still have two plainly defined
conjugations of the verb, and we still inflect it for number, and, in
part, at least, for person. And we yet retain an objective case of the
pronoun, and inflect it for person, number and gender.

Some of the more familiar conjugations of verbs in the American common
speech, as recorded by Charters or Lardner or derived from my own
collectanea, are here set down:

 /Present/           /Preterite/                    /Perfect Participle/

 Am                   was                           bin (or ben)[20]
 Attack               attackted                     attackted
 (Be)[21]             was                           bin (or ben) [20]
 Beat                 beaten                        beat
 Become[22]           become                        became
 Begin                begun                         began
 Bend                 bent                          bent
 Bet                  bet                           bet
 Bind                 bound                         bound
 Bite                 bitten                        bit
 Bleed                bled                          bled
 Blow                 blowed (or blew)              blowed (or blew)
 Break                broken                        broke
 Bring                brought (or brung, or brang)  brung
 Broke (passive)      broke                         broke
 Build                built                         built
 Burn                 burnt[23]                     burnt
 Burst[24]            ----                          ----
 Bust                 busted                        busted
 Buy                  bought (or boughten)          bought (or boughten)
 Can                  could                         could'a
 Catch                caught[25]                    caught
 Choose               chose                         choose
 Climb                clum                          clum
 Cling (to hold fast) clung                         clung
 Cling (to ring)      clang                         clang
 Come                 come                          came
 Creep                crep (or crope)               crep
 Crow                 crew                          crew
 Cut                  cut                           cut
 Dare                 dared                         dared
 Deal                 dole                          dealt
 Dig                  dug                           dug
 Dive                 dove                          dived
 Do                   done                          done (or did)
 Drag                 drug                          dragged
 Draw                 drawed[26]                    drawed (or drew)
 Dream                dreampt                       dreampt
 Drink                drank (or drunk)              drank
 Drive                drove                         drove
 Drown                drownded                      drownded
 Eat                  et (or eat)                   ate
 Fall                 fell (or fallen)              fell
 Feed                 fed                           fed
 Feel                 felt                          felt
 Fetch                fetched[27]                   fetch
 Fight                fought[28]                    fought
 Find                 found                         found
 Fine                 found                         found
 Fling                flang                         flung
 Flow                 flew                          flowed
 Fly                  flew                          flew
 Forget               forgotten                     forgotten
 Forsake              forsaken                      forsook
 Freeze               frozen (or friz)              frozen
 Get                  got (or gotten)               gotten
 Give                 give                          give
 Glide                glode[29]                     glode
 Go                   went                          went
 Grow                 growed                        growed
 Hang                 hung[30]                      hung
 Have                 had                           had (or hadden)
 Hear                 heerd                         heerd (or heern)
 Heat                 het[31]                       het
 Heave                hove                          hove
 Hide                 hidden                        hid
 H'ist[32]            h'isted                       h'isted
 Hit                  hit                           hit
 Hold                 helt                          held (or helt)
 Holler               hollered                      hollered
 Hurt                 hurt                          hurt
 Keep                 kep                           kep
 Kneel                knelt                         knelt
 Know                 knowed                        knew
 Lay                  laid (or lain)                laid
 Lead                 led                           led
 Lean                 lent                          lent
 Leap                 lep                           lep
 Learn                learnt                        learnt
 Lend                 loaned[33]                    loaned
 Lie (to falsify)     lied                          lied
 Lie (to recline)     laid (or lain)                laid
 Light                lit                           lit
 Lose                 lost                          lost
 Make                 made                          made
 May                  ----                          might'a
 Mean                 meant                         meant
 Meet                 met                           met
 Mow                  mown                          mowed
 Pay                  paid                          paid
 Plead                pled                          pled
 Prove                proved (or proven)            proven
 Put                  put                           put
 Quit                 quit                          quit
 Raise                raised                        raised
 Read                 read                          read
 Rench[34]            renched                       renched
 Rid                  rid                           rid
 Ride                 ridden                        rode
 Rile[35]             riled                         riled
 Ring                 rung                          rang
 Rise                 riz (or rose)                 riz
 Run                  run                           ran
 Say                  sez                           said
 See                  seen                          saw
 Sell                 sold                          sold
 Send                 sent                          sent
 Set                  set[36]                       sat
 Shake                shaken (or shuck)             shook
 Shave                shaved                        shaved
 Shed                 shed                          shed
 Shine (to polish)    shined                        shined
 Shoe                 shoed                         shoed
 Shoot                shot                          shot
 Show                 shown                         showed
 Sing                 sung                          sang
 Sink                 sunk                          sank
 Sit[37]              ----                          ----
 Skin                 skun                          skun
 Sleep                slep                          slep
 Slide                slid                          slid
 Sling                slang                         slung
 Slit                 slitted                       slitted
 Smell                smelt                         smelt
 Sneak                snuck                         snuck
 Speed                speeded                       speeded
 Spell                spelt                         spelt
 Spill                spilt                         spilt
 Spin                 span                          span
 Spit                 spit                          spit
 Spoil                spoilt                        spoilt
 Spring               sprung                        sprang
 Steal                stole                         stole
 Sting                stang                         stang
 Stink                stank                         stank
 Strike               struck                        struck
 Swear                swore                         swore
 Sweep                swep                          swep
 Swell                swole                         swollen
 Swim                 swum                          swam
 Swing                swang                         swung
 Take                 taken                         took
 Teach                taught                        taught
 Tear                 tore                          torn
 Tell                 tole                          tole
 Think                thought[38]                   thought
 Thrive               throve                        throve
 Throw                throwed                       threw
 Tread                tread                         tread
 Wake                 woke                          woken
 Wear                 wore                          wore
 Weep                 wep                           wep
 Wet                  wet                           wet
 Win                  won (or wan)[39]              won (or wan)
 Wind                 wound                         wound
 Wish (wisht)         wisht                         wisht
 Wring                wrung                         wrang
 Write                written                       wrote


A glance at these conjugations is sufficient to show several general
tendencies, some of them going back, in their essence, to the earliest
days of the English language. The most obvious is that leading to the
transfer of verbs from the so-called strong conjugation to the weak--a
change already in operation before the Norman Conquest, and very
marked during the Middle English period. Chaucer used /growed/ for
/grew/ in the prologue to "The Wife of Bath's Tale," and /rised/ for
/rose/ and /smited/ for /smote/ are in John Purvey's edition of the
Bible, /circa/ 1385.[40] Many of these transformations were afterward
abandoned, but a large number survived, for example, /climbed/ for
/clomb/ as the preterite of /to climb/, and /melted/ for /molt/ as the
preterite of /to melt/. Others showed themselves during the early part
of the Modern English period. /Comed/ as the perfect participle of /to
come/ and /digged/ as the preterite of /to dig/ are both in
Shakespeare, and the latter is also in Milton and in the Authorized
Version of the Bible. This tendency went furthest, of course, in the
vulgar speech, and it has been embalmed in the English dialects. /I
seen/ and /I knowed/, for example, are common to many of them. But
during the seventeenth century it seems to have been arrested, and
even to have given way to a contrary tendency--that is, toward strong
conjugations. The English of Ireland, which preserves many seventeenth
century forms, shows this plainly. /Ped/ for /paid/, /gother/ for
/gathered/, and /ruz/ for /raised/ are still in use there, and Joyce
says flatly that the Irish, "retaining the old English custom [/i. e./,
the custom of the period of Cromwell's invasion, /circa/ 1650],
have a leaning toward the strong inflection."[41] Certain verb forms
of the American colonial period, now reduced to the estate of
localisms, are also probably survivors of the seventeenth century.

"The three great causes of change in language," says Sayce, "may be
briefly described as (1) imitation or analogy, (2) a wish to be clear
and emphatic, and (3) laziness. Indeed, if we choose to go deep enough
we might reduce all three causes to the general one of laziness, since
it is easier to imitate than to say [Pg199] something new."[42] This
tendency to take well-worn paths, paradoxically enough, is responsible
both for the transfer of verbs from the strong to the weak declension,
and for the transfer of certain others from the weak to the strong. A
verb in everyday use tends almost inevitably to pull less familiar
verbs with it, whether it be strong or weak. Thus /fed/ as the
preterite of /to feed/ and /led/ as the preterite of /to lead/ paved
the way for /pled/ as the preterite of /to plead/, and /rode/ as
plainly performed the same office for /glode/, and /rung/ for /brung/,
and /drove/ for /dove/ and /hove/, and /stole/ for /dole/, and /won/
for /skun/. Moreover, a familiar verb, itself acquiring a faulty
inflection, may fasten a similar inflection upon another verb of like
sound. Thus /het/, as the preterite of /to heat/, no doubt owes its
existence to the example of /et/, the vulgar preterite of /to eat/. So
far the irregular verbs. The same combination of laziness and
imitativeness works toward the regularization of certain verbs that
are historically irregular. In addition, of course, there is the fact
that regularization is itself intrinsically simplification--that it
makes the language easier. One sees the antagonistic pull of the two
influences in the case of verbs ending in /-ow/. The analogy of /knew/
suggests /snew/ as the preterite of /to snow/, and it is sometimes
encountered in the American vulgate. But the analogy of /snowed/ also
suggests /knowed/, and the superior regularity of the form is enough
to overcome the greater influence of /knew/ as a more familiar word
than /snowed/. Thus /snew/ grows rare and is in decay, but /knowed/
shows vigor, and so do /growed/ and /throwed/. The substitution of
/heerd/ for /heard/ also presents a case of logic and convenience
supporting analogy. The form is suggested by /steered/, /feared/ and
/cheered/, but its main advantage lies in the fact that it gets rid of
a vowel change, always an impediment to easy speech. Here, as in the
contrary direction, one barbarism breeds another. Thus /taken/, as the
preterite of /to take/, has undoubtedly helped to make preterites of
two other perfects, /shaken/ and /forsaken/.

But in the presence of two exactly contrary tendencies, the one in
accordance with the general movement of the language [Pg200] since
the Norman Conquest and the other opposed to it, it is unsafe, of
course, to attempt any very positive generalizations. All one may
exhibit with safety is a general habit of treating the verb
conveniently. Now and then, disregarding grammatical tendencies, it is
possible to discern what appear to be logical causes for verb
phenomena. That /lit/ is preferred to /lighted/ and /hung/ to /hanged/
is probably the result of an aversion to fine distinctions, and
perhaps, more fundamentally, to the passive. Again, the use of /found/
as the preterite of /to fine/ is obviously due to an ignorant
confusion of /fine/ and /find/, due to the wearing off of /-d/ in
/find/, and that of /lit/ as the preterite of /to alight/ to a
confusion of /alight/ and /light/. Yet again, the use of /tread/ as
its own preterite in place of /trod/ is probably the consequence of a
vague feeling that a verb ending with /d/ is already of preterite
form. /Shed/ exhibits the same process. Both are given a logical
standing by such preterites as /bled/, /fed/, /fled/, /led/, /read/,
/dead/ and /spread/. But here, once more, it is hazardous to lay down
laws, for /shredded/, /headed/, /dreaded/, /threaded/ and /breaded/ at
once come to mind. In other cases it is still more difficult to
account for preterites in common use. /Drug/ is wholly illogical, and
so are /clum/ and /friz/. Neither, fortunately, has yet supplanted the
more intelligible form of its verb, and so it is not necessary to
speculate about them. As for /crew/, it is archaic English surviving
in American, and it was formed, perhaps, by analogy with /knew/, which
has succumbed in American to /knowed/.

Some of the verbs of the vulgate show the end products of language
movements that go back to the Anglo-Saxon period, and even beyond.
There is, for example, the disappearance of the final /t/ in such
words as /crep/, /slep/, /lep/, /swep/ and /wep/. Most of these, in
Anglo-Saxon, were strong verbs. The preterite of /to sleep/
(/slâepan/), for example, was /slēp/, and that of /to weep/ was
/weop/. But in the course of time both /to sleep/ and /to weep/
acquired weak preterite endings, the first becoming /slâepte/ and the
second /wepte/. This weak conjugation was itself degenerated.
Originally, the inflectional suffix had been /-de/ or /-ede/ and in
some cases /-ode/, and the vowels were always pronounced. The wearing
down process that set in in the twelfth century disposed [Pg201] of
the final /e/, but in certain words the other vowel survived for a
good while, and we still observe it in such archaisms as /belovéd/.
Finally, however, it became silent in other preterites, and /loved/,
for example, began to be pronounced (and often written) as a word of
one syllable: /lov'd/.[43] This final /d/-sound now fell upon
difficulties of its own. After certain consonants it was hard to
pronounce clearly, and so the sonant was changed into the easier surd,
and such words as /pushed/ and /clipped/ became, in ordinary
conversation, /pusht/ and /clipt/. In other verbs the /t/-sound had
come in long before, with the degenerated weak ending, and when the
final /e/ was dropped their stem vowels tended to change. Thus arose
such forms as /slept/. In vulgar American another step is taken, and
the suffix is dropped altogether. Thus, by a circuitous route, verbs
originally strong, and for many centuries hovering between the two
conjugations, have eventually become strong again.

The case of /helt/ is probably an example of change by false analogy.
During the thirteenth century, according to Sweet,[44] "/d/ was
changed to /t/ in the weak preterites of verbs [ending] in /rd/, /ld/
and /nd/." Before that time the preterite of /sende/ (/send/) had been
/sende/; now it became /sente/. It survives in our modern /sent/, and
the same process is also revealed in /built/, /girt/, /lent/, /rent/
and /bent/. The popular speech, disregarding the fact that /to hold/
is a strong verb, arrives at /helt/ by imitation. In the case of
/tole/, which I almost always hear in place of /told/, there is a
leaping of steps. The /d/ is got rid of without any transitional use
of /t/. So also, perhaps, in /swole/, which is fast displacing
/swelled/. /Attackted/ and /drownded/ seem to be examples of an effort
to dispose of harsh combinations by a contrary process. Both are very
old in English. /Boughten/ and /dreampt/ [Pg202] present greater
difficulties. Lounsbury says that /boughten/ probably originated in
the Northern [/i. e./, Lowland Scotch] dialect of English, "which ...
inclined to retain the full form of the past participle," and even to
add its termination "to words to which it did not properly
belong."[45] I record /dreampt/ without attempting to account for it.
I have repeatedly heard a distinct /p/-sound in the word.

The general tendency toward regularization is well exhibited by the
new verbs that come into the language constantly. Practically all of
them show the weak conjugation, for example, /to phone/, /to bluff/,
/to rubber-neck/, /to ante/, /to bunt/, /to wireless/, /to insurge/
and /to loop-the-loop/. Even when a compound has as its last member a
verb ordinarily strong, it remains weak itself. Thus the preterite of
/to joy-ride/ is not /joy-rode/, nor even /joy-ridden/, but
/joy-rided/. And thus /bust/, from /burst/, is regular and its
preterite is /busted/, though /burst/ is irregular and its preterite
is the verb itself unchanged. The same tendency toward regularity is
shown by the verbs of the /kneel/-class. They are strong in English,
but tend to become weak in colloquial American. Thus the preterite of
/to kneel/, despite the example of /to sleep/ and its analogues, is
not /knel'/, nor even /knelt/, but /kneeled/. I have even heard
/feeled/ as the preterite of /to feel/, as in "I /feeled/ my way,"
though here /felt/ still persists. /To spread/ also tends to become
weak, as in "he /spreaded/ a piece of bread." And /to peep/ remains
so, despite the example of /to leap/. The confusion between the
inflections of /to lie/ and those of /to lay/ extends to the higher
reaches of spoken American, and so does that between /lend/ and
/loan/. The proper inflections of /to lend/ are often given to /to
loan/, and so /leaned/ becomes /lent/, as in "I /lent/ on the
counter." In the same way /to set/ has almost completely superseded
/to sit/, and the preterite of the former, /set/, is used in place of
/sat/. But the perfect participle (which is also the disused
preterite) of /to sit/ has survived, as in "I have /sat/ there." /To
speed/ and /to shoe/ have become regular, not only because of the
general tendency toward the weak conjugation, but also for logical
reasons. The prevalence of speed contests [Pg203] of various sorts,
always to the intense interest of the proletariat, has brought such
words as /speeder/, /speeding/, /speed-mania/, /speed-maniac/ and
/speed-limit/ into daily use, and /speeded/ harmonizes with them
better than the stronger /sped/. As for /shoed/, it merely reveals the
virtual disappearance of the verb in its passive form. An American
would never say that his wife was well /shod/; he would say that she
wore good shoes. /To shoe/ suggests to him only the shoeing of
animals, and so, by way of /shoeing/ and /horse-shoer/, he comes to
/shoed/. His misuse of /to learn/ for /to teach/ is common to most of
the English dialects. More peculiar to his speech is the use of /to
leave/ for /to let/. Charters records it in "Washington /left/ them
have it," and there are many examples of it in Lardner. /Spit/, in
American, has become invariable; the old preterite, /spat/, has
completely disappeared. But /slit/, which is now invariable in English
(though it was strong in Old English and had both strong and weak
preterites in Middle English), has become regular in American, as in
"she /slitted/ her skirt."

In studying the American verb, of course, it is necessary to remember
always that it is in a state of transition, and that in many cases the
manner of using it is not yet fixed. "The history of language," says
Lounsbury, "when looked at from the purely grammatical point of view,
is little else than the history of corruptions." What we have before
us is a series of corruptions in active process, and while some of
them have gone very far, others are just beginning. Thus it is not
uncommon to find corrupt forms side by side with orthodox forms, or
even two corrupt forms battling with each other. Lardner, in the case
of /to throw/, hears "if he had /throwed/"; my own observation is that
/threw/ is more often used in that situation. Again, he uses "the
rottenest I ever seen /gave/"; my own belief is that /give/ is far
more commonly used. The conjugation of /to give/, however, is yet very
uncertain, and so Lardner may report accurately. I have heard "I
/given/" and "I would of /gave/," but "I /give/" seems to be
prevailing, and "I would of /give/" with it, thus reducing /to give/
to one invariable form, like those of /to cut/, /to hit/, /to put/,
/to cost/, /to hurt/ and /to spit/. My table of verbs shows [Pg204]
various other uncertainties and confusions. The preterite of /to hear/
is /heerd/; the perfect may be either /heerd/ or /heern/. That of /to
do/ may be either /done/ or /did/, with the latter apparently
prevailing; that of /to draw/ is /drew/ if the verb indicates to
attract or to abstract and /drawed/ if it indicates to draw with a
pencil. Similarly, the preterite of /to blow/ may be either /blowed/
or /blew/, and that of /to drink/ oscillates between /drank/ and
/drunk/, and that of /to fall/ is still usually /fell/, though
/fallen/ has appeared, and that of /to shake/ may be either /shaken/
or /shuck/. The conjugation of /to win/ is yet far from fixed. The
correct English preterite, /won/, is still in use, but against it are
arrayed /wan/ and /winned/. /Wan/ seems to show some kinship, by
ignorant analogy, with /ran/ and /began/. It is often used as the
perfect participle, as in "I have /wan/ $4."

The misuse of the perfect participle for the preterite, now almost the
invariable rule in vulgar American, is common to many other dialects
of English, and seems to be a symptom of a general decay of the
perfect tenses. That decay has been going on for a long time, and in
American, the most vigorous and advanced of all the dialects of the
language, it is particularly well marked. Even in the most pretentious
written American it shows itself. The English, in their writing, still
use the future perfect, albeit somewhat laboriously and
self-consciously, but in America it has virtually disappeared: one
often reads whole books without encountering a single example of it.
Even the present perfect and the past perfect seem to be instinctively
avoided. The Englishman says "I /have/ dined," but the American says
"I /am through/ dinner"; the Englishman says "I /had/ slept," but the
American often says "I /was done/ sleeping." Thus the perfect tenses
are forsaken for the simple present and the past. In the vulgate a
further step is taken, and "I /have been/ there" becomes "I /been/
there." Even in such phrases as "he /hasn't/ been here," /ain't/ (=/am
not/) is commonly substituted for /have not/, thus giving the present
perfect a flavor of the simple present. The step from "I /have taken/"
to "/I taken/" was therefore neither difficult nor unnatural, and once
it had been made the resulting locution was supported by the greater
[Pg205] apparent regularity of its verb. Moreover, this perfect
participle, thus put in place of the preterite, was further reinforced
by the fact that it was the adjectival form of the verb, and hence
collaterally familiar. Finally, it was also the authentic preterite in
the passive voice, and although this influence, in view of the decay
of the passive, may not have been of much consequence, nevertheless it
is not to be dismissed as of no consequence at all.

The contrary substitution of the preterite for the perfect participle,
as in "I have /went/" and "he has /did/," apparently has a double
influence behind it. In the first place, there is the effect of the
confused and blundering effort, by an ignorant and unanalytical
speaker, to give the perfect some grammatical differentiation when he
finds himself getting into it--an excursion not infrequently made
necessary by logical exigencies, despite his inclination to keep out.
The nearest indicator at hand is the disused preterite, and so it is
put to use. Sometimes a sense of its uncouthness seems to linger, and
there is a tendency to give it an /en/-suffix, thus bringing it into
greater harmony with its tense. I find that /boughten/, just
discussed, is used much oftener in the perfect than in the simple past
tense;[46] for the latter /bought/ usually suffices. The quick ear of
Lardner detects various other coinages of the same sort, among them
/tooken/, as in "little Al might of /tooken/ sick."[47] /Hadden/ is
also met with, as in "I would of /hadden/." But the majority of
preterites remain unchanged. Lardner's baseball player never writes "I
have /written/" or "I have /wroten/," but always "I have /wrote/." And
in the same way he always writes, "I have /did/, /ate/, /went/,
/drank/, /rode/, /ran/, /saw/, /sang/, /woke/ and /stole/." Sometimes
the simple form of the verb persists through all tenses. This is
usually the case, for example, with /to give/. I have noted "I /give/"
both as present and as preterite, and "I have /give/," and even "I had
/give/." But even here "I have /gave/" offers rivalry to "I have
/give/," and usage is not settled. So, too, with /to come/. "I have
/come/" and "I have /came/" seem to be almost equally [Pg206]
favored, with the former supported by pedagogical admonition and the
latter by the spirit of the language.

Whatever the true cause of the substitution of the preterite for the
perfect participle, it seems to be a tendency inherent in English, and
during the age of Elizabeth it showed itself even in the most formal
speech. An examination of any play of Shakespeare's will show many
such forms as "I have /wrote/," "I am /mistook/" and "he has /rode/."
In several cases this transfer of the preterite has survived. "I have
/stood/," for example, is now perfectly correct English, but before
1550 the form was "I have /stonden/." /To hold/ and /to sit/ belong to
the same class; their original perfect participles were not /held/ and
/sat/, but /holden/ and /sitten/. These survived the movement toward
the formalization of the language which began with the eighteenth
century, but scores of other such misplaced preterites were driven
out. One of the last to go was /wrote/, which persisted until near the
end of the century.[48] Paradoxically enough, the very purists who
performed the purging showed a preference for /got/ (though not for
/forgot/), and it survives in correct English today in the
preterite-present form, as in "I have /got/," whereas in American,
both vulgar and polite, the elder and more regular /gotten/ is often
used. In the polite speech /gotten/ indicates a distinction between a
completed action and a continuing action,--between obtaining and
possessing. "I have /gotten/ what I came for" is correct, and so is "I
have /got/ the measles." In the vulgar speech, much the same
distinction exists, but the perfect becomes a sort of simple tense by
the elision of /have/. Thus the two sentences change to "I /gotten/
what I come for" and "I /got/ the measles," the latter being
understood, not as past, but as present.

In "I have /got/ the measles" /got/ is historically a sort of
auxiliary of /have/, and in colloquial American, as we have seen in
the examples just given, the auxiliary has obliterated the verb. /To
have/, as an auxiliary, probably because of its intimate relationship
with the perfect tenses, is under heavy pressure, and [Pg207]
promises to disappear from the situations in which it is still used. I
have heard /was/ used in place of it, as in "before the Elks /was/
come here."[49] Sometimes it is confused ignorantly with a distinct
/of/, as in "she would /of/ drove," and "I would /of/ gave." More
often it is shaded to a sort of particle, attached to the verb as an
inflection, as in "he would '/a/ tole you," and "who could '/a/ took
it?" But this is not all. Having degenerated to such forms, it is now
employed as a sort of auxiliary to itself, in the subjunctive, as in
"if you had /of/ went," "if it had /of/ been hard," and "if I had /of/
had."[50] I have encountered some rather astonishing examples of this
doubling of the auxiliary: one appears in "I wouldn't had '/a/ went."
Here, however, the /a/ may belong partly to /had/ and partly to
/went/; such forms as /a-going/ are very common in American. But in
the other cases, and in such forms as "I had '/a/ wanted," it clearly
belongs to /had/. Sometimes for syntactical reasons, the degenerated
form of /have/ is put before /had/ instead of after it, as in "I could
/of/ had her if I had /of/ wanted to."[51] Meanwhile, /to have/,
ceasing to be an auxiliary, becomes a general verb indicating
compulsion. Here it promises to displace /must/. The American seldom
says "I /must/ go"; he almost invariably says "I /have/ to go," or "I
/have got/ to go," in which last case, as we have seen, /got/ is the

The most common inflections of the verb for mode and voice are shown
in the following paradigm of /to bite/:


/Indicative Mode/

 /Present/           I bite       /Past Perfect/     I had of bit
 /Present Perfect/   I have bit   /Future/           I will bite
 /Past/              I bitten     /Future Perfect/   (wanting)

/Subjunctive Mode/

 /Present/           If I bite    /Past Perfect/     If I had of bit
 /Past/              If I bitten

/Potential Mode/

 /Present/           I can bite   /Past/             I could bite
 /Present Perfect/   (wanting)    /Past Perfect/     I could of bit

/Imperative/ (or /Optative/) /Mode/

 /Future/            I shall (or will) bite

/Infinitive Mode/



/Indicative Mode/

 /Present/           I am bit     /Past Perfect/     I had been bit
 /Present Perfect/   I been bit   /Future/           I will be bit
 /Past/              I was bit    /Future Perfect/      (wanting)

/Subjunctive Mode/

 /Present/           If I am bit  /Past Perfect/    If I had of been bit
 /Past/              If I was bit

/Potential Mode/

 /Present/           I can be bit /Past/             I could be bit
 /Present Perfect/     (wanting)  /Past Perfect/     I could of been bit

/Imperative Mode/


/Infinitive Mode/


A study of this paradigm reveals several plain tendencies. One has
just been discussed: the addition of a degenerated form of /have/ to
the preterite of the auxiliary, and its use in place of the auxiliary
itself. Another is the use of /will/ instead of /shall/ in the first
person future. /Shall/ is confined to a sort of optative, indicating
much more than mere intention, and even here it is yielding to /will/.
Yet another is the consistent use of the transferred preterite in the
passive. Here the rule in correct English is followed faithfully,
though the perfect participle [Pg209] employed is not the English
participle. "I am /broke/" is a good example. Finally, there is the
substitution of /was/ for /were/ and of /am/ for /be/ in the past and
present of the subjunctive. In this last case American is in accord
with the general movement of English, though somewhat more advanced.
/Be/, in the Shakespearean form of "where /be/ thy brothers?" was
expelled from the present indicative two hundred years ago, and
survives today only in dialect. And as it thus yielded to /are/ in the
indicative, it now seems destined to yield to /am/ and /is/ in the
subjunctive. It remains, of course, in the future indicative: "I will
/be/." In American its conjugation coalesces with that of /am/ in the
following manner:

 /Present/           I am            /Past Perfect/     I had of ben
 /Present Perfect/   I bin (or ben)  /Future/           I will be
 /Past/              I was           /Future Perfect/   (wanting)

And in the subjunction:

 /Present/           If I am         /Past Perfect/     If I had of ben
 /Past/              If I was

All signs of the subjunctive, indeed, seem to be disappearing from
vulgar American. One never hears "if I /were/ you," but always "if I
/was/ you." In the third person the /-s/ is not dropped from the verb.
One hears, not "if she /go/," but "if she /goes/." "If he /be/ the
man" is never heard; it is always "if he /is/." This war upon the
forms of the subjunctive, of course, extends to the most formal
English. "In Old English," says Bradley,[52] "the subjunctive played
as important a part as in modern German, and was used in much the same
way. Its inflection differed in several respects from that of the
indicative. But the only formal trace of the old subjunctive still
remaining, except the use of /be/ and /were/, is the omission of the
final /s/ in the third person singular. And even this is rapidly
dropping out of use.... Perhaps in another generation the subjunctive
forms will have ceased to exist except in the single instance of
/were/, which serves a useful function, although we manage to [Pg210]
dispense with a corresponding form in other verbs." Here, as
elsewhere, unlettered American usage simply proceeds in advance of the
general movement. /Be/ and the omitted /s/ are already dispensed with,
and even /were/ has been discarded.

In the same way the distinction between /will/ and /shall/, preserved
in correct English but already breaking down in the most correct
American, has been lost entirely in the American common speech. /Will/
has displaced /shall/ completely, save in the imperative. This
preference extends to the inflections of both. /Sha'n't/ is very
seldom heard; almost always /won't/ is used instead. As for /should/,
it is displaced by /ought to/ (degenerated to /oughter/ or /ought'a/),
and in its negative form by /hadn't ought'a/, as in "he /hadn't
oughter/ said that," reported by Charters. Lardner gives various
redundant combinations of /should/ and /ought/, as in "I don't feel as
if I /should ought to/ leave" and "they /should not ought to/ of had."
I have encountered the same form, but I don't think it is as common as
the simple /ought'a/-forms. In the main, /should/ is avoided,
sometimes at considerable pains. Often its place is taken by the more
positive /don't/. Thus "I /don't/ mind" is used instead of "I
/shouldn't/ mind." /Don't/ has also completely displaced /doesn't/,
which is very seldom heard. "He /don't/" and "they /don't/" are
practically universal. In the same way /ain't/ has displaced /is not/,
/am not/, /isn't/ and /aren't/, and even /have not/ and /haven't/. One
recalls a famous speech in a naval melodrama of twenty years ago: "We
/ain't/ got no manners, but we can fight like hell." Such forms as "he
/ain't/ here," "I /ain't/ the man," "them /ain't/ what I want" and "I
/ain't/ heerd of it" are common.

This extensive use of /ain't/, of course, is merely a single symptom
of a general disregard of number, obvious throughout the verbs, and
also among the pronouns, as we shall see. Charters gives many
examples, among them, "how /is/ Uncle Wallace and Aunt Clara?" "you
/was/," "there /is/ six" and the incomparable "it /ain't/ right to
say, 'He /ain't/ here today.'" In Lardner there are many more, for
instance, "them Giants is not such rotten hitters, /is/ they?" "the
people /has/ all wanted to shake hands with Matthewson and I" and
"some of the men /has/ [Pg211] brung their wife along." /Sez/
(=/says/), used as the preterite of /to say/, shows the same
confusion. One observes it again in such forms as "then I /goes/ up to
him." Here the decay of number helps in what threatens to become a
decay of tense. Examples of it are not hard to find. The average
race-track follower of the humbler sort seldom says "I /won/ $2," or
even "I /wan/ $2," but almost always "I /win/ $2." And in the same way
he says "I /see/ him come in," not "I /saw/ him" or "/seen/ him."
Charters' materials offers other specimens, among them "we /help/
distributed the fruit," "she /recognize/, hug, and /kiss/ him" and
"her father /ask/ her if she intended doing what he /ask/." Perhaps
the occasional use of /eat/ as the preterite of /to eat/, as in "I
/eat/ breakfast as soon as I got up," is an example of the same
flattening out of distinctions. Lardner has many specimens, among them
"if Weaver and them had not of /begin/ kicking" and "they would of
/knock/ down the fence." I notice that /used/, in /used to be/, is
almost always reduced to simple /use/, as in "it /use/ to be the
rule." One seldom, if ever, hears a clear /d/ at the end. Here, of
course, the elision of the /d/ is due primarily to assimilation with
the /t/ of /to/--a second example of one form of decay aiding another
form. But the tenses apparently tend to crumble without help. I
frequently hear whole narratives in a sort of debased present: "I
/says/ to him.... Then he /ups/ and /says/.... I /land/ him one on the
ear.... He /goes/ down and out, ..." and so on.[53] Still under the
spell of our disintegrating inflections, we are prone to regard the
tense inflections of the verb as absolutely essential, but there are
plenty of languages that get on without them, and even in our own
language children and foreigners often reduce them to a few simple
forms. Some time ago an Italian contractor said to me "I have /go/
there often." Here one of our few surviving inflections was displaced
by an analytical devise, and yet the man's meaning was quite clear,
and it would be absurd to say that his sentence violated the inner
spirit of English. That inner spirit, in fact, has inclined steadily
toward "I have /go/" for a thousand years. [Pg212]

§ 4

/The Pronoun/--The following paradigm shows the inflections of the
personal pronoun in the American common speech:


 /Common Gender/

                         /Singular/  /Plural/
  /Nominative/              I          we
  /Possessive Conjoint/     my         our
  /Possessive Absolute/     mine       ourn
  /Objective/               me         us


 /Common Gender/

  /Nominative/              you        yous
  /Possessive Conjoint/     your       your
  /Possessive Absolute/     yourn      yourn
  /Objective/               you        yous


 /Masculine Gender/

  /Nominative/              he         they
  /Possessive Conjoint/     his        their
  /Possessive Absolute/     hisn       theirn
  /Objective/               him        them

 /Feminine Gender/

  /Nominative/              she        they
  /Possessive Conjoint/     her        their
  /Possessive Absolute/     hern       theirn
  /Objective/               her        them

 /Neuter Gender/

  /Nominative/              it         they
  /Possessive Conjoint/     its        theirn
  /Possessive Absolute/     its        their
  /Objective/               it         them

These inflections, as we shall see, are often disregarded in use, but
nevertheless it is profitable to glance at them as they [Pg213]
stand. The only variations that they show from standard English are
the substitution of /n/ for /s/ as the distinguishing mark of the
absolute form of the possessive, and the attempt to differentiate
between the logical and the merely polite plurals in the second person
by adding the usual sign of the plural to the former. The use of /n/
in place of /s/ is not an American innovation. It is found in many of
the dialects of English, and is, in fact, historically quite as sound
as the use of /s/. In John Wiclif's translation of the Bible (/circa/
1380) the first sentence of the Sermon on the Mount (Mark v, 3) is
made: "Blessed be the pore in spirit, for the kyngdam in hevenes is
/heren/." And in his version of Luke xxiv, 24, is this: "And some of
/ouren/ wentin to the grave." Here /heren/, (or /herun/) represents,
of course, not the modern /hers/, but /theirs/. In Anglo-Saxon the
word was /heora/, and down to Chaucer's day a modified form of it,
/here/, was still used in the possessive plural in place of the modern
/their/, though /they/ had already displaced /hie/ in the
nominative.[54] But in John Purvey's revision of the Wiclif Bible,
made a few years later, /hern/ actually occurs in II Kings viii, 6,
thus: "Restore thou to hir alle things that ben /hern/." In
Anglo-Saxon there had been no distinction between the conjoint and
absolute forms of the possessive pronouns; the simple genitive
sufficed for both uses. But with the decay of that language the
surviving remnants of its grammar began to be put to service somewhat
recklessly, and so there arose a genitive inflection of this
genitive--a true double inflection. In the Northern dialects of
English that inflection was made by simply adding /s/, the sign of the
possessive. In the Southern dialects the old /n/-declension was
applied, and so there arose such forms as /minum/ and /eowrum/
(=/mine/ and /yours/), from /min/ and /eower/ (=/my/ and /your/).[55]
Meanwhile, the original simple genitive, now become /youre/, also
survived, and so the literature of [Pg214] the fourteenth century
shows the three forms flourishing side by side: /youre/, /youres/ and
/youren/. All of them are in Chaucer.

Thus, /yourn/, /hern/, /hisn/, /ourn/ and /theirn/, whatever their
present offense to grammarians, are of a genealogy quite as
respectable as that of /yours/, /hers/, /his/, /ours/ and /theirs/.
Both forms represent a doubling of inflections, and hence grammatical
debasement. On the side of the /yours/-form is the standard usage of
the past five hundred years, but on the side of the /yourn/-form there
is no little force of analogy and logic, as appears on turning to
/mine/ and /thine/. In Anglo-Saxon, as we have seen, /my/ was /min/;
in the same way /thy/ was /thin/. During the decadence of the language
the final /n/ was dropped in both cases before nouns--that is, in the
conjoint form--but it was retained in the absolute form. This usage
survives to our own day. One says "/my/ book," but "the book is
/mine/"; "/thy/ faith," but "I am /thine/."[56] Also, one says "/no/
matter," but "I have /none/." Without question this retention of the
/n/ in these pronouns had something to do with the appearance of the
/n/-declension in the treatment of /your/, /her/, /his/ and /our/,
and, after /their/ had displaced /here/ in the third person plural, in
/their/. And equally without question it supports the vulgar American
usage today. What that usage shows is simply the strong popular
tendency to make language as simple and as regular as possible--to
abolish subtleties and exceptions. The difference between "/his/ book"
and "the book is /his'n/" is exactly that between /my/ and /mine/,
/thy/ and /thine/, in the examples just given. "Perhaps it would have
been better," says Bradley, "if the literary language had accepted
/hisn/, but from some cause it did not do so."[57]

As for the addition of /s/ to /you/ in the nominative and objective of
the second person plural, it exhibits no more than an effort to give
clarity to the logical difference between the true plural and the mere
polite plural. In several other dialects of [Pg215] English the same
desire has given rise to cognate forms, and there are even secondary
devices in American. In the South, for example, the true plural is
commonly indicated by /you-all/, which, despite a Northern belief to
the contrary, is never used in the singular by any save the most
ignorant.[58] /You-all/, like /yous/, simply means /you-jointly/ as
opposed to the /you/ that means /thou/. Again, there is the form
observed in "you can /all of you/ go to hell"--another plain effort to
differentiate between singular and plural. The substitution of /you/
for /thou/ goes back to the end of the thirteenth century. It appeared
in late Latin and in the other continental languages as well as in
English, and at about the same time. In these languages the true
singular survives alongside the transplanted plural, but English has
dropped it entirely, save in its poetical and liturgical forms and in
a few dialects. It passed out of ordinary polite speech before
Elizabeth's day. By that time, indeed, its use had acquired an air of
the offensive, such as it has today, save between intimates or to
children, in Germany. Thus, at the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh in
1603, Sir Edward Coke, then attorney-general, displayed his animosity
to Raleigh by addressing him as /thou/, and finally burst into the
contemptuous "I /thou/ thee, /thou/ traitor!" And in "Twelfth Night"
Sir Toby Belch urges Sir Andrew Aguecheek to provoke the disguised
Viola to combat by /thouing/ her. In our own time, with thou passed
out entirely, even as a pronoun of contempt, the confusion between
/you/ in the plural and /you/ in the singular presents plain
difficulties to a man of limited linguistic resources. He gets around
them by setting up a distinction that is well supported by logic and
analogy. "I seen /yous/" is clearly separated from "I seen /you/.".
And in the conjoint position "/yous/ guys" is separated from "/you/

So much for the personal pronouns. As we shall see, they are used in
such a manner that the distinction between the nominative and the
objective forms, though still existing grammatically, has begun to
break down. But first it may be well to glance at the demonstrative
and relative pronouns. Of the former there [Pg216] are but two in
English, /this/ and /that/, with their plural forms, /these/ and
/those/. To them, American adds a third, /them/, which is also the
personal pronoun of the third person, objective case.[59] In addition
it has adopted certain adverbial pronouns, /this-here/, /these-here/,
/that-there/, /those-there/ and /them-there/, and set up inflections
of the original demonstratives by analogy with /mine/, /hisn/ and
/yourn/, to wit, /thisn/, /thesen/, /thatn/ and /thosen/. I present
some examples of everyday use:

 /Them/ are the kind I like.
 /Them/ men all work here.
 Who is /this-here/ Smith I hear about?
 /These-here/ are mine.
 /That-there/ medicine ain't no good.
 /Those-there/ wops has all took to the woods.
 I wisht I had one of /them-there/ Fords.
 /Thisn/ is better'n /thatn/.
 I like /thesen/ better'n /thosen/.

The origin of the demonstratives of the /thisn/-group is plain: they
are degenerate forms of /this-one/, /that-one/, etc., just as /none/
is a degenerate composition form of /no(t)-one/. In every case of
their use that I have observed the simple demonstratives might have
been set free and /one/ actually substituted for the terminal /n/. But
it must be equally obvious that they have been reinforced very greatly
by the absolutes of the /hisn/-group, for in their relation to the
original demonstratives they play the part of just such absolutes and
are never used conjointly. Thus, one says, in American, "I take
/thisn/" or "/thisn/ is mine," but one never says "I take /thisn/ hat"
or "/thisn/ dog is mine." In this conjoint situation plain /this/ is
always used, and the same rule [Pg217] applies to /these/, /those/
and /that/. /Them/, being a newcomer among the demonstratives, has not
yet acquired an inflection in the absolute. I have never heard
/them'n/, and it will probably never come in, for it is forbiddingly
clumsy. One says, in American, both "/them/ are mine" and "/them/
collars are mine."

/This-here/, /these-here/, /that-there/, /those-there/ and
/them-there/ are plainly combinations of pronouns and adverbs, and
their function is to support the distinction between proximity, as
embodied in /this/ and /these/, and remoteness, as embodied in /that/,
/those/ and /them/. "/This-here/ coat is mine" simply means "this
coat, /here/, or this /present/ coat, is mine." But the adverb
promises to coalesce with the pronoun so completely as to obliterate
all sense of its distinct existence, even as a false noun or
adjective. As commonly pronounced, /this-here/ becomes a single word,
somewhat like /thish-yur/, and /these-here/ becomes /these-yur/, and
/that-there/ and /them-there/ become /that-ere/ and /them-ere/.
/Those-there/, if I observed accurately, is still pronounced more
distinctly, but it, too, may succumb to composition in time. The
adverb will then sink to the estate of a mere inflectional particle,
as /one/ has done in the absolutes of the /thisn/-group. /Them/, as a
personal pronoun in the absolute, of course, is commonly pronounced
/em/, as in "I seen /em/," and sometimes its vowel is almost lost, but
this is also the case in all save the most exact spoken English. Sweet
and Lounsbury, following the German grammarians, argue that this /em/
is not really a debased form of /them/, but the offspring of /hem/,
which survived as the regular plural of the third person in the
objective case down to the beginning of the fifteenth century. But in
American /them/ is clearly pronounced as a demonstrative. I have never
heard "/em/ men" or "/em/ are the kind I like," but always "/them/
men" and "/them/ are the kind I like."

The relative pronouns, so far as I have been able to make out, are
declined as follows:

 /Nominative/           who     which   what  that
 /Possessive Conjoint/  whose   whose
 /Possessive Absolute/  whosen  whosen
 /Objective/            who     which   what  that


Two things will be noted in this paradigm. First there is the
disappearance of /whom/ as the objective form of /who/, and secondly
there is the appearance of an inflected form of /whose/ in the
absolute, by analogy with /mine/, /hisn/ and /thesen/. /Whom/, as we
have seen, is fast disappearing from standard spoken American;[60] in
the vulgar language it is already virtually extinct. Not only is /who/
used in such constructions as "/who/ did you find there?" where even
standard spoken English would tolerate it, but also in such
constructions as "the man /who/ I saw," "them /who/ I trust in" and
"to /who/?" Krapp explains this use of /who/ on the ground that there
is a "general feeling," due to the normal word-order in English, that
"the word which precedes the verb is the subject word, or at least the
subject form."[61] But this explanation is probably fanciful. Among
the plain people no such "general feeling" for case exists. Their only
"general feeling" is a prejudice against case inflections in any form
whatsoever. They use /who/ in place of /whom/ simply because they can
discern no logical difference between the significance of the one and
the significance of the other.

/Whosen/ is obviously the offspring of the other absolutes in /n/. In
the conjoint relation plain /whose/ is always used, as in "/whose/ hat
is that?" and "the man /whose/ dog bit me." But in the absolute
/whosen/ is often substituted, as in "if it ain't /hisn/, then
/whosen/ is it?" The imitation is obvious. There is an analogous form
of /which/, to wit, /whichn/, resting heavily on /which one/. Thus,
"/whichn/ do you like?" and "I didn't say /whichn/" are plainly
variations of "/which one/ do you like?" and "I didn't say /which
one/." That, as we have seen, has a like form, /thatn/, but never, of
course, in the relative situation. "I like /thatn/," is familiar, but
"the one /thatn/ I like" is never heard. If /that/, as a relative,
could be used absolutely, I have no doubt that it would change to
/thatn/, as it does as a demonstrative. So with /what/. As things
stand, it is sometimes substituted for /that/, as in "them's the kind
/what/ I like." Joined to /but/ it can also take the place of /that/
in other situations, as in "I don't know /but what/." [Pg219]

The substitution of /who/ for /whom/ in the objective case, just
noticed, is typical of a general movement toward breaking down all
case distinctions among the pronouns, where they make their last stand
in English and its dialects. This movement, of course, is not peculiar
to vulgar American; nor is it of recent beginning. So long ago as the
fifteenth century the old clear distinction between /ye/, nominative,
and /you/, objective, disappeared, and today the latter is used in
both cases. Sweet says that the phonetic similarity between /ye/ and
/thee/, the objective form of the true second singular, was
responsible for this confusion.[62] At the start /ye/ actually went
over to the objective case, and the usage thus established shows
itself in such survivors of the period as /harkee/ (/hark ye/) and
/look ye/. In modern spoken English, indeed, /you/ in the objective
often has a sound far more like that of /ye/ than like that of /you/,
as, for example, in "how do y' do?" and in American its vowel takes
the neutral form of the /e/ in the definite article, and the word
becomes a sort of shortened /yuh/. But whenever emphasis is laid upon
it, /you/ becomes quite distinct, even in American. In "I mean /you/,"
for example, there is never any chance of mistaking it for /ye/.

In Shakespeare's time the other personal pronouns of the objective
case threatened to follow /you/ into the nominative, and there was a
compensatory movement of the nominative pronouns toward the objective.
Lounsbury has collected many examples.[63] Marlowe used "is it /him/
you seek?" "'tis /her/ I esteem" and "nor /thee/ nor /them/, shall
want"; Fletcher used "'tis /her/ I admire"; Shakespeare himself used
"that's /me/." Contrariwise, Webster used "what difference is between
the duke and /I/?" and Greene used "nor earth nor heaven shall part my
love and /I/." Krapp has unearthed many similar examples from the
Restoration dramatists.[64] Etheredge used "'tis /them/," "it may be
/him/," "let you and /I/" and "nor is it /me/"; Matthew Prior, in a
famous couplet, achieved this: [Pg220]

 For thou art a girl as much brighter than /her/.
 As he was a poet sublimer than /me/.

The free exchange continued, in fact, until the eighteenth century was
well advanced; there are examples of it in Addison. Moreover, it
survived, at least in part, even the attack that was then made upon it
by the professors of the new-born science of English grammar, and to
this day "it is /me/" is still in more or less good colloquial use.
Sweet thinks that it is supported in such use, though not, of course,
grammatically, by the analogy of the correct "it is /he/" and "it is
/she/." Lounsbury, following Dean Alford, says it came into English in
imitation of the French /c'est moi/, and defends it as at least as
good as "it is /I/."[65] The contrary form, "between you and /I/," has
no defenders, and is apparently going out. But in the shape of
"between my wife and /I/" it is seldom challenged, at least in spoken

All these liberties with the personal pronouns, however, fade to
insignificance when put beside the thoroughgoing confusion of the case
forms in vulgar American. "/Us/ fellers" is so far established in the
language that "/we/ fellers," from the mouth of a car conductor, would
seem almost an affectation. So, too, is "/me/ and /her/ are friends."
So, again, are "I seen you and /her/," "/her/ and I set down
together," "/him/ and his wife," and "I knowed it was /her/." Here are
some other characteristic examples of the use of the objective forms
in the nominative from Charters and Lardner:

 /Me/ and /her/ was both late.
 His brother is taller than /him/.
 That little boy was /me/.
 /Us/ girls went home.
 They were John and /him/.
 /Her/ and little Al is to stay here.
 She says she thinks /us/ and the Allens.
 If Weaver and /them/ had not of begin kicking.
 But not /me/.
 /Him/ and I are friends.
 /Me/ and /them/ are friends.


Less numerous, but still varied and plentiful, are the substitutions
of nominative forms for objective forms:

 She gave it to mother and /I/.
 She took all of /we/ children.
 I want you to meet /he/ and I at 29th street.
 He gave /he/ and I both some.
 It is going to cost me $6 a week for a room for /she/ and the baby.
 Anything she has is O. K. for /I/ and Florrie.

Here are some grotesque confusions, indeed. Perhaps the best way to
get at the principles underlying them is to examine first, not the
cases of their occurrence, but the cases of their non-occurrence. Let
us begin with the transfer of the objective form to the nominative in
the subject relation. "/Me/ and /her/ was both late" is obviously
sound American; one hears it, or something like it, on the streets
every day. But one never hears "/me/ was late" or "/her/ was late" or
"/us/ was late" or "/him/ was late" or "/them/ was late." Again, one
hears "/us/ girls was there" but never "/us/ was there." Yet again,
one hears "/her/ and John was married," but never "/her/ was married."
The distinction here set up should be immediately plain. It exactly
parallels that between /her/ and /hern/, /our/ and /ourn/, /their/ and
/theirn/: the tendency, as Sweet says, is "to merge the distinction of
nominative and objective in that of conjoint and absolute."[66] The
nominative, in the subject relation, takes the usual nominative form
only when it is in immediate contact with its verb. If it be separated
from its verb by a conjunction or any other part of speech, even
including another pronoun, it takes the objective form. Thus "/me/
went home" would strike even the most ignorant shopgirl as "bad
grammar," but she would use "/me/ and my friend went," or "/me/ and
/him/," or "/he/ and /her/," or "/me/ and /them/" without the
slightest hesitation. What is more, if the separation be effected by a
conjunction and another pronoun, the other pronoun also changes to the
objective form, even though its contact with the verb may be
immediate. Thus one hears "/me/ and /her/ was there," not "/me/ and
/she/"; /her/ and "/him/ kissed," not "/her/ and /he/." Still more,
this second pronoun [Pg222] commonly undergoes the same inflection
even when the first member of the group is not another pronoun, but a
noun. Thus one hears "John and /her/ were married," not "John and
/she/." To this rule there is but one exception, and that is in the
case of the first person pronoun, especially in the singular. "/Him/
and /me/ are friends" is heard often, but "/him/ and /I/ are friends"
is also heard. /I/ seems to suggest the subject very powerfully; it is
actually the subject of perhaps a majority of the sentences uttered by
an ignorant man. At all events, it resists the rule, at least
partially, and may even do so when actually separated from the verb by
another pronoun, itself in the objective form, as for example, in "/I/
and /him/ were there."

In the predicate relation the pronouns respond to a more complex
regulation. When they follow any form of the simple verb of being they
take the objective form, as in "it's /me/," "it ain't /him/," and "I
am /him/," probably because the transitiveness of this verb exerts a
greater pull than its function as a mere copula, and perhaps, too,
because the passive naturally tends to put the speaker in the place of
the object. "I seen /he/" or "he kissed /she/" or "he struck /I/"
would seem as ridiculous to an ignorant American as to the Archbishop
of Canterbury, and his instinct for simplicity and regularity
naturally tends to make him reduce all similar expressions, or what
seem to him to be similar expressions, to coincidence with the more
seemly "I seen /him/." After all, the verb of being is fundamentally
transitive, and, in some ways, the most transitive of all verbs, and
so it is not illogical to bring its powers over the pronoun into
accord with the powers exerted by the others. I incline to think that
it is some such subconscious logic, and not the analogy of "it is
/he/," as Sweet argues, that has brought "it is /me/" to
conversational respectability, even among rather careful speakers of

But against this use of the objective form in the nominative [Pg223]
position after the verb of being there also occurs in American a use
of the nominative form in the objective position, as in "she gave it
to mother and /I/" and "she took all of /we/ children." What lies at
the bottom of it seems to be a feeling somewhat resembling that which
causes the use of the objective form before the verb, but exactly
contrary in its effects. That is to say, the nominative form is used
when the pronoun is separated from its governing verb, whether by a
noun, a noun-phrase or another pronoun, as in "she gave it to mother
and /I/," "she took all of /we/ children" and "he paid her and /I/"
respectively. But here usage is far from fixed, and one observes
variations in both directions--that is, toward using the correct
objective when the pronoun is detached from the verb, and toward using
the nominative even when it directly follows the verb. "She gave it to
mother and /me/," "she took all of /us/ children" and "he paid her and
/me/" would probably sound quite as correct, to a Knight of Pythias,
as the forms just given. And at the other end Charters and Lardner
report such forms as "I want you to meet /he/ and /I/" and "it is
going to cost me $6 a week for a room for /she/ and the baby." I have
noticed, however, that, in the overwhelming main, the use of the
nominative is confined to the pronoun of the first person, and
particularly to its singular. Here again we have an example of the
powerful way in which /I/ asserts itself. And superimposed upon that
influence is a cause mentioned by Sweet in discussing "between you and
/I/."[68] It is a sort of by-product of the pedagogical war upon "it
is /me/." "As such expressions," he says, "are still denounced by the
grammars, many people try to avoid them in speech as well as in
writing. The result of this reaction is that the /me/ in such
constructions as 'between John and /me/' and 'he saw John and /me/'
sounds vulgar and ungrammatical, and is consequently corrected into
/I/." Here the pedagogues, seeking to impose an inelastic and
illogical grammar upon a living speech, succeed only in corrupting it
still more.

Following /than/ and /as/ the American uses the objective form of the
pronoun, as in "he is taller than /me/" and "such as /her/." [Pg224]
He also uses it following /like/, but not when, as often happens, he
uses the word in place of /as/ or /as if/. Thus he says "do it like
/him/," but "do it like /he/ does" and "she looks like /she/ was
sick." What appears here is an instinctive feeling that these words,
followed by a pronoun only, are not adverbs, but prepositions, and
that they should have the same power to put the pronoun into an
oblique case that other prepositions have. Just as "the taller of
/we/" would sound absurd to all of us, so "taller than /he/," to the
unschooled American, sounds absurd. This feeling has a good deal of
respectable support. "As /her/" was used by Swift, "than /me/" by
Burke, and "than /whom/" by Milton. The brothers Fowler show that, in
some cases, "than /him/," is grammatically correct and logically
necessary.[69] For example, compare "I love you more than /him/" and
"I love you more than /he/." The first means "I love you more than (I
love) /him/"; the second, "I love you more than /he/ (loves you)." In
the first /him/ does not refer to /I/, which is nominative, but to
/you/, which is objective, and so it is properly objective also. But
the American, of course, uses /him/ even when the preceding noun is in
the nominative, save only when another verb follows the pronoun. Thus,
he says, "I love you better than /him/," but "I love you better than
/he/ does."

In the matter of the reflexive pronouns the American vulgate exhibits
forms which plainly show that it is the spirit of the language to
regard /self/, not as an adjective, which it is historically, but as a
noun. This confusion goes back to Anglo-Saxon days; it originated at a
time when both the adjectives and the nouns were losing their old
inflections. Such forms as /Petrussylf/ (=/Peter's self/), /Cristsylf/
(=/Christ's self/) and /Icsylf/ (=/I/, /self/) then came into use, and
along with them came combinations of /self/ and the genitive, still
surviving in /hisself/ and /theirselves/ (or /theirself/). Down to the
sixteenth century these forms remained in perfectly good usage. "Each
for /hisself/," for example, was written by Sir Philip Sidney, and is
to be found in the dramatists of the time, though modern editors
always change it to /himself/. How the dative pronoun got itself
[Pg225] fastened upon /self/ in the third person masculine and neuter
is one of the mysteries of language, but there it is, and so, against
all logic, history and grammatical regularity, /himself/, /themselves/
and /itself/ (not /its-self/) are in favor today. But the American, as
usual, inclines against these illogical exceptions to the rule set by
/myself/. I constantly hear /hisself/ and /theirselves/, as in "he
done it /hisself/" and "they don't know /theirselves/." Sometimes
/theirself/ is substituted for theirselves, as in "they all seen it
/theirself/." Also, the emphatic /own/ is often inserted between the
pronoun and the noun, as in "let every man save his /own/ self."

The American pronoun does not necessarily agree with its noun in
number. I find "I can tell each one what /they/ make," "each fellow
put /their/ foot on the line," "nobody can do what /they/ like" and
"she was one of /these/ kind of people" in Charters, and "I am not the
kind of man that is always thinking about /their/ record," "if he was
to hit a man in the head ... /they/ would think /their/ nose tickled"
in Lardner. At the bottom of this error there is a real difficulty:
the lack of a pronoun of the true common gender in English,
corresponding to the French /soi/ and /son/. /His/, after a noun or
pronoun connoting both sexes, often sounds inept, and /his-or-her/ is
intolerably clumsy. Thus the inaccurate plural is often substituted.
The brothers Fowler have discovered "anybody else who have only
/themselves/ in view" in Richardson and "everybody is discontented
with /their/ lot" in Disraeli, and Ruskin once wrote "if a customer
wishes you to injure /their/ foot." In spoken American, even the most
careful, /they/ and /their/ often appear; I turn to the /Congressional
Record/ at random and in two minutes find "if anyone will look at the
bank statements /they/ will see."[70] In the lower reaches of the
language the plural seems to get into every sentence of any
complexity, even when the preceding noun or pronoun is plainly
singular. [Pg226]

§ 5

/The Adverb/--All the adverbial endings in English, save /-ly/, have
gradually fallen into decay; it is the only one that is ever used to
form new adverbs. At earlier stages of the language various other
endings were used, and some of them survive in a few old words, though
they are no longer employed in making new words. The Anglo-Saxon
endings were /-e/ and /-lice/. The latter was, at first, merely an
/-e/-ending to adjectives in /-lic/, but after a time it attained to
independence and was attached to adjectives not ending in /-lic/. In
early Middle English this /-lice/ changes to /-like/, and later on to
/-li/ and /-ly/. Meanwhile, the /-e/-ending, following the
/-e/-endings of the nouns, adjectives and verbs, ceased to be
pronounced, and so it gradually fell away. Thus a good many adverbs
came to be indistinguishable from their ancestral adjectives, for
example, /hard/ in to /pull hard/, /loud/ in /to speak loud/, and
/deep/ in /to bury deep/ (=Anglo-Saxon, /dĕop-e/). Worse, not a few
adverbs actually became adjectives, for example, /wide/, which was
originally the Anglo-Saxon adjective /wid/ (=/wide/) with the
adverbial /-e/-ending, and /late/, which was originally the
Anglo-Saxon adjective /laet/ (=/slow/) with the same ending.

The result of this movement toward identity in form was a confusion
between the two classes of words, and from the time of Chaucer down to
the eighteenth century one finds innumerable instances of the use of
the simple adjective as an adverb. "He will answer /trewe/" is in Sir
Thomas More; "and /soft/ unto himself he sayd" in Chaucer; "the
singers sang /loud/" in the Revised Version of the Bible (Nehemiah
xii, 42), and "/indifferent/ well" in Shakespeare. Even after the
purists of the eighteenth century began their corrective work this
confusion continued. Thus, one finds, "the people are /miserable/
poor" in Hume, "how /unworthy/ you treated mankind" in /The
Spectator/, and "/wonderful/ silly" in Joseph Butler. To this day the
grammarians battle with the barbarism, still without complete success;
every new volume of rules and regulations for those who would speak by
the book is full of warnings against it. Among [Pg227] the great
masses of the plain people, it goes without saying, it flourishes
unimpeded. The cautions of the school-marm, in a matter so subtle and
so plainly lacking in logic or necessity, are forgotten as quickly as
her prohibition of the double negative, and thereafter the adjective
and the adverb tend more and more to coalesce in a part of speech
which serves the purposes of both, and is simple and intelligible and

Charters gives a number of characteristic examples of its use:
"wounded very /bad/," "I /sure/ was stiff," "drank out of a cup
/easy/," "he looked up /quick/." Many more are in Lardner: "a chance
to see me work /regular/," "I am glad I was lucky enough to marry
/happy/," "I beat them /easy/," and so on. And others fall upon the
ear every day: "he done it /proper/," "he done himself /proud/," "she
was dressed /neat/," "she was /awful/ ugly," "the horse ran /O. K./,"
"it /near/ finished him," "it sells /quick/," "I like it /fine/," "he
et /hoggish/," "she acted /mean/," "they keep company /steady/." The
bob-tailed adverb, indeed, enters into a large number of the commonest
coins of vulgar speech. /Near-silk/, I daresay, is properly
/nearly-silk/. The grammarians protest that "run /slow/" should be
"run /slowly/." But /near-silk/ and "run /slow/" remain, and so do "to
be in /bad/," "to play it up /strong/" and their brothers. What we
have here is simply an incapacity to distinguish any ponderable
difference between adverb and adjective, and beneath it, perhaps, is
the incapacity, already noticed in dealing with "it is /me/," to
distinguish between the common verb of being and any other verb. If
"it /is/ bad" is correct, then why should "it /leaks/ bad" be
incorrect? It is just this disdain of purely grammatical reasons that
is at the bottom of most of the phenomena visible in vulgar American,
and the same impulse is observable in all other languages during
periods of inflectional decay. During the highly inflected stage of a
language the parts of speech are sharply distinct, but when
inflections fall off they tend to disappear. The adverb, being at best
the step-child of grammar--as the old Latin grammarians used to say,
"/Omnis pars orationis migrat in adverbium/"--is one of the chief
victims of this anarchy. John Horne Tooke, despairing of bringing it
to any [Pg228] order, even in the most careful English, called it, in
his "Epea Ptercenta," "the common sink and repository of all
heterogeneous and unknown corruptions."

Where an obvious logical or lexical distinction has grown up between
an adverb and its primary adjective the unschooled American is very
careful to give it its terminal /-ly/. For example, he seldom confuses
/hard/ and /hardly/, /scarce/ and /scarcely/, /real/ and /really/.
These words convey different ideas. /Hard/ means unyielding; /hardly/
means barely. /Scarce/ means present only in small numbers; /scarcely/
is substantially synonymous with /hardly/. /Real/ means genuine;
/really/ is an assurance of veracity. So, again, with /late/ and
/lately/. Thus, an American says "I don't know, /scarcely/," not "I
don't know, /scarce/"; "he died /lately/," not "he died /late/." But
in nearly all such cases syntax is the preservative, not grammar.
These adverbs seem to keep their tails largely because they are
commonly put before and not after verbs, as in, for example, "I
/hardly/ (or /scarcely/) know," and "I /really/ mean it." Many other
adverbs that take that position habitually are saved as well, for
example, /generally/, /usually/, /surely/, /certainly/. But when they
follow verbs they often succumb, as in "I'll do it /sure/" and "I seen
him /recent/." And when they modify adjectives they sometimes succumb,
too, as in "it was /sure/ hot." Practically all the adverbs made of
adjectives in /-y/ lose the terminal /-ly/ and thus become identical
with their adjectives. I have never heard /mightily/ used; it is
always /mighty/, as in "he hit him /mighty/ hard." So with /filthy/,
/dirty/, /nasty/, /lowly/, /naughty/ and their cognates. One hears "he
acted /dirty/," "he spoke /nasty/," "the child behaved /naughty/," and
so on. Here even standard English has had to make concessions to
euphony. /Cleanlily/ is seldom used;, /cleanly/ nearly always takes
its place. And the use of /illy/ is confined to pedants.

Vulgar American, like all the higher forms of American and all save
the most precise form of written English, has abandoned the old
inflections of /here/, /there/ and /where/, to wit, /hither/ and
/hence/, /thither/ and /thence/, /whither/ and /whence/. These fossil
remains of dead cases are fast disappearing from the language.
[Pg229] In the case of /hither/ (=/to here/) even the preposition has
been abandoned. One says, not "I came /to here/," but simply "I came
/here/." In the case of /hence/, however, /from here/ is still used,
and so with /from there/ and /from where/. Finally, it goes without
saying that the common American tendency to add /-s/ to such adverbs
as /towards/ is carried to full length in the vulgar language. One
constantly hears, not only /somewheres/ and /forwards/, but even
/noways/ and /anyways/. Here we have but one more example of the
movement toward uniformity and simplicity. /Anyways/ is obviously
fully supported by /sideways/ and /always/.

§ 6

/The Noun and Adjective/--The only inflections of the noun remaining
in English are those for number and for the genitive, and so it is in
these two regions that the few variations to be noted in vulgar
American occur. The rule that, in forming the plurals of compound
nouns or noun-phrases, the /-s/ shall be attached to the principal
noun is commonly disregarded, and it goes at the end. Thus, "I have
two /sons-in-law/" is never heard; one always hears "I have two
/son-in-laws/." So with the genitive. I once overheard this: "that
umbrella is /the young lady I go with's/." Often a false singular is
formed from a singular ending in /s/, the latter being mistaken for a
plural. /Chinee/, /Portugee/ and /Japanee/ are familiar; I have also
noted /trapee/, /tactic/ and /summon/ (from /trapeze/, /tactics/ and
/summons/). Paradoxically, the word /incidence/ is commonly misused
for /incident/, as in "he told an /incidence/." Here /incidence/ (or
/incident/) seems to be regarded as a synonym, not for /happening/,
but for /story/. I have never heard "he told /of/ an incidence." The
/of/ is always omitted. The general disregard of number often shows
itself when the noun is used as object. I have already quoted
Lardner's "some of the men has brung their /wife/ along"; in a popular
magazine I lately encountered "those book ethnologists ... can't see
what is before their /nose/." Many similar examples might be brought

The adjectives are inflected only for comparison, and the [Pg230]
American commonly uses them correctly, with now and then a double
comparative or superlative to ease his soul. /More better/ is the
commonest of these. It has a good deal of support in logic. A sick man
is reported today to be /better/. Tomorrow he is further improved. Is
he to be reported /better/ again, or /best/? The standard language
gets around the difficulty by using /still better/. The American
vulgate boldly employs /more better/. In the case of /worse/, /worser/
is used, as Charters shows. He also reports /baddest/, /more queerer/
and /beautifulest/. /Littler/, which he notes, is still outlawed from
standard English, but it has, with /littlest/, a respectable place in
American. The late Richard Harding Davis wrote a play called "The
/Littlest/ Girl." The American freely compares adjectives that are
incapable of the inflection logically. Charters reports /most
principal/, and I myself have heard /uniquer/ and even /more uniquer/,
as in "I have never saw nothing /more uniquer/." I have also heard
/more ultra/, /more worse/, /idealer/, /liver/ (that is, /more
alive/), and /wellest/, as in "he was the /wellest/ man you ever
seen." In general, the /-er/ and /-est/ terminations are used instead
of the /more/ and /most/ prefixes, as in /beautiful/, /beautifuller/,
/beautifullest/. The fact that the comparative relates to two and the
superlative to more than two is almost always forgotten. I have never
heard "the /better/ of the two," but always "the /best/ of the two."
Charters also reports "the /hardest/ of the two" and "my brother and I
measured and he was the /tallest/." I have frequently heard "it ain't
so /worse/," but here a humorous effect seems to have been intended.

Adjectives are made much less rapidly in American than either
substantives or verbs. The only suffix that seems to be in general use
for that purpose is /-y/, as in /tony/, /classy/, /daffy/, /nutty/,
/dinky/, /leery/, etc. The use of the adjectival prefix /super-/ is
confined to the more sophisticated classes; the plain people seem to
be unaware of it.[71] This relative paucity of adjectives appears to
be common to the more primitive varieties of speech. E. J. [Pg231]
Hills, in his elaborate study of the vocabulary of a child of two,[72]
found that it contained but 23 descriptive adjectives, of which six
were the names of colors, as against 59 verbs and 173 common nouns.
Moreover, most of the 23 minus six were adjectives of all work, such
as /nasty/, /funny/ and /nice/. Colloquial American uses the same
rubber-stamps of speech. /Funny/ connotes the whole range of the
unusual; /hard/ indicates every shade of difficulty; /nice/ is
everything satisfactory; /bully/ is a superlative of almost limitless

The decay of /one/ to a vague /n/-sound, as in /this'n/, is matched by
a decay of /than/ after comparatives. /Earlier than/ is seldom if ever
heard; composition reduces the two words to /earlier'n/. So with
/better'n/, /faster'n/, /hotter'n/, /deader'n/, etc. Once I overheard
the following dialogue: "I like a belt /more looser'n/ what this one
is." "Well, then, why don't you unloosen it /more'n/ you got it

§ 7

/The Double Negative/--Syntactically, perhaps the chief characteristic
of vulgar American is its sturdy fidelity to the double negative. So
freely is it used, indeed, that the simple negative appears to be
almost abandoned. Such phrases as "I see nobody" or "I know nothing
about it" are heard so seldom that they appear to be affectations when
encountered; the well-nigh universal forms are "I /don't/ see nobody"
and "I /don't/ know nothing about it." Charters lists some very
typical examples, among them, "he ain't /never/ coming back /no/
more," "you /don't/ care for nobody but yourself," "couldn't be /no/
more happier" and "I /can't/ see nothing." In Lardner there are
innumerable examples: "they was /not/ no team," "I have /not/ never
thought of that," "I can't write /no/ more," "no chance to get /no/
money from /nowhere/," "we /can't/ have nothing to do," and so on.
Some of his specimens show a considerable complexity, for [Pg232]
example, "Matthewson was /not/ only going as far as the coast,"
meaning, as the context shows, that he was going as far as the coast
and no further. /Only/ gets into many other examples, /e. g./, "he
hadn't /only/ the one pass" and "I don't work nights no more, /only/
except Sunday nights." This latter I got from a car conductor. Many
other curious specimens are in my collectanea, among them: "one
swaller don't make /no/ summer," "I /never/ seen nothing I would of
rather saw," and "once a child gets burnt once it /won't/ never stick
its hand in /no/ fire /no/ more," and so on. The last embodies a
triple negative. In "the more faster you go, the sooner you /don't/
get there" there is an elaborate muddling of negatives that is very

Like most other examples of "bad grammar" encountered in American the
compound negative is of great antiquity and was once quite
respectable. The student of Anglo-Saxon encounters it constantly. In
that language the negative of the verb was formed by prefixing a
particle, /ne/. Thus, /singan/ (=/to sing/) became /ne singan/ (=/not
to sing/). In case the verb began with a vowel the /ne/ dropped its
/e/ and was combined with the verb, as in /naefre/ (never), from
/ne-aefre/ (=/not ever/). In case the verb began with an /h/ or a /w/
followed by a vowel, the /h/ or /w/ of the verb and the /e/ of /ne/
were both dropped, as in /naefth/ (=/has not/), from /ne-haefth/
(=/not has/), and /nolde/ (=/would not/), from /ne-wolde/. Finally, in
case the vowel following a /w/ was an /i/, it changed to /y/, as in
/nyste/ (=/knew not/), from /ne-wiste/. But inasmuch as Anglo-Saxon
was a fully inflected language the inflections for the negative did
not stop with the verbs; the indefinite article, the indefinite
pronoun and even some of the nouns were also inflected, and survivors
of those forms appear to this day in such words as /none/ and
/nothing/. Moreover, when an actual inflection was impossible it was
the practise to insert this /ne/ before a word, in the sense of our
/no/ or /not/. Still more, it came to be the practise to reinforce
/ne/, before a vowel, with /nā/ (=/not/) or /naht/ (=/nothing/), which
later degenerated to /nat/ and /not/. As a result, there were fearful
and wonderful combinations of negatives, some of them fully matching
the best efforts of Lardner's baseball player. Sweet [Pg233] gives
several curious examples.[73] "Nān ne dorste nān thing āscian,"
translated literally, becomes "/no/ one dares /not/ ask /nothing/."
"Thaet hus nā ne feoll" becomes "the house did /not/ fall /not/." As
for the Middle English "he /never/ nadde /nothing/," it has too modern
and familiar a ring to need translating at all. Chaucer, at the
beginning of the period of transition to Modern English, used the
double negative with the utmost freedom. In "The Knight's Tale" is

 He /nevere/ yet /no/ vileynye /ne/ sayde
 In al his lyf unto /no/ maner wight.

By the time of Shakespeare this license was already much restricted,
but a good many double negatives are nevertheless to be found in his
plays, and he was particularly shaky in the use of /nor/. In "Richard
III" one finds "I never was /nor never/ will be"; in "Measure for
Measure," "harp not on that /nor/ do /not/ banish treason," and in
"Romeo and Juliet," "thou expectedst not, /nor/ I looked not for."
This misuse of /nor/ is still very frequent. In other directions, too,
the older forms show a tendency to survive all the assaults of
grammarians. "/No/ it /doesn't/," heard every day and by no means from
the ignorant only, is a sort of double negative. The insertion of
/but/ before that, as in "I doubt /but/ that" and "there is no
question /but/ that," makes a double negative that is probably
full-blown. Nevertheless, as we have seen, it is heard on the floor of
Congress every day, and the Fowlers show that it is also common in
England.[74] Even worse forms get into the /Congressional Record/. Not
long ago, for example, I encountered "without /hardly/ an exception"
in a public paper of the utmost importance.[75] There are, indeed,
situations in which the double negative leaps to the lips or from the
pen almost irresistibly; even such careful writers as Huxley, Robert
Louis Stevenson and Leslie Stephen have [Pg234] occasionally dallied
with it.[76] It is perfectly allowable in the Romance languages, and,
as we have seen, is almost the rule in the American vulgate. Now and
then some anarchistic student of the language boldly defends and even
advocates it. "The double negative," said a writer in the /London
Review/ a long time ago,[77] "has been abandoned to the great injury
of strength of expression." Surely "I won't take nothing" is stronger
than either "I will take nothing" or "I won't take anything."

"Language begins," says Sayce, "with sentences, not with single
words." In a speech in process of rapid development, unrestrained by
critical analysis, the tendency to sacrifice the integrity of words to
the needs of the complete sentence is especially marked. One finds it
clearly in American. Already we have examined various assimilation and
composition forms: /that'n/, /use' to/, /would'a/, /them 'ere/ and so
on. Many others are observable. /Off'n/ is a good example; it comes
from /off of/ and shows a preposition decaying to the form of a mere
inflectional particle. One constantly hears "I bought it /off'n/
John." /Sort'a/, /kind'a/ and their like follow in the footsteps of
/would'a/. /Usen't/ follows the analogy of /don't/ and /wouldn't/.
/Would 've/ and /should 've/ are widely used; Lardner commonly hears
them as /would of/ and /should of/. The neutral /a/-particle also
appears in other situations, especially before /way/, as in /that'a
way/ and /this'a way/. It is found again in /a tall/, a liaison form
of /at all/.[78]

§ 8

/Pronunciation/--Before anything approaching a thorough and profitable
study of the sounds of the American common speech is possible, there
must be a careful assembling of the materials, and this, unfortunately,
still awaits a philologist of sufficient enterprise and equipment. Dr.
William A. Read, of the State University of Louisiana, has made some
excellent examinations [Pg235] of vowel and consonant sounds in the
South, Dr. Louise Pound has done capital work of the same sort in the
Middle West,[79] and there have been other regional studies of merit.
But most of these become misleading by reason of their lack of scope;
forms practically universal in the nation are discussed as dialectical
variations. This is the central defect in the work of the American
Dialect Society, otherwise very industrious and meritorious. It is
essaying to study localisms before having first platted the
characteristics of the general speech. The dictionaries of Americanisms
deal with pronunciation only casually, and often very inaccurately; the
remaining literature is meagre and unsatisfactory.[80] Until the matter
is gone into at length it will be impossible to discuss any phase of it
with exactness. No single investigator can examine the speech of the
whole country; for that business a pooling of forces is necessary. But
meanwhile it may be of interest to set forth a few provisional ideas.

At the start two streams of influence upon American pronunciation may
be noted, the one an inheritance from the English of the colonists and
the other arising spontaneously within the country, and apparently
much colored by immigration. The first influence, it goes without
saying, is gradually dying out. Consider, for example, the
pronunciation of the diphthong /oi/. In Middle English it was as in
/boy/, but during the early Modern English period it was assimilated
with that of the /i/ in /wine/, and this usage prevailed at the time
of the settlement of America. The colonists thus brought it with them,
and at the same time it lodged in Ireland, where it still prevails.
But in England, during the pedantic eighteenth century, this /i/-sound
was displaced by the original /oi/-sound, not by historical research
but by mere deduction from the spelling, and the new pronunciation
soon extended to the polite speech of America. In the common speech,
however, the /i/-sound persisted, and down to the time of [Pg236] the
Civil War it was constantly heard in such words as /boil/, /hoist/,
/oil/, /join/, /poison/ and /roil/, which thus became /bile/, /hist/,
/ile/, /jine/, /pisen/ and /rile/. Since then the school-marm has
combatted it with such vigor that it has begun to disappear, and such
forms as /pisen/, /jine/, /bile/ and /ile/ are now very seldom heard,
save as dialectic variations. But in certain other words, perhaps
supported by Irish influence, the /i/-sound still persists. Chief
among them are /hoist/ and /roil/. An unlearned American, wishing to
say that he was enraged, never says that he was /roiled/, but always
that he was /riled/. Desiring to examine the hoof of his horse, he
never orders the animal to /hoist/ but always to /hist/. In the form
of /booze-hister/, the latter is almost in good usage. I have seen
/booze-hister/ thus spelled and obviously to be thus pronounced, in an
editorial article in the /American Issue/, organ of the Anti-Saloon
League of America.[81]

Various similar misplaced vowels were brought from England by the
colonists and have persisted in America, while dying out of good
England usage. There is, for example, short /i/ in place of long /e/,
as in /critter/ for /creature/. /Critter/ is common to almost all the
dialects of English, but American has embedded the vowel in a word
that is met with nowhere else and has thus become characteristic, to
wit, /crick/ for /creek/. Nor does any other dialect make such
extensive use of /slick/ for /sleek/. Again, there is the substitution
of the flat /a/ for the broad /a/ in /sauce/. England has gone back to
the broad /a/, but in America the flat /a/ persists, and many
Americans who use /sassy/ every day would scarcely recognize /saucy/
if they heard it. Yet again, there is /quoit/. Originally, the English
pronounced it /quate/, but now they pronounce the diphthong as in
/doily/. In the United States the /quate/ pronunciation remains.
Finally, there is /deaf/. Its proper pronunciation, in the England
that the colonists left, was /deef/, but it now rhymes with /Jeff/.
That new pronunciation has been adopted by polite American, despite
the protests of Noah Webster, but in the common speech the word is
still always /deef/.

However, a good many of the vowels of the early days have [Pg237]
succumbed to pedagogy. The American proletarian may still use /skeer/
for /scare/, but in most of the other words of that class he now uses
the vowel approved by correct English usage. Thus he seldom permits
himself such old forms as /dreen/ for /drain/, /keer/ for /care/,
/skeerce/ for /scarce/ or even /cheer/ for /chair/. The Irish
influence supported them for a while, but now they are fast going out.
So, too, are /kivver/ for /cover/, /crap/ for /crop/, and /chist/ for
/chest/. But /kittle/ for /kettle/ still shows a certain vitality,
/rench/ is still used in place of /rinse/, and /squinch/ in place of
/squint/, and a flat /a/ continues to displace various /e/-sounds in
such words as /rare/ for /rear/ (/e. g./, as a horse) and /wrassle/
for /wrestle/. Contrariwise, /e/ displaces /a/ in /catch/ and
/radish/, which are commonly pronounced /ketch/ and /reddish/. This
/e/-sound was once accepted in standard English; when it got into
spoken American it was perfectly sound; one still hears it from the
most pedantic lips in /any/.[82] There are also certain other ancients
that show equally unbroken vitality among us, for example, /stomp/ for
/stamp/,[83] /snoot/ for /snout/, /guardeen/ for /guardian/, and
/champeen/ for /champion/.

But all these vowels, whether approved or disapproved, have been under
the pressure, for the past century, of a movement toward a general
vowel neutralization, and in the long run it promises to dispose of
many of them. The same movement also affects standard English, as
appears by Robert Bridges' "Tract on the Present State of English
Pronunciation," but I believe that it is stronger in America, and will
go farther, at least with the common speech, if only because of our
unparalleled immigration. Standard English has 19 separate vowel
sounds. No other living tongue of Europe, save Portuguese, has so
many; most of the others have a good many less; Modern Greek has but
five. The immigrant, facing all these vowels, finds some of them quite
impossible; the Russian Jew, as we have seen, cannot manage /ur/. As a
result, he tends to employ a neutralized [Pg238] vowel in all the
situations which present difficulties, and this neutralized vowel,
supported by the slip-shod speech-habits of the native proletariat,
makes steady progress. It appears in many of the forms that we have
been examining--in the final /a/ of /would'a/, vaguely before the /n/
in /this'n/ and /off'n/, in place of the original /d/ in /use' to/,
and in the common pronunciation of such words as /been/, /come/ and
/have/, particularly when they are sacrificed to sentence exigencies,
as in "I /b'n/ thinking," "/c'm 'ere/," and "he would /'ve/ saw you."

Here we are upon a wearing down process that shows many other
symptoms. One finds, not only vowels disorganized, but also
consonants. Some are displaced by other consonants, measurably more
facile; others are dropped altogether. /D/ becomes /t/, as in /holt/,
or is dropped, as in /tole/, /han'kerchief/, /bran-new/ and /fine/
(for /find/). In /ast/ (for /ask/) /t/ replaces /k/: when the same
word is used in place of /asked/, as often happens, /e. g./, in "I
/ast/ him his name," it shoulders out /ked/. It is itself lopped off
in /bankrup/, /quan'ity/, /crep/, /slep/, /wep/, /kep/, /gris'-mill/
and /les/ (=/let's/ = /let us/), and is replaced by /d/ in
/kindergarden/ and /pardner/. /L/ disappears, as in /a'ready/ and
/gent'man/. /S/ becomes /tsh/, as in /pincers/. The same /tsh/
replaces /c/, as in /pitcher/ for /picture/, and /t/, as in
/amachoor/. /G/ disappears from the ends of words, and sometimes, too,
in the middle, as in /stren'th/ and /reco'nize/. /R/, though it is
better preserved in American than in English, is also under pressure,
as appears by /bust/, /stuck on/ (for /struck on/), /cuss/ (for
/curse/), /yestiddy/, /sa's'parella/, /pa'tridge/, /ca'tridge/, /they
is/ (for /there is/) and /Sadd'y/ (for /Saturday/). An excrescent /t/
survives in a number of words, /e. g./, /onc't/, /twic't/, /clos't/,
/wisht/ (for /wish/) and /chanc't/; it is an heirloom from the English
of two centuries ago. So is the final /h/ in /heighth/. An excrescent
/b/, as in /chimbley/ and /fambly/, seems to be native. Whole
syllables are dropped out of words, paralleling the English butchery
of /extraordinary/; for example, in /bound'ry/, /hist'ry/, /lib'ry/
and /prob'ly/. /Ordinary/, like /extraordinary/, is commonly
enunciated clearly, but it has bred a degenerated form, /onry/ or
/onery/, differentiated in meaning. Consonants are misplaced by
metathesis, as in /prespiration/, /hunderd/, [Pg239] /brethern/,
/childern/, /interduce/, /apern/, /calvary/, /govrenment/, /modren/
and /wosterd/ (for /worsted/). /Ow/ is changed to /er/, as in
/feller/, /swaller/, /yeller/, /beller/, /umbreller/ and /holler/;
/ice/ is changed to /ers/ in /jaunders/. Words are given new
syllables, as in /ellum/, /mischievious/ and /municipial/.

In the complete sentence, assimilation makes this disorganization much
more obvious. Mearns, in a brief article[84] gives many examples of
the extent to which it is carried. He hears "wah zee say?" for "what
does he say?" "ware zee?" for "where is he?" "ast 'er in" for "ask her
in," "itt'm owd" for "hit them out," "sry" for "that is right," and
"c'meer" for "come here." He believes that /t/ is gradually succumbing
to /d/, and cites "ass bedder" (for "that's better"), "wen juh ged
din?" (for "when did you get in?"), and "siddup" (for "sit up"). One
hears countless other such decayed forms on the street every day.
/Have to/ is almost invariably made /hafta/, with the neutral vowel
where I have put the second /a/. /Let's/, already noticed, is /le'
's/. The neutral vowel replaces the /oo/ of /good/ in /g'by/. "What
did you say" reduces itself to "wuz ay?" /Maybe/ is /mebby/, /perhaps/
is /p'raps/, /so long/ is /s'long/, /excuse me/ is /skus me/; the
common salutation, "How are you?" is so dismembered that it finally
emerges as a word almost indistinguishable from /high/. Here there is
room for inquiry, and that inquiry deserves the best effort of
American phonologists, for the language is undergoing rapid changes
under their very eyes, or, perhaps more accurately, under their very
ears, and a study of those changes should yield a great deal of
interesting matter. How did the word /stint/, on American lips, first
convert itself into /stent/ and then into /stunt/? By what process was
/baulk/ changed into /buck/? Both /stunt/ and /buck/ are among the
commonest words in the everyday American vocabulary, and yet no one,
so far, has investigated them scientifically.

A by-way that is yet to be so much as entered is that of naturalized
loan-words in the common speech. A very characteristic word of that
sort is /sashay/. Its relationship to the French /chassé/ seems to be
plain, and yet it has acquired meanings in [Pg240] American that
differ very widely from the meaning of /chassé/. How widely it is
dispersed may be seen by the fact that it is reported in popular use,
as a verb signifying to prance or to walk consciously, in Southeastern
Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern Arkansas, Eastern Alabama and Western
Indiana, and, with slightly different meaning, on Cape Cod. The
travels of /café/ in America would repay investigation; particularly
its variations in pronunciation. I believe that it is fast becoming
/kaif/. /Plaza/, /boulevard/, /vaudeville/, /menu/ and /rathskeller/
have entered into the common speech of the land, and are pronounced as
American words. Such words, when they come in verbally, by actual
contact with immigrants, commonly retain some measure of their correct
native pronunciation. /Spiel/, /kosher/, /ganof/ and /matzoh/ are
examples; their vowels remain un-American. But words that come in
visually, say through street-signs and the newspapers, are immediately
overhauled and have thoroughly Americanized vowels and consonants
thereafter. School-teachers have been trying to establish various
pseudo-French pronunciations of /vase/ for fifty years past, but it
still rhymes with /face/ in the vulgate. /Vaudeville/ is /vawd-vill/;
/boulevard/ has a hard /d/ at the end; /plaza/ has two flat /a/'s; the
first syllable of /menu/ rhymes with /bee/; the first of /rathskeller/
with /cats/; /fiancée/ is /fy-ancé-y/; /née/ rhymes with /see/;
/décolleté/ is /de-coll-ty/; /hofbräu/ is /huffbrow/; the German /w/
has lost its /v/-sound and becomes an American /w/. I have, in my day,
heard /proteege/ for /protégé/, /habichoo/ for /habitué/, /connisoor/
for /connisseur/, /shirtso/ for /scherzo/, /premeer/ for /première/,
/eetood/ for /étude/ and /prelood/ for /prelude/. /Divorcée/ is
/divorcey/, and has all the rakishness of the adjectives in /-y/. The
first syllable of /mayonnaise/ rhymes with /hay/. /Crème de menthe/ is
/cream de mint/. /Schweizer/ is /swite-ser/. /Rochefort/ is
/roke-fort/. I have heard /début/ with the last syllable rhyming with
/nut/. I have heard /minoot/ for /minuet/. I have heard /tchef doover/
for /chef d'œuvre/. And who doesn't remember

 As I walked along the /Boys Boo-long/
 With an independent air

and [Pg241]

 Say /aw re-vore/,
 But not good-by!

Charles James Fox, it is said, called the red wine of France /Bordox/
to the end of his days. He had an American heart; his great speeches
for the revolting colonies were more than mere oratory.


[1] Sweet, perhaps the abbot of the order, makes almost indecent haste
to sin. See the second paragraph on the very first page of vol. i of
his New English Grammar.

[2] /Yale Review/, April, 1918, p. 548.

[3] /Yale Review/, /op. cit./, p. 560.

[4] The Difficulties Created by Grammarians Are to be Ignored, by W.
H. Wilcox, /Atlantic Educational Journal/, Nov., 1912, p. 8. The title
of this article is quoted from ministerial instructions of 1909 to the
teachers of French /lyceés/.

[5] /Op cit./ p. 7. Mr. Wilcox is an instructor in the Maryland State
Normal School.

[6] See especially chapters ix and x of Words and Their Uses and
chapters xvii, xviii and xix of Every-Day English; also the preface to
the latter, p. xi /et seq./ The study of other languages has been made
difficult by the same attempt to force the characters of Greek and
Latin grammar upon them. One finds a protest against the process, for
example, in E. H. Palmer's Grammar of Hindustani, Persian and Arabic;
London, 1906. In all ages, indeed, grammarians appear to have been
fatuous. The learned will remember Aristophanes' ridicule of them in
The Clouds, 660-690.

[7] The case is well summarized in Simpler English Grammar, by
Patterson Wardlaw, /Bull. of the University of S. Carolina/, No. 38,
pt. iii, July, 1914.

[8] Cincinnati, 1868; rev. ed., 1878.

[9] New York, 1903; rev. ed., 1915.

[10] Even Sweet, though he bases his New English Grammar upon the
spoken language and thus sets the purists at defiance, quickly
succumbs to the labelling mania. Thus his classification of tenses
includes such fabulous monsters as these: continuous, recurrent,
neutral, definite, indefinite, secondary, incomplete, inchoate, short
and long.

[11] By W. F. Webster and Alice Woodworth Cooley; Boston, 1903; rev.
eds., 1905 and 1909. The authors are Minneapolis teachers.

[12] /Op. cit./ p. 8.

[13] Bulletin No. 2; Washington, 1917.

[14] The Middle American, /American Magazine/, March, 1907.

[15] /Cf./ White: Every-Day English, p. 367 /et seq./

[16] /Cf./ Sweet: New English Grammar, vol. i, p. 5.

[17] Dr. Charters' report appears as Vol. XVI, No. 2, /University of
Missouri Bulletin/, Education Series No. 9, Jan., 1915. He was aided
in his inquiry by Edith Miller, teacher of English in one of the St.
Louis high-schools.

[18] You Know Me Al: New York, 1916.

[19] /Saturday Evening Post/, July 11, 1914.

[20] /Bin/ is the correct American pronunciation. /Bean/, as we have
seen, is the English. But I have often found /ben/, rhyming with
/pen/, in such phrases as "I /ben/ there."

[21] See p. 209.

[22] Seldom used. /Get/ is used in the place of it, as in "I am
/getting/ old" and "he /got/ sick."

[23] /Burned/, with a distinct /d/-sound, is almost unknown in
American. See p. 201.

[24] Not used.

[25] /Cotched/ is heard only in the South, and mainly among the
negroes. /Catch/, of course, is always pronounced /ketch/.

[26] But "I /drew/ three jacks," in poker.

[27] /Fotch/ is also heard, but it is not general.

[28] /Fit/ and /fitten/, unless my observation errs, are heard only in
dialect. /Fit/ is archaic English. /Cf./ Thornton, vol. i, p. 322.

[29] /Glode/ once enjoyed a certain respectability in America. It
occurs in the /Knickerbocker Magazine/ for April, 1856.

[30] /Hanged/ is never heard.

[31] /Het/ is incomplete without the addition of /up/. "He was /het
up/" is always heard, not "he was /het/."

[32] Always so pronounced. See p. 236.

[33] See pp. 57 and 202.

[34] Always used in place of /rinse/.

[35] Always used in place of /roil/.

[36] /Sot/ is heard as a localism only.

[37] See /set/, which is used almost invariably in place of /sit/.

[38] /Thunk/ is never used seriously; it always shows humorous intent.

[39] See pp. 201 and 211.

[40] /Cf./ Lounsbury: History of the English Language, pp. 309-10.

[41] English As We Speak It In Ireland, p. 77.

[42] The Science of Language, vol. i, p. 166.

[43] The last stand of the distinct /-ed/ was made in Addison's day.
He was in favor of retaining it, and in the /Spectator/ for Aug. 4,
1711, he protested against obliterating the syllable in the
termination "of our praeter perfect tense, as in these words,
/drown'd/, /walk'd/, /arriv'd/, for /drowned/, /walked/, /arrived/,
which has very much disfigured the tongue, and turned a tenth part of
our smoothest words into so many clusters of consonants."

[44] A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 380.

[45] History of the English Language, p. 398.

[46] And still more often as an adjective, as in "it was a /boughten/

[47] You Know Me Al, p. 180; see also p. 122.

[48] /Cf./ Lounsbury: History of the English Language, pp. 393 /et

[49] Remark of a policeman talking to another. What he actually said
was "before the Elks was /c'm 'ere/." /Come/ and /here/ were one word,
approximately /cmear/. The context showed that he meant to use the
past perfect tense.

[50] These examples are from Lardner's story, A New Busher Breaks In,
in You Know Me Al, pp. 122 /et seq./

[51] You Know Me Al, /op. cit./, p. 124.

[52] The Making of English, p. 53.

[53] /Cf./ /Dialect Notes/, vol. iii, pt. i, p. 59; /ibid./, vol. III,
pt. iv, p. 283.

[54] Henry Bradley, in The Making of English, pp. 54-5: "In the parts
of England which were largely inhabited by Danes the native pronouns
(/i. e./, /heo/, /his/, /heom/ and /heora/) were supplanted by the
Scandinavian pronouns which are represented by the modern /she/,
/they/, /them/ and /their/." This substitution, at first dialectical,
gradually spread to the whole language.

[55] /Cf./ Sweet: A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 344, par. 1096.

[56] Before a noun beginning with a vowel /thine/ and /mine/ are
commonly substituted for /thy/ and /my/, as in "/thine/ eyes" and
"/mine/ infirmity." But this is solely for the sake of euphony. There
is no compensatory use of /my/ and /thy/ in the absolute.

[57] The Making of English, p. 58.

[58] /Cf./ The Dialect of Southeastern Missouri, by D. S. Crumb,
/Dialect Notes/, vol. ii, pt. iv, 1903, p. 337.

[59] It occurs, too, of course, in other dialects of English, though
by no means in all. The Irish influence probably had something to do
with its prosperity in vulgar American. At all events, the Irish use
it in the American manner. Joyce, in English As We Speak It in
Ireland, pp. 34-5, argues that this usage was suggested by Gaelic. In
Gaelic the accusative pronouns, /e/, /i/ and /iad/ (=/him/, /her/ and
/them/) are often used in place of the nominatives, /sé/, /si/ and
/siad/ (=/he/, /she/ and /they/), as in "is /iad/ sin na
buachaillidhe" (=/them/ are the boys). This is "good grammar" in
Gaelic, and the Irish, when they began to learn English, translated
the locution literally. The familiar Irish "John is dead and /him/
always so hearty" shows the same influence.

[60] Pp. 144-50.

[61] Modern English, p. 300.

[62] A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 339.

[63] History of the English Language, pp. 274-5.

[64] Modern English, p. 288-9.

[65] /Cf./ p. 145n.

[66] A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 341.

[67] It may be worth noting here that the misuse of /me/ for /my/, as
in "I lit /me/ pipe" is quite unknown in American, either standard or
vulgar. Even "/me/ own" is seldom heard. This boggling of the cases is
very common in spoken English.

[68] A New English Grammar, pt. i, p. 341.

[69] The King's English, p. 63.

[70] "Hon." Edward E. Browne, of Wisconsin, in the House of
Representatives, July 18, 1918, p. 9965.

[71] /Cf./ Vogue Affixes in Present-Day Word-Coinage, by Louise Pound,
/Dialect Notes/, vol. v, pt. i, 1918.

[72] The Speech of a Child Two Years of Age, /Dialect Notes/, vol. iv,
pt. ii, 1914.

[73] A New English Grammar, pt. i, pp. 437-8.

[74] The King's English, p. 322. See especially the quotation from
Frederick Greenwood, the distinguished English journalist.

[75] Report of Edward J. Brundage, attorney-general of Illinois, on
the East St. Louis massacre, /Congressional Record/, Jan. 7, 1918, p.

[76] The King's English, /op. cit./

[77] Oct. 1, 1864.

[78] /At all/, by the way, is often displaced by /any/ or /none/, as
in "he don't lover her /any/" and "it didn't hurt me /none/."

[79] See the bibliography for the publication of Drs. Read and Pound.

[80] The only book that I can find definitely devoted to American
sounds is A Handbook of American Speech, by Calvin L. Lewis; Chicago,
1916. It has many demerits. For example, the author gives a /z/-sound
to the /s/ in /venison/ (p. 52). This is surely not American.

[81] Maryland edition, July 18, 1914, p. 1.

[82] /Cf./ Lounsbury: The Standard of Pronunciation in English, p. 172
/et seq./

[83] /Stomp/ is used only in the sense of to stamp with the foot. One
always /stamps/ a letter. An analogue of /stomp/, accepted in correct
English, is /strop/ (/e. g./, /razor-strop/), from /strap/.

[84] Our Own, Our Native Speech, /McClure's Magazine/, Oct., 1916.



Differences in Spelling

§ 1

/Typical Forms/--Some of the salient differences between American and
English spelling are shown in the following list of common words:

 /American/               /English/

 Anemia                    anaemia
 aneurism                  aneurysm
 annex (noun)              annexe
 arbor                     arbour
 armor                     armour
 asphalt                   asphalte
 ataxia                    ataxy
 ax                        axe
 balk (verb)               baulk
 baritone                  barytone
 bark (ship)               barque
 behavior                  behaviour
 behoove                   behove
 buncombe                  bunkum
 burden (ship's)           burthen
 cachexia                  cachexy
 caliber                   calibre
 candor                    candour
 center                    centre
 check (bank)              cheque
 checkered                 chequered
 cider                     cyder
 clamor                    clamour
 clangor                   clangour
 cloture                   closure[1]
 color                     colour
 connection                connexion
 councilor                 councillor
 counselor                 counsellor
 cozy                      cosy
 curb                      kerb
 cyclopedia                cyclopaedia
 defense                   defence
 demeanor                  demeanour
 diarrhea                  diarrhoea
 draft (ship's)            draught
 dreadnaught               dreadnought
 dryly                     drily
 ecology                   oecology
 ecumenical                oecumenical
 edema                     oedema
 encyclopedia              encyclopaedia
 endeavor                  endeavour
 eon                       aeon
 epaulet                   epaulette
 esophagus                 oesophagus
 fagot                     faggot
 favor                     favour
 favorite                  favourite
 fervor                    fervour
 flavor                    flavour
 font (printer's)          fount
 foregather                forgather
 forego                    forgo
 form (printer's)          forme
 fuse                      fuze
 gantlet (to run the--)    gauntlet
 glamor                    glamour
 good-by                   good-bye
 gram                      gramme
 gray                      grey
 harbor                    harbour
 honor                     honour
 hostler                   ostler
 humor                     humour
 inclose                   enclose
 indorse                   endorse
 inflection                inflexion
 inquiry                   enquiry
 jail                      gaol
 jewelry                   jewellery
 jimmy (burglar's)         jemmy
 labor                     labour
 laborer                   labourer
 liter                     litre
 maneuver                  manoeuvre
 medieval                  mediaeval
 meter                     metre
 misdemeanor               misdemeanour
 mold                      mould
 mollusk                   mollusc
 molt                      moult
 mustache                  moustache
 neighbor                  neighbour
 neighborhood              neighbourhood
 net (adj.)                nett
 odor                      odour
 offense                   offence
 pajamas                   pyjamas
 parlor                    parlour
 peas (plu. of pea)        pease
 picket (military)         piquet
 plow                      plough
 pretense                  pretence
 program                   programme
 pudgy                     podgy
 pygmy                     pigmy
 rancor                    rancour
 rigor                     rigour
 rumor                     rumour
 savory                    savoury
 scimitar                  scimetar
 septicemia                septicaemia
 show (verb)               shew
 siphon                    syphon
 siren                     syren
 skeptic                   sceptic
 slug (verb)               slog
 slush                     slosh
 splendor                  splendour
 stanch                    staunch
 story (of a house)        storey
 succor                    succour
 taffy                     toffy
 tire (noun)               tyre
 toilet                    toilette
 traveler                  traveller
 tumor                     tumour
 valor                     valour
 vapor                     vapour
 veranda                   verandah
 vial                      phial
 vigor                     vigour
 vise (a tool)             vice
 wagon                     waggon
 woolen                    woollen

§ 2

/General Tendencies/--This list is by no means exhaustive. According
to a recent writer upon the subject, "there are 812 words in which the
prevailing American spelling differs from the English."[2] But enough
examples are given to reveal a number of definite tendencies.
American, in general, moves toward simplified forms of spelling more
rapidly than English, and has got much further along the road.
Redundant and unnecessary letters have been dropped from whole groups
of words--the /u/ from the group of nouns in /-our/, with the sole
exception of /Saviour/, and from such words as /mould/ and /baulk/;
the /e/ from /annexe/, /asphalte/, /axe/, /forme/, /pease/, /storey/,
etc.; the duplicate consonant from /waggon/, /nett/, /faggot/,
/woollen/, /jeweller/, /councillor/, etc., and the silent foreign
suffixes from /toilette/, /epaulette/, /programme/, /verandah/, etc.
In addition, simple vowels have been substituted for degenerated
diphthongs in such words as /anaemia/, [Pg246] /oesophagus/,
/diarrhoea/ and /mediaeval/, most of them from the Greek.

Further attempts in the same direction are to be seen in the
substitution of simple consonants for compound consonants, as in
/plow/, /bark/, /check/, /vial/ and /draft/; in the substitution of
/i/ for /y/ to bring words into harmony with analogues, as in /tire/,
/cider/ and /baritone/ (/cf./ /wire/, /rider/, /merriment/), and in
the general tendency to get rid of the somewhat uneuphonious /y/, as
in /ataxia/ and /pajamas/. Clarity and simplicity are also served by
substituting /ct/ for /x/ in such words as /connection/ and
/inflection/, and /s/ for /c/ in words of the /defense/ group. The
superiority of /jail/ to /gaol/ is made manifest by the common
mispronunciation of the latter, making it rhyme with /coal/. The
substitution of /i/ for /e/ in such words as /indorse/, /inclose/ and
/jimmy/ is of less patent utility, but even here there is probably a
slight gain in euphony. Of more obscure origin is what seems to be a
tendency to avoid the /o/-sound, so that the English /slog/ becomes
/slug/, /podgy/ becomes /pudgy/, /nought/ becomes /naught/, /slosh/
becomes /slush/, /toffy/ becomes /taffy/, and so on. Other changes
carry their own justification. /Hostler/ is obviously better American
than /ostler/, though it may be worse English. /Show/ is more logical
than /shew/.[3] /Cozy/ is more nearly phonetic than /cosy/. /Curb/ has
analogues in /curtain/, /curdle/, /curfew/, /curl/, /currant/,
/curry/, /curve/, /curtsey/, /curse/, /currency/, /cursory/,
/curtail/, /cur/, /curt/ and many other common words: /kerb/ has very
few, and of them only /kerchief/ and /kernel/ are in general use.
Moreover, the English themselves use /curb/ as a verb and in all noun
senses save that shown in /kerbstone/.

But a number of anomalies remain. The American substitution of /a/ for
/e/ in /gray/ is not easily explained, nor is the substitution of /k/
for /c/ in /skeptic/ and /mollusk/, nor the retention of /e/ in
/forego/, nor the unphonetic substitution of /s/ for /z/ in /fuse/,
[Pg247] nor the persistence of the first /y/ in /pygmy/. Here we have
plain vagaries, surviving in spite of attack by orthographers.
Webster, in one of his earlier books, denounced the /k/ in /skeptic/
as "a mere pedantry," but later on he adopted it. In the same way
/pygmy/, /gray/ and /mollusk/ have been attacked, but they still
remain sound American. The English themselves have many more such
illogical forms to account for. In the midst of the /our/-words they
cling to a small number in /or/, among them, /stupor/. Moreover, they
drop the /u/ in many derivatives, for example, in /arboreal/,
/armory/, /clamorously/, /clangorous/, /odoriferous/, /humorist/,
/laborious/ and /rigorism/. If it were dropped in all derivatives the
rule would be easy to remember, but it is retained in some of them,
for example, /colourable/, /favourite/, /misdemeanour/, /coloured/ and
/labourer/. The derivatives of /honour/ exhibit the confusion clearly.
/Honorary/, /honorarium/ and /honorific/ drop the /u/, but
/honourable/ retains it. Furthermore, the English make a distinction
between two senses of /rigor/. When used in its pathological sense
(not only in the Latin form of /rigor mortis/, but as an English word)
it drops the /u/; in all other senses it retains the /u/. The one
American anomaly in this field is /Saviour/. In its theological sense
it retains the /u/; but in that sense only. A sailor who saves his
ship is its /savior/, not its /saviour/.

§ 3

/The Influence of Webster/--At the time of the first settlement of
America the rules of English orthography were beautifully vague, and
so we find the early documents full of spellings that would give an
English lexicographer much pain today. Now and then a curious
foreshadowing of later American usage is encountered. On July 4, 1631,
for example, John Winthrop wrote in his journal that "the governour
built a /bark/ at Mistick, which was launched this day." But during
the eighteenth century, and especially after the publication of
Johnson's dictionary, there was a general movement in England toward a
more inflexible orthography, and many hard and fast rules, still
surviving, were then laid down. It was Johnson himself who [Pg248]
established the position of the /u/ in the /our/ words. Bailey, Dyche
and the other lexicographers before him were divided and uncertain;
Johnson declared for the /u/, and though his reasons were very
shaky[4] and he often neglected his own precept, his authority was
sufficient to set up a usage which still defies attack in England.
Even in America this usage was not often brought into question until
the last quarter of the eighteenth century. True enough, /honor/
appears in the Declaration of Independence, but it seems to have got
there rather by accident than by design. In Jefferson's original draft
it is spelled /honour/. So early as 1768 Benjamin Franklin had
published his "Scheme for a New Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of
Spelling, with Remarks and Examples Concerning the Same, and an
Enquiry Into its Uses" and induced a Philadelphia typefounder to cut
type for it, but this scheme was too extravagant to be adopted
anywhere, or to have any appreciable influence upon spelling.[5]

It was Noah Webster who finally achieved the divorce between English
example and American practise. He struck the first blow in his
"Grammatical Institute of the English Language," published at Hartford
in 1783. Attached to this work was an appendix bearing the formidable
title of "An Essay on the Necessity, Advantages and Practicability of
Reforming the Mode of Spelling, and of Rendering the Orthography of
Words Correspondent to the Pronunciation," and during the same year,
at Boston, he set forth his ideas a second time in the first edition
of his "American Spelling Book." The influence of this spelling book
was immediate and profound. It took the place in the schools of
Dilworth's "Aby-sel-pha," the favorite of the generation preceding,
and maintained its authority for fully a century. Until Lyman Cobb
entered the lists with his "New Spelling Book," in 1842, its
innumerable editions scarcely had [Pg249] any rivalry, and even then
it held its own. I have a New York edition, dated 1848, which contains
an advertisement stating that the annual sale at that time was more
than a million copies, and that more than 30,000,000 copies had been
sold since 1783. In the late 40's the publishers, George F. Cooledge &
Bro., devoted the whole capacity of the fastest steam press in the
United States to the printing of it. This press turned out 525 copies
an hour, or 5,250 a day. It was "constructed expressly for printing
Webster's Elementary Spelling Book [the name had been changed in 1829]
at an expense of $5,000." Down to 1889, 62,000,000 copies of the book
had been sold.

The appearance of Webster's first dictionary, in 1806, greatly
strengthened his influence. The best dictionary available to Americans
before this was Johnson's in its various incarnations, but against
Johnson's stood a good deal of animosity to its compiler, whose
implacable hatred of all things American was well known to the
citizens of the new republic. John Walker's dictionary, issued in
London in 1791, was also in use, but not extensively. A home-made
school dictionary, issued at New Haven in 1798 or 1799 by one Samuel
Johnson, Jr.--apparently no relative of the great Sam--and a larger
work published a year later by Johnson and the Rev. John Elliott,
pastor in East Guilford, Conn., seem to have made no impression,
despite the fact that the latter was commended by Simeon Baldwin,
Chauncey Goodrich and other magnificoes of the time and place, and
even by Webster himself. The field was thus open to the laborious and
truculent Noah. He was already the acknowledged magister of
lexicography in America, and there was an active public demand for a
dictionary that should be wholly American. The appearance of his first
duodecimo, according to Williams,[6] thereby took on something of the
character of a national event. It was received, not critically, but
patriotically, and its imperfections were swallowed as eagerly as its
merits. Later on Webster had to meet formidable critics, at home as
well as abroad, but for nearly a quarter of a century he reigned
almost unchallenged. Edition after edition of his dictionary was
published, [Pg250] each new one showing additions and improvements.
Finally, in 1828, he printed his great "/American/ Dictionary of the
English Language," in two large octavo volumes. It held the field for
half a century, not only against Worcester and the other American
lexicographers who followed him, but also against the best
dictionaries produced in England. Until very lately, indeed, America
remained ahead of England in practical dictionary making.

Webster had declared boldly for simpler spellings in his early
spelling books; in his dictionary of 1806 he made an assault at all
arms upon some of the dearest prejudices of English lexicographers.
Grounding his wholesale reforms upon a saying by Franklin, that "those
people spell best who do not know how to spell"--/i. e./, who spell
phonetically and logically--he made an almost complete sweep of whole
classes of silent letters--the /u/ in the /-our/ words, the final /e/
in /determine/ and /requisite/, the silent /a/ in /thread/, /feather/
and /steady/, the silent /b/ in /thumb/, the /s/ in /island/, the /o/
in /leopard/, and the redundant consonants in /traveler/, /wagon/,
/jeweler/, etc. (English: /traveller/, /waggon/, /jeweller/). More, he
lopped the final /k/ from /frolick/, /physick/ and their analogues.
Yet more, he transposed the /e/ and the /r/ in all words ending in
/re/, such as /theatre/, /lustre/, /centre/ and /calibre/. Yet more,
he changed the /c/ in all words of the /defence/ class to /s/. Yet
more, he changed /ph/ to /f/ in words of the /phantom/ class, /ou/ to
/oo/ in words of the /group/ class, /ow/ to /ou/ in /crowd/,
/porpoise/ to /porpess/, /acre/ to /aker/, /sew/ to /soe/, /woe/ to
/wo/, /soot/ to /sut/, /gaol/ to /jail/, and /plough/ to /plow/.
Finally, he antedated the simplified spellers by inventing a long list
of boldly phonetic spellings, ranging from /tung/ for /tongue/ to
/wimmen/ for /women/, and from /hainous/ for /heinous/ to /cag/ for

A good many of these new spellings, of course, were not actually
Webster's inventions. For example, the change from /-our/ to /-or/ in
words of the /honor/ class was a mere echo of an earlier English
usage, or, more accurately, of an earlier English uncertainty. In the
first three folios of Shakespeare, 1623, 1632 and 1663-6, /honor/ and
/honour/ were used indiscriminately and in almost equal proportions;
English spelling was still fluid, and [Pg251] the /-our/-form was not
consistently adopted until the fourth folio of 1685. Moreover, John
Wesley, the founder of Methodism, is authority for the statement that
the /-or/-form was "a fashionable impropriety" in England in 1791. But
the great authority of Johnson stood against it, and Webster was
surely not one to imitate fashionable improprieties. He deleted the
/u/ for purely etymological reasons, going back to the Latin /honor/,
/favor/ and /odor/ without taking account of the intermediate French
/honneur/, /faveur/ and /odeur/. And where no etymological reasons
presented themselves, he made his changes by analogy and for the sake
of uniformity, or for euphony or simplicity, or because it pleased
him, one guesses, to stir up the academic animals. Webster, in fact,
delighted in controversy, and was anything but free from the national
yearning to make a sensation.

A great many of his innovations, of course, failed to take root, and in
the course of time he abandoned some of them himself. In his early
"Essay on the Necessity, Advantage and Practicability of Reforming the
Mode of Spelling" he advocated reforms which were already discarded by
the time he published the first edition of his dictionary. Among them
were the dropping of the silent letter in such words as /head/, /give/,
/built/ and /realm/, making them /hed/, /giv/, /bilt/ and /relm/; the
substitution of doubled vowels for decayed diphthongs in such words as
/mean/, /zeal/ and /near/, making them /meen/, /zeel/ and /neer/; and
the substitution of /sh/ for /ch/ in such French loan-words as /machine/
and /chevalier/, making them /masheen/ and /shevaleer/. He also declared
for /stile/ in place of /style/, and for many other such changes, and
then quietly abandoned them. The successive editions of his dictionary
show still further concessions. /Croud/, /fether/, /groop/, /gillotin/,
/iland/, /insted/, /leperd/, /soe/, /sut/, /steddy/, /thret/, /thred/,
/thum/ and /wimmen/ appear only in the 1806 edition. In 1828 he went
back to /crowd/, /feather/, /group/, /island/, /instead/, /leopard/,
/sew/, /soot/, /steady/, /thread/, /threat/, /thumb/ and /women/, and
changed /gillotin/ to /guillotin/. In addition, he restored the final
/e/ in /determine/, /discipline/, /requisite/, /imagine/, etc. In 1838,
revising his dictionary, he abandoned a good many spellings that had
appeared in either the 1806 or the 1828 edition, notably /maiz/ for
/maize/, [Pg252] /suveran/ for /sovereign/ and /guillotin/ for
/guillotine/. But he stuck manfully to a number that were quite as
revolutionary--for example, /aker/ for /acre/, /cag/ for /keg/,
/grotesk/ for /grotesque/, /hainous/ for /heinous/, /porpess/ for
/porpoise/ and /tung/ for /tongue/--and they did not begin to disappear
until the edition of 1854, issued by other hands and eleven years after
his death. Three of his favorites, /chimist/ for /chemist/, /neger/ for
/negro/ and /zeber/ for /zebra/, are incidentally interesting as showing
changes in American pronunciation. He abandoned /zeber/ in 1828, but
remained faithful to /chimist/ and /neger/ to the last.

But though he was thus forced to give occasional ground, and in more
than one case held out in vain, Webster lived to see the majority of
his reforms adopted by his countrymen. He left the ending in /-or/
triumphant over the ending in /-our/, he shook the security of the
ending in /-re/, he rid American spelling of a great many doubled
consonants, he established the /s/ in words of the /defense/ group,
and he gave currency to many characteristic American spellings,
notably /jail/, /wagon/, /plow/, /mold/ and /ax/. These spellings
still survive, and are practically universal in the United States
today; their use constitutes one of the most obvious differences
between written English and written American. Moreover, they have
founded a general tendency, the effects of which reach far beyond the
field actually traversed by Webster himself. New words, and
particularly loan-words, are simplified, and hence naturalized in
American much more quickly than in English. /Employé/ has long since
become /employee/ in our newspapers, and /asphalte/ has lost its final
/e/, and /manoeuvre/ has become /maneuver/, and /pyjamas/ has become
/pajamas/. Even the terminology of science is simplified and
Americanized. In medicine, for example, the highest American usage
countenances many forms which would seem barbarisms to an English
medical man if he encountered them in the /Lancet/. In derivatives of
the Greek /haima/ it is the almost invariable American custom to spell
the root syllable /hem/, but the more conservative English make it
/haem/--/e. g./, in /haemorrhage/ and /haemiplegia/. In an exhaustive
list of diseases issued by the United States Public Health [Pg253]
Service[7] the /haem/-form does not appear once. In the same way
American usage prefers /esophagus/, /diarrhea/ and /gonorrhea/ to the
English /oesophagus/, /diarrhoea/ and /gonorrhoea/. In the style-book
of the /Journal/ of the American Medical Association[8] I find many
other spellings that would shock an English medical author, among them
/curet/ for /curette/, /cocain/ for /cocaine/, /gage/ for /gauge/,
/intern/ for /interne/, /lacrimal/ for /lachrymal/, and a whole group
of words ending in /-er/ instead of in /-re/.

Webster's reforms, it goes without saying, have not passed
unchallenged by the guardians of tradition. A glance at the literature
of the first years of the nineteenth century shows that most of the
serious authors of the time ignored his new spellings, though they
were quickly adopted by the newspapers. Bancroft's "Life of
Washington" contains /-our/ endings in all such words as /honor/,
/ardor/ and /favor/. Washington Irving also threw his influence
against the /-or/ ending, and so did Bryant and most of the other
literary big-wigs of that day. After the appearance of "An American
Dictionary of the English Language," in 1828, a formal battle was
joined, with Lyman Cobb and Joseph E. Worcester as the chief opponents
of the reformer. Cobb and Worcester, in the end, accepted the /-or/
ending and so surrendered on the main issue, but various other
champions arose to carry on the war. Edward S. Gould, in a once famous
essay,[9] denounced the whole Websterian orthography with the utmost
fury, and Bryant, reprinting this philippic in the /Evening Post/,
said that on account of Webster "the English language has been
undergoing a process of corruption for the last quarter of a century,"
and offered to contribute to a fund to have Gould's denunciation "read
twice a year in every school-house in the United States, until every
trace of Websterian spelling disappears from the land." But Bryant was
forced to admit that, even in 1856, the chief novelties of the
Connecticut school-master "who taught millions to read but not one to
sin" were [Pg254] "adopted and propagated by the largest publishing
house, through the columns of the most widely circulated monthly
magazine, and through one of the ablest and most widely circulated
newspapers in the United States"--which is to say, the /Tribune/ under
Greeley. The last academic attack was delivered by Bishop Coxe in
1886, and he contented himself with the resigned statement that
"Webster has corrupted our spelling sadly." Lounsbury, with his active
interest in spelling reform, ranged himself on the side of Webster,
and effectively disposed of the controversy by showing that the great
majority of his spellings were supported by precedents quite as
respectable as those behind the fashionable English spellings. In
Lounsbury's opinion, a good deal of the opposition to them was no more
than a symptom of antipathy to all things American among certain
Englishmen and of subservience to all things English among certain

Webster's inconsistency gave his opponents a formidable weapon for use
against him--until it began to be noticed that the orthodox English
spelling was quite as inconsistent. He sought to change /acre/ to
/aker/, but left /lucre/ unchanged. He removed the final /f/ from
/bailiff/, /mastiff/, /plaintiff/ and /pontiff/, but left it in
/distaff/. He changed /c/ to /s/ in words of the /offense/ class, but
left the /c/ in /fence/. He changed the /ck/ in /frolick/, /physick/,
etc., into a simple /c/, but restored it in such derivatives as
/frolicksome/. He deleted the silent /u/ in /mould/, but left it in
/court/. These slips were made the most of by Cobb in a pamphlet
printed in 1831.[11] He also detected Webster in the frequent /faux
pas/ of using spellings in his definitions and explanations that
conflicted with the spellings he advocated. Various other purists
joined in the attack, and it was renewed with great fury after the
appearance of Worcester's dictionary, in 1846. Worcester, who had
begun his lexicographical labors by editing Johnson's dictionary, was
a good deal more conservative than Webster, and so the partisans of
conformity rallied around him, and for [Pg255] a while the
controversy took on all the rancor of a personal quarrel. Even the
editions of Webster printed after his death, though they gave way on
many points, were violently arraigned. Gould, in 1867, belabored the
editions of 1854 and 1866,[12] and complained that "for the past
twenty-five years the Websterian replies have uniformly been bitter in
tone, and very free in the imputation of personal motives, or
interested or improper motives, on the part of opposing critics." At
this time Webster himself had been dead for twenty-two years. Schele
de Vere, during the same year, denounced the publishers of the Webster
dictionaries for applying "immense capital and a large stock of energy
and perseverance" to the propagation of his "new and arbitrarily
imposed orthography."[13]

§ 4

/Exchanges/--As in vocabulary and in idiom, there are constant
exchanges between English and American in the department of
orthography. Here the influence of English usage is almost uniformly
toward conservatism, and that of American usage is as steadily in the
other direction. The logical superiority of American spelling is well
exhibited by its persistent advance in the face of the utmost
hostility. The English objection to our simplifications, as Brander
Matthews points out, is not wholly or even chiefly etymological; its
roots lie, to borrow James Russell Lowell's phrase, in an esthetic
hatred burning "with as fierce a flame as ever did theological
hatred." There is something inordinately offensive to English purists
in the very thought of taking lessons from this side of the water,
particularly in the mother tongue. The opposition, transcending the
academic, takes on the character of the patriotic. "Any American,"
continues Matthews, "who chances to note the force and the fervor and
the frequency of the objurgations against American spelling in the
columns of the /Saturday Review/, for example, and of the /Athenaeum/,
may find himself wondering as to the date of the [Pg256] papal bull
which declared the infallibility of contemporary British orthography,
and as to the place where the council of the Church was held at which
it was made an article of faith."[14] This was written more than a
quarter of a century ago. Since then there has been a lessening of
violence, but the opposition still continues. No self-respecting
English author would yield up the /-our/ ending for an instant, or
write /check/ for /cheque/, or transpose the last letters in the /-re/

Nevertheless, American spelling makes constant gains across the water,
and they more than offset the occasional fashions for English
spellings on this side. Schele de Vere, in 1867, consoled himself for
Webster's "arbitrarily imposed orthography" by predicting that it
could be "only temporary"--that, in the long run, "North America
depends exclusively on the mother-country for its models of
literature." But the event has blasted this prophecy and confidence,
for the English, despite their furious reluctance, have succumbed to
Webster more than once. The New English Dictionary, a monumental work,
shows many silent concessions, and quite as many open yieldings--for
example, in the case of /ax/, which is admitted to be "better than
/axe/ on every ground." Moreover, English usage tends to march ahead
of it, outstripping the liberalism of its editor, Sir James A. H.
Murray. In 1914, for example, Sir James was still protesting against
dropping the first /e/ from /judgement/, a characteristic Americanism,
but during the same year the Fowlers, in their Concise Oxford
Dictionary, put /judgment/ ahead of /judgement/; and two years earlier
the Authors' and Printers' Dictionary, edited by Horace Hart,[15] had
dropped /judgement/ altogether. Hart is Controller of the Oxford
University Press, and the Authors' and Printers' Dictionary is an
authority accepted by nearly all of the great English book publishers
and newspapers. Its last edition shows a great many American
spellings. For example, it recommends the use of /jail/ and /jailer/
in place [Pg257] of the English /gaol/ and /gaoler/, says that /ax/
is better than /axe/, drops the final /e/ from /asphalte/ and /forme/,
changes the /y/ to /i/ in /cyder/, /cypher/ and /syren/ and advocates
the same change in /tyre/, drops the redundant /t/ from /nett/,
changes /burthen/ to /burden/, spells /wagon/ with one /g/, prefers
/fuse/ to /fuze/, and takes the /e/ out of /storey/. "Rules for
Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford," also edited
by Hart (with the advice of Sir James Murray and Dr. Henry Bradley),
is another very influential English authority.[16] It gives its
imprimatur to /bark/ (a ship), /cipher/, /siren/, /jail/, /story/,
/tire/ and /wagon/, and even advocates /kilogram/ and /omelet/.
Finally, there is Cassell's English Dictionary.[17] It clings to the
/-our/ and /-re/ endings and to /annexe/, /waggon/ and /cheque/, but
it prefers /jail/ to /gaol/, /net/ to /nett/, /asphalt/ to /asphalte/
and /story/ to /storey/, and comes out flatly for /judgment/, /fuse/
and /siren/.

Current English spelling, like our own, shows a number of
uncertainties and inconsistencies, and some of them are undoubtedly
the result of American influences that have not yet become fully
effective. The lack of harmony in the /-our/ words, leading to such
discrepancies as /honorary/ and /honourable/, I have already
mentioned. The British Board of Trade, in attempting to fix the
spelling of various scientific terms, has often come to grief. Thus it
detaches the final /-me/ from /gramme/ in such compounds as /kilogram/
and /milligram/, but insists upon /gramme/ when the word stands alone.
In American usage /gram/ is now common, and scarcely challenged. All
the English authorities that I have consulted prefer /metre/ and
/calibre/ to the American /meter/ and /caliber/.[18] They also support
the /ae/ in such words as /aetiology/, /aesthetics/, /mediaeval/ and
/anaemia/, and the /oe/ in /oesophagus/, [Pg258] /manoeuvre/ and
/diarrhoea/. They also cling to such forms as /mollusc/, /kerb/,
/pyjamas/ and /ostler/, and to the use of /x/ instead of /ct/ in
/connexion/ and /inflexion/. The Authors' and Printers' Dictionary
admits the American /curb/, but says that the English /kerb/ is more
common. It gives /barque/, /plough/ and /fount/, but grants that
/bark/, /plow/ and /font/ are good in America. As between /inquiry/
and /enquiry/, it prefers the American /inquiry/ to the English
/enquiry/, but it rejects the American /inclose/ and /indorse/ in
favor of the English /enclose/ and /endorse/.[19] Here American
spelling has driven in a salient, but has yet to take the whole
position. A number of spellings, nearly all American, are trembling on
the brink of acceptance in both countries. Among them is /rime/ (for
/rhyme/). This spelling was correct in England until about 1530, but
its recent revival was of American origin. It is accepted by the
Oxford Dictionary and by the editors of the Cambridge History of
English Literature, but it seldom appears in an English journal. The
same may be said of /grewsome/. It has got a footing in both
countries, but the weight of English opinion is still against it.
/Develop/ (instead of /develope/) has gone further in both countries.
So has /engulf/, for /engulph/. So has /gipsy/ for /gypsy/.

American imitation of English orthography has two impulses behind it.
First, there is the colonial spirit, the desire to pass as English--in
brief, mere affectation. Secondly, there is the wish among printers,
chiefly of books and periodicals, to reach a compromise spelling
acceptable in both countries, thus avoiding expensive revisions in
case of republication in England.[20] [Pg259] The first influence
need not detain us. It is chiefly visible among folk of fashionable
pretensions, and is not widespread. At Bar Harbor, in Maine, some of
the summer residents are at great pains to put /harbour/ instead of
/harbor/ on their stationery, but the local postmaster still continues
to stamp all mail /Bar Harbor/, the legal name of the place. In the
same way American haberdashers sometimes advertise /pyjamas/ instead
of /pajamas/, just as they advertise /braces/ instead of /suspenders/
and /vests/ instead of /undershirts/. But this benign folly does not
go very far. Beyond occasionally clinging to the /-re/ ending in words
of the /theatre/ group, all American newspapers and magazines employ
the native orthography, and it would be quite as startling to
encounter /honour/ or /jewellery/ in one of them as it would be to
encounter /gaol/ or /waggon/. Even the most fashionable jewelers in
Fifth avenue still deal in /jewelry/, not in /jewellery/.

The second influence is of more effect and importance. In the days
before the copyright treaty between England and the United States, one
of the standing arguments against it among the English was based upon
the fear that it would flood England with books set up in America, and
so work a corruption of English spelling.[21] This fear, as we have
seen, had a certain plausibility; there is not the slightest doubt
that American books and American magazines have done valiant
missionary service for American orthography. But English conservatism
still holds out stoutly enough to force American printers to certain
compromises. When a book is designed for circulation in both countries
it is common for the publisher to instruct the printer to employ
"English spelling." This English spelling, at the Riverside Press,[22]
embraces all the /-our/ endings and the following further forms:

 premises (in logic)

It will be noted that /gaol/, /tyre/, /storey/, /kerb/, /asphalte/,
/annexe/, /ostler/, /mollusc/ and /pyjamas/ are not listed, nor are
the words ending in /-re/. These and their like constitute the English
contribution to the compromise. Two other great American book presses,
that of the Macmillan Company[23] and that of the J. S. Cushing
Company,[24] add /gaol/ and /storey/ to the list, and also /behove/,
/briar/, /drily/, /enquire/, /gaiety/, /gipsy/, /instal/, /judgement/,
/lacquey/, /moustache/, /nought/, /pigmy/, /postillion/, /reflexion/,
/shily/, /slily/, /staunch/ and /verandah/. Here they go too far, for,
as we have seen, the English themselves have begun to abandon /briar/,
/enquire/ and /judgement/. Moreover, /lacquey/ is going out over
there, and /gipsy/ is not English, but American. The Riverside Press,
even in books intended only for America, prefers certain English
forms, among them, /anaemia/, /axe/, /mediaeval/, /mould/, /plough/,
/programme/ and /quartette/, but in compensation it stands by such
typical Americanisms as /caliber/, /calk/, /center/, /cozy/,
/defense/, /foregather/, /gray/, /hemorrhage/, /luster/, /maneuver/,
/mustache/, /theater/ and /woolen/. The Government Printing Office at
Washington follows Webster's New International Dictionary,[25] which
supports most of the innovations of Webster himself. This dictionary
is the authority in perhaps a majority of American printing offices,
with the Standard and the Century supporting it. The latter two also
follow Webster, notably in his /-er/ [Pg261] endings and in his
substitution of /s/ for /c/ in words of the /defense/ class. The
Worcester Dictionary is the sole exponent of English spelling in
general circulation in the United States. It remains faithful to most
of the /-re/ endings, and to /manoeuvre/, /gramme/, /plough/,
/sceptic/, /woollen/, /axe/ and many other English forms. But even
Worcester favors such characteristic American spellings as /behoove/,
/brier/, /caliber/, /checkered/, /dryly/, /jail/ and /wagon/.

§ 5

/Simplified Spelling/--The current movement toward a general reform of
English-American spelling is of American origin, and its chief
supporters are Americans today. Its actual father was Webster, for it
was the long controversy over his simplified spellings that brought
the dons of the American Philological Association to a serious
investigation of the subject. In 1875 they appointed a committee to
inquire into the possibility of reform, and in 1876 this committee
reported favorably. During the same year there was an International
Convention for the Amendment of English Orthography at Philadelphia,
with several delegates from England present, and out of it grew the
Spelling Reform Association.[26] In 1878 a committee of American
philologists began preparing a list of proposed new spellings, and two
years later the Philological Society of England joined in the work. In
1883 a joint manifesto was issued, recommending various general
simplifications. In 1886 the American Philological Association issued
independently a list of recommendations affecting about 3,500 words,
and falling under ten headings. Practically all of the changes
proposed had been put forward 80 years before by Webster, and some of
them had entered into unquestioned American usage in the meantime,
/e. g./, the deletion of the /u/ from the /-our/ words, the substitution
of [Pg262] /er/ for /re/ at the end of words, the reduction of
/traveller/ to /traveler/, and the substitution of /z/ for /s/
wherever phonetically demanded, as in /advertize/ and /cozy/.

The trouble with the others was that they were either too uncouth to
be adopted without a struggle or likely to cause errors in
pronunciation. To the first class belonged /tung/ for /tongue/, /ruf/
for /rough/, /batl/ for /battle/ and /abuv/ for /above/, and to the
second such forms as /cach/ for /catch/ and /troble/ for /trouble/.
The result was that the whole reform received a set-back: the public
dismissed the industrious professors as a pack of dreamers. Twelve
years later the National Education Association revived the movement
with a proposal that a beginning be made with a very short list of
reformed spellings, and nominated the following by way of experiment:
/tho/, /altho/, /thru/, /thruout/, /thoro/, /thoroly/, /thorofare/,
/program/, /prolog/, /catalog/, /pedagog/ and /decalog/. This scheme
of gradual changes was sound in principle, and in a short time at
least two of the recommended spellings, /program/ and /catalog/, were
in general use. Then, in 1906, came the organization of the Simplified
Spelling Board, with an endowment of $15,000 a year from Andrew
Carnegie, and a formidable membership of pundits. The board at once
issued a list of 300 revised spellings, new and old, and in August,
1906, President Roosevelt ordered their adoption by the Government
Printing Office. But this unwise effort to hasten matters, combined
with the buffoonery characteristically thrown about the matter by
Roosevelt, served only to raise up enemies, and since then, though it
has prudently gone back to more discreet endeavors and now lays main
stress upon the original 12 words of the National Education
Association, the Board has not made a great deal of progress.[27] From
time to time it issues impressive lists of newspapers and periodicals
that are using some, at least, of its revised spellings and of
colleges that have made them optional, but an inspection of these
lists shows that very few [Pg263] publications of any importance have
been converted[28] and that most of the great universities still
hesitate. It has, however, greatly reinforced the authority behind
many of Webster's spellings, and it has done much to reform scientific
orthography. Such forms as /gram/, /cocain/, /chlorid/, /anemia/ and
/anilin/ are the products of its influence.

Despite the large admixture of failure in this success there is good
reason to believe that at least two of the spellings on the National
Education Association list, /tho/ and /thru/, are making not a little
quiet progress. I read a great many manuscripts by American authors,
and find in them an increasing use of both forms, with the occasional
addition of /altho/, /thoro/ and /thoroly/. The spirit of American
spelling is on their side. They promise to come in as /honor/, /bark/,
/check/, /wagon/ and /story/ came in many years ago, as /tire/,[29]
/esophagus/ and /theater/ came in later on, as /program/, /catalog/
and /cyclopedia/ came in only yesterday, and as /airplane/ (for
/aëroplane/)[30] is coming in today. A constant tendency toward logic
and simplicity is visible; if the spelling of English and American
does not grow farther and farther apart it is only because American
drags English along. There is incessant experimentalization. New forms
appear, are tested, and then either gain general acceptance or
disappear. One such, now struggling for recognition, is /alright/, a
compound of /all/ and /right/, made by analogy with /already/ and
/almost/. I find it in American manuscripts every day, and it not
infrequently gets into print.[31] So far no dictionary supports it,
but [Pg264] it has already migrated to England.[32] Meanwhile, one
often encounters, in American advertising matter, such experimental
forms as /burlesk/, /foto/, /fonograph/, /kandy/, /kar/, /holsum/,
/kumfort/ and /Q-room/, not to mention /sulfur/. /Segar/ has been more
or less in use for half a century, and at one time it threatened to
displace /cigar/. At least one American professor of English predicts
that such forms will eventually prevail. Even /fosfate/ and
/fotograph/, he says, "are bound to be the spellings of the

§ 6

/Minor Differences/--Various minor differences remain to be noticed.
One is a divergence in orthography due to differences in
pronunciation. /Specialty/, /aluminum/ and /alarm/ offer examples. In
English they are /speciality/, /aluminium/ and /alarum/, though
/alarm/ is also an alternative form. /Specialty/, in America, is
always accented on the first syllable; /speciality/, in England, on
the third. The result is two distinct words, though their meaning is
identical. How /aluminium/, in America, lost its fourth syllable I
have been unable to determine, but all American authorities now make
it /aluminum/ and all English authorities stick to /aluminium/.

Another difference in usage is revealed in the spelling and
pluralization of foreign words. Such words, when they appear in an
English publication, even a newspaper, almost invariably bear the
correct accents, but in the United States it is almost as invariably
the rule to omit these accents, save in publications of considerable
pretensions. This is notably the case with /café/, /crêpe/, /début/,
/débutante/, /portière/, /levée/, /éclat/, /fête/, /régime/, /rôle/,
/soirée/, /protégé/, /élite/, /mêlée/, /tête-à-tête/ and /répertoire/.
It is rare to encounter any of them with its proper accents in an
American newspaper; it is rare to encounter them unaccented in an
English [Pg265] newspaper. This slaughter of the accents, it must be
obvious, greatly aids the rapid naturalization of a newcomer. It loses
much of its foreignness at once, and is thus easier to absorb. /Dépôt/
would have been a long time working its way into American had it
remained /dépôt/, but immediately it became plain /depot/ it got in.
The process is constantly going on. I often encounter /naïveté/
without its accents, and even /déshabille/, /hofbräu/, /señor/ and
/résumé/. /Cañon/ was changed to /canyon/ years ago, and the cases of
/exposé/, /divorcée/, /schmierkäse/, /employé/ and /matinée/ are
familiar. At least one American dignitary of learning, Brander
Matthews, has openly defended and even advocated this clipping of
accents. In speaking of /naïf/ and /naïveté/, which he welcomes
because "we have no exact equivalent for either word," he says: "But
they will need to shed their accents and to adapt themselves somehow
to the traditions of our orthography."[34] He goes on: "After we have
decided that the foreign word we find knocking at the doors of English
[he really means American, as the context shows] is likely to be
useful, we must fit it for naturalization by insisting that it shall
shed its accents, if it has any; that it shall change its spelling, if
this is necessary; that it shall modify its pronunciation, if this is
not easy for us to compass; and that it shall conform to all our
speech-habits, especially in the formation of the plural."[35]

In this formation of the plural, as elsewhere, English regards the
precedents and American makes new ones. All the English authorities
that I have had access to advocate retaining the foreign plurals of
most of the foreign words in daily use, /e. g./, /sanatoria/,
/appendices/, /virtuosi/, /formulae/ and /libretti/. But American
usage favors plurals of native cut, and the /Journal/ of the American
Medical Association goes so far as to approve /curriculums/ and
/septums/. /Banditti/, in place of /bandits/, would seem an
affectation in America, and so would /soprani/ for /sopranos/ [Pg266]
and /soli/ for /solos/.[36] The last two are common in England. Both
English and American labor under the lack of native plurals for the
two everyday titles, /Mister/ and /Missus/. In the written speech, and
in the more exact forms of the spoken speech, the French plurals,
/Messieurs/ and /Mesdames/, are used, but in the ordinary spoken
speech, at least in America, they are avoided by circumlocution. When
/Messieurs/ has to be spoken it is almost invariably pronounced
/messers/, and in the same way /Mesdames/ becomes /mez-dames/, with
the first syllable rhyming with /sez/ and the second, which bears the
accent, with /games/. In place of /Mesdames/ a more natural form,
/Madames/, seems to be gaining ground in America. Thus, I lately found
/Dames du Sacré Coeur/ translated as /Madames of the Sacred Heart/ in
a Catholic paper of wide circulation,[37] and the form is apparently
used by American members of the community.

In capitalization the English are a good deal more conservative than
we are. They invariably capitalize such terms as /Government/, /Prime
Minister/ and /Society/, when used as proper nouns; they capitalize
/Press/, /Pulpit/, /Bar/, etc., almost as often. In America a movement
against this use of capitals appeared during the latter part of the
eighteenth century. In Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of
Independence /nature/ and /creator/, and even /god/ are in lower
case.[38] During the 20's and 30's of the succeeding century, probably
as a result of French influence, the disdain of capitals went so far
that the days of the week were often spelled with small initial
letters, and even /Mr./ became /mr/. Curiously enough, the most
striking exhibition of this tendency of late years is offered by an
English work of the highest scholarship, the Cambridge History of
English Literature. It uses the lower case for all titles, even
/baron/ and /colonel/ before proper names, and also avoids capitals in
such [Pg267] words as /presbyterian/, /catholic/ and /christian/, and
in the second parts of such terms as Westminster /abbey/ and Atlantic

Finally, there are certain differences in punctuation. The English, as
everyone knows, put a comma after the street number of a house, making
it, for example, /34, St. James street/. They usually insert a comma
instead of a period after the hour when giving the time in figures,
/e. g./, /9,27/, and omit the /0/ when indicating less than 10
minutes, /e. g./, /8,7/ instead of /8.07/. They do not use the period
as the mark of the decimal, but employ a dot at the level of the upper
dot of a colon, as in /3·1416/. They cling to the hyphen in such words
as /to-day/ and /to-night/; it begins to disappear in America. They
use /an/ before /hotel/ and /historical/; Kipling has even used it
before /hydraulic/;[39] American usage prefers /a/. But these small
differences need not be pursued further.


[1] Fowler & Fowler, in The King's English, p. 23, say that "when it
was proposed to borrow from France what we [/i. e./, the English] now
know as the /closure/, it seemed certain for some time that with the
thing we should borrow the name, /clôture/; a press campaign resulted
in /closure/." But in the /Congressional Record/ it is still
/cloture/, though with the loss of the circumflex accent, and this
form is generally retained by American newspapers.

[2] Richard P. Read: The American Language, /New York Sun/, March 7,

[3] /To shew/ has completely disappeared from American, but it still
survives in English usage. /Cf./ The /Shewing/-Up of Blanco Posnet, by
George Bernard Shaw. The word, of course, is pronounced /show/, not
/shoe/. /Shrew/, a cognate word, still retains the early pronunciation
of /shrow/ in English, but is now phonetic in American.

[4] /Cf./ Lounsbury; English Spelling and Spelling Reform; p. 209 /et
seq./ Johnson even advocated /translatour/, /emperour/, /oratour/ and
/horrour/. But, like most other lexicographers, he was often
inconsistent, and the conflict between /interiour/ and /exterior/, and
/anteriour/ and /posterior/, in his dictionary, laid him open to much
mocking criticism.

[5] In a letter to Miss Stephenson, Sept. 20, 1768, he exhibited the
use of his new alphabet. The letter is to be found in most editions of
his writings.

[6] R. C. Williams: Our Dictionaries; New York, 1890, p. 30.

[7] Nomenclature of Diseases and Condition, prepared by direction of
the Surgeon General; Washington, 1916.

[8] American Medical Association Style Book; Chicago, 1915.

[9] /Democratic Review/, March, 1856.

[10] /Vide/ English Spelling and Spelling Reform, p. 229.

[11] A Critical Review of the Orthography of Dr. Webster's Series of
Books ...; New York, 1831.

[12] Good English; p. 137 /et seq./

[13] Studies in English; pp. 64-5.

[14] Americanisms and Briticisms; New York, 1892, p. 37.

[15] Authors' & Printers' Dictionary ... an attempt to codify the best
typographical practices of the present day, by F. Howard Collins; 4th
ed., revised by Horace Hart; London, 1912.

[16] Horace Hart: Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University
Press, Oxford: 23rd ed.; London, 1914. I am informed by Mr. Humphrey
Davy, of the /London Times/, that, with one or two minor exceptions,
the /Times/ observes the rules laid down in this book.

[17] Cassell's English Dictionary, ed. by John Williams, 37th
thousand: London, 1908. This work is based upon the larger
Encyclopaedic Dictionary, also edited by Williams.

[18] /Caliber/ is now the official spelling of the United States Army.
/Cf./ Description and Rules for the Management of the U. S. Rifle,
/Caliber/ .30 Model of 1903; Washington, 1915. But /calibre/ is still
official in England as appears by the Field Service Pocket-Book used
in the European war (London, 1914, p. viii.)

[19] Even worse inconsistencies are often encountered. Thus /enquiry/
appears on p. 3 of the Dardanelles Commission's First Report; London,
1917; but /inquiring/ is on p. 1.

[20] Mere stupid copying may perhaps be added. An example of it
appears on a map printed with a pamphlet entitled Conquest and Kultur,
compiled by two college professors and issued by the Creel press
bureau (Washington, 1918). On this map, borrowed from an English
periodical called /New Europe/ without correction, /annex/ is spelled
/annexe/. In the same way English spellings often appear in paragraphs
reprinted from the English newspapers. As compensation in the case of
/annexe/ I find /annex/ on pages 11 and 23 of A Report on the
Treatment by the Enemy of British Prisoners of War Behind the Firing
Lines in France and Belgium; Miscellaneous No. 7 (1918). When used as
a verb the English always spell the word /annex/. /Annexe/ is only the
noun form.

[21] /Vide/ Matthews: Americanisms and Briticisms, pp. 33-34.

[22] Handbook of Style in Use at the Riverside Press, Cambridge,
Mass.; Boston, 1913.

[23] Notes for the Guidance of Authors; New York, 1918.

[24] Preparation of Manuscript, Proof Reading, and Office Style at J.
S. Cushing Company's; Norwood, Mass., n. d.

[25] Style Book, a Compilation of Rules Governing Executive,
Congressional and Departmental Printing, Including the /Congressional
Record/, ed. of Feb., 1917; Washington, 1917. A copy of this style
book is in the proof-room of nearly every American daily newspaper and
its rules are generally observed.

[26] Accounts of earlier proposals of reform in English spelling are
to be found in Sayce's Introduction to the Science of Language, vol.
i, p. 330 /et seq./, and White's Everyday English, p. 152 /et seq./
The best general treatment of the subject is in Lounsbury's English
Spelling and Spelling Reform; New York, 1909.

[27] Its second list was published on January 28, 1908, its third on
January 25, 1909, and its fourth on March 24, 1913, and since then
there have been several others. But most of its literature is devoted
to the 12 words and to certain reformed spellings of Webster, already
in general use.

[28] The /Literary Digest/ is perhaps the most important. Its usage is
shown by the Funk & Wagnalls Company Style Card; New York, 1914.

[29] /Tyre/ was still in use in America in the 70's. It will be found
on p. 150 of Mark Twain's Roughing It; Hartford, 1872.

[30] /Vide/ the /Congressional Record/ for March 26, 1918, p. 4374. It
is curious to note that the French themselves are having difficulties
with this and the cognate words. The final /e/ has been dropped from
/biplan/, /monoplan/ and /hydroplan/, but they seem to be unable to
dispense with it in /aéroplane/.

[31] For example, in Teepee Neighbors, by Grace Coolidge; Boston,
1917, p. 220; Duty and Other Irish Comedies, by Seumas O'Brien; New
York, 1916, p. 52; Salt, by Charles G. Norris; New York, 1918, p. 135,
and The Ideal Guest, by Wyndham Lewis, /Little Review/, May, 1918, p.
3. O'Brien is an Irishman and Lewis an Englishman, but the printer in
each case was American. I find /allright/, as one word but with two
/ll's/, in Diplomatic Correspondence With Belligerent Governments,
etc., European War, No. 4; Washington, 1918, p. 214.

[32] /Vide/ How to Lengthen Our Ears, by Viscount Harberton; London,
1917, p. 28.

[33] Krapp: Modern English, p. 181.

[34] Why Not Speak Your Own Language? in /Delineator/, Nov., 1917, p.

[35] I once noted an extreme form of this naturalization in a leading
Southern newspaper, the /Baltimore Sun/. In an announcement of the
death of an American artist it reported that he had studied at the
/Bozart/ in Paris. In New York I have also encountered /chaufer/.

[36] Now and then, of course, a contrary tendency asserts itself. For
example, the plural of /medium/, in the sense of advertising medium,
is sometimes made /media/ by advertising men. /Vide/ the /Editor and
Publisher/, May 11, 1918.

[37] /Irish World/, June 26, 1918.

[38] /Vide/ The Declaration of Independence, by Herbert Friedenwald,
New York, 1904, p. 262 /et seq./

[39] Now and then the English flirt with the American usage. Hart
says, for example, that "originally the cover of the large Oxford
Dictionary had '/a/ historical.'" But "/an/ historical" now appears



Proper Names in America

§ 1

/Surnames/--A glance at any American city directory is sufficient to
show that, despite the continued political and cultural preponderance of
the original English strain, the American people have quite ceased to be
authentically English in race, or even authentically British. The blood
in their arteries is inordinately various and inextricably mixed, but
yet not mixed enough to run a clear stream. A touch of foreignness still
lingers about millions of them, even in the country of their birth. They
show their alien origin in their speech, in their domestic customs, in
their habits of mind, and in their very names. Just as the Scotch and
the Welsh have invaded England, elbowing out the actual English to make
room for themselves, so the Irish, the Germans, the Italians, the
Scandinavians and the Jews of Eastern Europe, and in some areas, the
French, the Slavs and the hybrid-Spaniards have elbowed out the
descendants of the first colonists. It is not exaggerating, indeed, to
say that wherever the old stock comes into direct and unrestrained
conflict with one of these new stocks, it tends to succumb, or, at all
events, to give up the battle. The Irish, in the big cities of the East,
attained to a truly impressive political power long before the first
native-born generation of them had grown up.[1] The Germans, following
the limestone belt of the Alleghany foothills, pre-empted the best lands
East of the mountains before the new [Pg269] republic was born.[2] And
so, in our own time, we have seen the Swedes and Norwegians shouldering
the native from the wheat lands of the Northwest, and the Italians
driving the decadent New Englanders from their farms, and the Jews
gobbling New York, and the Slavs getting a firm foothold in the mining
regions, and the French Canadians penetrating New Hampshire and Vermont,
and the Japanese and Portuguese menacing Hawaii, and the awakened
negroes gradually ousting the whites from the farms of the South.[3] The
birth-rate among all these foreign stocks is enormously greater than
among the older stock, and though the death-rate is also high, the net
increase remains relatively formidable. Even without the aid of
immigration it is probable that they would continue to rise in numbers
faster than the original English and so-called Scotch-Irish.[4]

Turn to the letter /z/ in the New York telephone directory and you
will find a truly astonishing array of foreign names, some of them in
process of anglicization, but many of them still arrestingly
outlandish. The only Anglo-Saxon surname beginning with /z/ is
/Zacharias/,[5] and even that was originally borrowed from the Greek.
To this the Norman invasion seems to have added only /Zouchy/. But in
Manhattan and the Bronx, even among the necessarily limited class of
telephone subscribers, there are nearly 1500 persons whose names begin
with the letter, and among them one finds fully 150 different
surnames. The German /Zimmermann/, with either one /n/ or two, is
naturally the most numerous single name, and following close upon it
are its derivatives, /Zimmer/ and /Zimmern/. With them are many more
German names: /Zahn/, /Zechendorf/, /Zeffert/, /Zeitler/, /Zeller/,
/Zellner/, /Zeltmacher/, /Zepp/, /Ziegfeld/, /Zabel/, /Zucker/,
/Zuckermann/, /Ziegler/, /Zillman/, /Zinser/ and so on. They are all
represented heavily, but they indicate neither the earliest nor the
most formidable accretion, for underlying them are many Dutch [Pg270]
names, /e. g./, /Zeeman/ and /Zuurmond/, and over them are a large
number of Slavic, Italian and Jewish names. Among the first I note
/Zabludosky/, /Zabriskie/, /Zachczynski/, /Zapinkow/, /Zaretsky/,
/Zechnowitz/, /Zenzalsky/ and /Zywachevsky/; among the second,
/Zaccardi/, /Zaccarini/, /Zaccaro/, /Zapparano/, /Zanelli/,
/Zicarelli/ and /Zucca/; among the third, /Zukor/, /Zipkin/ and
/Ziskind/. There are, too, various Spanish names: /Zelaya/, /Zingaro/,
etc. And Greek: /Zapeion/, /Zervakos/ and /Zouvelekis/. And Armenian:
/Zaloom/, /Zaron/ and /Zatmajian/. And Hungarian: /Zadek/, /Zagor/ and
/Zichy/. And Swedish: /Zetterholm/ and /Zetterlund/. And a number that
defy placing: /Zrike/, /Zvan/, /Zwipf/, /Zula/, /Zur/ and /Zeve/.

Any other American telephone directory will show the same
extraordinary multiplication of exotic patronymics. I choose, at
random, that of Pittsburgh, and confine myself to the saloon-keepers
and clergymen. Among the former I find a great many German names:
/Artz/, /Bartels/, /Blum/, /Gaertner/, /Dittmer/, /Hahn/, /Pfeil/,
/Schuman/, /Schlegel/, /von Hedemann/, /Weiss/ and so on. And Slavic
names: /Blaszkiewicz/, /Bukosky/, /Puwalowski/, /Krzykolski/,
/Tuladziecke/ and /Stratkiewicz/. And Greek and Italian names:
/Markopoulos/, /Martinelli/, /Foglia/, /Gigliotti/ and /Karabinos/.
And names beyond my determination: /Tyburski/, /Volongiatica/,
/Herisko/ and /Hajduk/. Very few Anglo-Saxon names are on the list;
the continental foreigner seems to be driving out the native, and even
the Irishman, from the saloon business. Among the clerics, naturally
enough, there are more men of English surname, but even here I find
such strange names as /Auroroff/, /Ashinsky/, /Bourajanis/, /Duic/,
/Cillo/, /Mazure/, /Przvblski/, /Pniak/, /Bazilevich/, /Smelsz/ and
/Vrhunec/. But Pittsburgh and New York, it may be argued, are scarcely
American; unrestricted immigration has swamped them; the newcomers
crowd into the cities. Well, examine the roster of the national House
of Representatives, which surely represents the whole country. On it I
find /Bacharach/, /Dupré/, /Esch/, /Estopinal/, /Focht/, /Heintz/,
/Kahn/, /Kiess/, /Kreider/, /La Guardia/, /Kraus/, /Lazaro/,
/Lehbach/, /Romjue/, /Siegel/ and /Zihlman/, not to mention the
insular delegates, /Kalanianole/, [Pg271] /de Veyra/, /Davila/ and
/Yangko/, and enough Irishmen to organize a parliament at Dublin.

In the New York city directory the fourth most common name is now
/Murphy/, an Irish name, and the fifth most common is /Meyer/, which
is German and chiefly Jewish. The /Meyers/ are the /Smiths/ of
Austria, and of most of Germany. They outnumber all other clans. After
them come the /Schultzes/ and /Krauses/, just as the /Joneses/ and
/Williamses/ follow the /Smiths/ in Great Britain. /Schultze/ and
/Kraus/ do not seem to be very common names in New York, but
/Schmidt/, /Muller/, /Schneider/ and /Klein/ appear among the fifty
commonest.[6] /Cohen/ and /Levy/ rank eighth and ninth, and are both
ahead of /Jones/, which is second in England, and /Williams/, which is
third. /Taylor/, a highly typical British name, ranking fourth in
England and Wales, is twenty-third in New York. Ahead of it, beside
/Murphy/, /Meyer/, /Cohen/ and /Levy/, are /Schmidt/, /Ryan/,
/O'Brien/, /Kelly/ and /Sullivan/. /Robinson/, which is twelfth in
England, is thirty-ninth in New York; even /Schneider/ and /Muller/
are ahead of it. In Chicago /Olson/, /Schmidt/, /Meyer/, /Hansen/ and
/Larsen/ are ahead of /Taylor/, and /Hoffman/ and /Becker/ are ahead
of /Ward/; in Boston /Sullivan/ and /Murphy/ are ahead of any English
name save /Smith/; in Philadelphia /Myers/ is just below /Robinson/.
Nor, as I have said, is this large proliferation of foreign surnames
confined to the large cities. There are whole regions in the Southwest
in which /López/ and /Gonzales/ are far commoner names than /Smith/,
/Brown/ or /Jones/, and whole regions in the Middle West wherein
/Olson/ is commoner than either /Taylor/ or /Williams/, and places
both North and South where /Duval/ is at least as common as /Brown/.

Moreover, the true proportions of this admixture of foreign blood are
partly concealed by a wholesale anglicization of surnames, sometimes
deliberate and sometimes the fruit of mere confusion. That /Smith/,
/Brown/ and /Miller/ remain in first, second and third places among
the surnames of New York is surely no sound evidence of Anglo-Saxon
survival. The German and [Pg272] Scandinavian /Schmidt/ has
undoubtedly contributed many a /Smith/, and /Braun/ many a /Brown/,
and /Müller/ many a /Miller/. In the same way /Johnson/, which holds
first place among Chicago surnames, and /Anderson/, which holds third,
are plainly reinforced from Scandinavian sources, and the former may
also owe something to the Russian /Ivanof/. /Miller/ is a relatively
rare name in England; it is not among the fifty most common. But it
stands thirtieth in Boston, fourth in New York and Baltimore, and
second in Philadelphia.[7] In the last-named city the influence of
/Müller/, probably borrowed from the Pennsylvania Dutch, is plainly
indicated, and in Chicago it is likely that there are also
contributions from the Scandinavian /Möller/, the Polish /Jannszewski/
and the Bohemian /Mlinár/. /Myers/, as we have seen, is a common
surname in Philadelphia. So are /Fox/ and /Snyder/. In some part, at
least, they have been reinforced by the Pennsylvania Dutch /Meyer/,
/Fuchs/ and /Schneider/. Sometimes /Müller/ changes to /Miller/,
sometimes to /Muller/, and sometimes it remains unchanged, but with
the spelling made /Mueller/. /Muller/ and /Mueller/ do not appear
among the commoner names in Philadelphia; all the /Müllers/ seem to
have become /Millers/, thus putting /Miller/ in second place. But in
Chicago, with /Miller/ in fourth place, there is also /Mueller/ in
thirty-first place, and in New York, with /Miller/ in third place,
there is also /Muller/ in twenty-fourth place.

Such changes, chiefly based upon transliterations, are met with in all
countries. The name of /Taaffe/, familiar in Austrian history, had an
Irish prototype, probably /Taft/. General /Demikof/, one of the
Russian commanders at the battle of Zorndorf, in 1758, was a Swede
born /Themicoud/. Franz Maria von /Thugut/, the Austrian diplomatist,
was a member of an Italian Tyrolese family named /Tunicotto/. This
became /Thunichgut/ (=/do no good/) in Austria, and was changed to
/Thugut/ (=/do good/) to bring it into greater accord with its
possessor's deserts.[8] In [Pg273] /Bonaparte/ the Italian /buon(o)/
became the French /bon/. Many English surnames are decayed forms of
Norman-French names, for example, /Sidney/ from /St. Denis/, /Divver/
from /De Vere/, /Bridgewater/ from /Burgh de Walter/, /Montgomery/
from /de Mungumeri/, /Garnett/ from /Guarinot/, and /Seymour/ from
/Saint-Maure/. A large number of so-called Irish names are the
products of rough-and-ready transliterations of Gaelic patronymics,
for example, /Findlay/ from /Fionnlagh/, /Dermott/ from /Diarmuid/,
and /McLane/ from /Mac Illeathiain/. In the same way the name of
/Phoenix/ Park, in Dublin, came from /Fion Uisg/ (=/fine water/). Of
late some of the more ardent Irish authors and politicians have sought
to return to the originals. Thus, /O'Sullivan/ has become /O
Suilleabháin/, /Pearse/ has become /Piarais/, /Mac Sweeney/ has become
/Mac Suibhne/, and /Patrick/ has suffered a widespread transformation
to /Padraic/. But in America, with a language of peculiar vowel-sounds
and even consonant-sounds struggling against a foreign invasion
unmatched for strength and variety, such changes have been far more
numerous than across the ocean, and the legal rule of /idem sonans/ is
of much wider utility than anywhere else in the world. If it were not
for that rule there would be endless difficulties for the /Wises/
whose grandfathers were /Weisses/, and the /Leonards/ born
/Leonhards/, /Leonhardts/ or /Lehnerts/, and the /Manneys/ who descend
and inherit from /Le Maines/.

"A crude popular etymology," says a leading authority on surnames,[9]
"often begins to play upon a name that is no longer significant to the
many. So the /Thurgods/ have become /Thoroughgoods/, and the
/Todenackers/ have become the Pennsylvania Dutch /Toothakers/, much as
/asparagus/ has become /sparrow-grass/." So, too, the /Wittnachts/ of
Boyle county, Kentucky, descendants of a Hollander, have become
/Whitenecks/, and the /Lehns/ of lower Pennsylvania, descendants of
some far-off German, have become /Lanes/.[10] Edgar Allan /Poe/ was a
member of a family long settled in Western Maryland, the founder being
one /Poh/ or /Pfau/, a native of the Palatinate. Major George [Pg274]
/Armistead/, who defended Fort McHenry in 1814, when Francis Scott Key
wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner," was the descendant of an /Armstädt/
who came to Virginia from Hesse-Darmstadt. General George A. /Custer/,
the Indian fighter, was the great-grandson of one /Küster/, a Hessian
soldier paroled after Burgoyne's surrender. William /Wirt/,
anti-Masonic candidate for the presidency in 1832, was the son of one
/Wörth/. William /Paca/, a signer of the Declaration of Independence,
was the great-grandson of a Bohemian named /Paka/. General W. S.
/Rosecrans/ was really a /Rosenkrantz/. Even the surname of Abraham
/Lincoln/, according to some authorities, was an anglicized form of

Such changes, in fact, are almost innumerable; every work upon
American genealogy is full of examples. The first foreign names to
undergo the process were Dutch and French. Among the former, /Reiger/
was debased to /Riker/, /Van de Veer/ to /Vandiver/, /Van Huys/ to
/Vannice/, /Van Siegel/ to /Van Sickle/, /Van Arsdale/ to
/Vannersdale/, and /Haerlen/ (or /Haerlem/) to /Harlan/;[12] among the
latter, /Petit/ became /Poteet/, /Caillé/ changed to /Kyle/, /De la
Haye/ to /Dillehay/, /Dejean/ to /Deshong/, /Guizot/ to /Gossett/,
/Guereant/ to /Caron/, /Soule/ to /Sewell/, /Gervaise/ to /Jarvis/,
/Bayle/ to /Bailey/, /Fontaine/ to /Fountain/, /Denis/ to /Denny/,
/Pebaudière/ to /Peabody/, /Bon Pas/ to /Bumpus/ and /de l'Hôtel/ to
/Doolittle/. "Frenchmen and French Canadians who came to New England,"
says Schele de Vere, "had to pay for such hospitality as they there
received by the sacrifice of their names. The brave /Bon Coeur/,
Captain Marryatt tells us in his Diary, became Mr. /Bunker/, and gave
his name to Bunker's Hill."[13] But it was the German immigration that
provoked the first really wholesale slaughter. A number of
characteristic German sounds--for example, that of /ü/ and the
guttural in /ch/ and /g/--are almost impossible to the Anglo-Saxon
pharynx, and so they had to go. Thus, /Bloch/ was changed to /Block/
or /Black/, /Ochs/ to [Pg275] /Oakes/, /Hock/ to /Hoke/, /Fischbach/
to /Fishback/, /Albrecht/ to /Albert/ or /Albright/, and /Steinweg/ to
/Steinway/, and the /Grundwort/, /bach/, was almost universally
changed to /baugh/, as in /Brumbaugh/. The /ü/ met the same fate:
/Grün/ was changed to /Green/, /Führ/ to /Fear/ or /Fuhr/, /Wärner/ to
/Warner/, /Düring/ to /Deering/, and /Schnäbele/ to /Snavely/,
/Snabely/ or /Snively/. In many other cases there were changes in
spelling to preserve vowel sounds differently represented in German
and English. Thus, /Blum/ was changed to /Bloom/,[14], /Reuss/ to
/Royce/, /Koester/ to /Kester/, /Kuehle/ to /Keeley/, /Schroeder/ to
/Schrader/, /Stehli/ to /Staley/, /Weymann/ to /Wayman/, /Friedmann/
to /Freedman/, /Bauman/ to /Bowman/, and /Lang/ (as the best
compromise possible) to /Long/. The change of /Oehm/ to /Ames/ belongs
to the same category; the addition of the final /s/ represents a
typical effort to substitute the nearest related Anglo-Saxon name.
Other examples of that effort are to be found in /Michaels/ for
/Michaelis/, /Bowers/ for /Bauer/, /Johnson/ for /Johannsen/, /Ford/
for /Furth/, /Hines/ for /Heintz/, /Kemp/ for /Kempf/, /Foreman/ for
/Fuhrmann/, /Kuhns/ or /Coons/ for /Kuntz/, /Hoover/ for /Huber/,
/Levering/ for /Liebering/, /Jones/ for /Jonas/, /Swope/ for /Schwab/,
/Hite/ or /Hyde/ for /Heid/, /Andrews/ for /André/, /Young/ for
/Jung/, and /Pence/ for /Pentz/.[15]

The American antipathy to accented letters, mentioned in the chapter
on spelling, is particularly noticeable among surnames. An immigrant
named /Fürst/ inevitably becomes plain /Furst/ in the United States,
and if not the man, then surely his son. /Löwe/, in the same way, is
transformed into /Lowe/ (pro. /low/),[16] [Pg276] /Lürmann/ into
/Lurman/, /Schön/ into /Schon/, /Suplée/ into /Suplee/ or /Supplee/,
/Lüders/ into /Luders/ and /Brühl/ into /Brill/. Even when no accent
betrays it, the foreign diphthong is under hard pressure. Thus the
German /oe/ disappears, and /Loeb/ is changed to /Lobe/ or /Laib/,
/Oehler/ to /Ohler/, /Loeser/ to /Leser/, and /Schoen/ to /Schon/ or
/Shane/. In the same way the /au/ in such names as /Rosenau/ changes
to /aw/. So too, the French /oi/-sound is disposed of, and /Dubois/ is
pronounced /Doo-bóys/, and /Boileau/ acquires a first syllable rhyming
with /toil/. So with the /kn/ in the German names of the /Knapp/
class; they are all pronounced, probably by analogy with /Knight/, as
if they began with /n/. So with /sch/; /Schneider/ becomes /Snyder/,
/Schlegel/ becomes /Slagel/, and /Schluter/ becomes /Sluter/. If a
foreigner clings to the original spelling of his name he must usually
expect to hear it mispronounced. /Roth/, in American, quickly becomes
/Rawth/; /Frémont/, losing both accent and the French /e/, become
/Freemont/; /Blum/ begins to rhyme with /dumb/; /Mann/ rhymes with
/van/, and /Lang/ with /hang/; /Krantz/, /Lantz/ and their cognates
with /chance/; /Kurtz/ with /shirts/; the first syllable of /Gutmann/
with /but/; the first of /Kahler/ with /bay/; the first of /Werner/
with /turn/; the first of /Wagner/ with /nag/. /Uhler/, in America, is
always /Youler/. /Berg/ loses its German /e/-sound for an English
/u/-sound, and its German hard /g/ for an English /g/; it becomes
identical with the /berg/ of /iceberg/. The same change in the vowel
occurs in /Erdmann/. In /König/ the German diphthong succumbs to a
long /o/, and the hard /g/ becomes /k/; the common pronunciation is
/Cone-ik/. Often, in /Berger/, the /g/ becomes soft, and the name
rhymes with /verger/. It becomes soft, too, in /Bittinger/. In
/Wilstach/ and /Welsbach/ the /ch/ becomes a /k/. In /Anheuser/ the
/eu/ changes to a long /i/. The final /e/, important in German, is
nearly always silenced; /Dohme/ rhymes with /foam/; /Kühne/ becomes

In addition to these transliterations, there are constant translations
of foreign proper names. "Many a Pennsylvania /Carpenter/," says Dr.
Oliphant,[17] "bearing a surname that is English, from the French,
from the Latin, and there a Celtic loan-word [Pg277] in origin, is
neither English, nor French, nor Latin, nor Celt, but an original
German /Zimmermann/."[18] A great many other such translations are
under everyday observation. /Pfund/ becomes /Pound/; /Becker/,
/Baker/; /Schumacher/, /Shoemaker/; /König/, /King/; /Weisberg/,
/Whitehill/; /Koch/, /Cook/;[19] /Neuman/, /Newman/; /Schaefer/,
/Shepherd/ or /Sheppard/; /Gutmann/, /Goodman/; /Goldschmidt/,
/Goldsmith/; /Edelstein/, /Noblestone/; /Steiner/, /Stoner/;
/Meister/, /Master(s)/; /Schwartz/, /Black/; /Weiss/, /White/;
/Weber/, /Weaver/; /Bucher/, /Booker/; /Vogelgesang/, /Birdsong/;
/Sontag/, /Sunday/, and so on. Partial translations are also
encountered, /e. g./, /Studebaker/ from /Studebecker/, and
/Reindollar/ from /Rheinthaler/. By the same process, among the newer
immigrants, the Polish /Wilkiewicz/ becomes /Wilson/, the Bohemian
/Bohumil/ becomes /Godfrey/, and the Bohemian /Kovár/ and the Russian
/Kuznetzov/ become /Smith/. Some curious examples are occasionally
encountered. Thus Henry /Woodhouse/, a gentleman prominent in
aeronautical affairs, came to the United States from Italy as Mario
Terenzio Enrico /Casalegno/; his new surname is simply a translation
of his old one. And the /Belmonts/, the bankers, unable to find a
euphonious English equivalent for their German-Jewish patronymic of
/Schönberg/, chose a French one that Americans could pronounce.

In part, as I say, these changes in surname are enforced by the sheer
inability of Americans to pronounce certain Continental consonants,
and their disinclination to remember the Continental vowel sounds.
Many an immigrant, finding his name constantly mispronounced, changes
its vowels or drops some of its consonants; many another shortens it,
or translates it, or changes it entirely for the same reason. Just as
a well-known Graeco-French poet changed his Greek name of
/Papadiamantopoulos/ to /Moréas/ because /Papadiamantopoulos/ was too
much for Frenchmen, and as an eminent Polish-English novelist [Pg278]
changed his Polish name of /Korzeniowski/ to /Conrad/ because few
Englishmen could pronounce /owski/ correctly, so the Italian or Greek
or Slav immigrant, coming up for naturalization, very often sheds his
family name with his old allegiance, and emerges as /Taylor/,
/Jackson/ or /Wilson/. I once encountered a firm of Polish Jews,
showing the name of /Robinson & Jones/ on its sign-board, whose
partners were born /Rubinowitz/ and /Jonas/. I lately heard of a
German named /Knoche/--a name doubly difficult to Americans, what with
the /kn/ and the /ch/--who changed it boldly to /Knox/ to avoid being
called /Nokky/. A Greek named /Zoyiopoulous/, /Kolokotronis/,
/Mavrokerdatos/ or /Constantinopolous/ would find it practically
impossible to carry on amicable business with Americans; his name
would arouse their mirth, if not their downright ire. And the same
burden would lie upon a Hungarian named /Beniczkyné/ or /Gyalui/, or
/Szilagyi/, or /Vezercsillagok/. Or a Finn named /Kyyhkysen/, or
/Jääskelainen/, or /Tuulensuu/, or /Uotinen/,--all honorable Finnish
patronymics. Or a Swede named /Sjogren/, or /Schjtt/, or
/Leijonhufvud/. Or a Bohemian named /Srb/, or /Hrubka/. Or, for that
matter, a German named /Kannengiesser/, or /Schnapaupf/, or

But more important than this purely linguistic hostility, there is a
deeper social enmity, and it urges the immigrant to change his name
with even greater force. For a hundred years past all the heaviest and
most degrading labor of the United States has been done by successive
armies of foreigners, and so a concept of inferiority has come to be
attached to mere foreignness. In addition, these newcomers, pressing
upward steadily in the manner already described, have offered the
native a formidable, and considering their lower standards of living,
what has appeared to him to be an unfair competition on his own plane,
and as a result a hatred born of disastrous rivalry has been added to
his disdain. Our unmatchable vocabulary of derisive names for
foreigners reveals the national attitude. The French /boche/, the
German /hunyadi/ (for Hungarian),[20] and the old English /froggy/
(for Frenchman) seem lone and feeble beside our great repertoire:
[Pg279] /dago/, /wop/, /guinea/, /kike/, /goose/, /mick/, /harp/,[21]
/bohick/, /bohunk/, /square-head/, /greaser/, /canuck/,
/spiggoty/,[22] /chink/, /polack/, /dutchie/, /scowegian/, /hunkie/
and /yellow-belly/. This disdain tends to pursue an immigrant with
extraordinary rancor when he bears a name that is unmistakably foreign
and hence difficult to the native, and open to his crude burlesque.
Moreover, the general feeling penetrates the man himself, particularly
if he be ignorant, and he comes to believe that his name is not only a
handicap, but also intrinsically discreditable--that it wars subtly
upon his worth and integrity.[23] This feeling, perhaps, accounted for
a good many changes of surnames among Germans upon the entrance of the
United States into the war. But in the majority of cases, of course,
the changes so copiously reported--/e. g./, from /Bielefelder/ to
/Benson/, and from /Pulvermacher/ to /Pullman/--were merely efforts at
protective coloration. The immigrant, in a time of extraordinary
suspicion and difficulty, tried to get rid of at least one
handicap.[24] [Pg280]

This motive constantly appears among the Jews, who face an
anti-Semitism that is imperfectly concealed and may be expected to
grow stronger hereafter. Once they have lost the faith of their
fathers, a phenomenon almost inevitable in the first native-born
generation, they shrink from all the disadvantages that go with
Jewishness, and seek to conceal their origin, or, at all events, to
avoid making it unnecessarily noticeable.[25] To this end they modify
the spelling of the more familiar Jewish surnames, turning /Levy/ into
/Lewy/, /Lewyt/, /Levitt/, /Levin/, /Levine/, /Levey/, /Levie/[26] and
even /Lever/, /Cohen/ into /Cohn/, /Cahn/, /Kahn/, /Kann/, /Coyne/ and
/Conn/, /Aarons/ into /Arens/ and /Ahrens/ and /Solomon/ into
/Salmon/, /Salomon/ and /Solmson/. In the same way they shorten their
long names, changing /Wolfsheimer/ to /Wolf/, /Goldschmidt/ to /Gold/,
and /Rosenblatt/, /Rosenthal/, /Rosenbaum/, /Rosenau/, /Rosenberg/,
/Rosenbusch/, /Rosenblum/, /Rosenstein/, /Rosenheim/ and /Rosenfeldt/
to /Rose/. Like the Germans, they also seek refuge in translations
more or less literal. Thus, on the East Side of New York, /Blumenthal/
is often changed to /Bloomingdale/, /Schneider/ to /Taylor/,
/Reichman/ to /Richman/, and /Schlachtfeld/ to /Warfield/. /Fiddler/,
a common Jewish name, becomes /Harper/; so does /Pikler/, which is
Yiddish for /drummer/. /Stolar/, which is a Yiddish word borrowed from
the Russian, signifying /carpenter/, is often changed to /Carpenter/.
/Lichtman/ and /Lichtenstein/ become /Chandler/. /Meilach/, which is
Hebrew for /king/, becomes /King/, and so does /Meilachson/. The
strong tendency to seek English-sounding equivalents for names of
noticeably foreign origin changes /Sher/ into /Sherman/, /Michel/ into
/Mitchell/, /Rogowsky/ into /Rogers/, /Kolinsky/ into /Collins/,
/Rabinovitch/ into /Robbins/, /Davidovitch/ into /Davis/, /Moiseyev/
into /Macy/ or /Mason/, and /Jacobson/, /Jacobovitch/ and /Jacobovsky/
into /Jackson/. This last [Pg281] change proceeds by way of a
transient change to /Jake/ or /Jack/ as a nickname. /Jacob/ is always
abbreviated to one or the other on the East Side. /Yankelevitch/ also
becomes /Jackson/, for /Yankel/ is Yiddish for /Jacob/.[27]

Among the immigrants of other stocks some extraordinarily radical
changes in name are to be observed. Greek names of five, and even
eight syllables shrink to /Smith/; Hungarian names that seem to be all
consonants are reborn in such euphonious forms as /Martin/ and /Lacy/.
I have encountered a /Gregory/ who was born /Grgurevich/ in Serbia; a
/Uhler/ who was born /Uhlyarik/; a /Graves/ who descends from the fine
old Dutch family of /'sGravenhage/. I once knew a man named /Lawton/
whose grandfather had been a /Lautenberger/. First he shed the
/berger/ and then he changed the spelling of /Lauten/ to make it fit
the inevitable American mispronunciation. There is, again, a family of
/Dicks/ in the South whose ancestor was a /Schwettendieck/--apparently
a Dutch or Low German name. There is, yet again, a celebrated American
artist, of the Bohemian patronymic of /Hrubka/, who has abandoned it
for a surname which is common to all the Teutonic languages, and is
hence easy for Americans. The Italians, probably because of the
relations established by the Catholic church, often take Irish names,
as they marry Irish girls; it is common to hear of an Italian pugilist
or politician named /Kelly/ or /O'Brien/. The process of change is
often informal, but even legally it is quite facile. The
Naturalization Act of June 29, 1906, authorizes the court, as a part
of the naturalization of any alien, to make an order changing his
name. This is frequently done when he receives his last papers;
sometimes, if the newspapers are to be believed, without his
solicitation, and even against his protest. If the matter is
overlooked at the time, he may change his name later on, like any
other citizen, by simple application to a court of record.

Among names of Anglo-Saxon origin and names naturalized long before
the earliest colonization, one notes certain American peculiarities,
setting off the nomenclature of the United States [Pg282] from that
of the mother country. The relative infrequency of hyphenated names in
America is familiar; when they appear at all it is almost always in
response to direct English influences.[28] Again, a number of English
family names have undergone modification in the New World. /Venable/
may serve as a specimen. The form in England is almost invariably
/Venables/, but in America the final /s/ has been lost, and every
example of the name that I have been able to find in the leading
American reference-books is without it. And where spellings have
remained unchanged, pronunciations have been frequently modified. This
is particularly noticeable in the South. /Callowhill/, down there, is
commonly pronounced /Carrol/; /Crenshawe/ is /Granger/; /Hawthorne/,
/Horton/; /Heyward/, /Howard/; /Norsworthy/, /Nazary/; /Ironmonger/,
/Munger/; /Farinholt/, /Fernall/; /Camp/, /Kemp/; /Buchanan/,
/Bohannan/; /Drewry/, /Droit/; /Enroughty/, /Darby/; and /Taliaferro/,
/Tolliver/.[29] The English /Crowninshields/ pronounce every syllable
of their name; the American /Crowninshields/ commonly make it
/Crunshel/. /Van Schaick/, an old New York name, is pronounced /Von
Scoik/. A good many American Jews, aiming at a somewhat laborious
refinement, change the pronunciation of the terminal /stein/ in their
names so that it rhymes, not with /line/, but with /bean/. Thus, in
fashionable Jewish circles, there are no longer any /Epsteins/,
/Goldsteins/ and /Hammersteins/ but only /Epsteens/, /Goldsteens/ and
/Hammersteens/. The American Jews differ further from the English in
pronouncing /Levy/ to make the first syllable rhyme with /tea/; the
English Jews always make the name /Lev-vy/. To match such [Pg283]
American prodigies as /Darby/ for /Enroughty/, the English themselves
have /Hools/ for /Howells/, /Sillinger/ for /St. Leger/, /Sinjin/ for
/St. John/, /Pool/ for /Powell/, /Weems/ for /Wemyss/, /Kerduggen/ for
/Cadogen/, /Mobrer/ for /Marlborough/, /Key/ for /Cains/, /Marchbanks/
for /Marjoribanks/, /Beecham/ for /Beauchamp/, /Chumley/ for
/Cholmondeley/, /Trosley/ for /Trotterscliffe/, and /Darby/ for
/Derby/, not to mention /Maudlin/ for /Magdalen/.

§ 2

/Given Names/--The non-Anglo Saxon American's willingness to anglicize
his patronymic is far exceeded by his eagerness to give "American"
baptismal names to his children. The favorite given names of the old
country almost disappear in the first native-born generation. The
Irish immigrants quickly dropped such names as /Terence/, /Dennis/ and
/Patrick/, and adopted in their places the less conspicuous /John/,
/George/ and /William/. The Germans, in the same way, abandoned
/Otto/, /August/, /Hermann/, /Ludwig/, /Heinrich/, /Wolfgang/,
/Albrecht/, /Wilhelm/, /Kurt/, /Hans/, /Rudolf/, /Gottlieb/, /Johann/
and /Franz/. For some of these they substituted the English
equivalents: /Charles/, /Lewis/, /Henry/, /William/, /John/, /Frank/
and so on. In the room of others they began afflicting their offspring
with more fanciful native names: /Milton/ and /Raymond/ were their
chief favorites thirty or forty years ago.[30] The Jews carry the
thing to great lengths. At present they seem to take most delight in
/Sidney/, /Irving/, /Milton/, /Roy/, /Stanley/ and /Monroe/, but they
also call their sons /John/, /Charles/, /Henry/, /Harold/, /William/,
/Richard/, /James/, /Albert/, /Edward/, /Alfred/, /Frederick/,
/Thomas/, and even /Mark/, /Luke/ and /Matthew/, and their daughters
/Mary/, /Gertrude/, /Estelle/, /Pauline/, /Alice/ and /Edith/. As a
boy I went to school with many Jewish boys. The commonest given names
among them were /Isadore/, /Samuel/, /Jonas/, /Isaac/ and /Israel/.
These are seldom bestowed by [Pg284] the rabbis of today. In the same
school were a good many German pupils, boy and girl. Some of the girls
bore such fine old German given names as /Katharina/, /Wilhelmina/,
/Elsa/, /Lotta/, /Ermentrude/ and /Frankziska/. All these have begun
to disappear.

The newer immigrants, indeed, do not wait for the birth of children to
demonstrate their naturalization; they change their own given names
immediately they land. I am told by Abraham Cahan that this is done
almost universally on the East Side of New York. "Even the most
old-fashioned Jews immigrating to this country," he says, "change
/Yosel/ to /Joseph/, /Yankel/ to /Jacob/, /Liebel/ to /Louis/,
/Feivel/ to /Philip/, /Itzik/ to /Isaac/, /Ruven/ to /Robert/, and
/Moise/ or /Motel/ to /Morris/." Moreover, the spelling of /Morris/,
as the position of its bearer improves, commonly changes to /Maurice/,
though the pronunciation may remain /Mawruss/, as in the case of Mr.
Perlmutter. The immigrants of other stocks follow the same habit.
Every Bohemian /Vaclav/ or /Vojtĕch/ becomes a /William/, every
/Jaroslav/ becomes a /Jerry/, every /Bronislav/ a /Barney/, and every
/Stanislav/ a /Stanley/. The Italians run to /Frank/ and /Joe/; so do
the Hungarians and the Balkan peoples; the Russians quickly drop their
national system of nomenclature and give their children names
according to the American plan. Even the Chinese laundrymen of the big
cities become /John/, /George/, /Charlie/ and /Frank/; I once
encountered one boasting the name of /Emil/.

The Puritan influence, in names as in ideas, has remained a good deal
more potent in American than in England. The given name of the
celebrated /Praise-God/ Barebones marked a fashion which died out in
England very quickly, but one still finds traces of it in America,
/e. g./, in such women's names as /Faith/, /Hope/, /Prudence/, /Charity/
and /Mercy/, and in such men's names as /Peregrine/.[31] The religious
obsession of the New England colonists is also kept in mind by the
persistence of Biblical names: /Ezra/, /Hiram/, /Ezekial/,
/Zachariah/, /Elijah/, /Elihu/, and so on. These [Pg285] names excite
the derision of the English; an American comic character, in an
English play or novel, always bears one of them. Again, the fashion of
using surnames as given names is far more widespread in America than
in England. In this country, indeed, it takes on the character of a
national habit; fully three out of four eldest sons, in families of
any consideration, bear their mothers' surnames as middle names. This
fashion arose in England during the seventeenth century, and one of
its fruits was the adoption of such well-known surnames as /Stanley/,
/Cecil/, /Howard/, /Douglas/ and /Duncan/ as common given names.[32]
It died out over there during the eighteenth century, and today the
great majority of Englishmen bear such simple given names as /John/,
/Charles/ and /William/--often four or five of them--but in America it
has persisted. A glance at a roster of the Presidents of the United
States will show how firmly it has taken root. Of the ten that have
had middle names at all, six have had middle names that were family
surnames, and two of the six have dropped their other given names and
used these surnames. This custom, perhaps, has paved the way for
another: that of making given names of any proper nouns that happen to
strike the fancy. Thus General Sherman was named after an Indian
chief, /Tecumseh/, and a Chicago judge was baptized /Kenesaw
Mountain/[33] in memory of the battle that General Sherman fought
there. A late candidate for governor of New York had the curious given
name of /D-Cady/.[34] Various familiar American given names,
originally surnames, are almost unknown in England, among them,
/Washington/, /Jefferson/, /Jackson/, /Lincoln/, /Columbus/ and /Lee/.
/Chauncey/ forms a curious addition to the list. It was the surname of
the second president of Harvard College, and was bestowed upon their
offspring by numbers of his graduates. It then got into [Pg286]
general use and acquired a typically American pronunciation, with the
/a/ of the first syllable flat. It is never encountered in England.

In the pronunciation of various given names, as in that of many
surnames, English and American usages differ. /Evelyn/, in England, is
given two syllables instead of three, and the first is made to rhyme
with /leave/. /Irene/ is given two syllables, making it /Irene-y/.
/Ralph/ is pronounced /Rafe/. /Jerome/ is accented on the first
syllable; in America it is always accented on the second.[35]

§ 3

/Geographical Names/--"There is no part of the world," said Robert
Louis Stevenson, "where nomenclature is so rich, poetical, humorous
and picturesque as in the United States of America." A glance at the
latest United States Official Postal Guide[36] or report of the United
States Geographic Board[37] quite bears out this opinion. The map of
the country is besprinkled with place names from at least half a
hundred languages, living and dead, and among them one finds examples
of the most daring and elaborate fancy. There are Spanish, French and
Indian names as melodious and charming as running water; there are
names out of the histories and mythologies of all the great races of
man; there are names grotesque and names almost sublime. No other
country can match them for interest and variety. When there arises
among us a philologist who will study them as thoroughly and
intelligently as the Swiss, Johann Jakob Egli, studied the place names
of Central Europe, his work will be an invaluable contribution to the
history of the nation, and no less to an understanding of the
psychology of its people.

The original English settlers, it would appear, displayed little
imagination in naming the new settlements and natural features
[Pg287] of the land that they came to. Their almost invariable
tendency, at the start, was to make use of names familiar at home, or
to invent banal compounds. /Plymouth Rock/ at the North and
/Jamestown/ at the South are examples of their poverty of fancy; they
filled the narrow tract along the coast with new /Bostons/,
/Cambridges/, /Bristols/ and /Londons/, and often used the adjective
as a prefix. But this was only in the days of beginning. Once they had
begun to move back from the coast and to come into contact with the
aborigines and with the widely dispersed settlers of other races, they
encountered rivers, mountains, lakes and even towns that bore far more
engaging names, and these, after some resistance, they perforce
adopted. The native names of such rivers as the /James/, the /York/
and the /Charles/ succumbed, but those of the /Potomac/, the
/Patapsco/, the /Merrimack/ and the /Penobscot/ survived, and they
were gradually reinforced as the country was penetrated. Most of these
Indian names, in getting upon the early maps, suffered somewhat severe
simplifications. /Potowánmeac/ was reduced to /Potomack/ and then to
/Potomac/; /Unéaukara/ became /Niagara/; /Reckawackes/, by the law of
Hobson-Jobson, was turned into /Rockaway/, and /Pentapang/ into /Port
Tobacco/.[38] But, despite such elisions and transformations, the
charm of thousands of them remained, and today they are responsible
for much of the characteristic color of American geographical
nomenclature. Such names as /Tallahassee/, /Susquehanna/,
/Mississippi/, /Allegheny/, /Chicago/, /Kennebec/, /Patuxent/ and
/Arkansas/ give a barbaric brilliancy to the American map. Only the
map of Australia, with its mellifluous Maori names, can match it.

The settlement of the American continent, once the eastern coast
ranges were crossed, proceeded with unparalleled speed, and so the
naming of the new rivers, lakes, peaks and valleys, and of the new
towns and districts no less, strained the inventiveness of the
pioneers. The result is the vast duplication of names that shows
itself in the Postal Guide. No less than eighteen imitative [Pg288]
/Bostons/ and /New Bostons/ still appear, and there are nineteen
/Bristols/, twenty-eight /Newports/, and twenty-two /Londons/ and /New
Londons/. Argonauts starting out from an older settlement on the coast
would take its name with them, and so we find /Philadelphias/ in
Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, /Richmonds/ in Iowa,
Kansas and nine other western states, and /Princetons/ in fifteen.
Even when a new name was hit upon it seems to have been hit upon
simultaneously by scores of scattered bands of settlers; thus we find
the whole land bespattered with /Washingtons/, /Lafayettes/,
/Jeffersons/ and /Jacksons/, and with names suggested by common and
obvious natural objects, /e. g./, /Bear Creek/, /Bald Knob/ and
/Buffalo/. The Geographic Board, in its last report, made a belated
protest against this excessive duplication. "The names /Elk/,
/Beaver/, /Cottonwood/ and /Bald/," it said, "are altogether too
numerous."[39] Of postoffices alone there are fully a hundred
embodying /Elk/; counting in rivers, lakes, creeks, mountains and
valleys, the map of the United States probably shows at least twice as
many such names.

A study of American geographical and place names reveals eight general
classes, as follows: (/a/) those embodying personal names, chiefly the
surnames of pioneers or of national heroes; (/b/) those transferred
from other and older places, either in the eastern states or in
Europe; (/c/) Indian names; (/d/) Dutch, Spanish and French names;
(/e/) Biblical and mythological names; (/f/) names descriptive of
localities; (/g/) names suggested by the local flora, fauna or
geology; (/h/) purely fanciful names. The names of the first class are
perhaps the most numerous. Some consist of surnames standing alone, as
/Washington/, /Cleveland/, /Bismarck/, /Lafayette/, /Taylor/ and
/Randolph/; others consist of surnames in combination with various old
and new /Grundwörter/, as /Pittsburgh/, /Knoxville/, /Bailey's
Switch/, /Hagerstown/, /Franklinton/, /Dodge City/, /Fort Riley/,
/Wayne Junction/ and /McKeesport/; and yet others are contrived of
given names, either alone or in combination, as /Louisville/, /St.
Paul/, /Elizabeth/, /Johnstown/, /Charlotte/, /Williamsburg/ and
/Marysville/. The number of towns in the United States bearing women's
given names is enormous. [Pg289] I find, for example, eleven
postoffices called /Charlotte/, ten called /Ada/ and no less than
nineteen called /Alma/. Most of these places are small, but there is
an /Elizabeth/ with 75,000 population, an /Elmira/ with 40,000, and an
/Augusta/ with nearly 45,000.

The names of the second class we have already briefly observed. They
are betrayed in many cases by the prefix /New/; more than 600 such
postoffices are recorded, ranging from /New Albany/ to /New Windsor/.
Others bear such prefixes as /West/, /North/ and /South/, or various
distinguishing affixes, /e. g./, /Bostonia/, /Pittsburgh Landing/,
/Yorktown/ and /Hartford City/. One often finds eastern county names
applied to western towns and eastern town names applied to western
rivers and mountains. Thus, /Cambria/, which is the name of a county
but not of a postoffice in Pennsylvania, is a town name in seven
western states; /Baltimore/ is the name of a glacier in Alaska, and
/Princeton/ is the name of a peak in Colorado. In the same way the
names of the more easterly states often reappear in the west, /e. g./,
in /Mount Ohio/, Colo., /Delaware/, Okla., and /Virginia City/, Nev.
The tendency to name small American towns after the great capitals of
antiquity has excited the derision of the English since the earliest
days; there is scarcely an English book upon the states without some
fling at it. Of late it has fallen into abeyance, though sixteen
/Athenses/ still remain, and there are yet many /Carthages/, /Uticas/,
/Syracuses/, /Romes/, /Alexandrias/, /Ninevahs/ and /Troys/. The third
city of the nation, /Philadelphia/, got its name from the ancient
stronghold of Philadelphus of Pergamun. To make up for the falling off
of this old and flamboyant custom, the more recent immigrants have
brought with them the names of the capitals and other great cities of
their fatherlands. Thus the American map bristles with /Berlins/,
/Bremens/, /Hamburgs/, /Warsaws/ and /Leipzigs/, and is beginning to
show /Stockholms/, /Venices/, /Belgrades/ and /Christianias/.

The influence of Indian names upon American nomenclature is quickly
shown by a glance at the map. No less than 26 of the states have names
borrowed from the aborigines, and the same thing is true of most of
our rivers and mountains. There was an effort, at one time, to get rid
of these Indian names. Thus [Pg290] the early Virginians changed the
name of the /Powhatan/ to the /James/, and the first settlers in New
York changed the name of /Horicon/ to /Lake George/. In the same way
the present name of the /White Mountains/ displaced /Agiochook/, and
/New Amsterdam/, and later /New York/, displaced /Manhattan/, which
has been recently revived. The law of Hobson-Jobson made changes in
other Indian names, sometimes complete and sometimes only partial.
Thus, /Mauwauwaming/ became /Wyoming/, /Maucwachoong/ became /Mauch
Chunk/, /Ouabache/ became /Wabash/, /Asingsing/ became /Sing-Sing/,
and /Machihiganing/ became /Michigan/. But this vandalism did not go
far enough to take away the brilliant color of the aboriginal
nomenclature. The second city of the United States bears an Indian
name, and so do the largest American river, and the greatest American
water-fall, and four of the five great Lakes, and the scene of the
most important military decision ever reached on American soil.

The Dutch place-names of the United States are chiefly confined
to the vicinity of New York, and a good many of them have become
greatly corrupted. /Brooklyn/, /Wallabout/ and /Gramercy/ offer
examples. The first-named was originally /Breuckelen/, the second
was /Waale Bobht/, and the third was /De Kromme Zee/. /Hell-Gate/
is a crude translation of the Dutch /Helle-Gat/. During the early
part of the last century the more delicate New Yorkers transformed
the term into /Hurlgate/, but the change was vigorously opposed
by Washington Irving, and so /Hell-Gate/ was revived. The law of
Hobson-Jobson early converted the Dutch /hoek/ into /hook/, and it
survives in various place-names, /e. g./, /Kinderhook/ and /Sandy
Hook/. The Dutch /kill/ is a /Grundwort/ in many other names,
/e. g./, /Catskill/, /Schuylkill/, /Peekskill/, /Fishkill/ and
/Kill van Kull/; it is the equivalent of the American /creek/. Many
other Dutch place-names will come familiarly to mind: /Harlem/,
/Staten/, /Flushing/, /Cortlandt/, /Calver Plaat/, /Nassau/,
/Coenties/, /Spuyten Duyvel/, /Yonkers/, /Hoboken/ and /Bowery/
(from /Bouvery/).[40] /Block/ Island was originally /Blok/, and Cape
/May/, according to Schele de Vere, was /Mey/, both Dutch. [Pg291]
A large number of New York street and neighborhood names come down
from Knickerbocker days, often greatly changed in pronunciation.
/Desbrosses/ offers an example. The Dutch called it /de Broose/, but
in New York today it is commonly spoken of as /Dez-bros-sez/.

French place-names have suffered almost as severely. Few persons would
recognize /Smackover/, the name of a small town in Arkansas, as
French, and yet in its original form it was /Chemin Couvert/. Schele
de Vere, in 1871, recorded the degeneration of the name to /Smack
Cover/; the Postoffice, always eager to shorten and simplify names,
has since made one word of it and got rid of the redundant /c/. In the
same way /Bob Ruly/, a Missouri name, descends from /Bois Brulé/. "The
American tongue," says W. W. Crane, "seems to lend itself reluctantly
to the words of alien languages."[41] This is shown plainly by the
history of French place-names among us. A large number of them,
/e. g./, /Lac Superieur/, were translated into English at an early day,
and most of those that remain are now pronounced as if they were
English. Thus /Des Moines/ is /dee-moyns/, /Terre Haute/ is
/terry-hut/, /Beaufort/ is /byu-fort/, /New Orleans/ is /or-leens/,
/Lafayette/ has a flat /a/, /Havre de Grace/ has another, and
/Versailles/ is /ver-sales/. The pronunciation of /sault/, as in
/Sault Ste. Marie/, is commonly more or less correct; the Minneapolis,
St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad is popularly called the /Soo/.
This may be due to Canadian example, or to some confusion between
/Sault/ and /Sioux/. The French /Louis/, in /St. Louis/ and
/Louisville/, is usually pronounced correctly. So is the /rouge/ in
/Baton Rouge/, though the /baton/ is commonly boggled. It is possible
that familiarity with /St. Louis/ influenced the local pronunciation
of /Illinois/, which is /Illinoy/, but this may be a mere attempt to
improve upon the vulgar /Illin-i/.[42]

For a number of years the Geographic Board has been seeking [Pg292]
vainly to reestablish the correct pronunciation of the name of the
/Purgatoire/ river in Colorado. Originally named the /Rio de las
Animas/ by the Spaniards, it was renamed the /Rivière du Purgatoire/
by their French successors. The American pioneers changed this to
/Picketwire/, and that remains the local name of the stream to this
day, despite the effort of the Geographic Board to compromise on
/Purgatoire/ river. Many other French names are being anglicized with
its aid and consent. Already half a dozen /Bellevues/ have been
changed to /Belleviews/ and /Bellviews/, and the spelling of nearly
all the /Belvédères/ has been changed to /Belvidere/. /Belair/, La.,
represents the end-product of a process of decay which began with
/Belle Aire/, and then proceeded to /Bellaire/ and /Bellair/. All
these forms are still to be found, together with /Bel Air/. The
Geographic Board's antipathy to accented letters and to names of more
than one word[43] has converted /Isle Ste. Thérèse/, in the St.
Lawrence river, to /Isle Ste. Therese/, a truly abominable barbarism,
and /La Cygne/, in Kansas, to /Lacygne/, which is even worse.
/Lamoine/, /Labelle/, /Lagrange/ and /Lamonte/ are among its other
improvements; /Lafayette/, for /La Fayette/, long antedates the
beginning of its labors.

The Spanish names of the Southwest are undergoing a like process of
corruption, though without official aid. /San Antonio/ has been
changed to /San Antone/ in popular pronunciation and seems likely to
go to /San Tone/; /El Paso/ has acquired a flat American /a/ and a
/z/-sound in place of the Spanish /s/; /Los Angeles/ presents such
difficulties that no two of its inhabitants agree upon the proper
pronunciation, and many compromise on simple /Los/, as the folks of
/Jacksonville/ commonly call their town /Jax/. Some of the most
mellifluous of American place-names are in the areas once held by the
Spaniards. It would be hard to match the beauty of /Santa Margarita/,
/San Anselmo/, /Alamogordo/, /Terra Amarilla/, /Sabinoso/, /Las
Palomas/, /Ensenada/, /Nogales/, /San Patricio/ and /Bernalillo/. But
they are under a severe and double assault. Not only do the present
lords of the soil debase them in speaking them; in many cases they are
formally displaced by native names of the utmost harshness and
banality. Thus, [Pg293] one finds in New Mexico such absurdly-named
towns as /Sugarite/, /Shoemaker/, /Newhope/, /Lordsburg/, /Eastview/
and /Central/; in Arizona such places as /Old Glory/, /Springerville/,
/Wickenburg/ and /Congress Junction/, and even in California such
abominations as /Oakhurst/, /Ben Hur/, /Drytown/, /Skidoo/,
/Susanville/, /Uno/ and /Ono/.

The early Spaniards were prodigal with place-names testifying to their
piety, but these names, in the overwhelming main, were those of
saints. Add /Salvador/, /Trinidad/ and /Concepcion/, and their
repertoire is almost exhausted. If they ever named a town /Jesus/ the
name has been obliterated by Anglo-Saxon prudery; even their use of
the name as a personal appellation violates American notions of the
fitting. The names of the Jewish patriarchs and those of the holy
places in Palestine do not appear among their place-names; their
Christianity seems to have been exclusively of the New Testament. But
the Americans who displaced them were intimately familiar with both
books of the Bible, and one finds copious proofs of it on the map of
the United States. There are no less than seven /Bethlehems/ in the
Postal Guide, and the name is also applied to various mountains, and
to one of the reaches of the Ohio river. I find thirteen /Bethanys/,
seventeen /Bethels/, eleven /Beulahs/, nine /Canaans/, eleven
/Jordans/ and twenty-one /Sharons/. /Adam/ is sponsor for a town in
West Virginia and an island in the Chesapeake, and /Eve/ for a village
in Kentucky. There are five postoffices named /Aaron/, two named
/Abraham/, two named /Job/, and a town and a lake named /Moses/. Most
of the /St. Pauls/ and /St. Josephs/ of the country were inherited
from the French, but the two /St. Patricks/ show a later influence.
Eight /Wesleys/ and /Wesleyvilles/, eight /Asburys/ and twelve names
embodying /Luther/ indicate the general theological trend of the plain
people. There is a village in Maryland, too small to have a
postoffice, named /Gott/, and I find /Gotts Island/ in Maine and
/Gottville/ in California, but no doubt these were named after German
settlers of that awful name, and not after the Lord God directly.
There are four /Trinities/, to say nothing of the inherited Spanish
/Trinidads/. [Pg294]

Names wholly or partly descriptive of localities are very numerous
throughout the country, and among the /Grundwörter/ embodied in them
are terms highly characteristic of America and almost unknown to the
English vocabulary. /Bald Knob/ would puzzle an Englishman, but the
name is so common in the United States that the Geographic Board has
had to take measures against it. Others of that sort are /Council
Bluffs/, /Patapsco Neck/, /Delaware Water Gap/, /Curtis Creek/,
/Walden Pond/, /Sandy Hook/, /Key West/, /Bull Run/, /Portage/,
/French Lick/, /Jones Gulch/, /Watkins Gully/, /Cedar Bayou/, /Keams
Canyon/, /Parker Notch/, /Sucker Branch/, /Fraziers Bottom/ and /Eagle
Pass/. /Butte Creek/, in /Montana/, is a name made up of two
Americanisms. There are thirty-five postoffices whose names embody the
word /prairie/, several of them, /e. g./, /Prairie du Chien/, Wis.,
inherited from the French. There are seven /Divides/, eight /Buttes/,
eight town-names embodying the word /burnt/, innumerable names
embodying /grove/, /barren/, /plain/, /fork/, /center/, /cross-roads/,
/courthouse/, /cove/ and /ferry/, and a great swarm of /Cold Springs/,
/Coldwaters/, /Summits/, /Middletowns/ and /Highlands/. The flora and
fauna of the land are enormously represented. There are twenty-two
/Buffalos/ beside the city in New York, and scores of /Buffalo
Creeks/, /Ridges/, /Springs/ and /Wallows/. The /Elks/, in various
forms, are still more numerous, and there are dozens of towns,
mountains, lakes, creeks and country districts named after the
/beaver/, /martin/, /coyote/, /moose/ and /otter/, and as many more
named after such characteristic flora as the /paw-paw/, the
/sycamore/, the /cottonwood/, the /locust/ and the /sunflower/. There
is an /Alligator/ in Mississippi, a /Crawfish/ in Kentucky and a /Rat
Lake/ on the Canadian border of Minnesota. The endless search for
mineral wealth has besprinkled the map with such names as /Bromide/,
/Oil City/, /Anthracite/, /Chrome/, /Chloride/, /Coal Run/,
/Goldfield/, /Telluride/, /Leadville/ and /Cement/.

There was a time, particularly during the gold rush to California,
when the rough humor of the country showed itself in the invention of
extravagant and often highly felicitous place-names, but with the
growth of population and the rise of civic spirit they have tended to
be replaced with more seemly coinages. [Pg295] /Catfish/ creek, in
Wisconsin, is now the /Yahara/ river; the /Bulldog/ mountains, in
Arizona, have become the /Harosomas/; the /Picketwire/ river, as we
have seen, has resumed its old French name of /Purgatoire/. As with
natural features of the landscape, so with towns. Nearly all the old
/Boozevilles/, /Jackass Flats/, /Three Fingers/, /Hell-For-Sartains/,
/Undershirt Hills/, /Razzle-Dazzles/, /Cow-Tails/, /Yellow Dogs/,
/Jim-Jamses/, /Jump-Offs/, /Poker Citys/ and /Skunktowns/ have yielded
to the growth of delicacy, but /Tombstone/ still stands in Arizona,
/Goose Bill/ remains a postoffice in Montana, and the Geographic Board
gives its imprimatur to the /Horsethief/ trail in Colorado, to
/Burning Bear/ creek in the same state, and to /Pig Eye/ lake in
Minnesota. Various other survivors of a more lively and innocent day
linger on the map: /Blue Ball/, Ark., /Cowhide/, W. Va.,
/Dollarville/, Mich., /Oven Fork/, Ky., /Social Circle/, Ga., /Sleepy
Eye/, Minn., /Bubble/, Ark., /Shy Beaver/, Pa., /Shin Pond/, Me.,
/Rough-and-Ready/, Calif., /Non Intervention/, Va., /Noodle/, Tex.,
/Nursery/, Mo., /Number Four/, N. Y., /Oblong/, Ill., /Stock Yards/,
Neb., /Stout/, Iowa, and so on. West Virginia, the wildest of the
eastern states, is full of such place-names. Among them I find
/Affinity/, /Annamoriah/ (/Anna Maria?/), /Bee/, /Bias/, /Big
Chimney/, /Billie/, /Blue Jay/, /Bulltown/, /Caress/, /Cinderella/,
/Cyclone/, /Czar/, /Cornstalk/, /Duck/, /Halcyon/, /Jingo/, /Left
Hand/, /Ravens Eye/, /Six/, /Skull Run/, /Three Churches/, /Uneeda/,
/Wide Mouth/, /War Eagle/ and /Stumptown/. The Postal Guide shows two
/Ben Hurs/, five /St. Elmos/ and ten /Ivanhoes/, but only one
/Middlemarch/. There are seventeen /Roosevelts/, six /Codys/ and six
/Barnums/, but no /Shakespeare/. /Washington/, of course, is the most
popular of American place-names. But among names of postoffices it is
hard pushed by /Clinton/, /Centerville/, /Liberty/, /Canton/, /Marion/
and /Madison/, and even by /Springfield/, /Warren/ and /Bismarck/.

The Geographic Board, in its laudable effort to simplify American
nomenclature, has played ducks and drakes with some of the most
picturesque names on the national map. Now and then, as in the case of
/Purgatoire/, it has temporarily departed from this policy, but in the
main its influence has been thrown against the fine old French and
Spanish names, and against the [Pg296] more piquant native names no
less. Thus, I find it deciding against /Portage des Flacons/ and in
favor of the hideous /Bottle portage/, against /Cañada del Burro/ and
in favor of /Burro canyon/ against /Canos y Ylas de la Cruz/ and in
favor of the barbarous /Cruz island/. In /Bougére landing/ and /Cañon
City/ it has deleted the accents. The name of the /De Grasse river/ it
has changed to /Grass/. /De Laux/ it has changed to the intolerable
/Dlo/. And, as we have seen, it has steadily amalgamated French and
Spanish articles with their nouns, thus achieving such forms as
/Duchesne/, /Eldorado/, /Deleon/ and /Laharpe/. But here its policy is
fortunately inconsistent, and so a number of fine old names has
escaped. Thus, it has decided in favor of /Bon Secours/ and against
/Bonsecours/, and in favor of /De Soto/, /La Crosse/ and /La Moure/,
and against /Desoto/, /Lacrosse/ and /Lamoure/. Here its decisions are
confused and often unintelligible. Why /Laporte/, Pa., and /La Porte/,
Iowa? Why /Lagrange/, Ind., and /La Grange/, Ky.? Here it would seem
to be yielding a great deal too much to local usage.

The Board proceeds to the shortening and simplification of native names
by various devices. It deletes such suffixes as /town/, /city/ and
/courthouse/; it removes the apostrophe and often the genitive /s/ from
such names as /St. Mary's/; it shortens /burgh/ to /burg/ and /borough/
to /boro/; and it combines separate and often highly discreet words. The
last habit often produces grotesque forms, /e. g./, /Newberlin/,
/Boxelder/, /Sabbathday lake/, /Fallentimber/, /Bluemountain/,
/Westtown/, /Threepines/ and /Missionhill/. It apparently cherishes a
hope of eventually regularizing the spelling of /Allegany/. This is now
/Allegany/ for the Maryland county, the Pennsylvania township and the
New York and Oregon towns, /Alleghany/ for the mountains, the Colorado
town and the Virginia town and springs, and /Allegheny/ for the
Pittsburgh borough and the Pennsylvania county, college and river. The
Board inclines to /Allegheny/ for both river and mountains. Other Indian
names give it constant concern. Its struggles to set up
/Chemquasabamticook/ as the name of a Maine lake in place of
/Chemquasabamtic/ and /Chemquassabamticook/, and /Chatahospee/ as the
name of an Alabama creek in place of /Chattahospee/, [Pg297]
/Hoolethlocco/, /Hoolethloces/, /Hoolethloco/ and /Hootethlocco/ are
worthy of its learning and authority.[44]

The American tendency to pronounce all the syllables of a word more
distinctly than the English shows itself in geographical names. White,
in 1880,[45] recorded the increasing habit of giving full value to the
syllables of such borrowed English names as /Worcester/ and /Warwick/.
I have frequently noted the same thing. In Worcester county, Maryland,
the name is usually pronounced /Wooster/, but on the Western Shore of
the state one hears /Worcest-'r/.[46] /Norwich/ is another such name;
one hears /Nor-wich/ quite as often as /Norrich/.[47] Yet another is
/Delhi/; one often hears /Del-high/. White said that in his youth the
name of the /Shawangunk/ mountains, in New York, was pronounced
/Shongo/, but that the custom of pronouncing it as spelled had arisen
during his manhood. So with /Winnipiseogee/, the name of a lake; once
/Winipisaukie/, it gradually came to be pronounced as spelled. There
is frequently a considerable difference between the pronunciation of a
name by natives of a place and its pronunciation by those who are
familiar with it only in print. /Baltimore/ offers an example. The
natives always drop the medial /i/ and so reduce the name to two
syllables; the habit identifies them. /Anne Arundel/, the name of a
county in Maryland, [Pg298] is usually pronounced /Ann 'ran'l/ by its
people. /Arkansas/, as everyone knows, is pronounced /Arkansaw/ by the
Arkansans, and the Nevadans give the name of their state a flat /a/.
The local pronunciation of /Illinois/ I have already noticed. /Iowa/,
at home, is often /Ioway/.[48] Many American geographical names offer
great difficulty to Englishmen. One of my English acquaintances tells
me that he was taught at school to accent /Massachusetts/ on the
second syllable, to rhyme the second syllable of /Ohio/ with /tea/,
and to sound the first /c/ in /Connecticut/. In Maryland the name of
/Calvert/ county is given a broad /a/, whereas the name of /Calvert/
street, in Baltimore, has a flat /a/. This curious distinction is
almost always kept up. A Scotchman, coming to America, would give the
/ch/ in such names as /Loch Raven/ and /Lochvale/ the guttural Scotch
(and German) sound, but locally it is always pronounced as if it were

Finally, there is a curious difference between English and American
usage in the use of the word /river/. The English invariably put it
before the proper name, whereas we almost as invariably put it after.
/The Thames river/ would seem quite as strange to an Englishman as
/the river Chicago/ would seem to us. This difference arose more than
a century ago and was noticed by Pickering. But in his day the
American usage was still somewhat uncertain, and such forms as /the
river Mississippi/ were yet in use. Today /river/ almost always goes
after the proper name.

§ 4

/Street Names/--"Such a locality as 'the /corner/ of /Avenue H/ and
/Twenty-third/ street,'" says W. W. Crane, "is about as distinctively
American as Algonquin and Iroquois names like /Mississippi/ and
/Saratoga/."[49] Kipling, in his "American Notes,"[50] gives testimony
to the strangeness with which the [Pg299] number-names, the phrase
"the corner of," and the custom of omitting /street/ fall upon the ear
of a Britisher. He quotes with amazement certain directions given to
him on his arrival in San Francisco from India: "Go six blocks north
to [the] corner of /Geary/ and /Markey/ [/Market?/]; then walk around
till you strike [the] corner of /Gutter/ and /Sixteenth/." The English
always add the word /street/ (or /road/ or /place/ or /avenue/) when
speaking of a thoroughfare; such a phrase as "/Oxford/ and /New Bond/"
would strike them as incongruous. The American custom of numbering and
lettering streets is almost always ascribed by English writers who
discuss it, not to a desire to make finding them easy, but to sheer
poverty of invention. The English apparently have an inexhaustible
fund of names for streets; they often give one street more than one
name. Thus, /Oxford/ street, London, becomes the /Bayswater/ road,
/High/ street, /Holland Park/ avenue, /Goldhawke/ road and finally the
/Oxford/ road to the westward, and /High Holborn/, /Holborn/ viaduct,
/Newgate/ street, /Cheapside/, the /Poultry/, /Cornhill/ and
/Leadenhall/ street to the eastward. The Strand, in the same way,
becomes /Fleet/ street, /Ludgate/ hill and /Cannon/ street.
Nevertheless, there is a /First/ avenue in /Queen's Park/, and
parallel to it are /Second/, /Third/, /Fourth/, /Fifth/ and /Sixth/
avenues--all small streets leading northward from the Harrow road,
just east of Kensal Green cemetery. I have observed that few Londoners
have ever heard of them. There is also a /First/ street in Chelsea--a
very modest thoroughfare near Lennox gardens and not far from the
Brompton Oratory.

Next to the numbering and lettering of streets, a fashion apparently
set up by Major Pierre-Charles L'Enfant's plans for Washington, the
most noticeable feature of American street nomenclature, as opposed to
that of England, is the extensive use of such designations as
/avenue/, /boulevard/, /drive/ and /speedway/. /Avenue/ is used in
England, but only rather sparingly; it is seldom applied to a mean
street, or to one in a warehouse district. In America the word is
scarcely distinguished in meaning from /street/.[51] /Boulevard/,
/drive/ and /speedway/ are almost [Pg300] unknown to the English, but
they use /road/ for urban thoroughfares, which is very seldom done in
America, and they also make free use of /place/, /walk/, /passage/,
/lane/ and /circus/, all of which are obsolescent on this side of the
ocean. Some of the older American cities, such as Boston and
Baltimore, have surviving certain ancient English designations of
streets, /e. g./, /Cheapside/ and /Cornhill/; these are unknown in the
newer American towns. /Broadway/, which is also English, is more
common. Many American towns now have /plazas/, which are unknown in
England. Nearly all have /City Hall parks/, /squares/ or /places/;
/City Hall/ is also unknown over there. The principal street of a
small town, in America, is almost always /Main street/; in England it
is as invariably /High/ street, usually with the definite article
before /High/.

I have mentioned the corruption of old Dutch street and neighborhood
names in New York. Spanish names are corrupted in the same way in the
Southwest and French names in the Great Lakes region and in Louisiana.
In New Orleans the street names, many of them strikingly beautiful,
are pronounced so barbarously by the people that a Frenchman would
have difficulty recognizing them. Thus, /Bourbon/ has become
/Bur-bun/, /Dauphine/ is /Daw-fin/, /Foucher/ is /Foosh'r/, /Enghien/
is /En-gine/, and /Felicity/ (originally /Félicité/) is /Fill-a-city/.
The French, in their days, bestowed the names of the Muses upon
certain of the city streets. They are now pronounced /Cal´-y-ope/,
/Terp´-si-chore/, /Mel-po-mean´/, /You-terp´/, and so on. /Bon
Enfants/, apparently too difficult for the native, has been translated
into /Good Children/. Only /Esplanade/ and /Bagatelle/, among the
French street names of the city, seem to be commonly pronounced with
any approach to correctness.


[1] The great Irish famine, which launched the chief emigration to
America, extended from 1845 to 1847. The Know Nothing movement, which
was chiefly aimed at the Irish, extended from 1852 to 1860.

[2] A. B. Faust: The German Element in the United States, 2 vols.;
Boston, 1909, vol. ii, pp. 34 /et seq./

[3] Richard T. Ely: Outlines of Economics, 3rd rev. ed.; New York,
1916, p. 68.

[4] /Cf./ Seth K. Humphrey: Mankind; New York, 1917, p. 45.

[5] /Cf./ William G. Searle: Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum; Cambridge,

[6] /New York World/ Almanac, 1914, p. 668.

[7] It was announced by the Bureau of War Risk Insurance on March 30,
1918, that there were then 15,000 /Millers/ in the United States Army.
On the same day there were 262 /John J. O'Briens/, of whom 50 had
wives named /Mary/.

[8] /Cf./ Carlyle's Frederick the Great, bk. xxi, ch. vi.

[9] S. Grant Oliphant, in the /Baltimore Sun/, Dec. 2, 1906.

[10] Harriet /Lane/ Johnston was of this family.

[11] /Cf./ Faust, /op. cit./, vol. ii, pp. 183-4.

[12] A Tragedy of Surnames, by Fayette Dunlap, /Dialect Notes/, vol.
iv, pt. 1, 1913, p. 7-8.

[13] Americanisms, p. 112.

[14] Henry Harrison, in his Dictionary of the Surnames of the United
Kingdom; London, 1912, shows that such names as /Bloom/, /Cline/,
etc., always represent transliterations of German names. They are
unknown to genuinely British nomenclature.

[15] A great many more such transliterations and modifications are
listed by Faust, /op. cit./, particularly in his first volume. Others
are in Pennsylvania Dutch, by S. S. Haldemann; London, 1872, p. 60 /et
seq./, and in The Origin of Pennsylvania Surnames, by L. Oscar Kuhns,
/Lippincott's Magazine/, March, 1897, p. 395.

[16] I lately encountered the following sign in front of an automobile
repair shop:

 For puncture or blow
 Bring it to /Lowe/.

[17] /Baltimore Sun/, March 17, 1907.

[18] /Cf./ The Origin of Pennsylvania Surnames, /op. cit./

[19] /Koch/, a common German name, has very hard sledding in America.
Its correct pronunciation is almost impossible to Americans; at best
it becomes /Coke/. Hence it is often changed, not only to /Cook/, but
to /Cox/, /Koke/ or even /Cockey/.

[20] This is army slang, but promises to survive. The Germans, during
the war, had no opprobrious nicknames for their foes. The French were
always /die Franzosen/, the English were /die Engländer/, and so on,
even when most violently abused. Even /der Yankee/ was rare.

[21] /Cf./ Some Current Substitutes for Irish, by W. A. McLaughlin,
/Dialect Notes/, vol. iv, pt. ii.

[22] /Spiggoty/, originating at Panama, now means a native of any
Latin-American region under American protection, and in general any
Latin-American. It is navy slang, but has come into extensive civilian
use. It is a derisive daughter of "No /spik/ Inglese."

[23] /Cf./ Reaction to Personal Names, by Dr. C. P. Oberndorf,
/Psychoanalytic Review/, vol. v, no. 1, January, 1918, p. 47 /et seq./
This, so far as I know, is the only article in English which deals
with the psychological effects of surnames upon their bearers.
Abraham, Silberer and other German psychoanalysts have made
contributions to the subject. Dr. Oberndorf alludes, incidentally, to
the positive social prestige which goes with an English air, and, to a
smaller extent, with a French air in America. He tells of an Italian
who changed his patronymic of /Dipucci/ into /de Pucci/ to make it
more "aristocratic." And of a German bearing the genuinely
aristocratic name of /von Landsschaffshausen/ who changed it to "a
typically English name" because the latter seemed more distinguished
to his neighbors.

[24] The effects of race antagonism upon language are still to be
investigated. The etymology of /slave/ indicates that the inquiry
might yield interesting results. The word /French/, in English, is
largely used to suggest sexual perversion. In German anything
/Russian/ is barbarous, and /English/ education hints at flagellation.
The French, for many years, called a certain contraband appliance a
/capote Anglaise/, but after the /entente cordiale/ they changed the
name to /capote Allemande/. The common English name to this day is
/French letter/. /Cf./ The Criminal, by Havelock Ellis; London, 1910,
p. 208.

[25] /Cf./ The Jews, by Maurice Fishberg; New York, 1911, ch. xxii,
and especially p. 485 /et seq./

[26] The English Jews usually change /Levy/ to /Lewis/, a substitution
almost unknown in America. They also change /Abraham/ to /Braham/ and
/Moses/ to /Moss/. /Vide/ Surnames, Their Origin and Nationality, by
L. B. McKenna; Quincy (Ill.), 1913, pp. 13-14.

[27] For these observations of name changes among the Jews I am
indebted to Abraham Cahan.

[28] They arose in England through the custom of requiring an heir by
the female line to adopt the family name on inheriting the family
property. Formerly the heir dropped his own surname. Thus the ancestor
of the present Duke of Northumberland, born /Smithson/, took the
ancient name of /Percy/ on succeeding to the underlying earldom in the
eighteenth century. But about a hundred years ago, heirs in like case
began to join the two names by hyphenation, and such names are now
very common in the British peerage. Thus the surname of Lord Barrymore
is /Smith-Barry/, that of Lord Vernon is /Venables-Vernon/, and that
of the Earl of Wharncliffe is /Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie/.

[29] B. W. Green: Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech; Richmond, 1899,
pp. 13-16.

[30] The one given name that they have clung to is /Karl/. This, in
fact, has been adopted by Americans of other stocks, always, however,
spelled /Carl/. Such combinations as /Carl/ Gray, /Carl/ Williams and
even /Carl/ Murphy are common. Here intermarriage has doubtless had
its effect.

[31] /Cf./ Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature, by Charles W.
Bardsley; London, 1880.

[32] /Cf./ Bardsley, /op. cit./, p. 205 /et seq./

[33] The Geographic Board has lately decided that /Kenesaw/ should be
/Kennesaw/, but the learned jurist sticks to one /n/.

[34] Thornton reprints a paragraph from the /Congressional Globe/ of
June 15, 1854, alleging that in 1846, during the row over the Oregon
boundary, when "Fifty-four forty or fight" was a political slogan,
many "canal-boats, and even some of the babies, ... were christened
/54° 40′/."

[35] The Irish present several curious variations. Thus, they divide
/Charles/ into two syllables. They also take liberties with various
English surnames. /Bermingham/, for example, is pronounced
/Brimmingham/ in Ireland.

[36] Issued annually in July, with monthly supplements.

[37] The latest report is the fourth, covering the period 1890-1916;
Washington, 1916.

[38] The authority here is River and Lake Names in the United States,
by Edmund T. Ker; New York, 1911. Stephen G. Boyd, in Indian Local
Names; York (Pa.), 1885, says that the original Indian name was

[39] P. 17.

[40] /Cf./ Dutch Contributions to the Vocabulary of English in
America, by W. H. Carpenter, /Modern Philology/, July, 1908.

[41] Our Naturalized Names, /Lippincott's Magazine/, April, 1899. It
will be recalled how Pinaud, the French perfumer, was compelled to
place advertisements in the street-cars, instructing the public in the
proper pronunciation of his name.

[42] The same compromise is apparent in the pronunciation of
/Iroquois/, which is /Iro-quoy/ quite as often as it is /Iro-quoys/.

[43] /Vide/ its Fourth Report (1890-1916), p. 15.

[44] The Geographic Board is composed of representatives of the Coast
and Geodetic Survey, the Geological Survey, the General Land Office,
the Post Office, the Forest Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the
Biological Survey, the Government Printing Office, the Census and
Lighthouse Bureaus, the General Staff of the Army, the Hydrographic
Office, Library and War Records Office of the Navy, the Treasury and
the Department of State. It was created by executive order Sept. 4,
1890, and its decisions are binding upon all federal officials. It has
made, to date, about 15,000 decisions. They are recorded in reports
issued at irregular intervals and in more frequent bulletins.

[45] Every-Day English, p. 100.

[46] I have often noted that Americans, in speaking of the familiar
/Worcestershire/ sauce, commonly pronounce every syllable and
enunciated /shire/ distinctly. In England it is always /Woostersh'r/.

[47] The English have a great number of such decayed pronunciations,
/e. g./, /Maudlin/ for /Magdalen College/, /Sister/ for /Cirencester/,
/Merrybone/ for /Marylebone/. Their geographical nomenclature shows
many corruptions due to faulty pronunciation and the law of
Hobson-Jobson, /e. g./, /Leighton Buzzard/ for the Norman French
/Leiton Beau Desart/.

[48] Curiously enough, Americans always use the broad /a/ in the first
syllable of /Albany/, whereas Englishmen rhyme the syllable with
/pal/. The English also pronounce /Pall Mall/ as if it were spelled
/pal mal/. Americans commonly give it two broad /a/'s.

[49] Our Street Names, /Lippincott's Magazine/, Aug., 1897, p. 264.

[50] Ch. i.

[51] There are, of course, local exceptions. In Baltimore, for
example, /avenue/ used to be reserved for wide streets in the suburbs.
Thus Charles /street/, on passing the old city boundary, became
Charles /street-avenue/. Further out it became the Charles
/street-avenue-road/--probably a unique triplication. But that was
years ago. Of late many fifth-rate streets in Baltimore have been
changed into avenues.




§ 1

/Proverb and Platitude/--No people, save perhaps the Spaniards, have a
richer store of proverbial wisdom than the Americans, and surely none
other make more diligent and deliberate efforts to augment its riches.
The American literature of "inspirational" platitude is enormous and
almost unique. There are half a dozen authors, /e. g./, Dr. Orison
Swett Marden and Dr. Frank Crane, who devote themselves exclusively,
and to vast profit, to the composition of arresting and uplifting
apothegms, and the fruits of their fancy are not only sold in books
but also displayed upon an infinite variety of calendars, banners and
wall-cards. It is rarely that one enters the office of an American
business man without encountering at least one of these wall-cards. It
may, on the one hand, show nothing save a succinct caution that time
is money, say, "Do It Now," or "This Is My Busy Day"; on the other
hand, it may embody a long and complex sentiment, ornately set forth.
The taste for such canned sagacity seems to have arisen in America at
a very early day. Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac," begun
in 1732, remained a great success for twenty-five years, and the
annual sales reached 10,000. It had many imitators, and founded an
aphoristic style of writing which culminated in the essays of Emerson,
often mere strings of sonorous certainties, defectively articulated.
The "Proverbial Philosophy" of Martin Farquhar Tupper, dawning upon
the American public in the early 40's, was welcomed with enthusiasm;
as Saintsbury says,[1] its success [Pg302] on this side of the
Atlantic even exceeded its success on the other. But that was the last
and perhaps the only importation of the sage and mellifluous in bulk.
In late years the American production of such merchandise has grown so
large that the balance of trade now flows in the other direction.
Visiting Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain in the spring
of 1917, I found translations of the chief works of Dr. Marden on sale
in all those countries, and with them the masterpieces of such other
apostles of the New Thought as Ralph Waldo Trine and Elizabeth Towne.
No other American books were half so well displayed.

The note of all such literature, and of the maxims that precipitate
themselves from it, is optimism. They "inspire" by voicing and
revoicing the New Thought doctrine that all things are possible to the
man who thinks the right sort of thoughts--in the national phrase, to
the /right-thinker/. This right-thinker is indistinguishable from the
/forward-looker/, whose belief in the continuity and benignity of the
evolutionary process takes on the virulence of a religious faith. Out
of his confidence come the innumerable saws, axioms and /geflügelte
Worte/ in the national arsenal, ranging from the "It won't hurt none
to try" of the great masses of the plain people to such exhilarating
confections of the wall-card virtuosi as "The elevator to success is
not running; take the stairs." Naturally enough, a grotesque humor
plays about this literature of hope; the folk, though it moves them,
prefer it with a dash of salt. "Smile, damn you, smile!" is a typical
specimen of this seasoned optimism. Many examples of it go back to the
early part of the last century, for instance, "Don't monkey with the
buzz-saw" and "It will never get well if you pick it." Others are
patently modern, /e. g./, "The Lord is my shepherd; I should worry"
and "Roll over; you're on your back." The national talent for
extravagant and pungent humor is well displayed in many of these
maxims. It would be difficult to match, in any other folk-literature,
such examples as "I'd rather have them say 'There he goes' than 'Here
he lies,'" or "Don't spit: remember the Johnstown flood," or "Shoot it
in the arm; your leg's full," or "Cheer up; [Pg303] there ain't no
hell," or "If you want to cure homesickness, go back home." Many very
popular phrases and proverbs are borrowings from above. "Few die and
none resign" originated with Thomas Jefferson; Bret Harte, I believe,
was the author of "No check-ee, no shirt-ee," General W. T. Sherman is
commonly credited with "War is hell," and Mark Twain with "Life is one
damn thing after another." An elaborate and highly characteristic
proverb of the uplifting variety--"So live that you can look any man
in the eye and tell him to go to hell"--was first given currency by
one of the engineers of the Panama Canal, a gentleman later retired,
it would seem, for attempting to execute his own counsel. From humor
the transition to cynicism is easy, and so many of the current sayings
are at war with the optimism of the majority. "Kick him again; he's
down" is a depressing example. "What's the use?" a rough translation
of the Latin "Cui bono?" is another. The same spirit is visible in
"Tell your troubles to a policeman," "How'd you like to be the
ice-man?" "Some say she do and some say she don't," "Nobody loves a
fat man," "I love my wife, but O you kid," and "Would you for fifty
cents?" The last originated in the ingenious mind of an advertisement
writer and was immediately adopted. In the course of time it acquired
a naughty significance, and helped to give a start to the amazing
button craze of ten or twelve years ago--a saturnalia of proverb and
phrase making which finally aroused the guardians of the public morals
and was put down by the police.

That neglect which marks the study of the vulgate generally extends to
the subject of popular proverb-making. The English publisher, Frank
Palmer, prints an excellent series of little volumes presenting the
favorite proverbs of all civilized races, including the Chinese and
Japanese, but there is no American volume among them. Even such
exhaustive collections as that of Robert Christy[2] contain no
American specimens--not even "Don't monkey with the buzz-saw" or
"Root, hog, or die." [Pg304]

§ 2

/American Slang/--This neglect of the national proverbial philosophy
extends to the national slang. There is but one work, so far as I can
discover, formally devoted to it,[3] and that work is extremely
superficial. Moreover, it has been long out of date, and hence is of
little save historical value. There are at least a dozen careful
treatises on French slang,[4] half as many on English slang,[5] and a
good many on German slang, but American slang, which is probably quite
as rich as that of France and a good deal richer than that of any
other country, is yet to be studied at length. Nor is there much
discussion of it, of any interest or value, in the general
philological literature. Fowler and all the other early native
students of the language dismissed it with lofty gestures; down to the
time of Whitney it was scarcely regarded as a seemly subject for the
notice of a man of learning. Lounsbury, less pedantic, viewed its
phenomena more hospitably, and even defined it as "the source from
which the decaying energies of speech are constantly refreshed," and
Brander Matthews, following him, has described its function as that of
providing "substitutes for the good words and true which are worn out
by hard service."[6] But that is about as far as the investigation has
got. Krapp has some judicious paragraphs upon the matter in his
"Modern English,"[7] there are a few scattered essays upon the
underlying psychology,[8] and various uninforming magazine articles,
but that is all. The practising authors of the country, like its
philologians, have always shown [Pg305] a gingery and suspicious
attitude. "The use of slang," said Oliver Wendell Holmes, "is at once
a sign and a cause of mental atrophy." "Slang," said Ambrose Bierce
fifty years later, "is the speech of him who robs the literary garbage
carts on their way to the dumps." Literature in America, as we have
seen, remains aloof from the vulgate. Despite the contrary examples of
Mark Twain and Howells, all the more pretentious American authors try
to write chastely and elegantly; the typical literary product of the
country is still a refined essay in the /Atlantic Monthly/, perhaps
gently jocose but never rough--by Emerson, so to speak, out of Charles
Lamb--the sort of thing one might look to be done by a somewhat
advanced English curate. George Ade, undoubtedly one of the most adept
anatomists of the American character and painters of the American
scene that the national literature has yet developed, is neglected
because his work is grounded firmly upon the national speech--not that
he reports it literally, like Lardner and the hacks trailing after
Lardner, but that he gets at and exhibits its very essence. It would
stagger a candidate for a doctorate in philology, I daresay, to be
told off by his professor to investigate the slang of Ade in the way
that Bosson,[9] the Swede, has investigated that of Jerome K. Jerome,
and yet, until something of the sort is undertaken, American philology
will remain out of contact with the American language.

Most of the existing discussions of slang spend themselves upon
efforts to define it, and, in particular, upon efforts to
differentiate it from idiomatic neologisms of a more legitimate type.
This effort is largely in vain; the border-line is too vague and
wavering to be accurately mapped; words and phrases are constantly
crossing it, and in both directions. There was a time, perhaps, when
the familiar American counter-word, /proposition/, was slang; its use
seems to have originated in the world of business, and it was soon
afterward adopted by the sporting fraternity. But today it is employed
without much feeling that it needs apology, and surely without any
feeling that it is low. [Pg306] /Nice/, as an adjective of all work,
was once in slang use only; today no one would question "a /nice/
day," or "a /nice/ time" or "a /nice/ hotel." /Awful/ seems to be
going the same route. "/Awful/ sweet" and "/awfully/ dear" still seem
slangy and school-girlish, but "/awful/ children," "/awful/ weather"
and "an /awful/ job" have entirely sound support, and no one save a
pedant would hesitate to use them. Such insidious purifications and
consecrations of slang are going on under our noses all the time. The
use of /some/ as a general adjective-adverb seems likely to make its
way in the same manner. It is constantly forgotten by purists of
defective philological equipment that a great many of our most
respectable words and phrases originated in the plainest sort of
slang. Thus, /quandary/, despite a fanciful etymology which would
identify it with /wandreth/ (=/evil/), is probably simply a
composition form of the French phrase, /qu'en dirai-je?/ Again, to
turn to French itself, there is /tête/, a sound name for the human
head for many centuries--though its origin was in the Latin /testa/
(=/pot/), a favorite slang-word of the soldiers of the decaying
empire, analogous to our own /block/, /nut/ and /conch/. The word
/slacker/, recently come into good usage in the United States as a
designation for an unsuccessful shirker of conscription, is a
substantive derived from the English verb /to slack/, which was born
as university slang and remains so to this day. Brander Matthews, so
recently as 1901, thought /to hold up/ slang; it is now perfectly good

The contrary movement of words from the legitimate vocabulary into
slang is constantly witnessed. Some one devises a new and intriguing
trope or makes use of an old one under circumstances arresting the
public attention, and at once it is adopted into slang, given a host
of remote significances, and ding-donged /ad nauseam/. The
Rooseveltian phrases, /muck-raker/, /Ananias Club/, /short and ugly
word/, /nature-faker/ and /big-stick/, offer examples. Not one of them
was new and not one of them was of much pungency, but Roosevelt's vast
talent for delighting the yokelry threw about them a charming air, and
so they entered into current slang and were mouthed idiotically for
months. Another example is to be found in /steam-roller/. [Pg307] It
was first heard of in June, 1908, when it was applied by Oswald F.
Schuette, of the /Chicago Inter-Ocean/, to the methods employed by the
Roosevelt-Taft majority in the Republican National Committee in
over-riding the protests against seating Taft delegates from Alabama
and Arkansas. At once it struck the popular fancy and was soon heard
on all sides. All the usual derivatives appeared, /to steam-roller/,
/steam-rollered/, and so on. Since then, curiously enough, the term
has gradually forced its way back from slang to good usage, and even
gone over to England. In the early days of the Great War it actually
appeared in the most solemn English reviews, and once or twice, I
believe, in state papers.

Much of the discussion of slang by popular etymologists is devoted to
proofs that this or that locution is not really slang at all--that it
is to be found in Shakespeare, in Milton, or in the Revised Version.
These scientists, of course, overlook the plain fact that slang, like
the folk-song, is not the creation of people in the mass, but of
definite individuals, and that its character /as/ slang depends
entirely upon its adoption by the ignorant, who use its novelties too
assiduously and with too little imagination, and so debase them to the
estate of worn-out coins, smooth and valueless. It is this error,
often shared by philologists of sounder information, that lies under
the doctrine that the plays of Shakespeare are full of slang, and that
the Bard showed but a feeble taste in language. Nothing could be more
absurd. The business of writing English, in his day, was unharassed by
the proscriptions of purists, and so the vocabulary could be enriched
more facilely than today, but though Shakespeare and his
fellow-dramatists quickly adopted such neologisms as /to bustle/, /to
huddle/, /bump/, /hubbub/ and /pat/, it goes without saying that they
exercised a sound discretion and that the slang of the Bankside was
full of words and phrases which they were never tempted to use. In our
own day the same discrimination is exercised by all writers of sound
taste. On the one hand they disregard the senseless prohibitions of
school-masters, and on the other hand they draw the line with more or
less watchfulness, according as they are of conservative or liberal
habit. I [Pg308] find /the best of the bunch/ and /joke-smith/ in
Saintsbury;[10] one could scarcely imagine either in Walter Pater. But
by the same token one could not imagine /chicken/ (for young
girl),[11] /aber nit/, /to come across/ or /to camouflage/ in

What slang actually consists of doesn't depend, in truth, upon
intrinsic qualities, but upon the surrounding circumstances. It is the
user that determines the matter, and particularly the user's habitual
way of thinking. If he chooses words carefully, with a full
understanding of their meaning and savor, then no word that he uses
seriously will belong to slang, but if his speech is made up chiefly
of terms poll-parroted, and he has no sense of their shades and
limitations, then slang will bulk largely in his vocabulary. In its
origin it is nearly always respectable; it is devised not by the
stupid populace, but by individuals of wit and ingenuity; as Whitney
says, it is a product of an "exuberance of mental activity, and the
natural delight of language-making." But when its inventions happen to
strike the popular fancy and are adopted by the mob, they are soon
worn thread-bare and so lose all piquancy and significance, and, in
Whitney's words, become "incapable of expressing anything that is
real."[12] This is the history of such slang phrases, often
interrogative, as "How'd you like to be the ice-man?" "How's your poor
feet?" "Merci pour la langouste," "Have a heart," "This is the life,"
"Where did you get that hat?" "Would you for fifty cents?" "Let her
go, Gallegher," "Shoo-fly, don't bother me," "Don't wake him up" and
"Let George do it." The last well exhibits the process. It originated
in France, as "Laissez faire à Georges," during the fifteenth century,
and at the start had satirical reference to the multiform activities
of Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, prime minister to Louis XII.[13] It
later [Pg309] became common slang, was translated into English, had a
revival during the early days of David Lloyd-George's meteoric career,
was adopted into American without any comprehension of either its
first or its latest significance, and enjoyed the brief popularity of
a year.

Krapp attempts to distinguish between slang and sound idiom by setting
up the doctrine that the former is "more expressive than the situation
demands." "It is," he says, "a kind of hyperesthesia in the use of
language. /To laugh in your sleeve/ is idiom because it arises out of
a natural situation; it is a metaphor derived from the picture of one
raising his sleeve to his face to hide a smile, a metaphor which arose
naturally enough in early periods when sleeves were long and flowing;
but /to talk through your hat/ is slang, not only because it is new,
but also because it is a grotesque exaggeration of the truth."[14] The
theory, unluckily, is combated by many plain facts. /To hand it to
him/, /to get away with it/ and even /to hand him a lemon/ are
certainly not metaphors that transcend the practicable and probable,
and yet all are undoubtedly slang. On the other hand, there is
palpable exaggeration in such phrases as "he is not worth the powder
it would take to kill him," in such adjectives as /break-bone/
(fever), and in such compounds as /fire-eater/, and yet it would be
absurd to dismiss them as slang. Between /block-head/ and /bone-head/
there is little to choose, but the former is sound English, whereas
the latter is American slang. So with many familiar similes, /e. g./,
/like greased lightning/, /as scarce as hen's teeth/; they are
grotesque hyperboles, but surely not slang.

The true distinction between slang and more seemly idiom, in so far as
any distinction exists at all, is that indicated by Whitney. Slang
originates in an effort, always by ingenious individuals, to make the
language more vivid and expressive. When in the form of single words
it may appear as new metaphors, [Pg310] /e. g./, /bird/ and /peach/;
as back formations, /e. g./, /beaut/ and /flu/; as composition-forms,
/e. g./, /whatdyecallem/; as picturesque compounds, /e. g./,
/booze-foundry/; as onomatopes, /e. g./, /biff/ and /zowie/; or in any
other of the shapes that new terms take. If, by the chances that
condition language-making, it acquires a special and limited meaning,
not served by any existing locution, it enters into sound idiom and is
presently wholly legitimatized; if, on the contrary, it is adopted by
the populace as a counter-word and employed with such banal
imitativeness that it soon loses any definite significance whatever,
then it remains slang and is avoided by the finical. An example of the
former process is afforded by /Tommy-rot/. It first appeared as
English school-boy slang, but its obvious utility soon brought it into
good usage. In one of Jerome K. Jerome's books, "Paul Kelver," there
is the following dialogue:

 "The wonderful songs that nobody ever sings, the wonderful pictures
 that nobody ever paints, and all the rest of it. It's /Tommy-rot/!"

 "I wish you wouldn't use slang."

 "Well, you know what I mean. What is the proper word? Give it to me."

 "I suppose you mean /cant/."

 "No, I don't. /Cant/ is something that you don't believe in yourself.
 It's /Tommy-rot/; there isn't any other word."

Nor was there any other word for /hubbub/ and to /dwindle/ in
Shakespeare's time; he adopted and dignified them because they met
genuine needs. Nor was there any other satisfactory word for /graft/
when it came in, nor for /rowdy/, nor for /boom/, nor for /joy-ride/,
nor for /omnibus-bill/, nor for /slacker/, nor for /trust-buster/.
Such words often retain a humorous quality; they are used satirically
and hence appear but seldom in wholly serious discourse. But they have
standing in the language nevertheless, and only a prig would hesitate
to use them as Saintsbury used /the best of the bunch/ and

On the other hand, many an apt and ingenious neologism, by falling too
quickly into the gaping maw of the proletariat, is spoiled forthwith.
Once it becomes, in Oliver Wendell Holmes' phrase, "a cheap generic
term, a substitute for differentiated [Pg311] specific expressions,"
it quickly acquires such flatness that the fastidious flee it as a
plague. One recalls many capital verb-phrases, thus ruined by
unintelligent appreciation, /e. g./, /to hand him a lemon/, /to freeze
on to/, /to have the goods/, /to fall for it/, and /to get by/. One
recalls, too, some excellent substantives, /e. g./, /dope/ and /dub/,
and compounds, /e. g./, /come-on/ and /easy-mark/, and verbs, /e. g./,
/to vamp/. These are all quite as sound in structure as the great
majority of our most familiar words, but their adoption by the
ignorant and their endless use and misuse in all sorts of situations
have left them tattered and obnoxious, and they will probably go the
way, as Matthews says, of all the other "temporary phrases which
spring up, one scarcely knows how, and flourish unaccountably for a
few months, and then disappear forever, leaving no sign." Matthews is
wrong in two particulars here. They do not arise by any mysterious
parthenogenesis, but come from sources which, in many cases, may be
determined. And they last, alas, a good deal more than a month.
/Shoo-fly/ afflicted the American people for at least two years, and
"I /don't/ think" and /aber nit/ quite as long. Even "good-/night/"
lasted a whole year.

A very large part of our current slang is propagated by the
newspapers, and much of it is invented by newspaper writers. One needs
but turn to the slang of baseball to find numerous examples. Such
phrases as /to clout the sphere/, /the initial sack/, /to slam the
pill/ and /the dexter meadow/ are obviously not of bleachers
manufacture. There is not enough imagination in that depressing army
to devise such things; more often than not, there is not even enough
intelligence to comprehend them. The true place of their origin is the
perch of the newspaper reporters, whose competence and compensation is
largely estimated, at least on papers of wide circulation, by their
capacity for inventing novelties. The supply is so large that
connoisseurship has grown up; an extra-fecund slang-maker on the press
has his following. During the summer of 1913 the /Chicago
Record-Herald/, somewhat alarmed by the extravagant fancy of its
baseball reporters, asked its readers if they would prefer a return to
plain English. Such of them as were literate enough [Pg312] to send
in their votes were almost unanimously against a change. As one of
them said, "one is nearer the park when Schulte /slams the pill/ than
when he merely /hits the ball/." In all other fields the newspapers
originate and propagate slang, particularly in politics. Most of our
political slang-terms since the Civil War, from /pork-barrel/ to
/steam-roller/, have been their inventions. The English newspapers,
with the exception of a few anomalies such as the /Pink-Un/, lean in
the other direction; their fault is not slanginess, but an otiose
ponderosity--in Dean Alford's words, "the insisting on calling common
things by uncommon names; changing our ordinary short Saxon nouns and
verbs for long words derived from the Latin."[15] The American
newspapers, years ago, passed through such a stage of bombast, but
since the invention of yellow journalism by the elder James Gordon
Bennett--that is, the invention of journalism for the frankly ignorant
and vulgar--they have gone to the other extreme. Edmund Clarence
Stedman noted the change soon after the Civil War. "The whole
country," he wrote to Bayard Taylor in 1873, "owing to the contagion
of our newspaper 'exchange' system, is flooded, deluged, swamped
beneath a muddy tide of slang."[16] A thousand alarmed watchmen have
sought to stay it since, but in vain. The great majority of our
newspapers, including all those of large circulation, are chiefly
written, as one observer says, "not in English, but in a strange
jargon of words that would have made Addison or Milton shudder in

§ 3

/The Future of the Language/--The great Jakob Grimm, the founder of
comparative philology, hazarded the guess more than three-quarters of
a century ago that English would one day become [Pg313] the chief
language of the world, and perhaps crowd out several of the then
principal idioms altogether. "In wealth, wisdom and strict economy,"
he said, "none of the other living languages can vie with it." At that
time the guess was bold, for English was still in fifth place, with
not only French and German ahead of it, but also Spanish and Russian.
In 1801, according to Michael George Mulhall, the relative standing of
the five, in the number of persons using them, was as follows:

 French    31,450,000
 Russian   30,770,000
 German    30,320,000
 Spanish   26,190,000
 English   20,520,000

The population of the United States was then but little more than
5,000,000, but in twenty years it had nearly doubled, and thereafter
it increased steadily and enormously, and by 1860 it was greater than
that of the United Kingdom. Since that time the majority of
English-speaking persons in the world have lived on this side of the
water; today there are nearly three times as many as in the United
Kingdom and nearly twice as many as in the whole British Empire. This
great increase in the American population, beginning with the great
immigrations of the 30's and 40's, quickly lifted English to fourth
place among the languages, and then to third, to second and to first.
When it took the lead the attention of philologists was actively
directed to the matter, and in 1868 one of them, a German named
Brackebusch, first seriously raised the question whether English was
destined to obliterate certain of the older tongues.[18] Brackebusch
decided against on various philological grounds, [Pg314] none of them
sound. His own figures, as the following table from his dissertation
shows,[19] were against him:

 English   60,000,000
 German    52,000,000
 Russian   45,000,000
 French    45,000,000
 Spanish   40,000,000

This in 1868. Before another generation had passed the lead of
English, still because of the great growth of the United States, was
yet more impressive, as the following figures for 1890 show:

 English    111,100,000
 German      75,200,000
 Russian     75,000,000
 French      51,200,000
 Spanish     42,800,000
 Italian     33,400,000
 Portuguese  13,000,000[20]

Today the figures exceed even these. They show that English is now
spoken by two and a half times as many persons as spoke it at the
close of the American Civil War and by nearly eight times as many as
spoke it at the beginning of the nineteenth century. No other language
has spread in any such proportions. Even German, which is next on the
list, shows but a four-fold gain since 1801, or just half that of
English. The number of persons speaking Russian, despite the vast
extension of the Russian empire during the last century of the czars,
has little more than tripled, and the number speaking French has less
than doubled. But here are the figures for 1911:

 English    160,000,000
 German     130,000,000
 Russian    100,000,000
 French      70,000,000
 Spanish     50,000,000
 Italian     50,000,000
 Portuguese  25,000,000[21]

Japanese, perhaps, should follow French: it is spoken by 60,000,000
persons. But Chinese may be disregarded, for it is split into half a
dozen mutually unintelligible dialects, and shows no sign of spreading
beyond the limits of China. The same may be said of Hindustani, which
is the language of 100,000,000 inhabitants of British India; it shows
wide dialectical variations and the people who speak it are not likely
to spread. But English is the possession of a race that is still
pushing in all directions, and wherever that race settles the existing
languages tend to succumb. Thus French, despite the passionate
resistance of the French-Canadians, is gradually decaying in Canada;
in all the newly-settled regions English is universal. And thus
Spanish is dying out in our own Southwest, and promises to meet with
severe competition in some of the nearer parts of Latin-America. The
English control of the sea has likewise carried the language into far
places. There is scarcely a merchant ship-captain on deep water, of
whatever nationality, who does not find some acquaintance with it
necessary, and it has become, in debased forms, the /lingua franca/ of
Oceanica and the Far East generally. "Three-fourths of the world's
mail matter," says E. H. Babbitt, "is now addressed in English," and
"more than half of the world's newspapers are printed in English."[22]

Brackebusch, in the speculative paper just mentioned, came to the
conclusion that the future domination of English would be prevented by
its unphonetic spelling, its grammatical decay and the general
difficulties that a foreigner encounters in seeking to master it. "The
simplification of its grammar," he said, "is the commencement of
dissolution, the beginning of the end, and its extraordinary tendency
to degenerate into slang of [Pg316] every kind is the foreshadowing
of its approaching dismemberment." But in the same breath he was
forced to admit that "the greater development it has obtained" was the
result of this very simplification of grammar, and an inspection of
the rest of his reasoning quickly shows its unsoundness, even without
an appeal to the plain facts. The spelling of a language, whether it
be phonetic or not, has little to do with its spread. Very few men
learn it by studying books; they learn it by hearing it spoken. As for
grammatical decay, it is not a sign of dissolution, but a sign of
active life and constantly renewed strength. To the professional
philologist, perhaps, it may sometimes appear otherwise. He is apt to
estimate languages by looking at their complexity; the Greek aorist
elicits his admiration because it presents enormous difficulties and
is inordinately subtle. But the object of language is not to bemuse
grammarians, but to convey ideas, and the more simply it accomplishes
that object the more effectively it meets the needs of an energetic
and practical people and the larger its inherent vitality. The history
of every language of Europe, since the earliest days of which we have
record, is a history of simplifications. Even such languages as
German, which still cling to a great many exasperating inflections,
including the absurd inflection of the article for gender, are less
highly inflected than they used to be, and are proceeding slowly but
surely toward analysis. The fact that English has gone further along
that road than any other civilized tongue is not a proof of its
decrepitude, but a proof of its continued strength. Brought into free
competition with another language, say German or French or Spanish, it
is almost certain to prevail, if only because it is vastly
easier--that is, as a spoken language--to learn. The foreigner
essaying it, indeed, finds his chief difficulty, not in mastering its
forms, but in grasping its lack of forms. He doesn't have to learn a
new and complex grammar; what he has to do is to forget grammar.

Once he has done so, the rest is a mere matter of acquiring a
vocabulary. He can make himself understood, given a few nouns,
pronouns, verbs and numerals, without troubling [Pg317] himself in
the slightest about accidence. "Me see she" is bad English, perhaps,
but it would be absurd to say that it is obscure--and on some not too
distant tomorrow it may be very fair American. Essaying an inflected
language, the beginner must go into the matter far more deeply before
he may hope to be understood. Bradley, in "The Making of English,"[23]
shows clearly how German and English differ in this respect, and how
great is the advantage of English. In the latter the verb /sing/ has
but eight forms, and of these three are entirely obsolete, one is
obsolescent, and two more may be dropped out without damage to
comprehension. In German the corresponding verb, /singen/, has no less
than sixteen forms. How far English has proceeded toward the complete
obliteration of inflections is shown by such barbarous forms of it as
Pigeon English and Beach-la-Mar, in which the final step is taken
without appreciable loss of clarity. The Pigeon English verb is
identical in all tenses. /Go/ stands for both /went/ and /gone/;
/makee/ is both /make/ and /made/. In the same way there is no
declension of the pronoun for case. /My/ is thus /I/, /me/, /mine/ and
our own /my/. "No belong /my/" is "it is not /mine/"--a crude
construction, of course, but still clearly intelligible. Chinamen
learn Pigeon English in a few months, and savages in the South Seas
master Beach-la-Mar almost as quickly. And a white man, once he has
accustomed himself to either, finds it strangely fluent and
expressive. He cannot argue politics in it, nor dispute upon
transubstantiation, but for all the business of every day it is
perfectly satisfactory.

As we have seen in Chapters V and VI, the American dialect of English
has gone further along the road thus opened ahead than the mother
dialect, and is moving faster. For this reason, and because of the
fact that it is already spoken by a far larger and more rapidly
multiplying body of people than the latter, it seems to me very likely
that it will determine the final form of the language. For the old
control of English over American to be reasserted is now quite
unthinkable; if the two dialects are not to drift apart entirely
English must follow in American's tracks. This yielding seems to have
begun; the exchanges from [Pg318] American into English grow steadily
larger and more important than the exchanges from English into
American. John Richard Green, the historian, discerning the inevitable
half a century ago, expressed the opinion, amazing and unpalatable
then, that the Americans were already "the main branch of the English
people." It is not yet wholly true; a cultural timorousness yet shows
itself; there is still a class which looks to England as the Romans
long looked to Greece. But it is not the class that is shaping the
national language, and it is not the class that is carrying it beyond
the national borders. The Americanisms that flood the English of
Canada are not borrowed from the dialects of New England Loyalists and
fashionable New Yorkers, but from the common speech that has its
sources in the native and immigrant proletariat and that displays its
gaudiest freightage in the newspapers.

The impact of this flood is naturally most apparent in Canada, whose
geographical proximity and common interests completely obliterate the
effects of English political and social dominance. By an Order in
Council, passed in 1890, the use of the redundant /u/ in such words as
/honor/ and /labor/ is official in Canada, but practically all the
Canadian newspapers omit it. In the same way the American flat /a/ has
swept whole sections of the country, and American slang is everywhere
used, and the American common speech prevails almost universally in
the newer provinces. More remarkable is the influence that American
has exerted upon the speech of Australia and upon the crude dialects
of Oceanica and the Far East. One finds such obvious Americanisms as
/tomahawk/, /boss/, /bush/, /canoe/, /go finish/ (=/to die/) and
/pickaninny/ in Beach-la-Mar[24] and more of them in Pigeon English.
And one observes a very large number of American words and phrases in
the slang of Australia. The Australian common speech, in pronunciation
and intonation, resembles Cockney English, and a great many
Cockneyisms are in it, but despite the small number of Americans in
the Antipodes [Pg319] it has adopted, of late, so many Americanisms
that a Cockney visitor must often find it difficult. Among them are
the verb and verb-phrases, /to beef/, /to biff/, /to bluff/, /to
boss/, /to break away/, /to chase one's self/, /to chew the rag/, /to
chip in/, /to fade away/, /to get it in the neck/, /to back and fill/,
/to plug along/, /to get sore/, /to turn down/ and /to get wise/; the
substantives, /dope/, /boss/, /fake/, /creek/, /knockout-drops/ and
/push/ (in the sense of /crowd/); the adjectives, /hitched/ (in the
sense of /married/) and /tough/ (as before /luck/), and the adverbial
phrases, /for keeps/ and /going strong/.[25] Here, in direct
competition with English locutions, and with all the advantages on the
side of the latter, American is making steady progress.

"This American language," says a recent observer, "seems to be much
more of a pusher than the English. For instance, after eight years'
occupancy of the Philippines it was spoken by 800,000, or 10 per cent,
of the natives, while after an occupancy of 150 of India by the
British, 3,000,000, or one per cent, of the natives speak
English."[26] I do vouch for the figures. They may be inaccurate, in
detail, but they at least state what seems to be a fact. Behind that
fact are phenomena which certainly deserve careful study, and, above
all, study divested of unintelligent prejudice. The attempt to make
American uniform with English has failed ingloriously; the neglect of
its investigation is an evidence of snobbishness that is a folly of
the same sort. It is useless to dismiss the growing peculiarities of
the American vocabulary and of grammar and syntax in the common speech
as vulgarisms beneath serious notice. Such vulgarisms have a way of
intrenching themselves, and gathering dignity as they grow familiar.
"There are but few forms in use," says Lounsbury, "which, judged by a
standard previously existing, would not be regarded as gross
barbarisms."[27] Each language, in such matters, is a law unto itself,
and each vigorous dialect, particularly if it be spoken by millions,
is a [Pg320] law no less. "It would be as wrong," says Sayce, "to use
/thou/ for the nominative /thee/ in the Somersetshire dialect as it is
to say /thee art/ instead of /you are/ in the Queen's English." All
the American dialect needs, in the long run, to make even pedagogues
acutely aware of it, is a poet of genius to venture into it, as
Chaucer ventured into the despised English of his day, and Dante into
the Tuscan dialect, and Luther, in his translation of the Bible, into
peasant German. Walt Whitman made a half attempt and then drew back;
Lowell, perhaps, also heard the call, but too soon. The Irish dialect
of English, vastly less important than the American, has already had
its interpreters--Douglas Hyde, John Milington Synge and Augusta
Gregory--and with what extraordinary results we all know. Here we have
writing that is still indubitably English, but English rid of its
artificial restraints and broken to the less self-conscious grammar
and syntax of a simple and untutored folk. Synge, in his preface to
"The Playboy of the Western World,"[28] tells us how he got his gypsy
phrases "through a chink in the floor of the old Wicklow house where I
was staying, that let me hear what was being said by the servant girls
in the kitchen." There is no doubt, he goes on, that "in the happy
ages of literature striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the
story-teller's or the playwright's hand as the rich cloaks and dresses
of his time. It is probable that when the Elizabethan dramatist took
his ink-horn and sat down to his work he used many phrases that he had
just heard, as he sat at dinner, from his mother or his children."

The result, in the case of the neo-Celts, is a dialect that stands
incomparably above the tight English of the grammarians--a dialect so
naïf, so pliant, so expressive, and, adeptly managed, so beautiful
that even purists have begun to succumb to it, and it promises to
leave lasting marks upon English style. The American dialect has not
yet come to that stage. In so far as it is apprehended at all it is
only in the sense that Irish-English was apprehended a generation
ago--that is, as something [Pg321] uncouth and comic. But that is the
way that new dialects always come in--through a drum-fire of cackles.
Given the poet, there may suddenly come a day when our /theirns/ and
/would'a hads/ will take on the barbaric stateliness of the peasant
locutions of old Maurya in "Riders to the Sea." They seem grotesque
and absurd today because the folks who use them seem grotesque and
absurd. But that is a too facile logic and under it is a false
assumption. In all human beings, if only understanding be brought to
the business, dignity will be found, and that dignity cannot fail to
reveal itself, soon or late, in the words and phrases with which they
make known their high hopes and aspirations and cry out against the
intolerable meaninglessness of life.


[1] Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiii, p. 167.

[2] Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages; New York, 1905. This
work extends to 1267 pages and contains about 30,000 proverbs,
admirably arranged.

[3] James Maitland: The American Slang Dictionary; Chicago, 1891.

[4] For example, the works of Villatte, Virmaitre, Michel, Rigaud and

[5] The best of these, of course, is Farmer and Henley's monumental
Slang and Its Analogues, in seven volumes.

[6] Matthews' essay, The Function of Slang, is reprinted in Clapin's
Dictionary of Americanisms, pp. 565-581.

[7] P. 199 /et seq./

[8] For example, The Psychology of Unconventional Language, by Frank
K. Sechrist, /Pedagogical Seminary/, vol. xx, p. 413, Dec., 1913, and
The Philosophy of Slang, by E. B. Taylor, reprinted in Clapin's
Dictionary of Americanisms, pp. 541-563.

[9] Olaf E. Bosson: Slang and Cant in Jerome K. Jerome's Works;
Cambridge, 1911.

[10] Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xii, p. 144.

[11] Curiously enough, the American language, usually so fertile in
words to express shades of meaning, has no respectable synonym for
/chicken/. In English there is /flapper/, in French there is
/ingénue/, and in German there is /backfisch/. Usually either the
English or the French word is borrowed.

[12] The Life and Growth of Language, New York, 1897, p. 113.

[13] /Cf./ Two Children in Old Paris, by Gertrude Slaughter; New York,
1918, p. 233. Another American popular saying, once embodied in a coon
song, may be traced to a sentence in the prayer of the Old Dessauer
before the battle of Kesseldorf, Dec. 15, 1745: "Or if Thou wilt not
help me, don't help those Hundvögte."

[14] Modern English, p. 211.

[15] A Plea for the Queen's English, p. 244.

[16] Life and Letters of E. C. Stedman, ed. by Laura Stedman and
George M. Gould; New York, 1910, vol. i, p. 477.

[17] Governor M. R. Patterson, of Tennessee, in an address before the
National Anti-Saloon League at Washington, Dec. 13, 1917.

[18] Long before this the general question of the relative superiority
of various languages had been debated in Germany. In 1796 the Berlin
Academy offered a prize for the best essay on The Ideal of a Perfect
Language. It was won by one Jenisch with a treatise bearing the
sonorous title of A Philosophico-Critical Comparison and Estimate of
Fourteen of the Ancient and Modern Languages of Europe, viz., Greek,
Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Dutch, English,
Danish, Swedish, Polish, Russian and Lithuanian.

[19] Is English Destined to Become the Universal Language?, by W.
Brackebusch; Göttingen, 1868.

[20] I take these figures from A Modern English Grammar, by H. G.
Buehler; New York, 1900, p. 3.

[21] /World Almanac/, 1914, p. 63.

[22] The Geography of Great Languages, /World's Work/, Feb., 1908, p.
9907. Babbitt predicts that by the year 2000 English will be spoken by
1,100,000,000 persons, as against 500,000,000 speakers of Russian,
300,000,000 of Spanish, 160,000,000 of German and 60,000,000 of

[23] P. 5 /et seq./

[24] /Cf./ Beach-la-Mar, by William Churchill, former United States
consul-general in Samoa and Tonga. The pamphlet is published by the
Carnegie Institution of Washington.

[25] A glossary of latter-day Australian slang is in Doreen and the
Sentimental Bloke, by C. J. Dennis; New York, 1916.

[26] The American Language, by J. F. Healy; Pittsburgh, 1910, p. 6.

[27] History of the English Language, p. 476.

[28] Dublin, 1907. See also ch. ii of Ireland's Literary Renaissance,
by Ernest A. Boyd; New York, 1916.



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[1] No capitals are used in the book. Even the title page is in lower


List of Words and Phrases

The parts of speech are indicated only when it is desirable for
clearness. The following abbreviations are used:

 /a./    adjective
 /adv./  adverb
 /art./  article
 /n./    noun
 /pref./ prefix
 /pro./  pronoun
 /suf./  suffix
 /v./    verb
 /vp./   verb-phrase.

a, /art./, 62, 154, 267; /particle/, 207; /pref./, 92.

a-/sound/, 11, 58-60, 94-5, 102, 173-4, 176.

Aarons, 280

aber nicht, 152.

aber nit, 152, 308, 311.

abgefaked, /v./, 156.

aboard, 92.

abolitionist, 83.

above, 262.

Abraham, 280n.

absquatulate, /v./, 82.

abuv, 262.

accept, 77n.

acceptum, 77n.

accommodation-train, 82.

accouchement, 127.

achtel, 113.

acre, 250, 252, 254.

acute, 160.

acy, /suf./, 77.

ad, 142, 160.

Adamic, 73.

ad-card, 160.

addition, 50.

addressograph, 165.

ad-man, 160.

admitted to the bar, /vp./ 108.

adobe, 87.

ad-rate, 160.

advertisement, 160, 169, 176.

advertize, 262.

advocate, /v./, 27, 48, 49, 51.

ad-writer, 160.

adze, 56.

aeon, 243.

aero, /a./, 160.

aeroplane, /a./, 160.

aëroplane, /n./, 263.

aéroplane, /n./, 263n.

aesthetics, 257.

aetiology, 257.

affiliate, 77.

afoot, 97.

afterwards, 147, 148.

against, 91.

agenda, 100.

agent, 121.

ag'in, 91.

aggravate, 77.

a-going, 92.

Ahrens, 280.

ai-/sound/, 95, 96.

ain't, 145, 146, 204, 210.

air-line, 82, 105.

airplane, 263.

aisle-manager, 124.

aker, 250, 252, 254.

alabastine, 165.

alarm, 264.

alarmist, 33.

alarum, 264.

Albert, 275.

Albrecht, 275.

Albright, 275.

alderman, 47.

alfalfa, 109.

allay-foozee, 90.

Allegany, 296.

Alleghany, 296.

Allegheny, 296.

allez-fusil, 90.

all-fired, 129.

allot upon, 31.

allow, 33.

all right, 157.

allright, 263n.

allrightnick, 156.

ally, /n./, 170.

almoner, 112.

alright, 27, 263.

also, 34.

altho, 262, 263.

aluminium, 264.

aluminum, 264.

always, 229.

am, 193, 209.

amachoor, 238.

amass, 95.

ambish, 160.

ambition, /n./, 160; /v./, 49.

Americanism, 38.

Americanize, 77.

Ames, 275.

amigo, 158.

am not, 210.

an, /art./, 62, 95, 267.

anaemia, 242, 245, 257, 260.

a-ñ-aice, 92.

Ananias club, 306.

anatomy, 95.

Anderson, 272.

andiron, 56.

and no mistake, 92.

André, 275.

Andrews, 275.

a-near, 92.

anemia, 242, 263.

aneurism, 242.

aneurysm, 242.

angry, 79, 99.

Anheuser, 153, 276.

anilin, 262.

Anne Arundel, 297.

annex, 242, 258n.

annexe, /n./, 242, 245, 257, 258n, 260.

A No. 1, 161.

antagonize, 49, 136.

ante, /n./, 87; /v./, 202.

anteriour, 248n.

ante up, /v./, 87, 111.

anti, 87.

anti-fogmatic, 84.

antmire, 126.

anxious-bench, 83, 84.

anxious-seat, 84.

any, 237.

anyways, 147, 229.

apartment, 110.

apern, 239.

apossoun, 40.

appendices, 265.

apple, 173.

apple-jack, 85.

apple-pie, 18.

appreciate, 49.

approbate, 56.

arbor, 242.

Arbor day, 114.

arboreal, 247.

arbour, 242.

ardor, 253.

are, 209.

a'ready, 238.

Arens, 280.

aren't, 146, 210.

are you there? 103.

a-riding, 92.

Arkansas, 298.

Armistead, 274.

armor, 242.

armory, 247.

armour, 242.

Armstädt, 274.

arriv'd, 201n.

arse, 129.

ary, /suf./, 170.

as, 223.

ash-can, 97, 102.

ash-man, 102.

ask, 59, 94, 238.

askutasquash, 41, 160.

asphalt, 242, 252, 257.

asphalte, 242, 245, 256, 257, 260.

ass, 129.

assistant-master, 104.

assistant-mistress, 104.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior, 122.

associational, 30.

assurance, 109.

ast, 238.

a tall, 234.

at, 95, 146.

ataxia, 242, 246.

ataxy, 242.

ate, /v./, 194, 205; /suf./, 77.

attack, 193.

attackted, 193, 201.

au-/sound/, 276.

aunt, 58, 59, 94, 173.

auto, /n./, 110, 160; /v./, 110.

autocar, 165.

automobile, 160.

autsch, 89.

autumn, 10, 14.

avenue, 299.

aw-/sound/, 95, 175, 276.

awful, 306.

awfully, 306.

aw re-vore, 241.

awry-eyed, 85.

ax, 242, 252, 256, 257.

axe, 242, 245, 256, 257, 260, 261.

baby, 155.

baby-carriage, 97, 139.

baccalaureate, 124.

bach, /suf./, 275.

back and fill, /vp./, 78, 319.

back and forth, 31.

back-country, 46.

backfisch, 308n.

back-garden, 139.

back-log, 46.

back-number, 81.

back pedal, /vp./, 142.

back-settlements, 46.

back-settler, 46.

back-talk, 10, 81.

back-taxes, 81.

backward and forward, 31.

back water, /vp./, 78.

backwoods, /a./, 48; /n./, 46, 48.

backwoodsman, 40, 46, 48, 134.

back-yard, 97, 110, 139.

bad, /adv./, 146, 227.

bad boy, 157.

baddest, 230.

baggage, 31, 97.

baggage-car, 97.

baggage-check, 82.

baggage-master, 82.

baggage-room, 82.

baggage-smasher, 82.

bagman, 98.

Bailey, 274.

bailiff, 107n, 254.

Baker, 277.

Bakerloo, 112.

balance, 50.

Bald, 288.

balk, 242.

ballast, 97.

balled-up, /a./, 142, 164.

ballot, /n./, 107.

ballot-box stuffer, 107.

ball up, /vp./, 142n, 164.

ballyhoo, 92.

ballyhoo-man, 93.

balm, 59.

Baltimore, 297.

ban, 59.

banditti, 265.

bandore, 44.

bandurria, 44.

band-wagon, 14.

bang-up, /a./, 164.

bania, 44.

banjo, 44.

bank, /n./, 107.

bank-account, 107.

bank-bill, 31.

bankers, 107.

bank-holiday, 99, 114.

banking-account, 107.

bank-note, 31.

bankrup, 238.

banner-state, 83, 84.

bar, 58.

barbecue, 40, 43.

barber-shop, 124.

barber's-shop, 124.

bargain, /n./, 155; /v./, 137.

baritone, 242, 246.

bark, /n./, 242, 246, 247, 257, 258, 263.

bark up the wrong tree, /vp./, 33, 79.

barmaid, 105.

barman, 105.

barn, 52.

barque, 242, 258.

barrel, 163.

barrel-house, 85.

barrens, 46, 294.

barrister, 108.

bartender, 14, 85, 105.

barytone, 242.

basket, 59, 155.

basswood, 45.

bat, /n./, 85.

bath, 59, 97.

bath-tub, 97.

batl, 262.

Baton Rouge, 291.

batteau, 43, 47, 86, 111.

batting-average, 111.

battle, 262.

bauer, 89.

Bauer, 275.

baugh, /suf./, 275.

baulk, 239, 242, 245.

Baumann, 275.

Bayle, 274.

bayou, 30, 86.

Bay State, 33.

bay-window, 56.

be, 193, 209.

bean, 193n.

beat, /v./, 164, 193.

beaten, 193.

beat it, /vp./, 164.

Beauchamp, 283.

Beaufort, 291.

beau pré, 41.

beaut, 160, 310.

beautifuller, 230.

beautifullest, 230.

beauty, 160.

beaver, 288, 294.

Beaver Moon, 42.

became, 193.

Becker, 271, 277.

become, 193.

bed-bug, 125n.

bedibbert, /a./, 151n.

bedroom, 155.

beef, /n./, 56; /v./, 319.

beefsteak, 88n.

bee-line, 47.

been, 175, 176, 238.

beet, 97, 104, 109.

beet-root, 97, 104, 109.

began, 193.

begin, 193.

begob, 91.

begorry, 91.

begun, 193.

behavior, 242.

behoove, 242, 261.

behove, 242, 260.

beinkel, 156.

belgiumize, 164.

Belgravia, 139.

belittle, 33, 49, 135.

Bellair, 292.

beller, 239.

Bellevue, 292.

bell-hop, 81.

Belmont, 277.

belovéd, 201.

Belvédère, 292.

ben, 193, 209.

bend, /v./, 193.

benefice, 112.

bent, /v./, 193, 201.

Berg, 276.

Berger, 276.

Bermingham, 286n.

beside, 147.

besides, 147.

best of the bunch, 308, 310.

bet, /v./, 193.

betrayed, 127.

better, 230.

betterment, 31, 81.

better'n, 231.

bet your life, /vp./, 92.

bevo, 165.

bevo-officer, 166n.

bhoy, 92.

bid, /n./, 97.

biff, /v./, 310, 319.

big-bug, 81.

big-chief, 86.

big-stick, 306.

bile, 34, 91, 236.

bill, 106.

bill-board, 27, 97.

billion, 80.

but, 251.

bin, /v./, 193, 209.

bind, 193.

bindery, 48.

biograph, /v./, 142.

biplan, 263n.

bird, 310.

Birdsong, 277.

birthday, 155.

biscuit, 53, 98.

bishop, 85.

bit, /v./, 193, 207, 208.

bitch, 125, 126.

bite, /v./, 193, 207, 208.

bitten, 193, 207, 208.

Bittinger, 276.

Black, 274, 277.

black-country, 109.

black-hand, 151.

black-stripe, 85.

blast, 59.

bleachers, 105, 111, 162.

bled, 194.

bleed, 194.

bleeding, 130.

blew, 194, 204.

blighter, 129.

blind-baggage, 83n.

blind-pig, 85.

blind-tiger, 33.

blizzard, 80, 109.

Bloch, 274.

block, 109, 110, 306.

Block, 224.

block-head, 309.

Block island, 290.

blofista, 135n.

blooded, 50.

blood-poison, 127.

bloody, 130.

Bloom, 275.

bloomer, 80.

Bloomingdale, 280.

blouse, 100, 103.

blow, /v./, 49, 194, 204.

blowed, 194, 204.

blow-out, 81.

Blucher, 97.

blue, 174.

blue-blazer, 85.

blue-grass, 45, 109.

bluff, /n./, 46; /v./, 135, 157, 202, 319.

bluffer, 156, 157.

blufferké, 157.

Blum, 275, 276.

Blumenthal, 280.

blutwurst, 88.

bo, 161.

board, /v./, 102.

boarder, 97, 102, 124.

board-school, 100, 104.

board-walk, 97.

bobby, 105.

Bob Ruly, 291.

boche, 278.

bock-beer, 88.

bog, 46, 109.

bogie, 83, 101.

bogus, 43, 51.

bohick, 279.

Bohumil, 277.

bohunk, 279.

boil, /v./, 91, 91n.

Boileau, 276.

boiled-shirt, 81.

bolt, /v./, 84.

bolter, 83, 84.

bonanza, 87.

Bonaparte, 273.

Bonansa umbrellus, 53.

Bon Coeur, 274.

bond, 97, 106n.

bone-head, 129, 162, 309.

Bon Pas, 274.

boob, 14, 129, 133, 160.

booby, 160.

boodle, /n./, 132; /v./, 84.

boodler, 84, 156.

book, /v./, 106.

bookbinder's-shop, 48.

Booker, 277.

booking-office, 83, 101, 106.

bookseller's-shop, 31.

book-store, 31.

boom, /n./, 156, 310; /v./, 24, 77.

boomer, 77

boom-town, 77.

boost, /n./, 14, 132; /v./, 77, 133.

boot, 19n, 52, 53, 97, 100, 105, 137.

boot-form, 100.

boot-lace, 100.

boot-maker, 52, 100.

boot shop, 52, 137.

booze-foundry, 310.

booze-hister, 236.

Bordox, 241.

boro, /suf./, 296.

borough, /suf./, 296.

bosom, 126.

boss, /n./, 14, 30, 43, 107, 133, 319; /v./, 77, 319.

boss-rule, 83.

bother, 155.

bottom-dollar, 81.

bottom-land, 31.

bottoms, 46.

bought, 194, 205.

boughten, /v./, 191, 194, 201, 205.

boulevard, 153, 240, 299.

bouncer, 77, 85, 107.

bound, 193.

bound'ry, 238.

Bourbon, 300.

bourgeois, 114.

bower, 89.

Bowers, 275.

bowler, 98, 103, 139.

Bowman, 275.

bowsprit, 41.

box, 101, 106.

box-car, 82.

box-office, 106.

boy, 155, 156, 157.

boychick, 156.

Boys Boo-long, 240.

Bozart, 265n.

braces, 19n, 101, 104, 259.

bracken, 46.

Braham, 280n.

brain-storm, 142.

brainy, 79.

brakeman, 97.

brakesman, 97.

branch, 46, 59.

brand-new, 172.

brandy-champarelle, 85.

brandy-crusta, 85.

brang, /v./, 194.

bran-new, 172, 238.

brash, 79.

brave, /n./, 86.

Braun, 272.

breadstuffs, 40, 50.

break, 194.

break away, /vp./, 319.

break-bone, 309.

breakdown, 44.

brethern, 239.

breve, 113.

brevier, 114.

brevis, 113.

briar, 260.

bricke, 156.

Bridgewater, 273.

brief, /v./, 108.

brier, 261.

Brill, 276.

brilliant, /n./, 114.

bring, 194.

broad-gauge man, 83n.

Broadway, 300.

broke, 194.

broken, 194.

broker, 106-7.

broncho, 86.

broncho-buster, 87.

Brooklyn, 290.

broom, 155.

brothel, 127.

brought, 194.

Brown, 271.

brown-boots, 110.

Brown-shoes, 110.

Brühl, 276.

brung, 194, 199.

brusque, 174.

bryanize, 163.

bub, 56.

Buchanan, 282.

Bucher, 277.

buck, /n./, 126; /v./, 239.

bucket, 97, 105.

bucket-shop, 135.

Buckeye, 33.

Buck Moon, 42n.

buck-private, 142.

buckra, 30.

buck the tiger, /vp./, 79.

buckwheat, 18.

Buffalo, 294.

buffer, 97.

buffet, 124.

bug, 125.

bugaboo, 80.

build, 194.

built, 194, 201, 251.

bull, 126.

bulldoze, 78, 83.

bull-frog, 45.

bully, /a./, 231.

bum, /a./, 24, 88; /adv./, 24, 88; /n./, 24, 88, 89, 125, 156, 161;
  /v./, 24.

bummel-zug, 88n.

bummer, 24, 88, 88n, 161.

bummerké, 156.

bummery, 88.

bummler, 24, 88, 88n.

bump, 307.

bumper, 82, 97.

Bumpus, 274.

bunch, 156, 308.

bunco, 14n, 23.

buncombe, 23, 80, 83, 135, 242.

bunco-steerer, 14.

bund, /suf./, 151, 152.

bung-starter, 85.

bunk, 23.

Bunker, 274.

bunkum, 135, 242.

bunned, 85.

bunt, /v./, 202.

burden, 242, 257.

bureau, 33, 43, 97.

burg, /suf./, 296.

burgh, /suf./, 296.

Burgh de Walter, 273.

burglarize, 24.

burgle, 77, 77n.

burgoo-picnic, 109.

burlesk, 264.

burly, 57.

burn, 158, 194.

burned, 194n.

burnt, 194, 294.

burro, 87.

burst, 24, 143, 194, 202.

burthen, 242, 257.

bursh, /a./, 142; /n./, 43, 318.

busher, 111.

bush-league, 43.

bushwhacker, 43.

business, 41.

bust, /n./, 24, 85; /v./, 24, 34, 143, 194, 202, 238.

busted, 143n, 194, 202.

buster, 143n.

bustle, /v./, 307.

butcher, 155.

butcher-store, 157.

butt, /v./, 164.

butte, 86, 294.

butter-nut, 45.

but that, 146, 283.

butt in, /vp./, 142, 164.

buttinski, 34, 152.

button, 155.

but what, 218.

buy, 194.

buzz-saw, 80.

buzz-wagon, 163.

by God, 129.

by golly, 129.

by gosh, 129.

by-law, 98.

byre, 47.

cabane, 93.

cabaret, 153.

caboose, 43, 82.

cach, 262.

cache, 30, 43.

cachexia, 242.

cachexy, 242.

cadet, 127, 156.

Cadogen, 282.

café, 124, 153, 240, 264.

cag, 250, 252.

Cahn, 280.

Caillé, 274.

Cains, 283.

cake-walk, 81.

calaboose, 30, 43.

calamity-howler, 81.

calculate, 31.

calendar, 97.

calf, 173.

caliber, 242, 257, 260, 261.

calibre, 242, 250, 257.

calico, 103.

California-r, 171.

calk, 260.

called to the bar, /vp./, 108.

Callowhill, 282.

calm, 59, 174.

calumet, 42.

calvary, 239.

Calvert, 298.

came, 194, 205.

camerado, 73.

camouflage, /v./, 135n, 142, 308.

camorra, 152.

Camp, 282.

campaign, 97, 107.

camp-meeting, 47.

campus, 80, 105.

can, /n./, 97, 102, 105; /v./, 102, 194.

candidacy, 83.

candor, 242.

candour, 242.

candy, 97, 103.

candy-store, 14.

cane, 97, 110.

cane-brake, 46.

canned-goods, 97, 102.

cannon-ball, 124.

cannoo, 111n.

canoa, 111n.

canoe, 41, 47, 111, 318.

canon, 112, 122, 265, 294, /see also/ canyon.

cañon, /see/ canyon.

can't, 102.

can't come it, 31.

canuck, 86, 279.

canvas-back, 45.

canvass, 97, 107.

canyon, 86, 112, 122, 265, 294.

capitalize, 33.

capote Allemande, 279n.

capote Anglaise, 279n.

Captain, 118.

cap the climax, /vp./, 78.

car, 59, 98.

card, 33, 171.

card up his sleeve, /vp./, 111, 134.

caretaker, 99, 110.

caribou, 43.

Carl, 283n.

carnival of crime, 81.

Caron, 274.

Carpenter, 276, 280.

carpet, 155.

carpet-bagger, 83.

carriage, 98.

carriage-paid, 100, 103.

carrier, 83, 98.

carriole, 43.

carry-all, 43, 48.

cart, 174.

Casalegno, 277.

cash in, /vp./, 111.

castle, 59.

catalog, 262, 263.

catalpa, 40.

cat-bird, 45.

cat-boat, 47, 48.

catch, /v./, 91, 194, 237, 262.

catch'n, 157.

caterpillar, 173.

Catholic, 113.

ca'tridge, 238.

catty-cornered, 57.

cau-cau-as-u, 131n.

caucus, /n./, 30, 40, 83, 131, 135; /v./, 48.

caucusdom, 132.

caucuser, 132.

caught, 194.

caulkers, 132n.

cause-list, 97.

cave in, /vp./, 31.

cavort, 49.

cayuse, 87.

ceiling, 155, 156.

cellarette, 165.

cent, 47, 139.

center, 242, 260, 294.

centre, 242, 250.

certainly, 228.

cesspool, 56.

c'est moi, 220.

ch-sound, 96, 274.

chain-gang, 80.

chair, 126, 155, 156.

chair-car, 82.

chairman, 106.

chair-warmer, 10, 81.

chambers, 110.

champ, 100.

champeen, 237.

champion, 160, 237.

chancellor, 104.

chance't, 238.

Chandler, 280.

change, 155.

channel, 109.

chapel, 112.

chapparal, 30, 86.

chapter, 112.

char, 56, 137.

charge it, 103.

Charles, 286n.

charqui, 43.

charwoman, 137.

chase, 46.

chaser, 85.

chase one's self, /vp./, 319.

chassé, 240.

chaufer, 265n.

Chauncey, 285.

chautauqua, 113.

chaw, 91.

Cheapside, 300.

check, /n./, 106, 242, 246, 256.

checkered, 242, 261.

checkers, 98.

checkinqumin, 41.

cheer, /n./, 237.

chef d'œuvre, 240.

chemist, 98, 252.

chemist's-shop, 98.

cheque, 106, 242, 256, 257, 260.

chequered, 242, 260.

chest of drawers, 97.

chevalier, 251.

chew, 91.

chew the rag, /vp./, 319.

chick, /suf./, 156.

chicken, 308.

chicken-yard, 98.

chief-clerk, 98.

chief-constable, 105.

chief-of-police, 105.

chief-reporter, 98.

childern, 239.

chimbley, 238.

chimist, 252.

chinch, 56.

Chinee, 229.

chink, /n./, 279; /v./, 24, 77.

chinkapin, 40.

chip in, /vp./, 111, 319.

chipmunk, 40.

chipped-beef, 80.

chist, 237.

chit, 158.

Cholmondeley, 283.

choose, 194.

chop-suey, 93.

chore, 56, 105, 137.

chose, 194.

chow, 158.

chowder, 43.

Christkind'l, 89.

Christkindlein, 89.

chunky, 50.

church, 112, 113.

churchman, 113.

chute, 30, 86.

cider, 242, 246.

cinch, /n./, 14; /v./, 87.

cinema, 14, 27, 99.

cipher, 257.

circuit-rider, 113.

circus, 300.

Cirencester, 297n.

citified, 77.

citizenize, 76.

city, /suf./, 296.

City, 106, 139.

city-ordinance, 98.

city-stock, 106.

civil-servant, 105, 106.

claim-jumper, 81.

city-editor, 98, 106.

City Hall, 300.

City Hall park, square, place 300.

City man, 106.

clam-bake, 109.

clam-chowder, 109.

clamor, 242.

clamorously, 247.

clamour, 242.

clang, 194.

clangor, 242.

clangorous, 247.

clangour, 242.

clap-board, 31, 40, 46.

class, 104.

class-day, 105.

classy, 24, 230.

claw-hammer, 81.

cleanlily, 228.

cleanly, 228.

clean'n, 157.

clean-up, 14.

clearing, /n./, 46.

clear the track, /vp./, 83.

cleark, /n./, 19n, 53, 124, 174; /v./, 49.

clever, 31, 33, 57.

climb, /v./, 194, 198.

climbed, 198.

Cline, 275n.

cling, 194.

clingstone, 45.

clipped, 201.

clipt, 201.

clipping, 98.

clodhopper, 56.

clomb, 198.

closet, 155.

close't, 238.

closure, 242.

cloture, 242.

cloud-burst, 81, 109.

clout the sphere, /vp./, 311.

club, 154.

club-car, 82.

clum, 194, 200.

clung, 194.

c'mear, 207.

coach, /v./, 111.

coal-hod, 98.

coal-oil, 98.

coal-operator, 139.

coal-owner, 139.

coal-scuttle, 98.

coast, /v./, 77.

coat-and-suit, 103.

coatee, 77.

cocain, 253, 263.

cocaine, 160, 253.

cock, 19n, 100, 126.

cocktail, 84, 88n.

C. O. D., 161.

codfish, /a./, 24, 79.

co-ed, 160.

co-educational, 160.

cog, 175.

Cohen, 271, 280.

Cohn, 280.

coiner, 98.

coke, 160.

cold-deck, 111.

Cold Moon, 42n.

cold-slaw, 43.

cold-snap, 33, 46, 81, 109.

Colinus virginianus, 53.

Collaborating Epidermologist, 122.

collar, 155.

collateral, 81.

colleen, 90.

collide, 77.

collide head on, /vp./, 83n.

Collins, 280.

color, 19n, 243.

colour, 243.

colourable, 247.

coloured, 247.

column-ad, 160.

combe, 46.

come, 194, 198, 205, 238.

come across, /vp./, 142, 308.

comed, 198.

come-down, 81, 142, 164.

come-on, 133, 311.

come out at the little end of the horn, /vp./, 33, 79.

command, 59.

commencement, 105.

commission-merchant, 98.

committee, 107.

common-loafer, 88.

commutation-ticket, 82.

commute, 83, 164.

commuter, 82.

company, 107.

complected, 50.

compromit, /v./, 27, 49.

con, /a./, /n./ and /v./, 160.

conant, 158.

concertize, 77.

conch, 306.

conduct, 31.

conduct one's self, /vp./, 31.

conductor, 18, 82, 98, 137.

conductorette, 165.

confab, 160.

confabulation, 160.

confidence, 160.

con-game, 160.

congressional, 30, 50.

con-man, 160.

Conn, 280.

connection, 243, 246.

connexion, 243, 258, 260.

conniption, 80.

connisoor, 240.

connisseur, 240.

Conrad, 278.

consociational, 30, 75, 76.

consols, 106.

constable, 99, 105.

constituency, 107.

consulting-room, 108.

consumption, 155, 160.

consumptionick, 156.

convey by deed, /vp./, 48.

convict, 160.

convocation, 112.

Cook, 102, 277.

cookey, 43.

cook-general, 102.

cooler, 85.

coon, 160.

Coons, 275.

copious, 57.

copperhead, 45.

cord, /n./, 110; /v./, 49.

cord-wood, 56.

corn, 18, 52, 53, 98.

corn-cob, 46.

corn-crib, 46.

corn-dodger, 46.

corned, 85.

corner, /n./, 98, 110; /v./, 77.

corner-loafer, 88.

corn-factor, 99.

corn-fed, 162.

Cornhill, 300.

corn-juice, 85.

Corn Laws, 52.

corn-market, 139.

Corn Moon, 42n.

corn-whiskey, 85.

corporation, 106.

corpse-reviver, 85.

corral, /n./, 23, 86; /v./, 24, 87.

corrector-of-the-press, 100, 108.

corset, 98, 126.

coster (monger), 99.

cosy, 243, 246.

cotched, 194n.

cotton, 155.

Cottonwood, 288, 294.

cougar, 40.

could, 194.

could'a, 194.

council, 107.

councillor, 243, 245.

councilor, 243.

counselor, 243.

counsellor, 243.

counterfeiter, 98.

count upon, /vp./, 31.

court, 254.

courteous, 174.

courthouse, /suf./, 294, 296.

cove, 294.

cow-catcher, 28, 32.

cow-country, 142.

cow-creature, 98, 126.

cowhide, /v./, 44.

Coyne, 280.

coyote, 87, 294.

cozy, 243, 246, 260, 261.

crab-cocktail, 109.

cracker, 52, 53, 98.

Cracker, 33.

crack up, /vp./, 79.

craft, 95.

crank, /n./, 81.

crap, 237.

cravat, 99, 104.

crawfish, /v./, 77.

crayfish, 41.

crazy-quilt, 47.

cream de mint, 240.

creator, 266.

crèche, 153.

credit-trade, 99, 103.

creek, 46, 51, 108, 319.

creep, 194.

crème de menthe, 240.

Crenshawe, 282.

Creole, 43.

crep, 194, 200, 238.

crêpe, 264.

crevasse, 30, 86.

crew, /v./, 194, 200.

crick, 236.

cricket, 111.

criminal assault, 127.

criminal operation, 127.

crisco, 165.

crispette, 165.

Cristsylf, 224.

critter, 236.

crook, /n./, 14, 133, 156.

crook the elbow, /vp./, 85.

crope, 194.

crossing, /n./, 98, 110.

crossing-plate, 27, 82, 98.

crossing-sweeper, 101, 105.

cross-purposes, 56.

cross-roads, 294.

cross-tie, 98.

crotchet, 113.

croud, 251.

crow, /n./, 107; /v./, 194.

crowd, 250, 251.

crown, 47.

Crowninshield, 282.

cruller, 30, 43.

crypt, 112.

cuanto, 158.

Cuba-r, 171.

cuff, 155.

curate, 112.

curb, 243, 246, 258.

curriculum, 265.

curse, 129.

curet, 253.

curette, 253.

curvet, 49.

cuss, /n./, 129, 160, 238.

cussedness, 81.

Custer, 274.

customable, 50.

customer, 160.

cut, /v./, 194.

cut a swath, /vp./, 78.

cute, 50, 160.

cut-off, 81.

cut-up, 164.

cutting, /n./, 98, 108.

Cy, 115.

cyclone, 109.

cyclopaedia, 243.

cyclopedia, 243, 263.

cyder, 242, 257.

cypher, 257.

d-/sound/, 96.

daffy, 230.

dago, 279.

damfino, 129.

damn, 129, 159, 161.

damnation, 129.

damphool, 129.

dance, 59, 95, 173, 174.

D. & D., 161.

dander, 43.

Daniel, 173.

dare, /v./, 194.

dared, 194.

darken one's doors, /vp./, 33, 49.

darkey, 50.

darkle, /v./, 77n.

darn, 129.

daunt, 95.

Dauphine, 300.

Davidovitch, 280.

Davis, 280.

day-coach, 82.

day-nursery, 153.

de, /suf./, 200.

deacon, /n./, 124; /v./, 76.

dead, /adv./, 92.

dead-beat, 14, 14n., 133.

deader'n, 231.

dead-head, /n./, 135; /v./, 83.

deaf, 60, 95, 236.

deal, /v./, 194.

dealt, 194.

dean, 104, 112, 122.

dear, 116, 122.

debenture, 97, 106.

début, 154, 240, 264.

débutante, 264.

decalog, 262.

deceive, 91.

decent, 129.

deck, 80.

décolleté, 240.

Decoration day, 114.

deed, /v./, 48.

deef, 95, 236.

deep, /adv./, 226.

Deering, 275.

defence, 243, 250.

defense, 243, 246, 252, 260, 261.

defi, /n./, 160.

defiance, 160.

deft, 57.

degrees of frost, 109.

Dejean, 274.

De la Haye, 274.

Delhi, 297.

de l'Hôtel, 274.

delicate condition, 127.

delicatessen, 88.

delicatessen-store, 98.

dell, 46.

demagogue, /v./, 142.

demean, 51, 184, 186.

demeanor, 243.

demeanour, 243.

Demikof, 272.

demi-semi-quaver, 113.

demoralize, 49.

de Mungumeri, 273.

Denis, 274.

Denny, 274.

dental-surgeon, 124.

dentist, 124.

deop-e, 226.

department-store, 98, 103.

depot, 82, 133, 153, 265.

deputize, 49.

derail, 83.

derange, 49.

Derby, 98, 103, 139, 283.

Dermott, 273.

dern, 129.

desave, 91.

Desbrosses, 291.

déshabille, 265.

Deshong, 274.

Des Moines, 291.

desperado, 86.

dessert, 110.

determine, 250, 251.

develop, 258.

De Vere, 273.

devilled-crab, 109.

dexter-meadow, 311.

diamond, 114.

Diarmuid, 273.

diarrhea, 243, 253.

diarrhoea, 243, 246, 253, 258.

Dick, 281.

dicker, /v./, 49.

dictagraph, 165.

die with his boots on, /vp./, 78.

did, 194, 204, 205.

diff, 160.

difference, 160.

different from, than, to, 115.

difrens, 155.

dig, 194, 198.

digged, 198.

diggings, 31, 81.

dill, 156.

Dilehay, 274.

dime, 47.

dime-novel, 98.

din, 56.

diner, 82, 160.

dining-car, 160.

dinky, 230.

dinner, 155, 157.

diphtheria, 172.

diphthong, 172.

directly, 114.

direct-primary, 107.

dirt, 115.

dirty, 228.

discipline, 251.

disorderly-house, 127.

distaff, 254.

display-ad, 160.

dissenter, 112, 113.

district, 107, 109.

dive, /n./, 14, 14n, 85, 133; /v./, 194.

dived, 194.

divide, /n./, 46, 294.

division, 100, 107.

divorcée, 240, 265.

Divver, 273.

divvy, /n./, 111; /v./, 84.

Dixie, 33.

do, 194, 204.

docket, 81.

Doctor, 117, 124n.

dodge the issue, /vp./, 78.

do don't, 31.

doesn't, 210.

dog, 175.

doggery, 81, 85.

dog-gone, 129.

Dohme, 276.

dole, /v./, 194, 199.

dollar, 47, 139.

dollars to doughnuts, 142.

dolled-up, /a./, 142, 164.

doll up, /vp./, 164.

dom, /suf./, 154n.

dominie, 43.

don, 105.

donate, 27, 28n, 51, 136.

donder, 43.

done, 194, 204.

don't, 210.

doodle, /suf./, 166.

Doolittle, 274.

doop, 94.

door, 156.

dope, /n./, 93, 94, 311, 319; /v./, 94, 142.

dope out, /vp./, 94, 142.

double-header, 111.

double-pica, 114.

dough, 133.

dough-boy, 142.

do up brown, /vp./, 79.

dove, /v./, 194, 199.

down-and-out, 24, 81.

down-East, 109.

down, 46, 108.

down-town, 79.

down-train, 109.

downwards, 147.

doxologize, 27, 74, 76.

Dr. 108, /see also/ Doctor.

draft, 95, 243, 246.

drag, /v./, 194.

dragged, 194.

drain, 100, 237.

drama, 173.

drank, 194, 204, 205.

draper, 106.

draper's-shop, 98.

draught, 243.

draughts, 98.

draw, /n./, 50, 160; /v./, 194, 204.

draw a bead, /vp./, 49.

drawbridge, 50, 160.

drawed, 194, 204.

drawers, 110.

drawing-pin, 101.

drawing-room, 99, 103.

dreadful, 31.

dreadnaught, 243.

dreadnought, 243.

dream, /v./, 194.

dreampt, 194, 201.

dreamt, 260.

dreen, 237.

dress, 155.

dresské, 156.

dress'n, 157.

drew, 194, 204.

Drewry, 282.

drily, 243, 260.

drink, /v./, 194, 204.

drive, /n./, 299; /v./, 194.

drove, /v./, 194.

drown, 194.

drown'd, 201n.

drownded, 91, 196, 201.

drowned, 91.

drug, /v./, 194, 200.

druggist, 98.

drug-store, 18.

drummer, 14, 14n, 98.

drunk, 85, 195, 204.

dry-goods, 52, 53.

dry-goods store, 98.

dryly, 243, 261.

dub, /n./, 14, 311.

Dubois, 276.

duck, /n./, 85.

due, 174.

dug, 194.

dug-out, 80.

duke, 174.

dumb, 88, 90, 90n.

dumb-head, 90n.

dummkopf, 90n.

dump, /v./, 49.

Drunkard, 113.

during, 148.

Düring, 275.

durn, 129.

dust-bin, 97, 102.

dustman, 102.

dutchie, 279.

dutiable, 40, 50, 51.

duty, 174.

Duval, 271.

dwindle, 310.

e, /pro./, 216n.

e-/sound/, 60.

ea-/sound/, 91n, 96.

eagle, 47.

earlier'n, 231.

earth, 115.

east-bound, 110.

East end, 139.

East side, 139.

easy, /adv./, 227.

easy-mark, 311.

eat, 194, 211.

eat crow, /vp./, 84.

éclat, 264.

ecology, 243.

écrevisse, 41.

ecumenical, 243.

ede, /suf./, 200.

Edelstein, 277.

edema, 243.

edged, 85.

editorial, /n./, 98.

ee-/sound/, 96.

eel-grass, 45.

ee-ther, 96.

eetood, 240.

egg-plant, 45, 109.

either, 96.

eldorado, 87.

electrocute, 163.

electrolier, 165.

elevator, 14, 50, 98, 133.

elevator, boy, 98.

élite, 264.

Elk, 288, 294.

ellum, 239.

El Paso, 292.

em, 217.

embalming-surgeon, 124n.

emerald, 114.

emperour, 248n.

employé, 124, 153, 252, 265.

employee, 153, 252.

enceinte, 127.

enclose, 244, 258.

encyclopaedia, 243.

encyclopedia, 243.

endeavor, 243

endeavour, 243.

endorse, 244, 258.

end-seat-hog, 163.

engage, 106.

Enghien, 300.

engine-driver, 99.

engineer, /n./, 82; /v./, 24, 77.

English, /n./, 114.

English education, 279n.

engulf, 258.

enquire, 260.

enquiry, 244, 258.

Enroughty, 282.

enter a claim, /vp./, 78.

enteric, 101.

enthuse, 77, 142.

eon, 243.

eower, 213.

eowrum, 213.

epaulet, 243.

epaulette, 243, 245.

Episcopal, 113n.

Episcopalian, 113n.

er, /suf./, 253, 260.

Erdmann, 276.

Erin go braugh, 91.

eruptiveness, 33.

ese, 158.

esophagus, 243, 253, 263.

espera, 158.

Esq., 121.

estate-agent, 108.

et, /v./, 190, 194, 199.

eternal, 129.

étude, 240.

euchre, /v./, 134.

Evelyn, 286.

eventuate, 49.

evincive, 50.

ex, /pref./, 118.

exact, 77n.

exchange, /n./, 124.

excursionist, 82, 98.

excursion-train, 83.

excurt, /v./, 77.

exfluncticate, 82.

expect, 31.

exposé, 153, 265.

express, /v./, 83.

express-car, 82.

express-company, 98.

expressman, 82.

express-office, 82.

exterior, 248n.

extraordinary, 169, 170.

eye-opener, 85.

eye, ther, 96.

face-cloth, 101.

face the music, /vp./, 49.

factor, 98.

fade away, /vp./, 319.

faggot, 243, 245, 260.

fagot, 243.

fake, 319.

faker, 156.

fall, /n./, 10, 14, 33, 56, 59, 133; /v./, 194, 204.

fall down, /vp./, 142.

fallen, 194, 204.

fallen-woman, 127.

fall for it, /vp./, 311.

fambly, 238.

fan, 111.

fan-light, 101.

fan-tan, 93.

Farinholt, 282.

faster'n, 231.

fast-freight, 82.

father, 59, 95.

favor, 243, 251, 253.

favorite, 243.

favorite-son, 83, 84.

favourite, 243, 247.

Fear, 275.

feather, 250, 251.

feature, /v./, 14, 142.

feaze, 77.

fed, 194, 199.

feed, 194.

feel, 194, 202.

feeled, 202.

feel good, 149.

Feivel, 284.

Félicité, 300.

fell, /n./, 46; /v./, 194, 204.

feller, 157, 239.

fellow, 115, 155, 157.

fellowship, /v./, 27, 30, 57.

felt, /v./, 194, 202.

female, /n./, 126, 127.

femme de chambre, 154.

fen, 46.

fence, 254.

fences, 83.

fenster, 156.

fenz, 154.

ferry, 294.

fether, 251.

fervor, 243.

fervour, 243.

fest, /suf./, 151.

fetch, 195.

fetched, 195.

fête, 153, 264.

few, 174.

fiancée, 240.

fiddled, 85.

Fiddler, 280.

Fifth avenue, 139.

50° 40′, 285n.

fight, 195.

figure, 174.

filibuster, 83, 84.

filing-cabinet, 98.

fill the bill, /vp./, 78.

filthy, 228.

find, /v./, 195.

Findlay, 273.

fine, /a./, 116n; /adv./, 227; /v./, 195, 238.

finger, /n./, 85.

finish up, /vp./, 164.

Fionnlagh, 273.

Fion Uisg, 273.

fire, /v./, 83.

fire-brigade, 98, 105.

fire-bug, 81.

fire-department, 98, 105.

fire-eater, 10, 81, 309.

fire-laddie, 105.

fire-water, 41.

first-floor, 103.

first-form, 104.

first-storey, 103.

first-year-man, 104.

Fischbach, 275.

Fishback, 275.

fish-dealer, 98.

fish-monger, 98.

fish-plate, 82.

fit, /v./, 195n.

fitten, 195n.

five-o'clock-tea, 88n.

fix, /v./, 116, 157.

fix'n, 156.

fizz, 85.

fizzle, /v./, 49.

fizzle out, /vp./, 78.

flag, /v./, 83.

flagman, 82.

flang, 195.

flap, jack, 56.

flapper, 308n.

flare up, /vp./, 31.

flat, /n./, 110.

flat-boat, 81.

flat-car, 82.

flat-footed, 24, 79.

flat-house, 110.

flavor, 243.

flavour, 243.

fletcherize, 163.

flew, 195.

flier, 124.

fling, /v./, 195.

floater, 83.

floor, 155, 156, 157.

floor-walker, 98, 124.

floozy, 166.

flop-flop, /v./, 93.

flow, /v./, 195.

flowed, 195.

Flower Moon, 42n.

flu, 160, 310.

flume, 14.

flung, 195.

flunk out, /v./, 31.

flurry, /n./, 81.

fly, /v./, 195.

fly off the handle, /vp./, 49.

fonograph, 264.

font, 243, 258.

Fontaine, 274.

footway, 100.

Ford, 275.

foregather, 243, 260.

forego, 243, 246.

foreman, 155.

Foreman, 275.

forgather, 243, 260.

forgo, 243, 260.

forgot, 195, 206.

forgotten, 195.

fork, /n./, 33, 46, 294.

for keeps, 111, 319.

fork over, /vp./, 31.

form, 104, 243.

forme, 243, 245, 256.

former, /pref./, 118.

formulae, 265.

for rent, 137.

forsake, 195.

forsaken, 195, 199.

forsook, 195.

fortnight, 114.

forty-rod, 85.

forwards, 147, 229.

forward, looker, 302.

fosfate, 264.

fotch, 195n.

foto, 264.

fotograph, 264.

Foucher, 300.

fought, 195.

foul, /v./, 111.

found, 195, 200.

fount, 243, 258.

Fountain, 274.

fowl-run, 98.

Fox, 272.

fox-fire, 56.

frame-house, 46.

frankfurter, 88.

frat, 105, 160.

fraternal-order, 98.

fraternity, 160.

frawst, 175.

frazzle, 134.

frazzled, 85.

Freedman, 275.

free-lunch, 18.

freeze, 195.

freeze on to, /vp./, 78, 311.

freight, 98.

freight, agent, 98.

freight-car, 14, 82, 98.

Frémont, 276.

French, 279n.

French letter, 280n.

freshet, 52.

freshman, 104.

Friedmann, 275.

friendly-society, 98.

frijole, 87.

friz, /v./, 195, 200.

frog, 27, 82, 98.

froggy, 278.

frolick, 250, 254.

frolicksome, 254.

from here, 229.

from there, 229.

from where, 229.

frozen, 195.

Fuchs, 272.

Führ, 275.

Fuhrmann, 275.

fulfill, 170.

full-house, 111.

fun, 93.

funds, 106.

funeral-director, 124.

funeralize, 74, 76, 164.

funny, 231.

Fürst, 275.

Furth, 275.

fuse, 243, 246, 257.

fuze, 243, 257.

g-/sound/, 61, 274.

gabfest, 151.

gage, 253.

gag-rule, 83, 107.

gaiety, 260.

galoot, 80.

gambler, 155.

gamester, 90n.

gangster, 156.

ganof, 151, 240.

gantlet, 243.

ganze, 113.

ganz gut, 89.

gaol, 244, 246, 250, 257, 260.

gaoler, 257.

gap, 46.

garden, 97, 110.

garden-party, 153.

Garnett, 273.

garter-snake, 45.

garters, 98.

gas, 160.

gasoline, 98, 160, 165.

gate-money, 111.

gauge, 253.

gauntlet, 243.

gave, 203, 205.

gawd, 175.

gawne, 175.

gay Quaker, 33.

gazabo, 87.

G. B., 161.

g'by, 239.

gedämätscht, 155.

gee-whiz, 129.

gefiedelt, 151n.

General, 118.

generally, 228.

gentleman, 121.

gentleman-author, 121.

gentleman-clerk, 121.

gentleman-cow, 126.

gentleman-rider, 121.

gent'man, 238.

gerrymander, 83, 107.

Gervaise, 274.

gescheumpt, /v./, 155.

gesundheit, 89.

get, /v./, 60, 115, 193n, 195.

get ahead of, /vp./, 78.

get a move on, /vp./, 25.

get-away, /n./, 14.

get away with, /vp./, 309.

get by, /vp./, 311.

get it in the neck, /vp./, 319.

get-out, /n./, 14

get solid with, /vp./, 78, 142.

get sore, /vp./, 319.

get the bulge on, /vp./, 78.

get the dead wood on, /vp./, 78.

get the drop on, /vp./, 78.

get the hang of, /vp./, 31.

getting on, /vp./, 114.

get wise, /vp./, 319.

gift-shop, 137.

gillotin, 251, 252.

gin-fix, 85.

gin-fizz, 84.

ginger-ale, 85.

ginger-pop, 85.

ginseng, 93.

gipsy, 258, 260.

girl for general housework, 102.

girt, 201.

git, 60.

giv, 251.

give, 164, 195, 203, 205, 251.

give out, /vp./, 164.

glad-eye, 133.

glamor, 243.

glamour, 243.

glass, 95, 173.

glass-arm, 111.

glebe, 112.

gleich, 155.

gleiche, 155.

glide, 195.

glode, 195, 199.

gmilath chesed, 157.

go, 195, 317.

go-aheadativeness, 27.

goatee, 81.

go back on, /vp./, 78, 164.

go big, /vp./, 146.

god, 266.

god-damned, 129.

go finish, /vp./, 318.

Godfrey, 277.

go for, /vp./, 79.

going on, /vp./, 115.

going some, 26, 149.

going strong, 319.

go into service, /vp./, 78.

go it blind, /vp./, 78.

go it one better, /vp./, 111.

Gold, 280.

goldarned, 129.

Goldschmidt, 277, 280.

Goldsmith, 277.

gone-coon, 33.

goner, 48.

gonorrhea, 128, 253.

gonorrhoea, 253.

Gonzalez, 271.

goober, 44.

good, 148, 149.

good-afternoon, 115.

good-by, 243.

good-bye, 115, 243.

good-day, 115.

good-form, 137.

Goodman, 277.

good-night, 311.

goods, 98, 133.

goods-manager, 98.

goods-waggon, 83, 98.

good ways, 147.

go on the warpath, /vp./, 49.

goose, 279.

G. O. P., 161.

gopher, 43.

Gossett, 274.

got, 115, 143, 195, 206.

Gotham, 33.

gother, 198.

go the whole hog, /vp./, 79.

go through, /vp./, 79.

go to hell, /vp./, 161.

go-to-meeting, /a./, 79.

gotten, 33, 115, 143, 190, 195, 206.

go up Salt river, /vp./, 84.

Government, 107.

governor, 101.

govrenment, 239.

grab, /v./, 84.

grab-bag, 81.

grade, 98, 104.

gradient, 98.

gradual, 96.

graft, /n./, 14, 135, 310; /v./, 135.

grain, 98, 156.

grain-broker, 99.

grain-market, 139.

gram, 243, 257, 263.

gramme, 243, 257, 261.

grand, 31.

grandificent, 166.

grant, 95.

grape-fruit, 109.

grape-juice diplomacy, 163.

Graves, 281.

gray, 243, 246, 247, 260.

greased-lightning, 309.

greaser, 33, 80, 279.

great, 91n.

great-coat, 99.

great God, 129.

great-primer, 114.

great shakes, 92.

great Scot, 129.

great white father, 86.

green, 31.

Green, 275.

greenhorn, 56.

greens, 101.

Gregory, 281.

grewsome, 258.

Grgurevich, 281.

grip, 99, 106.

grip-sack, 81.

gris'-mill, 238.

grm-/sound/, 171.

groceries, 99, 102.

grocery, 155, 157.

grog, 88n.

groop, 251.

grotesk, 252.

grotesque, 252.

ground-floor, 103.

ground-hog, 33, 45.

group, 250, 251.

grove, 294.

grow, 195.

growed, 195, 198, 199.

growler, 105.

grub-stake, 81.

Grün, 275.

guard, /n./, 83, 98, 137.

guardeen, 237.

guardian, 237.

Guarinot, 273.

gubernatorial, 28, 28n, 40, 50, 136.

Guereant, 274.

guess, /v./, 31, 33, 56, 57.

guillotin, 251, 252.

guillotine, 252.

guinea, 279.

Guizot, 274.

gulch, 80.

gully, 80.

gumbo, 44, 109.

gum-shoe, /a./, 25; /n./, 80.

gun, 165.

gun-man, 165.

gun-play, 165.

Gutmann, 276, 277.

guy, /n./, 129, 156; /v./, 129.

guyascutis, 81.

gym, 160.

gymnasium, 160.

gypsy, 258.

h-/sound/, 61.

haberdasher, 105.

haberdashery-shop, 137.

habichoo, 240.

habitué, 240.

hablaing, /v./, 158.

hacienda, 30.

hack, /n./, 109.

had, 195.

hadden, 195, 205.

hadn't ought'a, 210.

had went, 189.

haemiplegia, 252.

haemorrhage, 252.

Haerlem, 274.

Haerlen, 274.

hafta, 239.

haima, 252.

hainous, 250, 252.

haircut, 155.

halbe, 113.

half-breed, 46.

hall, 155.

halloo, /v./, 77n.

halt an, 89.

hamburger, 88.

hand-car, 82.

hand him a lemon, /vp./, 309, 311.

hand it to him, /vp./, 309.

handle without gloves, /vp./, 78.

handsome, 173.

handy, 50.

hang, 195.

hang-bird, 33.

hanged, 195n, 200.

hang-out, 164.

han'kerchief, 238.

Hansen, 271.

happy, /adv./, 227.

happify, 27, 49.

happy hunting grounds, 86.

harbor, 171, 243, 259.

harbour, 243, 259.

hard, /a./, 228, 231; /adv./, 226.

hard-cider, 85.

hardly, 228.

hard-shell, /a./, 79.

hardware-dealer, 99.

hare, 54, 109.

hari-kari, 85.

harkee, 219.

Harlan, 274.

harp, 279.

Harper, 280.

has-been, 23, 163.

hash-foundry, 163.

Hassan, 41.

hat, 155.

hath, 59.

hatké, 156.

haul, /v./, 52, 54.

hausfrau, 88.

have, /auxiliary/, 192, 195, 206, 238.

have an ax to grind, /vp./, 79.

have the brokers in the house, /vp./, 107.

have the goods, /vp./, 311.

Havre de Grace, 291.

Hawthorne, 282.

hay-cock, 47, 99.

hay-barrack, 43.

hay-stack, 47, 99.

haze, /v./, 142.

he, 212, 220.

head, 105, 251.

head-clerk, 98.

headliner, 99, 106.

head-master, 104, 105.

head-mistress, 104.

healthful, 146.

healthy, 146.

hear, 195, 204.

hear, hear, 115.

heard, 60, 195.

hearth, 174.

heat, /v./, 195.

heath, 46.

heave, /v./, 195.

heavenwards, 147.

Hebrew, 113.

hed, 251.

heeler, 83.

heerd, 195, 199, 200.

heern, 195, 204.

heft, /v./, 52, 54.

hefty, 54.

Heid, 275.

height, 91.

heighth, 91, 238.

heimer, /suf./, 151.

heinous, 250, 252.

Heintz, 275.

held, 195, 206.

hell, 128n.

hell-box, 80.

hell-fired, 129.

Hell-Gate, 290.

hellion, 76.

hello, 77n.

hell-roaring, 76.

help, /n./, 30, 33, 102, 135.

helt, 195, 201.

hem, 216, 252.

hemi-demi, semi-quaver, 113.

hemorrhage, 260.

hence, 228.

heo, 213n.

heom, 213n.

heora, 213.

her, /pro./, 212, 214, 219, 220.

heraus mit ihm, 89.

herb, 61.

here, 145, 213, 214, 228.

heren, /pro./, 213.

hern, /pro./, 212, 213, 214.

hers, 213, 214.

herun, 213.

het, /v./, 195, 199.

het up, /vp./, 85, 195n.

Heyward, 282.

hickory, 40.

hidden, 195.

hide, 195.

his, 213.

high, 116.

high-ball, 85.

high-brow, 163.

highfalutin, 79.

high street, 300.

hike, /v./, 142.

hill-side, 31.

him, 212, 219, 220, 224.

himself, 224, 225.

Hines, 275.

hired-girl, 47, 103.

hired-man, 47.

hire-purchase plan, 99, 103.

his, 212, 214, 225.

His Excellency, 119, 120.

His Highness, 119.

His Honor, 120.

hisn, 190, 212, 214.

his-or-her, 225.

hisself, 190, 224, 225.

hist, /v./, 91, 195, 236.

histed, 195.

historical, 62.

hist'ry, 238.

hit, /v./, 195.

hitched, 319.

Hite, 275.

hither, 145, 228.

hoarding, /n./, 27, 97, 102.

hobo, 14, 14n, 133, 161.

Hobson-Jobson, 41.

hoch, 89.

Hoch, 275.

Hock, 100, 104.

hod-carrier, 99.

Hodge, 115.

hoe-cake, 45, 46.

hofbräu, 240, 265.

Hoffman, 271.

hog, /v./, 24, 25.

hoggish, /adv./, 227.

hog-pen, 99.

hog-wallow, 45.

hoist, /v./, 91.

Hoke, 275.

hokum, 165.

hola, 158.

hols, /v./, 195, 206.

hold-all, 99.

holden, 206.

hold on, /vp./, 81, 80.

hold out, /vp./, 111.

hold up, /vp./, 306.

hold-up, /n./, 14, 14n.

holler, /v./, 77, 77n, 195, 239.

hollered, 195.

hollo, /v./, 77n.

holloa, /v./, 77n.

hollow, /v./, 77n.

holsum, 264.

holt, 238.

holy-orders, 112.

holy-roller, 113.

homely, 57, 110.

homespun, 56.

hominy, 33, 40, 41.

homologize, 49.

hon. agent, 121.

honor, 243, 248, 250, 251, 253, 263, 318.

honorable, 118-21.

honorable and learned gentleman, 107.

honorable friend, 107.

honorable gentleman, 107, 119.

honorarium, 247.

honorary, 247, 257.

honorific, 247.

honour, 243, 250, 259.

honourable, 247, 257.

hoodlum, 14, 14n, 133.

hoodoo, 44, 105.

hooiberg, 43.

hook, /n./, 43, 45, 290.

hooligan, 133.

Hoosier, 33.

Hoover, 275.

hooverize, 142, 163.

hop, /n./, 93, 94.

horrour, 248n.

hornswoggle, /v./, 78.

horse of another color, 33.

horse-sense, 80.

horse-shoer, 203.

horse's-neck, 85.

Hosein, 41.

hospital, 61, 99.

hospital-nurse, 101, 104.

hostile, 174, 176.

hostler, 244, 246.

hot-box, 82.

hotel, 61, 124.

Hot Moon, 42n.

hotter'n, 231.

house of ill (/or/ questionable) repute, 127.

hove, 195, 199.

Howells, 283.

Hrubka, 281.

hub, 31.

hubbub, 307, 310.

Huber, 275.

huckleberry, 45.

huckster, 99.

huddle, 307.

humbug, 31.

humor, 244.

humorist, 247.

humour, 244.

hunderd, 238.

hung, 195, 200.

hunker, 31.

hunkie, 279.

hunkydory, /a./, 81.

hunting, /n./, 99, 115.

Hunting Moon, 42n.

hunyadi, 278.

hurrah, 173.

hurray, 173.

hurricane, 109.

hurry up, /vp./, 164.

hurt, /v./, 195.

hurtleberry, 45.

hustle, /v./, 57.

hyperfirmatious, 82n.

Hyde, 275.

hydroplan, 263n.

hypo, 160.

hyposulphite of soda, 160.

I, /pro./, 212, 219, 220.

i, /pro./, 216n.

i-/sound/, 60, 96.

iad, /pro./, 216n.

I bet you, 157.

ice-box 156.

ice-cream, 56.

ices, 110.

iced-water, 109.

ice-water, 109.

ich, /pro./, 179.

ich bin es, 145n.

Icsylf, 224.

idealer, 230.

ify, /suf./, 77.

ige, /suf./, 156.

iland, 251.

ile, 236.

ill, 10, 56, 100.

Illinois, 291.

illy, 228.

imagine, 173, 251.

immigrate, 49.

Inc., 106.

incidence, 229.

incident, 229.

inclose, 244, 246, 258.

incohonee, 42n.

Indian, 99.

Indian-corn, 52, 98.

Indian-file, 47.

Indian-summer, 46, 99.

indifferent, /adv./, 226.

indorse, 244, 246, 258.

induced, 174.

inflection, 244, 246.

inflexion, 244, 258, 260.

influent, /a./, 50.

influential, 50, 51, 133.

influenza, 160.

in foal, 125.

infract, 49.

ingel, 156.

ingénue, 308n.

initial-sack, 311.

initiative and referendum, 107.

inn, 53.

ino, /suf./, 166.

inquiry, 170, 244, 258.

insect, 125.

inski, /suf./, 151.

instal, 260.

instalment-business, 99.

instalment-plan, 99.

instead, 251.

insted, 251.

instruct, 108.

insurge, /v./, 142, 164, 202.

interduce, 239.

interesting condition, 127.

interiour, 248n.

intern, 243.

interne, 253.

interval-land, 31.

interview, /v./, 57.

in the course of, 148.

invalided, 125.

inverted-commas, 100.

in writing, 115.

Iowa, 298.

Irene, 286.

iron-horse, 82.

iron-monger, 19, 99.

Ironmonger, 282.

Iroquois, 291n.

Irving, 283.

is, 209.

I say, 115.

ish ka bibble, 151n.

I should worry, 151.

island, 250, 251.

is not, 210.

isn't, 146, 210.

isquonkersquash, 41.

isquontersquash, 41.

Italian warehouse, 98.

itemize, 24, 77.

i-ther, 96.

it, 212.

itis, /suf./, 154.

it is me, 145.

its, 212.

Itzik, 284.

Ivanof, 272.

ize, /suf./, 77, 164.

j-/sound/, 96.

ja, 152.

Jack, 281.

jackass, 129.

Jackson, 278, 280, 281.

jack up, /vp./, 142.

Jacob, 281.

Jacobovitch, 280.

Jacobovsky, 280.

Jacobson, 280.

jag, 85.

jagged, 85.

jail, 244, 246, 250, 252, 256, 257, 261.

jailer, 256.

Jake, 281.

Jamestown-weed, 45.

janders, 239.

janitor, 99, 110.

Jannszewski, 272.

jap-a-lac, 165.

Japanee, 229.

Jarvis, 274.

jeans, 56.

jemmy, 244.

jeopardize, 51.

jerked-beef, 43.

jerk-water, 82.

Jerome, 286.

jersey, 101.

Jesus, 129.

jew, /v./, 52, 54, 113n.

Jew, 113.

jew down, /vp./, 54.

jeweller, 245, 250.

jewellery, 244, 259, 260.

jewelry, 244, 259.

Jewry, 113.

jiggered, 85.

jig's up, 33.

jimmy, 244, 246.

Jimson-weed, 45.

jine, 91, 236.

jitney, /a./, 24, 142, 164.

jockey, 88n.

Johannsen, 275.

John Collins, 85.

John J. O'Brien, 272n.

Johnny-cake, 46.

Johnny-jump-up, 45.

Johnson, 272, 275.

join, 91.

joiner, 19n.

joint, 100, 163.

joke-smith, 308, 310.

jolly, 116.

Jonas, 275, 278.

Jones, 271, 275, 278.

joss, /a./, 93.

journal, 158.

journalist, 99, 108.

joy-ride, /n./, 10, 110, 163, 165, 310; /v./, 202.

joy-ridden, 202.

joy-rided, 202.

joy-rode, 202.

juba, 44.

judgement, 256, 260.

judgmatical, 50.

judgment, 256, 257.

jug, 100.

jugged, 85.

juice, 162.

julep, 56.

jump a claim, /vp./, 78.

jumper, 81, 156.

jumping-off place, 81.

jump-off, 164.

jump on with both feet, /vp./, 79.

jump the rails, /vp./, 83n.

June-bug, 45.

Jung, 275.

junior, 104.

junk, 133.

junket, 107.

just, 117.

Kahler, 276.

Kahn, 280.

kaif, 240.

kandy, 264.

Kann, 280.

Korzeniowski, 278.

katzenjammer, 88.

kayo, 158.

K. C., 108.

ke, /suf./, 156.

Keeley, 275.

keep, 195.

keep a stiff upper lip, /vp./, 78.

keep company, /vp./, 115.

keep tab, /vp./, 78.

keer, 237.

keg, 250, 252.

Kelly, 271, 281.

Kemp, 275.

Kempf, 275.

Kenesaw, 285.

Kennebec, 30.

kep, 195, 238.

ker, /pref./, 82.

kerb, 243, 246, 258, 260.

ker-bang,-flop,-flummox,-plunk,-slam,-splash,-thump, 82.

kerbstone, 246.

Kester, 275.

ketch, 91, 237.

key, 43, 46, 155.

keyless-watch, 27, 100.

kick, /n./, 77; /v./, 77.

kicker, 77.

kick-in, 164.

kick the bucket, /vp./, 78.

kid, /v./, 14.

kiddo, 92.

kike, 115, 156.

kill, /n./, 290.

kilogram, 257.

kimono, 152n.

kind'a, 234.

kindergarden, 238.

kindergarten, 88, 153.

kindness, 170.

King, 277, 280.

King's counsel, 108.

kinky, 50.

kitchen, 155.

kitchenette, 165.

kitchen-fender, 139.

kittle, 237.

kitty, 111.

kivver, 237.

klark, 19n.

klaxon, 165.

Klein, 271.

klörk, 19n.

Knapp, 276.

kneel, 195, 202.

kneeled, 195, 202.

knel, 202.

knelt, 202.

knife, /v./, 84.

knob, 46.

Knoche, 278.

knock into a cocked hat, /vp./, 79.

knock-out drops, 319.

know, 195.

knowed, 191, 195, 199.

know him like a book, /vp./, 78.

know-nothing, 134.

know the ropes, /vp./, 78.

Knox, 278.

Koch, 277.

Koester, 275.

kodak, /n./, 165, 166; /v./, 166n.

kodaker, 166n.

Kolinsky, 280.

komusta, 158.

König, 276, 277.

kosher, 151, 240.

Kovár, 277.

kow-tow, 93.

Krantz, 276.

Krause, 271.

Krisking'l, 89.

Kriss Kringle, 89.

kruller, /see/ cruller.

Kuehle, 275.

Kühne, 276.

Kuhns, 275.

kumfort, 264.

kümmel, 89.

Kuntz, 275.

Kurtz, 276.

Küster, 274.

Kuznetzov, 277.

Kyle, 274.

l-/sound/, 60.

labor, 244, 318.

Labor Day, 114.

laborer, 244.

laborious, 247.

labour, 244.

labourer, 244, 247.

lachrymal, 253.

lacquey, 260.

lacrimal, 253.

Lacy, 281.

ladies'-singles,-wear, 121.

lady, 121, 126.

lady-clerk,-doctor,-golfer,-inspector,-secretary,-typist, 121.

Lady Day, 114.

Lafayette, 95, 95n, 291.

lager-beer, 88.

lagniappe, 86.

Laib, 276.

laid, 195, 196.

lain, 195, 196.

lallapalooza, 90.

lame-duck, 23, 83, 107.

landlord, 155, 156.

land-office, 47.

land-slide, 46, 83.

lane, 300.

Lane, 273.

Lang, 275, 276.

Lantz, 276.

lariat, 86.

Larsen, 271.

lasso, /n./, 86; /v./, 87.

last, /a./, 58, 94, 173, 174.

late, 226, 228.

lately, 228.

lands, 112.

laufen, /v./, 88.

laugh, 95, 174.

laugh in your sleeve, /vp./, 309.

laundry, 95, 165.

Lauten, 281.

Lautenberger, 281.

lavandera, 158.

law-abiding, 50.

lawft, 175.

lawn-fete, 153.

lawst, 175.

Lawton, 281.

lay, /v./, 195, 202.

lay on the table, /vp./, 48.

lay-reader, 112.

ld, /suf./, 201.

lead, /v./, 195.

leader, 98, 108.

leaderette, 108.

leading-article, 98, 108.

leads, 101, 103.

lean, 195.

leaned, 202.

leap, /v./, 91, 195.

leapt, 260.

learn, 196, 203.

learnt, 196.

leave, /v./, 203.

leberwurst, 88.

led, 195, 199.

leery, 230.

left, /v./, 203.

left at the post, /vp./, 78.

legal-holiday, 99, 114.

legislate, 49, 50, 51.

Lehn, 273.

Lehnert, 273.

Leighton Buzzard, 297n.

Le Maine, 273.

lend, 196, 202.

lendler, 156.

lengthy, 33, 50, 51, 133.

leniency, 51.

lent, 195, 201, 202.

Leonard, 273.

Leonhard, 273.

Leonhardt, 273.

leopard, 250, 251.

lep, 91, 195, 200.

leperd, 251.

les, 238.

Leser, 276.

let, 203.

let it slide, /vp./, 79.

let on, /vp./, 31.

letter-box, 99.

letter-carrier, 19n, 99.

levee, 30, 86, 264.

Lever, 280.

Levering, 275.

Levey, 280.

Levin, 280.

Levie, 280.

Levine, 280.

Levitt, 280.

Levy, 271, 280, 282.

Lewis, 280n.

Lewy, 280.

Lewyt, 280.

li, /suf./, 226.

liberty-cabbage, 152.

libretti, 265.

lib'ry, 238.

Lichtenstein, 280.

Lichtman, 280.

lickety-split, 45.

lie, /v./, 196, 202.

Liebel, 284.

Liebering, 275.

lied, 196.

lieutenant, 174, 176.

lift, /n./, 98, 137.

lift-man, 98.

lift up, /vp./, 164, 196.

lighted, 200.

lighter, 100.

lightning-bug, 45.

lightning-rod, 33.

light out, /vp./, 78, 164.

like, 190, 191, 224.

likely, 31, 33, 57.

limb, 126, 127.

limehouse, /v./, 162.

lime-tree, 45.

limited, /n./, 82, 124.

limited-liability-company, 106.

linch, /v./, 77n.

Lincoln, 274.

linden, 45.

line, 83, 100, 101, 106.

lineage-rates, 108.

linen-draper, 19n.

Linkhorn, 274.

lit, 196, 200.

liter, 244.

literary, 170.

litre, 244.

Little Giant, 33.

Little Mary, 125.

littler, 230.

littlest, 230.

liturgy, 112.

live-oak, 33, 45.

live out, /vp./, 115.

liver, /a./, 230.

livery-stable, 99.

livest, 165.

live-wire, 14.

living, /n./, 112.

living-room, 103.

Lizzie, 104.

loaded, 85.

loaf, /v./, 88, 136.

loafer, 31, 88, 89, 156.

Loaferies, 136.

loan, /v./, 57, 202.

loaned, 190, 196.

loan-office, 124.

lobby, /v./, 84.

lobby-agent, 84.

lobbyist, 84.

Lobe, 276.

lobster, 138.

locate, 49, 50, 51.

loch, 298.

loco, /n./, 86.

locoed, 79.

loco foco, 31.

locomotive, 85.

locomotive-engineer, 99.

locum tenens, 112.

locust, 33, 45, 294.

Loeb, 276.

Loeser, 276.

log, 175.

log-cabin, 46n.

log-house, 46.

log-roll, /v./, 44.

London corporation, 106.

lonesome, 164.

Long, 275.

longa, 113.

long-primer, 114.

long-sauce, 33.

long-vacation, 114.

looking-glass, 115.

look out, /vp./, 114.

look up, /vp./, 114.

look ye, 219.

loophole, 56.

loop-the-loop, /v./, 202.

López, 271.

lord, 171.

lorry, 101.

Los Angeles, 292.

lose, 106, 196.

lost, 196.

lot, 31, 51, 52, 52n.

loud, /adv./, 226.

Louis, 291.

Louisville, 291.

lounge, /n./, 105, 155, 156.

lounge-lizard, 163.

lounge-suit, 106.

lov'd, 201.

loved, 201.

Lowe, 275.

Löwe, 275.

low-flung, 79.

lowly, 228.

Ltd., 106.

lucre, 254.

Luders, 276.

Lüders, 276.

luggage, 97.

luggage-shop, 137.

luggage-van, 83, 97.

lumber, 52, 53, 99.

lumberjack, 53.

lumberman, 53.

lumber-yard, 53.

lunch, 156.

Lurman, 276.

Lürmann, 276.

luster, 260.

lustre, 250.

ly, /suf./, 226, 228.

lynch, 77.

lynch-law, 30.

machine, 83, 84, 100, 108, 110, 132, 251.

machine-shop, 53.

Mac Illeathiain, 273.

McLane, 273.

Mac Suibhne, 273.

Mac Sweeney, 273.

Macy, 280.

mad, 79, 99.

madams, 266.

mad as a hornet, 80.

mad as a March hare, 80.

mad-dog, 80.

made, 196.

mad-house, 80.

maennerchor, 89.

maffick, /v./, 162.

mafia, 151.

Magdalen, 283.

Maggie, 102, 104.

mahoganized, 124.

mail, 103, 139.

mail-box, 103.

mail-clerk, 82.

mail-train, 103.

mail-van, 103.

Main street, 300.

máiz, 52, 251.

maize, 18, 42, 52, 98, 251.

make, 196.

make a kick, /vp./, 79.

makee, 317.

make good, /vp./, 133.

make the fur fly, /vp./, 78.

make tracks, /vp./, 78.

male-cow, 126.

mamma, 170.

Mamie Taylor, 85.

managing-director, 106.

maneuver, 244, 252, 260.

mangel-wurzel, 100, 109.

mangle, 101.

man higher up, 107.

manitee, 42

Mann, 276.

Manney, 273.

manoeuvre, 244, 252, 258, 261.

mansion, 110.

mantelpiece, 155.

marcy, 60.

mare, 125, 126.

Marjoribanks, 283.

Marlborough, 283.

marsh, 109.

martin, 294.

Martin, 281.

Marylebone, 297n.

ma'sh, 109.

masheen, 251.

Mason, 280.

mass, 94.

massive, 95.

mass-meeting, 30.

master, 95, 173.

Master(s), 277.

mastiff, 254.

match, 155.

matinée, 153, 154, 265.

matins, 112.

matter, 173.

matzoh, 151, 240.

Mauch Chunk, 290.

Maurice, 284.

maverick, 80.

may, 196.

May, 290.

mayonnaise, 240.

mazuma, 151.

me, 212, 219, 220.

mean, /adv./, 227; /v./, 196, 251.

meant, 196.

mebby, 239.

mediaeval, 244, 246, 257, 260.

medicine-man, 41.

medieval, 244.

meen, 251.

meet, 196.

meidel, 156.

meidlach, 156.

meka, 155.

melée, 264.

melt, 198.

melted, 198.

member, 104.

memo, 160.

memorandum-book, 110.

menhaden, 40.

mensch, 126.

ment, /suf./, 31, 77.

menu, 153, 154, 240.

merchant, 124.

mercy, 60.

mesa, 87.

mesdames, 266.

messieurs, 266.

met, 196.

metals, 83, 97.

meter, 244, 257.

Methodist, 99, 113.

methylated-spirits, 101.

metre, 244, 257.

Metro, 110.

mews, 47, 99.

Meyer, 271, 272.

Michaelis, 275.

Michaelmas, 114.

Michaels, 275.

Michel, 280.

Michigan, 290.

mick, 279.

might'a, 196.

mighty, 31, 228.

mightily, 228.

mileage, 50, 83.

mileage-book, 82.

military, 170, 176.

mill, 47.

Miller, 271, 272.

milligram, 257.

Milton, 283.

min, /pro./, 213, 214.

mine, /pro./, 212, 213, 214.

minerals, 85, 100.

minim, 113.

minima, 113.

mining-regions, 109.

minion, 114.

minion-nonpareil, 114.

minister, 112.

ministry, 107, 112.

minor-leaguer, 111.

minster, 112.

minuet, 240.

minum, 213.

mirror, 115.

Mis', 54.

mischievious, 239.

misdemeanor, 244.

misdemeanour, 244.

miserable, /adv./, 226.

miss a train, /vp./, 106.

Miss, 54.

missionate, 30, 75, 76.

Miss Jones, 104.

Mister, /see/ Mr.

mistook, 206.

Mitchell, 280.

mixologist, 105.

Mlinár, 272.

mob, /n./, 160.

mobile, /n./, 160.

mobile vulgus, 160.

moccasin, 41.

moccasin-snake, 45.

modren, 239.

Moise, 284.

Moiseyev, 280.

molasses, 10, 56, 99.

mold, 244, 252.

Möller, 272.

mollusc, 244, 258, 260.

mollusk, 244, 246, 247.

molt, 198, 244.

money-bund, 152.

money in the stocks, 106.

money-order, 103.

monkey-nut, 99, 109.

monkey-wrench, 99.

monoplan, 263n.

Monroe, 283.

Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 282n.

Montgomery, 273.

Monumental City, 33.

moon-shine, /a./, 85.

moor, 45, 105, 106, 108.

moose, 40, 109, 294.

Moréas, 277.

more better, 230.

more queerer, 230.

more than, 143, 148.

more ultra, 230.

more uniquer, 230.

more worse, 230.

Morris, 284.

mortgage-shark, 80.

mortician, 124.

Moses, 280n.

Moss, 280n.

moss-back, 47.

Most Hon., 120.

most principal, 230.

Motel, 284.

motive, 60.

motor, 110.

motor-car, 110.

mould, 245, 246, 254, 260.

moult, 245.

moustache, 244, 260.

movie, 27, 142, 160.

moving-picture, 160.

moving-picture-theatre, 99.

mow, /v./, 196.

mowed, 196.

mown, 196.

Mr., 108, 117, 121, 266.

Mrs., 54.

muck-raker, 306.

mud-hen, 45.

mud-scow, 47.

Mueller, 272.

mufti, 105-6.

mugwump, 83, 84.

Muller, 271.

Müller, 272.

municipal, 239.

Murphy, 271.

musa, 40.

mush, 47.

music-hall, 101, 106, 153.

musk-rat, 134.

muskwessu, 134.

musquash, 134.

muss, /n./, 31, 56; /v./, 78.

must, 207.

mustache, 155, 244, 260.

mustang, 86.

my, 212, 214, 317.

my dear, 122.

Myers, 271, 272.

nā, 232.

naefre, 232.

naefth, 232.

naht, 232.

naïf, 265.

naïveté, 265.

nameable, 33.

naphtha, 172.

napkin, 18, 99.

nasty, 137, 228, 231.

nat, 232.

natur, 96.

nature, 60, 96, 174, 266.

nature-faker, 163, 306.

naught, 246.

naughty, 228.

navvy, 81.

ne, /pref./, 232.

ne-aefre, 232.

ne-haefth, 232.

near, /a./, 24; /adv./, 227.

near-accident, 34.

near-silk, 23, 159, 227.

neat, /adv./, 227.

neck, 46.

necktie, 99, 104.

nd, /suf./, 201.

née, 240.

needle, 155.

nee-ther, 96.

negative, /v./, 49.

neger, 252.

negro, 252.

neighbor, 244.

neighborhood, 244.

neighbour, 244.

neighbourhood, 244.

neither, 96.

nekk-töi, 155.

nephew, 172, 176.

ne-singan, 232.

nest-of-drawers, 98.

net, 244, 257.

nett, 244, 245, 257.

Neumann, 277.

Nevada, 95, 298.

never mind, 157.

new, /pref./, 289.

ne-wiste, 232.

Newman, 277.

ne-wolde, 232.

New Orleans, 291.

news-agent, 99.

newsdealer, 99.

newspaper-business, 108n.

newspaper-man, 99, 108n.

next-doorige, 156.

N. G., 23, 161.

nice, 116n, 230, 306.

nicht, gefiedelt, 151n.

nichts, 152.

nichts kommt heraus, 89.

nick, /suf./, 156.

nickel-in-the-slot, 138.

nigger-in-the-woodpile, 107.

nine-pins, 101, 111.

ni-ther, 96.

nix, 152.

nix come erous, 89.

nixy, 152.

no, 152, 214.

no-account, /a./, 27, 44, 48.

Noblestone, 277.

no-how, /adv./, 44, 48.

no kerry, 158.

non-committal, 79.

non-conformist, 112.

non-conformist conscience, 113.

none, 214, 216.

nonpareil, 114.

noodle, 44, 88.

no quiero, 158.

Nora, 102.

Norfolk-Howard, 125n.

Norsworthy, 282.

Norwich, 297.

no sir, 157.

no-siree, 92.

not, 232.

notch, 46.

notify, 52, 115.

not on your life, 92.

nouche, 89.

nought, 246, 260.

noways, 229.

nowheres else, 147.

Nurse, 104.

nurse the constituency, /vp./, 107.

nursing-home, 99, 104.

nursing-sister, 104.

nut, 306.

nutty, 230.

nyste, 232.

o-/sound/, 246.

Oakes, 275.

oatmeal, 99.

obleege, 60.

obligate, 31, 49, 77.

obligation, 31.

oblige, 31, 60.

O'Brien, 271, 281.

ocelot, 42.

Ochs, 274.

octoroon, 43.

ode, /suf./, 200.

odor, 244, 251.

odoriferous, 247.

odour, 244.

oe-/sound/, 276.

oecology, 243.

oecumenical, 243.

oedema, 243.

Oehler, 276.

Oehm, 275.

oesophagus, 243, 246, 257.

of, /auxiliary/, 207.

offal, 56.

offence, 244.

offense, 244, 254.

office, 108.

office-holder, 27, 99, 105.

office-seeker, 83.

off'n, 234, 238.

off of, 234.

offset, 31.

often, 171.

Ohio, 30.

Ohler, 276.

oh, oh, 115.

oi-/sound/, 158, 175, 235, 276.

oi-yoi, 151.

O.K., 23, 161.

okeh, 161.

Old Bullion, 33.

Old Hickory, 33.

Old Stick-in-the-Mud, 86.

oleo, 160.

oleomargarine, 160, 165.

Olson, 271.

omelet, 257.

omnibus-bill, 33, 83, 107, 310.

once, 91.

once't, 91, 238.

one, 216, 231.

one best bet, 142.

one ... he, 147.

one-horse, /a./, 48.

onery, 26, 91, 238.

one his legs, 107.

only, 232.

onry, 238.

on the bench, 111.

on the fence, 83.

on the hoof, 81.

on the job, 142.

on the Q. T., 161.

on the rates, 105.

on time, 115.

on to his curves, 111.

ontologist, 124.

opasum, 40.

op donderen, 43.

open up, /vp./, 164.

opossum, 22, 40, 160.

oppose, 48, 51.

optician, 124.

optometrist, 124.

or, /suf./, 247, 252, 318.

orangeade, 165.

oratory, 112.

oratour, 248n.

orchestra, 99, 106.

ordained, 112.

order, /n./, 108.

ordinary, 91, 238.

ordinary income-tax, 109.

organization, 132.

ornate, 57.

oslerize, 163.

ossified, 85.

ostler, 61, 244, 246, 258, 260.

O Suilleabháin, 273.

O'Sullivan, 273.

otchock, 41.

otter, 294.

ouch, 89.

ought'a, 210.

oughter, 210.

ought to, 210.

our, 212, 214.

our, /suf./, 245, 247, 250, 252, 253, 256, 257, 261, 318.

ourn, 191, 212, 214.

ours, 214.

ous, /suf./, 77.

out, 134.

out-house, 10.

over, 143, 148.

overcoat, 99.

over his signature, 115.

ow, /suf./, 199.

own, 225.

oyster-stew, 109.

oyster-supper, 80, 109.

Paca, 274.

package, 99.

Padraic, 273.

padrone, 151, 152.

paid, 196.

pail, 97.

paint, 155.

paint the town red, /vp./, 78.

pajamas, 244, 246, 252, 259.

Paka, 274.

pale, /n./, 31.

pale-face, 41.

palmetto, 43.

pan-fish, 46.

pan out, /vp./, 78, 135.

pants, 27, 110, 156.

papa, 170.

Papadiamantopoulos, 277.

paper, 155.

papoose, 41, 42.

paprika, 152.

paraffin, 98.

parcel, 51, 52, 99.

pard, 160.

pardner, 238.

paresis, 169.

parlor, 99, 103, 105, 244.

parson, 43, 112.

partner, 160.

parlor-car, 99.

parlour, 244.

parson, 43, 112.

partner, 160.

partridge, 155, 165.

paseo, 158.

pass, /n./, 95, 174.

passage, 300.

pass-degree, 105.

passenger-coach, 82.

past, 173.

pastor, 95, 112, 173.

pat, /a./, 307.

patent, 173, 176.

path, 58, 59, 95, 174.

Patrick, 273.

pa'tridge, 238.

pavement, 100, 110.

pawn-shop, 124

paw-paw, 40, 294.

pay, 196.

pay back, /vp./, 114.

pay-day, 99.

pay, dirt, 33, 81.

paying-guest, 97, 102, 124.

pay up, /vp./, 114.

P. C., 105.

P. D. Q., 23, 161.

pea, 77n.

Peabody, 274.

peach, 133, 310.

peacharino, 166.

peach-pit, 43.

peanut, 45, 99, 109.

peanut-politics, 109.

pearl, 114.

Pearse, 273.

peart, 79.

peas, 77n, 244.

pease, 244, 245.

Pebaudière, 274.

ped, 198.

pedagog, 262.

peep, /v./, 202.

peeve, 142.

peewee, 43.

pemmican, 40.

pen, /n./, 160.

pence, 139.

Pence, 275.

penitentiary, 160.

pennant-winner, 111.

penny, 33, 138.

penny-ante, 138.

penny-arcade, 138.

penny-bill, 47.

penny-in-the-slot, 138.

pennyr'yal, 109.

penny-whistle, 138.

Pentz, 275.

peon, 87.

peonage, 87.

pep, 160.

peptomint, 165.

per, 154.

perambulator, 139.

per day, diem, dozen, hundred, mile, your letter, 154.

Perdix perdix, 53.

permanent-way, 83, 100, 106.

persimmon, 33, 40, 109.

pesky, 79.

peter out, /vp./, 78.

Petit, 274.

petrol, 98.

Petrssylf, 224.

Pfau, 273.

Pfund, 277.

phantom, 250.

phial, 245.

phlegm-cutter, 85.

Phoenix park, 273.

phone, /n./, 142, 160; /v./, 103, 142, 202.

phoney, 142.

phonograph, 165.

physick, 250, 254.

P. I., 127.

pianist, 170.

piano, 173.

pianola, 165.

Piarais, 273.

pica, 114.

picayune, 79, 86, 105.

pickaninny, 43, 318.

picket, 244.

picture, 155.

picturize, 164.

pie, 52, 53, 100.

pie-counter, 83.

piffled, 85.

pifflicated, 85.

pigeon, 41.

Pigeon English, 41.

piggery, 99.

pigmy, 244, 260.

pike, 160.

piker, 156.

Pikler, 280.

pillar-box, 99, 103.

pimp, 127.

pine-knot, 46.

pin-head, 129, 142.

pinocle, 88.

pint, /n./, 105.

pipe-of-peace, 41.

piquet, 244.

pisen, 236.

pismire, 126.

pissoir, 127n.

pit, 43.

pitcher, 100, 238.

pitch-pine, 45.

placate, 49, 136.

place, 300.

placer, 87.

plaguy, 31.

plain, /n./, 29, 41.

plaintiff, 254.

plank, 83.

plank down, /vp./, 78.

plant, 59.

planted to corn, 115.

Plant Moon, 42n.

plate, 100.

platform, 83, 84.

play ball, /vp./, 111.

played out, /a./, 79.

play for a sucker, /vp./, 142.

play possum, /vp./, 79.

plaza, 86, 240, 300.

plead, 196.

pled, 196, 199.

plough, 27, 82, 98, 244, 250, 248, 260, 261.

plow, 244, 246, 250, 252, 258.

plug along, /vp./, 319.

plumb, /adv./, 79.

plump, /adv./, 79.

plunder, 31, 33.

plunder-bund, 152.

pluralist, 112.

plute, 160.

Plymouth Brethren, 113.

poche, 94.

pocher, 94.

pochgen, 94.

pochger, 94.

pocket, 155.

pocket-book, 110.

podgy, 244, 246.

podlogé, 156.

Poe, 273.

Poh, 273.

point, /n./, 114.

point-of-view, 90.

points, 83, 101.

poique, 158n.

pois, 77n.

poke, /n./, 94.

poker, 94.

pokerish, 94.

poke-weed, 45.

pokker, 94.

polack, 279.

poncho, 86.

pond, 46, 51.

pone, 33, 41.

pontiff, 254.

pony, 85.

pony up, /vp./, 111, 164.

poor-house, 100, 105.

pop, /n./, 160.

pop-concert, 160.

pop-corn, 18, 46.

poppycock, 81.

popular concert, 160.

populist, 160.

porgy, 40.

pork, 163.

pork-barrel, 83, 107, 142, 152, 312.

pork-feet, 19n.

porpess, 250, 252.

porpoise, 250, 252.

porque, 158, 158n.

porridge, 47, 99, 105, 106.

portage, 43, 86, 296.

portière, 264.

Port Tobacco, 287.

Portugee, 229.

possum, 160.

post, /n./, 103, 139.

postal-card, 103.

postal-order, 103.

post-card, 103.

posterior, 248n.

post-free, 100, 103.

postillion, 260.

postman, 19n, 99.

postpaid, 100, 103.

postum, 165.

potato-bug, 45.

poteen, 90.

Poteet, 274.

Potomac, 287.

pot-pie, 53, 100.

pound, 139.

Pound, 277.

Powell, 283.

powerful, 31.

pow-wow, 41.

prairie, 40, 43, 86, 294.

prairie-schooner, 81.

Praise-God, 284.

pram, 97.

p'raps, 239.

prebendary, 113.

precinct, 83.

preelood, 240.

preferred, 171.

prelude, 240.

premeer, 240.

première, 240.

premiss, 260.

preparatory-school, 160.

prepaid, 100, 103.

prep-school, 104, 160.

presentation, 112.

president, 104, 119.

presidential, 30, 50, 51, 136.

prespiration, 238.

press, /n./, 100.

pressman, 99, 108.

pretence, 244.

pretense, 244.

pretty, 175.

pretzel, 88.

prickly-heat, 46.

primarily, 170.

primary, /n./, 83, 84.

primate, 112.

prime minister, 122.

primero, 94.

Prince Albert, 14.

principal, /n./, 104.

private-detective, 110.

private-enquiry-agent, 110.

prob'ly, 238.

procurer, 127.

professor, 33, 117, 118.

program(me), 100, 171, 244, 245, 260, 262, 263.

progress, /v./, 48, 51.

prolog, 262.

promenade, 98.

proof-reader, 100.

propaganda, 33.

proper, /adv./, 227.

property, 155.

proposition, 116.

prosit, 89, 89n.

prostitute, 127.

protectograph, 165.

protégé, 240, 264.

Protestant Episcopal, 113.

prove, 196.

proved, 196.

proven, 196.

provost, 104.

pub, 105, 139.

public-comfort-station, 127.

public-company, 106.

public-house, 100, 105, 124.

public-school, 100, 104.

public-servant, 27, 99, 105.

publishment, 31, 77.

pudding, 88n.

pudgy, 244, 246.

puerile, 174.

pull up stakes, /vp./, 78.

pull wool over his eyes, /vp./, 78.

pumpernickel, 88.

pumpkin, 172.

pung, 48.

pungy, 47, 48, 111.

punster, 90n.

punt, /n./, 111.

Purgatoire, 292.

purse, 110.

push, /n./, 319.

pushed, 201.

pusht, 201.

put, 164, 196.

put a bug in his ear, /vp./, 78.

put it down, /vp./, 103.

put over, /vp./, 164.

pygmy, 244, 247.

pyjamas, 244, 252, 258, 259, 260.

Q-room, 264.

quadroon, 43.

quaff, 95.

quahaug, 30, 42.

quandary, 306.

quan'ity, 238.

quarantine-flag, 125.

quarter-day, 114.

quartette, 260.

quate, 236.

quaver, 113.

questionize, 77.

queue, 106.

quick, /adv./, 227.

quit, 196.

quite, 114, 116, 117.

quitter, 14.

quoit, 236.

quotation-marks, 100.

r, /letter/, 60.

r-/sound/, 61.

rabbit, 54.

Rabinovitch, 280.

raccoon, 40, 134n, 160.

racing-dope, 94.

radish, 237.

ragamuffin, 56.

rail, 82.

railroad, /n./, 100; /v./, 83.

railroad-man, 83, 100.

rails, 100.

railway, 100.

railway-guard, 118.

railway-man, 135.

railway-rug, 83.

railway-servant, 100.

railway-sub-office, 83.

Rain-in-the-Face, 86.

raise, /n./, 33, 156; /v./, 196.

raised, 196.

rake-off, 10.

Ralph, 286.

ram, 126.

rambunctious, 81, 82, 166.

ran, 196, 205.

ranch, /n./, 86; /v./, 87.

ranchero, 30.

ranchman, 87.

rancho, 30.

rancor, 244.

rancour, 244.

rang, 196.

range, 81.

rapides, 46n.

rapids, 40, 46, 86.

rare, /a./, 100, 104; /v./, 237.

rate-payer, 101, 105.

rates, 101.

rathskeller, 88, 240.

rational, 173.

rattler, 160.

rattlesnake, 160.

rattling, 116n.

Raymond, 283.

razor, 155.

razor-back, 45.

razor-strop, 237n.

re, /suf./, 252, 253, 256, 257, 259, 261.

read, 105, 196.

read for holy orders, /vp./, 112.

ready-made, 124.

ready-tailored, 124.

ready-to-wear, 124.

real-estate agent, 18.

really, 228.

realm, 251.

rear, /v./, 237.

recall, /n./, 107.

receipts, 100.

recent, /adv./, 228.

reckon, 31.

reco'nize, 238.

rd, /suf./, 201.

reddish, 237.

red-eye, 85.

Red Indian, 99.

red-light-district, 127.

reed-bird, 45.

reel-of-cotton, 103.

reflexion, 260.

refresher, 108.

régime, 264.

regular, /adv./, 227; /n./, 83.

regularity, 84.

Reichman, 280.

Reiger, 274.

Reindollar, 277.

reit-evé, 155.

releasement, 31, 77.

reliable, 28, 28n, 51, 133.

relm, 251.

reminisce, /v./, 142.

remnant, 155.

rench, 91, 196, 227.

renched, 196.

rent, /v./, 201.

rep, 160.

repeater, 83, 84, 107.

répertoire, 264.

reputation, 160.

requirement, 31.

requisite, 250, 251.

reserve, /v./, 106.

resinol, 165.

resolute, 77, 142.

restaurant, 124.

résumé, 265.

resurrect, 24, 77.

retainer, 108.

retiracy, 77.

return-ticket, 83, 100, 106.

Reuss, 275.

Rev., 122.

Rhine wine, 100, 104.

Richman, 280.

rickey, 85.

rid, 196.

ride, 196.

ridden, 196.

riffle, 46.

riff-raff, 56.

rigadon, 44.

right, /a./ and /adv./, 24, 148, 149.

right along, 148.

right away, 148, 149, 155.

right good, 148.

right honorable, 107, 118, 119, 120.

right now, 148.

right off, 148.

right often, 148.

right-of-way, 83.

right on time, 148.

right smart, 148.

right there, 148.

right-thinker, 302.

right well, 148.

rigmarole, 56.

rigor, 244.

rigorism, 247.

rigor mortis, 247.

rigour, 244.

Riker, 274.

rile, 143, 196, 236.

riled, 196.

rime, 258.

rind, 172.

ring, 196.

ring me up, /vp./, 103.

rinse, 91, 196n, 237.

ripping, 116n, 171.

rise, /v./, 107, 196.

rised, 198.

ritualism, 112.

river, 298.

riz, 196.

road, 300.

road-agent, 14, 14n.

road-bed, 100.

road-louse, 163.

road-mender, 100.

road-repairer, 100.

roast, 100.

roast-beef, 88n.

roasting-ear, 46.

Robbins, 280.

Robinia, pseudacacia, 45.

Robinson, 104, 278.

Rochefort, 240.

rock, /n./, 31, 33, 52, 53, 53n.

Rockaway, 287.

rock-pile, 53.

rode, 196, 198, 205, 206.

Rogers, 280.

Rogowsky, 280.

roil, 142, 196n.

rôle, 264.

roll-call, 100.

roller-coaster, 77.

rolling-country, 46.

Roman Catholic, 113.

romanza, 73.

room, /v./, 49.

roorback, 83, 84.

rooster, 19n, 100, 126.

rooter, 111.

rope in, /vp./, 78.

rose, /v./, 196.

Rose, 280.

Rosecrans, 274.

Rosenau, 276, 280.

Rosen-baum, -berg, -blatt, -blum, -busch, -feldt, -heim, -stein, -thal,

Rosenkrantz, 274.

Roth, 276.

Rotten row, 41.

rotter, 129.

rouge, 291.

rough, /a./, 261; /adv./, 146.

rough-house, 23.

rough-neck, 81, 81n.

roundsman, 105.

round-trip, 82.

round-trip-ticket, 100, 106.

round-up, 81.

rous mit 'im, 89.

roustabout, 80.

route de roi, 41.

row, /n./, 109.

rowdy, 81, 310.

Roy, 283.

Royce, 275.

R. S. O., 83.

rubber-neck, /n./, 10, 14, 23; /v./, 202.

rube, 14, 15.

Rubinowitz, 278.

ruby, 114.

ruby-nonpareil, 114.

ruf, 262.

Rugby, 111.

rugger, 111.

rum-dumb, 89.

rumor, 244.

rumour, 244.

run, /n./, 46, 82, 108; /v./, 84, 107, 196.

rung, 196.

run-in, /n./, 164.

run into the ground, /vp./, 98.

run slow, 146.

Russian, 279n.

rutabaga, 100, 109.

Ruven, 284.

ruz, 198.

Ryan, 271.

Sabbaday, 160.

sabe, 87.

sachem, 42, 42n.

sack, 33.

Sadd'y, 172, 238.

sagamore, 30.

said, 196.

Saint-Denis, 273.

St. John, 283.

St. Leger, 283.

St. Louis, 291.

St. Martin's summer, 99.

Saint-Maure, 273.

St. Nicholas, 43n.

sale, 155.

salesgirl, 121.

saleslady, 121, 156.

saleswoman, 100, 121.

Salmon, 280.

Salomon, 280.

saloon, 18, 85, 100.

saloon-carriage, 99.

saloon-keeper, 85.

saloon loafer, 139.

salt-lick, 46.

Salt river, 107.

saltwater-taffy, 14.

samp, 42.

sample, 155.

sample-room, 85.

San Antonio, 292.

sanatoria, 265.

sandwich, 154.

sang, 196, 205.

sängerfest, 89, 151.

sank, 196.

Santa Klaus, 43, 43n.

sa's'parella, 238.

sashay, 239.

sassy, 236.

sat, 196, 202, 206.

satisfaction, 173.

sauce, 91.

sault, 291.

Sault Ste. Marie, 291.

saunter, 95.

sauerkraut, /see/ sour-kraut.

saurkraut, /see/ sour-kraut.

savagerous, 77.

Saviour, 245, 247.

savory, 244.

savoury, 244.

saw, /v./, 196, 205.

sawft, 175.

saw wood, /vp./, 49.

say, 196.

scab, 14, 133.

scalawag, 81, 82, 166.

scallywampus, 82n, 166.

scalp, /v./, 48.

scant, 57.

scarce, 228.

scarce as hen's teeth, 309.

scarcely, 228.

scarf-pin, 100.

scary, 24, 79.

scenarioize, 164.

sceptic, 245, 261.

sch-/sound/, 62.

schadchen, 151.

Schaefer, 277.

schedule, 176.

scheme, 62.

scherzo, 240.

Schlachtfeld, 280.

Schlegel, 276.

Schluter, 276.

Schmidt, 271.

schmierkäse, /see/ smearcase.

Schnäbele, 275.

Schneider, 271, 272, 276, 280.

schnitz, 89.

schnitzel, 88.

Schoen, 276.

Schön, 276.

Schönberg, 277.

scholar, 155.

school, 155.

schooner, 47, 85, 105.

Schrader, 275.

Schroeder, 275.

Schultz, 271.

Schumacher, 277.

schützenfest, 89.

Schwab, 275.

Schwartz, 277.

schweinefüsse, 19n.

schweizer, 88, 240.

Schwettendieck, 281.

scientist, 28, 28n, 131.

scimetar, 244.

scimitar, 244.

scoon, /v./, 47.

scooner, 47.

scoot, 78, 105.

scow, 40, 43, 100, 111.

scowegian, 279.

scrap, 81n, 134.

scrape, /n./, 81.

scrubb'n, 157.

scrumdifferous, 82n.

scrumptious, 81.

scullery, 106.

scullery-maid, 103.

sé, /pro./, 216n.

sea-board, 31.

sea-shore, 31.

seat, 126.

second-hand, 124.

second-wing, 126.

second-year man, 104.

secretary, 108, 170, 176.

section, 109.

see, 196.

seen, 189, 196, 198.

see the elephant, /vp./, 79.

seganku, 40.

segar, 264.

seidel, 89.

selectman, 30, 47.

self, 224.

sell, /v./, 196.

semi-breve, 113.

semi-brevis, 113.

semi-demi-semi-quaver, 113.

semi-minima, 113.

semi-occasional, 27, 81.

semi-quaver, 113.

send, 196, 201.

sende, 201.

senior, 104.

senior-prom, 105.

señor, 265.

señorita, 158.

sent, 196.

sente, 201.

seofan, 114.

septicaemia, 244.

septums, 265.

servant, 102, 124, 135.

serviette, 99.

set, /v./, 196, 202.

set-off, 31.

seven-and-forty, 114.

Seventh Day Adventist, 113.

sew, 250, 251.

Sewell, 274.

sewer, 100.

Seymour, 273.

sez, 196, 211.

'sGravenhage, 281.

shack, 14.

shaddock, 109.

shake, /v./, 196, 204.

shaken, 196, 199, 204.

shall, 143, 144, 191, 208, 210.

Shane, 276.

sha'n't, 210.

shanty, 86.

shareholder, 100, 106.

shares, 101, 106.

shave, 196.

shaved, 196.

Shawangunk, 297.

she, 212, 220.

shebang, 93.

shebeen, 93.

shed, /v./, 196, 200.

shell, 85.

shell-road, 46.

Shepherd, 277.

Sheppard, 277.

Sher, 280.

Sherman, 280.

sherry-cobbler, 84.

shevaleer, 251.

shew, 244, 246.

shillelah, 90.

shilling, 139.

shilling-shocker, 98.

shily, 260.

shin, /v./, 49.

shine, 196.

shined, 196.

shingle, /n./, 46; /v./, 48.

shirt, 126.

shirtso, 240.

shirt-waist, 100, 103.

shoat, 33.

shod, 203.

shoe, /n./, 19n, 52, 53, 100, 137; /v./, 196, 203.

shed, 196, 203.

shoeing, 203.

shoemaker, 100.

Shoemaker, 277.

shoe-string, 100.

shoe-tree, 100.

shoo-fly, 311.

shook, /v./, 196.

shoot, /v./, 196.

shooting, /n./, 99, 115.

shoot-the-chutes, 163.

shop, /n./, 52, 53, 105, 136, 138, 155; /v./, 138.

shop-assistant, 100.

shop-fittings, 101, 138.

shoplifter, 138.

shopper, 138.

shopping, 138.

shop-walker, 98, 124.

shop-worn, 138.

short and ugly word, 306.

shot, /v./, 196.

shot-gun, 80.

should, 60, 210.

should not ought, 210.

shouldn't, 210.

should of, 234.

should ought, 191, 210.

show, /n./, 155, 157; /v./, 164, 244, 246, 196.

show-down, 10, 164.

showed, 196.

show up, /vp./, 164.

shrub, 85.

shuck, /v./, 48, 196, 204.

shunt, 83, 101.

shut out, /vp./, 111.

shutup'n, 157.

shuyster, 90n.

shyster, 89, 89-90n.

si, /pro./, 216n.

siad, /pro./, 216n.

sick, 10, 56, 56n, 100, 125.

sick at the stomach, 125.

sick-bed,-flag,-leave,-list,-room, 125.

siddup, 172.

side-hill, 31.

side-stepper, 14.

side-swipe, /v./, 83.

side-track, /v./, 83.

sidewalk, 14, 47, 100, 110.

sideways, 229.

Sidney, 273, 283.

sierra, 87.

silk-stocking, /a./, 107.

silver, 100.

simp, 160.

simpleton, 160.

sing, 196, 317.

singan, 232.

singen, 317.

single-track mind, 83n.

Sing-Sing, 290.

sink, /v./, 196.

Sint Klaas, 43n.

Sioux, 291.

siphon, 244.

siren, 244, 257.

sit, 197, 202, 206.

sitten, 206.

sitting-room, 103.

skedaddle, 87.

skeer, 237.

skeerce, 237.

skeptic, 245, 246, 247.

skiddoo, 92.

skin, /n./, 85; /v./, 197.

skun, 197, 199.

skunk, 40, 134.

skunna, 48.

skus me, 239.

slack, /v./, 306.

slacker, 306, 310.

slâepan, 200.

slâepte, 200.

Slagel, 276.

slam the pill, /vp./, 311.

slang, /v./, 197.

slangwhanger, 31.

slate, 83, 103.

slavey, 103.

sled, 100.

sledge, 100.

sleep, /v./, 24, 197.

sleeper, 82, 98, 160.

sleep good, 149.

sleeping-car, 160.

sleeve, 155.

sleigh, 40, 100.

slep, 197, 200, 238.

slept, 201.

slick, 236.

slid, 197.

slide, 197.

slightly-used, 124.

slily, 260.

slim, 79.

sling, /n./, 84; /v./, 197.

slip, /n./, 50.

slipper, 52.

slit, /v./, 197, 203.

slitted, 197, 203.

sliver, 174.

slog, 245, 246.

s'long, 239.

slopped, 85.

slosh, 245, 246.

slow, /adv./, 227.

slug, 245, 246.

slumgullion, 81.

slung, 197.

slush, 245, 246.

slush-fund, 152.

Sluter, 276.

Smackover, 291.

small, 79.

small-pearl, 114.

small-pica, 114.

small-potatoes, 33, 81.

smart, 31.

smash, /n./, 85.

smearcase, 43, 265.

smell, /v./, 197.

smelt, 197.

smited, 198.

Smith, 271, 277, 281.

Smith-Barry, 282n.

smithereens, 90.

smoker, 160.

smoking-car, 160.

smote, 198.

Snabely, 275.

snake, 107.

snake-fence, 81.

Snavely, 275.

sneak, /v./, 197.

snew, 199.

snitz, 89.

Snively, 275.

snook, /v./, 49.

snoop, 49.

snoot, 237.

snooted, 85.

snout, 237.

Snow Moon, 42n.

snow-plow, 46.

snuck, 197.

Snyder, 272, 276.

S. O. B., 127.

sob-sister, 163.

social-disease, 127.

social-evil, 127.

soccer, 111.

sockdolager, 81.

sock-suspenders, 98, 104.

sodalicious, 166.

soe, 250, 251.

soft, /adv./, 226.

soft-drinks, 85, 100.

soi, /pro./, 225.

soirée, 264.

sold, 196.

soli, 266.

solicitor, 108.

solid, 50.

Solmson, 280.

Solomon, 280.

sombrero, 14, 86.

some, /a./ and /adv./, 149, 306.

some pumpkins, 33.

somewheres, 147.

son, /pro./, 225.

son-in-laws, 229.

Sontag, 277.

Soo, 291.

soot, 250.

sophomore, 47, 104.

soprani, 265.

sort'a, 234.

s. o. s., /v./, 164.

sot, /v./, 196n.

Soule, 274.

sound, /n./, 108.

sour, /n./, 85.

sour-kraut, 30, 44, 88, 152.

soused, 85.

sovereign, 252.

sow, 126.

space-rates, 108.

spaghetti, 151, 152.

spalpeen, 90.

span, /n./, 43; /v./, 197.

spanner, 99.

spat, 203.

speak-easy, 85.

speaking-tour, 107.

speciality, 264.

specialty, 264.

speck, 89.

sped, 203.

speed, /v./, 197, 202.

speeded, 197, 203.

speeder, 203.

speeding, 203.

speed-limit,-mania,-maniac, 203.

speedway, 299.

spell, /v./, 197.

spelling-bee, 47.

spelt, 197.

spera, 158.

spiel, 240.

spieler, 93.

spiggoty, 279.

spigot, 100.

spill, /v./, 197.

spilt, 197.

spin, /v./, 197.

spit, /v./, 197, 203.

splendiferous, 166.

splendor, 245.

splendour, 245.

splinter-bar, 101.

split a ticket, /vp./, 84.

split one's sides, /vp./, 92.

split-ticket, 84, 107.

splurge, /n./, 77.

spoil, 197.

spoilt, 197.

spondulix, 81.

spoof, 129.

spool-of-thread, 103.

sport, 88n.

sporting, 171.

sporting-house, 127.

sprang, 197.

spread, /v./, 202.

spread-eagle, 81.

spread one's self, /vp./, 78.

sprightly, 31.

spring, /v./, 197.

sprung, 197.

spry, 31.

spuke, 30.

squantersquash, 41.

square, 110.

square-head, 279.

square-meal, 81.

squash, 40, 100, 104, 160.

squat, /v./, 49, 51.

squatter, 31, 40.

squaw, 41, 134.

squaw-man, 86.

squealer, 156.

squinch, 237.

squirrel-whiskey, 85.

stack hay, /vp./, 48.

stag, /a./, 14, 14n.

stage, 31.

stage-coach, 31.

stag-party, 80.

staits-preussen, 155.

Staley, 275.

stallion, 155.

stalls, 99, 106.

stalwart, 83.

stamp, /v./, 95, 237.

stampede, 43.

stamping-ground, 47.

stanch, 245.

ständen, 155.

stand, /v./, 84, 107.

stand-patter, 163.

standpoint, 28, 28n, 51, 90, 136.

standpunkt, 90.

stang, 190, 197.

stank, 197.

Stanley, 283.

start off, /vp./, 164.

start-off, /n./, 164.

state-house, 47.

statutory-offense, 127.

staunch, 245, 260.

stave off, /vp./, 31.

stays, /n./, 98.

steal, 197.

steam-roller, 307, 312.

steady, /a./, 250, 251; /adv./, 227.

steddy, 251.

steep, 116.

Stehli, 275.

stein, /n./, 89; /suf./, 282.

Steiner, 277.

Steinway, 275.

stem-winder, 27, 100.

stenog, 160.

stent, 239.

stew, 174.

steward, 107.

stewed, 85.

stick, /n./, 85, 97, 110.

stiff, 116.

stile, 251.

sting, 197.

stink, 197.

stinkibus, 84.

stint, 239.

stock, 56, 106.

stock-holder, 100.

stocking-feet, 81.

stocks, 101.

stogie, 105.

Stolar, 280.

stole, 197, 205.

stomach, 125, 126.

stomp, /v./, 237.

stonden, 206.

stone, 31, 114.

stone-fence, 84.

Stoner, 277.

stone-wall, 85.

stoop, 30, 43, 156.

stop-over, /n./, 82.

stop over, /vp./, 83.

store, /n./, 52, 53, 138, 155.

store-clothes, 81.

store-fixtures, 101.

store-keeper, 124.

stores, 98, 99, 101, 102, 103.

storey, 103, 245, 257, 260.

story, 245, 257, 263.

straight, 85.

straight-ticket, 83, 107.

street, 155, 157, 299.

street-cleaner, 101, 105.

street-corner, 110.

street-railway, 101.

street-walker, 128.

stren'th, 238.

stricken out, /vp./, 108.

strike, /v./, 197.

strike it rich, /vp./, 78.

strike out, /vp./, 111.

string, /n./, 110.

strit-kar, 155.

strong-arm-squad, 105.

strop, 237n.

struck out, /vp./, 108.

stuck on, /vp./, 238.

Studebaker, 277.

student, 105.

study, /v./, 105.

study for the ministry, /vp./, 112.

study medicine, /vp./, 104.

stump, /v./, 24, 49, 135.

stumped, 44.

stumping-trip, 107.

stump-oratory, 135.

stunt, 133, 239.

stupor, 247.

Sturgeon Moon, 42n.

style, 251.

subaltern, 105.

subway, 101, 110.

succor, 245.

succotash, 30, 33, 41.

succour, 245.

sucker, 14, 133.

suffragan, 112.

sugar, 133.

suit-case, 106.

Sullivan, 271.

summon, /n./, 229.

sundae, 165.

Sunday, 277.

sunflower, 294.

sung, 196.

sunk, 196.

supawn, 42.

super, /pref./, 154, 230.

supergobosnoptious, 82n.

supergobsloptious, 166.

super-tax, 109.

Suplee, 276.

Suplée, 276.

Supplee, 276.

sure, /adv./, 34, 146, 227, 228.

surely, 228.

sure Mike, 157.

surgery, 108.

surtax, 109.

suspenders, 19n, 81, 101, 104, 259.

sut, 250.

swaller, 239.

swam, 197.

swamp, 109.

swang, 197.

swear, 197.

swear off, /vp./, 135.

sweater, 101.

sweep, /v./, 197.

sweepstakes, 88n.

sweet-corn, 109.

sweet-potato, 109.

sweets, 97, 103, 110.

swell, /v./, 197.

swelldoodle, 166.

swellellegous, 82n.

swep, 197, 200.

swim, /v./, 197.

swing, /v./, 197.

swingle-tree, 56.

switch, /n./, 82, 101; /v./, 83, 101.

switching-engine, 82.

switchman, 82.

switch-yard, 82.

swole, 197, 201.

swollen, 197.

Swope, 275.

sword, 60, 171.

swore, 197.

swum, 197.

swung, 197.

sycamore, 294.

syphilis, 127, 128.

syphon, 244.

syren, 244, 257.

t-/sound/, 96.

Taaffe, 272.

tabernacle, 112.

table, /v./, 48.

tablecloth, 155.

tactic, 229.

taffy, 245, 246.

Taft, 272.

tailor-made, 103.

take, 103, 197.

take a back seat, /vp./, 78.

taken, 197.

take in, /vp./, 103.

take on, /vp./, 31.

take orders, /vp./, 112.

take silk, /vp./, 108.

take to the woods, /vp./, 49.

takings, 100.

talented, 31, 133.

Taliaferro, 282.

talk-fest, 151.

talk through your hat, /vp./, 309.

tamale, 87.

tambour, 44.

tanked, 85.

tank-town, 83n.

tap, /n./, 100.

tapioca, 41.

tariff-reform, 107.

tarnal, 129.

tarnation, 129.

tart, /n./, 53, 100, 129.

tassel, 173.

tasteful, 146.

tasty, 24, 27, 146.

taught, 197.

tavern, 53.

taxed-paid, 142n.

taxes, 101.

taxi, /v./, 163.

tax-paid, 101.

tay, 91, 91n.

Taylor, 271, 272, 280.

T. B., 161.

tea, 91.

teach, 197, 203.

teacher, 155.

team, 52.

tear, /v./, 197.

tea-shop, 137.

Tecumseh, 285.

teetotaler, 81.

telegrapher, 170.

telephone, 160.

telescope, /v./, 83, 135.

tell, 197.

temporarily, 170.

tenant, 155, 156.

tender, /n./, 97.

tenderfoot, 81.

tenderloin, 101, 104, 163.

tenner, 156.

ten-pins, 101, 111.

tepee, 42.

terrapin, 40, 109.

Terre Haute, 291.

terrible, /adv./, 190.

tête, 306.

tête-à-tête, 264.

than, 223, 231.

Thanksgiving day, 114.

thank you kindly, 92.

that, 216, 217.

that'a way, 234.

that get's me, 142.

that'n, 216, 217.

that-one, 216.

that-there, 216, 217.

theater, 263.

theatre, 250, 259, 260.

the, 92, 123, 172.

thee, 219.

their, 212, 213, 214.

theirn, 212, 214.

theirs, 213, 214.

theirself, 224, 225.

theirselves, 224, 225.

them, 212, 216, 217, 219.

Themicoud, 272.

themselves, 225.

them-there, 216.

thence, 228.

there, 145, 228.

there's no two ways about it, /vp./, 31.

these, 216, 217.

these-here, 216, 217.

thesen, 216.

These States, 73.

they, 212, 213.

they is, 238.

thimble, 155.

thin, /pro./, 214.

thine, 214.

think, /n./, 197.

this, 216, 217.

this'a way, 234.

this-here, 216, 217.

thisn, 216, 238.

this-one, 216.

thither, 145, 228.

tho, 262, 263.

thoro, 262, 263.

thorofare, 262.

thoroly, 262, 263.

Thoroughgood, 273.

those, 216, 217.

thosen, 216.

those-there, 216, 217.

thou, 215.

thought, /v./, 197.

thread, 250, 251.

threat, 251.

thred, 251.

thret, 251.

three of a kind, 111.

three strikes and out, /vp./, 111.

threw, 197, 203.

thrive, 197.

throve, 197.

throw, 197.

throw a rock, /vp./, 53.

throwed, 197, 199, 203.

thru, 262, 263.

thruout, 262.

Thugut, 272.

thum, /n./, 251; /suf./, 154n.

thumb, 250, 251.

Thunichgut, 272.

thunk, 197n.

Thurgod, 273.

thy, 214.

ticket, 33.

ticket-agent, 82.

ticket-office, 83, 101.

ticket-scalper, 81, 82.

tickler, 81.

tie, /n./, 82, 99.

tie-pin, 100.

tight-wad, 162.

Tilia, 45.

tiles, 103.

tin, /n./, 97, 102, 103; /v./, 102.

tinker, 101.

tin-Lizzie, 142.

tinned-goods, 97.

tinner, 101.

tin-roof, 101.

tire, /n./, 245, 246, 257, 263.

tisch, 156.

toboggan, 41, 134.

Todenaker, 273.

toffy, 245, 246.

toil, 91n.

toilet(te), 127, 153, 154, 245.

tole, 197, 201, 238.

to let, 137.

tomahawk, /n./, 41, 318; /v./, 48.

tomato, 87, 173.

Tom and Jerry, 35.

Tombigbee, 30.

Tom Collins, 35.

Tommy-rot, 310.

tong, 93.

tongue, 250, 252, 262.

tonsorial-parlor, 124.

tony, 27, 81, 230.

took, 197.

tooken, 205.

Toothaker, 273.

topliner, 99, 106.

tore, 197.

torn, 197.

tornado, 87, 109.

tote, 31, 49.

tough, /a./, 319; /n./, 133.

tourist, 88n.

towards, 147, 148, 229.

towerman, 82.

town, /suf./, 296.

track, 101.

track-walker, 82.

tradesman, 124.

tradesmen's-entrance, 137.

traffic, 137.

trail, /n./, 46; /v./, 48.

train-boy, 82.

trained-nurse, 101.

trait, 172, 176.

tram, 105, 106.

tram-car, 101.

tramp, 133.

tramway, 101.

translatour, 248n.

transom, 101.

transpire, 134, 136.

trapee, 229.

trash, 56.

travel, 173.

traveler, 245, 250, 262.

Traveler's Moon, 42n.

traveller, 245, 262.

treacle, 10, 99, 106.

tread, /v./, 197, 200.

trewe, /adv./, 226.

trickster, 90n.

tripos, 105.

tripper, 83, 98.

triscuit, 165.

troble, 262.

trod, 200.

trolley-car, 101.

Trotterscliffe, 283.

trouble, 155, 262.

trousers, 110.

truck, 83, 101.

true, 174.

true-blue, 79.

trunk, 101, 106.

trust-buster, 143, 310.

trustification, 142.

trustify, 142.

tub, /v./, 137.

tube, 101, 110.

Tuesday, 174.

tumor, 245.

tumour, 245.

tune the old cow died of, 92.

tung, 250, 252, 262.

Tunicotto, 272.

tür, 156.

turbot, 109.

turkey-gobbler, 45.

turn, /v./, 164.

turn-down, /n./, 164.

turn down, /vp./, 164, 319.

turning, /n./, 110.

turnpike, 31, 160.

turnpike-road, 31.

turnverein, 89.

twelvemonth, 114.

{word missing?} 23, 161.

twice't, 238.

twine, 110.

2 o'clock, 127.

typewriter, 101, 103.

typhoid-fever, 101.

typist, 101, 103.

tyre, 245, 257, 260.

u-/sound/, 60, 96.

ü-/sound/, 174, 274.

ugly, 31.

Uhler, 276, 281.

Uhlyarik, 281.

uhrgucker, 90n.

umbrella, 239.

underbrush, 46.

undercut, 101, 104.

underdone, 100, 104.

underground, 101, 110.

underground-railroad, 83n.

underpinned, 50.

underpinning, 56.

undershirt, 101, 110, 259.

undertaker, 124.

under the weather, /vp./, 81, 109.

uneeda, 165.

union, 105.

unit, 47.

Universalist, 31.

university, 124.

unworthy, /adv./, 226.

up, 107.

up against, /vp./, 134.

uplift, /n./, 10, 113, 165.

up-line, 110.

up-state, 24, 109.

up-train, 110.

ur-/sound/, 158.

us, 220.

use, 155.

used, 124.

used to could, 31.

usen, 156.

usen't, 234.

usher, 104.

usually, 228.

vacationize, 164.

vag, 160.

valor, 245.

valour, 245.

vamose, 87.

vamp, /v./, 311.

van, 98.

Van Arsdale, 274.

Van de Veer, 274.

Vandiver, 274.

Van Huys, 274.

vanilla-r, 171.

Vannersdale, 274.

Vannice, 274.

Van Schaick, 282.

Van Siegel, 274.

Van Sickle, 274.

vapor, 245.

vapour, 245.

variate, 31.

variation, 31.

variety, 153.

vary, 31.

vase, 95, 240.

vaseline, 165, 166.

vaudeville, 153, 240.

vaudeville-theatre, 101, 153.

vegetable-marrow, 100, 104.

vegetables, 101.

Venable, 282.

Venables, 282.

Venables-Vernon, 282n.

venereal-disease, 127, 128.

veranda, 245.

verandah, 245.

verger, 112.

Versailles, 291.

vest, 101, 110, 156, 259.

vestry, 107.

vial, 245, 246.

vicar, 112.

vice, 245.

vice-chancellor, 104.

vice-diseases, 128.

victrola, 165.

victualler, 105.

viertel, 113.

vigilante, 87.

vigor, 245.

vigour, 245.

Viola tricolor, 45.

virgin, 128.

virtuosi, 265.

vise, 245.

vogelgesang, 277.

Voice-Like-Thunder, 86.

vois avez, 172.

voodoo, 44.

voting-paper, 107.

voyageur, 43.

w-/sound/, 60.

Wabash, 290.

waffle, 43.

wage-day, 99.

wagen, 90.

wages, 155.

waggon, 19n, 98, 245, 257.

Wagner, 276.

wagon, 19n, 90, 245, 250, 252, 257, 260, 261, 263.

wain, 47.

waist, 155.

waistcoat, 101, 110.

wake, /v./, 197.

walk, /n./, 155, 157, 300.

walk'd, 201n.

walk-out, /n./, 132.

walk out, /vp./, 115.

walk the hospitals, /vp./, 104.

walk the ties, /vp./, 83n.

walk-up apartment, 110.

Wall street, 139.

Wall-street-broker, 107.

wampum, 33, 42.

wampum-keeper, 42n.

wan, /v./, 197, 204.

wanderlust, 89.

wan't, 61.

want-ad, 160.

Ward, 271.

warden, 101.

ward, executive, 105.

ward-heeler, 107.

warehouse, 101.

Warfield, 280.

Warner, 275.

Wärner, 275.

war-paint, 41.

war-path, 41.

warphan, 166.

warphanage, 166.

Warwick, 297.

was, 193, 207, 209.

wash-hand-stand, 101.

wash'n, 157.

wash-rag, 101.

wash-stand, 18.

wasn't, 61.

waste-basket, 101.

waste-paper, basket, 101.

watch, /n./, 155.

watchké, 156.

water, /v./, 135.

water-closet, 127n.

water, pitcher, 18.

water-wagon, 23.

way-bill, 82.

Wayman, 275.

W. C., 127n.

we, 212.

weald, 46.

wear, /v./, 197.

Weaver, 277.

Weber, 227.

week-end, 105.

weep, 197.

weir, 47, 111.

Weisberg, 277.

Weiss, 273, 277.

well, /interjection/, 34.

wellest, 230.

well-fixed, 116.

well-heeled, 79.

Wellington, 97.

well-posted, 79.

Welsbach, 276.

Wemyss, 283.

went, 195, 205.

weop, 200.

wep, 197, 200, 238.

wepte, 200.

were, 209, 210.

weren't, 61.

Werner, 276.

Wesleyan, 99, 113.

west-bound, 110.

West End, 139.

wet, /v./, 197.

Weymann, 275.

whap, 31.

what, 218.

whatdyecallem, 310.

wheat-pit, 80.

when, 61.

whence, 228.

where, 61, 145, 228.

which, 217, 218.

which'n, 218.

whiet, 155.

whipple-tree, 101.

whisker, 156.

whiskey-and-soda, 85.

whiskey-daisy, 85.

White, 277.

Whitehill, 277.

Whiteneck, 273.

white-plush, 85.

white-slave, 127.

whitewash, /n./, 33; /v./, 49.

white-wings, 102.

whither, 145, 228.

whittle, 56.

who, 144, 145, 217, 218, 219.

whole-souled, 79.

whom, 144, 145, 179, 218, 219.

whortleberry, 45.

whose, 217, 218.

whosen, 217, 218.

wid, 226.

wide, 226.

wie geht's, 89.

wienerwurst, 88.

wife, 126.

wigwam, 33, 41, 42.

wild-cat, /a./, 81.

Wilkiewicz, 277.

will, /auxiliary/, 143, 144, 191, 208, 210.

Williams, 271.

willn't, 61.

Wilson, 277, 278.

Wilstach, 276.

wilt, 31, 56.

wimmen, 250, 251.

win, 197, 204, 211.

wind, /v./, 164, 197.

windfall, 33.

window, 155, 156, 157.

wind-up, /n./, 164.

wind up, /vp./, 164.

winned, 204.

wireless, /v./, 202.

wire-puller, 83.

Wirt, 274.

Wise, 273.

wiseheimer, 151.

wish, /v./, 197.

wisht, 197, 238.

witness-box, 101.

witness-stand, 101.

Wittnacht, 273.

wo, 250.

woe, 250.

wohnzimmer, 103n.

woke, 197, 205.

woken, 197.

wold, 46.

Wolf, 280.

Wolfsheimer, 280.

wolln't, 61.

woman, 126.

women, 250, 251.

women's-singles,-wear, 121.

won, 197, 204.

wonderful, /adv./, 226.

won't, 61.

wood-alcohol, 101.

woodchuck, 41.

Woodhouse, 277.

woolen, 245, 260.

woollen, 245, 261.

wop, 115, 279.

Worcester, 297.

Worcestershire, 297n.

wore, 197.

workhouse, 100, 105.

world, 158.

Worm Moon, 42n.

worse, 230.

worser, 230.

Wörth, 274.

wosterd, 239.

would, 60.

would'a, 190, 238.

would of, 34, 234.

wound, /v./, 197.

wrang, 197.

wrangler, 105.

wrassle, 237.

wrath, 59.

wrecking-crew, 82.

wrestle, 237.

wring, 197.

write, 197.

written, 197, 205.

wrote, 197, 205, 206.

wroten, 205.

wrung, 197.

Wyoming, 290.

y-/sound/, 60, 96.

y, /suf./, 228, 230.

yam, 109.

yank, /v./, 31, 77.

Yank, 160.

Yankee, 42, 160, 279n.

Yankel, 281, 284.

Yankelevitch, 281.

Yanker, 42.

yankie, 42.

yap, 115.

ye, 145, 219.

yeller, 239.

yellow-back, 134.

yellow-belly, 279.

yen, 93.

yes, 152, 179.

yes-indeedy, 92.

yestiddy, 238.

yodel, 89.

yok-a-mi, 93.

Yom Kippur, 114.

Yosel, 284.

you, 145, 212, 214, 215, 219.

you-all, 189, 215.

Young, 275.

young man, 115.

your, 212, 214.

youre, 213, 214.

youren, 214.

youres, 214.

yourn, 212, 214.

yours, 214.

yous, 212, 215.

yuh, 219.

Zacharias, 269.

Zeal, 251.

zeber, 252.

zebra, 252.

zed, 62.

zee, 62.

zeel, 251.

Zimmer, 269.

Zimmermann, 269, 277.

Zimmern, 269.

Zouchy, 269.

zowie, 310.

zubumt, 156.

zug, 116.

zwei, 89.

zwei bier, 89.

zwieback, 89.

General Index

Aasen, Ivar, 5.

Abbreviations, 23, 161.

/Actes de la Société Philologique de Paris/, 18n.

Adams, Franklin P., 144n.

Adams, John. 50.

Adams, John Quincy, 49.

Ade, George, 16, 191, 305.

Addison, Joseph, 201n.

Adjective, American, 24, 27, 30, 33, 44, 48, 50, 56, 57, 76, 80-83,
  230, 231.

Adverb, American, 24, 44, 76-80, 83, 146, 226-9.

Alford, Henry, 75, 76, 220, 312.

American Academy of Arts and Letters, 148.

American Dialect Society, 6, 7, 29, 235.

Americanism, definitions of; White's, 10; Lounsbury's, 10; Bartlett's,
  30; Fowler's, 30; Farmer's, 32; Clapin's, 33; Thornton's, 33.

/American Magazine/, 185n.

American Philological Association, 261.

/American Review of Reviews/, 157n.

Ames, Nathaniel, 47.

/Annual Review/, 38.

Archer, William, 12, 28.

/Archiv f. d. Studium d. neueren Sprachen/, 18.

Aristophanes, 181n.

Arnold, Matthew, 3.

Arthur, T. S., 126n.

/Athenaeum/, 255.

/Atlantic Educational Journal/, 180n.

/Atlantic Monthly/, 9, 60n, 149, 305.

Australian English, 310.

Authors' and Printers' Dictionary, 256, 258.

Babbitt, Eugene H., 140n, 315.

Bache, Richard M., 95n, 126, 129n, 144n.

Baltimore street names, 300.

/Baltimore Sun/, 265n, 273n, 276n.

Bancroft, Aaron, 38, 253.

Bancroft, George, 71.

Bankhead, John H., 143n.

Bardsley, Charles W., 284n, 285n.

Barentz, A. E., 18.

Barrère, Albert, 43, 94.

Barringer, G. A., 18.

Bartlett, John Russell, 10, 30, 34, 40, 44, 74, 87, 126.

Beach-la-Mar, 318.

Beecher, Henry Ward, 76.

Belknap, Jeremy, 39.

Bennett, Arnold, 13.

Beverley, Robert, 40, 45, 46.

Bierce, Ambrose, 305.

Bible, 56, 143, 198, 213, 226, 293, 307.

Billings, Josh, 190.

/Blackwood's/, 68.

Bonaparte, Prince, L.-L., 167.

Book of Common Prayer, 147.

Borland, Wm. P., 142n.

Bosson, O. E., 305.

Boston pronunciation, 58, 95, 173, 174.

Boucher, Jonathan, 38, 50, 160.

Boucicault, Dion, 93.

Boyd, E. A., 320n.

Boyd, Stephen G., 287n.

Brackebusch, W., 313, 314n.

Bradley, Henry, 209, 213n, 214, 257, 317.

Bremer, Otto, 5.

Bridges, Robert, 171n, 175, 237.

Bristed, Chas. A., 36, 75, 77n, 90, 116n, 133.

/British Critic/, 38, 50.

/British Review/, 68.

Brooks, John G., 68n, 126n.

Brooks, Van Wyck, 4, 140.

Browne, Edward E., 225.

Brownell, W. C., 26.

Brundage, Edward J., 233n.

Bryant, Wm. Cullen, 67, 71, 73, 253.

Bryant, Wm. Cullen, his /Index Expurgatorius/, 28n, 51, 123.

Buehler, H. G., 314n.

Burke, Edmund, 224.

Burnell, A. C., 41.

Burnett, John L., 78n.

Butler, Joseph, 226.

Buttmann, P. K., 170.

Cahan, Abraham, 157n, 281n, 284.

Cambridge Hist. of American Literature, 36, 45n, 55n, 68n.

Cambridge Hist. of English Literature, 12, 28n, 59n, 134, 171, 258,
  266, 301n, 308n.

Campbell, Philip P., 142n.

Canada, usage in, 120, 318.

Canning, Geo., 50.

Cannon, Uncle Joe, 119n.

Carlyle, Thomas, 135, 272n.

Carnegie, Andrew, 262.

Carpenter, W. H., 290n.

Cassell's Dictionary, 89n, 135, 136, 257.

Century Dictionary, 260.

/Century Magazine/, 28n, 123.

Chamberlain, Joseph, 131, 135.

Channing, Wm. Ellery, 39, 69, 72.

Charles II, 61.

Charters, W. W., 187-93, 203, 210, 211, 220, 223, 225, 227, 230, 231.

Chaucer, Geoffrey, 57, 95, 198, 214, 226, 233.

Chesterfield, Lord, 91n.

Chesterton, Cecil, 13, 15.

Chesterton, Gilbert K., 13.

/Chicago Daily News/, 28n.

/Chicago Record-Herald/, 311.

/Chicago Tribune/, 17.

Child, J. J., 6n.

Chinese loan-words, 93.

/Christian Disciple/, 76.

/Christian World/, 113n.

Christy, Robert, 303.

Churchill, William, 159n, 318n.

Clapin, Sylva, 33, 304n.

Clemens, S. L., /see/ Mark Twain.

Cleveland, Grover, 25.

Cobb, Lyman, 8, 11, 95, 248, 253, 254.

Coke, Edward, 215.

Combs, J. H., 58n.

Comstock Postal Act, 127.

/Congressional Globe/, 74, 285n.

/Congressional Record/, 78n, 80, 109n, 116, 119n, 122, 123n, 141, 149,
  162n, 164, 225, 233, 243n, 260n, 263n.

Connecticut Code of 1650, 52n.

Cooley, Alice W., 182n.

Coolidge, Grace, 263n.

Cooper, J. Fenimore, 26, 68, 69, 71.

Corssen, Wilhelm, 58.

Coulter, John Lee, 146n.

Coxe, A. Cleveland, 51, 132, 254.

Crane, Frank, 301.

Crane, W. W., 291, 298.

/Critical Review/, 38, 39n.

Crumb, D. S., 215n.

Daniels, Josephus, 119n.

Dano-Norwegian language, 2, 5n, 155.

Dardanelles Commission Report, 125n, 258.

Davis, Richard Harding, 230.

/Democratic Review/, 253.

Dennis, C. T., 319n.

Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft, 168.

/Dialect Notes/, 7, 58n, 82n, 90n, 140, 148, 151n, 154n, 155n, 158n,
  161n, 166n, 172n, 211n, 215n, 230n, 231n, 274n, 279n.

Dickens, Charles, 76, 133, 148.

Dickinson, G. Lowes, 25n.

Disraeli, Benj., 225.

Dodge, Mary Mapes, 42n.

Dreiser, Theodore, 80.

Drinking terms, 85.

Dryden, John, 91n.

Dunlap, Fayette, 274n.

Dutch loan-words, 43, 93.

Dwight, Timothy, 68.

Eastman, George, 166.

Ecclesiastical terms, 112.

/Eclectic Review/, 38, 39n.

/Edinburgh Review/, 38, 55n, 67n, 68.

/Editor and Publisher and Journalist/, 108n, 266n.

Egli, J. J., 286.

Elliott, John, 249.

Ellis, A. J., 167.

Ellis, Havelock, 280n.

Elwyn, Alfred L,., 31.

Ely, Richard T., 269n.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 71, 73.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12.

Etheredge, George, 219.

Everett, Edward, 68, 71.

Farmer, John S., 32, 34, 85, 86, 132, 161, 304n.

Faulkner, W. G., 14, 133.

Faust, A. B., 269n, 274n, 275n.

Financial terms, 106.

Fishberg, Maurice, 280n.

Fisher, Sydney George, 55n.

Flaten, Nils, 155n.

Fletcher, John, 219.

Flügel, Felix, 18.

/Foreign Quarterly/, 68, 76.

/Fortnightly Review/, 133.

/Forum/, 51n.

Fowler, H. W. and F. G., 12, 134, 136, 143, 147, 224, 233, 242n.

Fowler, Wm. C., 8, 30, 72, 74, 75, 77, 304.

Fox, Chas. James, 241.

Francis, Alexander, 25n.

Franklin, Benjamin, 1, 11, 37, 48, 50, 54, 55n, 59, 60, 64, 248, 250,

French Academy, 4, 5n.

French loan-words, 43, 44, 46n, 86, 153, 239, 240.

Friedenwald, Herbert, 266n.

Garrick, David, 60.

Geographic Board, 285n, 286, 292, 294, 295, 297n.

George III, 52.

George, W. L., 139.

Gerard, W. R., 42.

German loan-words, 43, 44, 88, 151.

Gifford, Wm., 36, 68, 69.

Gilbert, W. S., 77n.

Gladstone, W. E., 144.

Gordon, Wm., 132.

Gould, Edwin S., 51, 96, 123, 147, 253, 255.

Gower, John, 57.

Grandgent, 11, 59, 174.

Green, B. W., 282n.

Greene, Robert, 219.

Greenwood, Frederick, 233n.

Gregory, Augusta, 320.

Grimm, Jakob, 312.

Griswold, Rufus W., 72.

Hackett, Francis, 164n, 186.

Hagedorn, Herman, 155n.

Haldeman, S. S., 155n, 275n.

Haliburton, T. C., 76.

Hall, Basil, 7, 76.

Hall, Fitzedward, 9, 28.

Hall, Prescott F., 54, 87n.

Halliwell-Phillips, J. O., 56.

Hamilton, Alexander, 50, 63.

Hamlin, C. W., 142n.

Hancock, Elizabeth H., 61n.

Harberton, Viscount, 264n.

/Harper's Magazine/, 10, 17n.

Harrison, Frederic, 133.

Harrison, Henry, 275n.

Hart, Horace, 256, 257.

Harte, Bret, 26, 139, 303.

Harvey, Thomas W., 181.

Hastings, MacDonald, 176n.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 26, 55.

Hays, H. M., 155n.

Head, Edmund, 144n.

Healy, J. F., 20n, 310.

Heckwelder, J. G. E., 42.

Henley, W. E., 85, 86, 304n.

Herrig, Ludwig, 18.

Hildreth, Richard, 54n.

Hills, E. J., 231.

Hobson-Jobson, law of, 41, 43, 297n.

Holmes, O. W., 26, 173, 305, 310.

Hosic, J. F., 183.

Howells, Wm. Dean, 3, 17, 80, 141, 305.

Hume, David, 226.

Humphrey, S. K., 269n.

Hutchinson, Thos., 52.

Huxley, T. H., 119, 233.

Hyde, Douglas, 320.

Ibsen, Henrik, 177.

/Illinoiser Staats-Zeitung/, 18.

Indian loan-words, 40-42, 86.

Indiana, University of, 71.

Irish loan-words, 90-93, 227.

/Irish World/, 266n.

Irving, Washington, 68, 69, 71, 73, 84, 253.

Jackson, Andrew, 65.

Jacobs, Joseph, 185.

James, Henry, 61, 147, 171, 175.

Jefferson, Thomas, 1, 2, 47, 49, 50, 63, 64, 135, 248, 266, 303.

Jeffrey, Francis, 55n.

Jerome, J. K., 305, 310.

Jespersen, J. O. H., 167.

Jews, 94, 113, 151, 155-7, 280, 283.

Johnson, Samuel, 247, 251.

Johnson, Samuel, Jr., 249.

Jones, Daniel, 167n.

/Journal/ of the American Medical Association, 126n, 253, 265.

Jowett, Benjamin, 144.

Joyce, P. W., 91, 92, 112n, 144n, 198, 216n.

Kalm, Pehr, 55n.

Keijzer, M., 18.

Kennedy, John P., 71.

Ker, Edmund T., 287n.

Kerrick, William, 91n.

Kipling, Rudyard, 168n, 267, 298.

Kirby, Wm. F., 142n.

Kleiser, Grenville, 51n.

Knapp, S. L., 69, 70.

/Knickerbocker Magazine/, 48, 195n.

Knight, Sarah K, 111n.

Koehler, F., 18.

Koeppel, Emil, 18.

Krapp, Geo. P., 169, 218, 264n, 304, 309.

Kuhns, L. Oscar, 275n.

La Follette, R. M., 109n.

/Lancaster (Pa.) Journal/, 85n.

Lanenscheidt, F., 18.

Lanigan, George T., 192.

Lardner, Ring W., 34, 191-3, 203, 205, 207n, 210, 211, 220, 223, 225,
  227, 229, 231, 305.

Learned, M. D., 155n.

Leland, Chas. G., 43, 94.

L'Enfant, P.-E., 299.

Lessing, O. E., 155.

Lewis, Calvin L., 235n.

Lewis, Wyndham, 263n.

Lincoln, Abraham, 3.

/Literary Digest/, 15n, 263.

Lodge, Henry Cabot, 64, 69, 146n.

/London Court Journal/, 16.

/London Daily Mail/, 14.

/London Daily News/, 28.

/London Review/, 234.

/London Times/, 5n, 136, 144.

Long, Percy W., 161n.

Longfellow, H. W., 48.

Lossing, Benj., 26, 64.

Lounsbury, T. S., 6, 9, 29, 33, 39, 40, 59, 91n, 96, 145, 160n, 198n,
  202, 203, 206n, 217, 219, 220, 237n, 248n, 254, 261n, 304, 319n.

Low, Sidney, 13-14, 159.

Lowell, A. Lawrence, 107n.

Lowell, J. Russell, 26, 50, 57, 73, 255, 320.

Lyell, Chas., 49.

Lynch, Charles, 77n.

/McClure's Magazine/, 172n, 239n.

McKenna, L. B., 280.

Mackintosh, Duncan, 173n.

McLaughlin, W. A., 279n.

Mahoney, Chas., 85n.

Maitland, James, 304n.

Marcy, Wm. L., 71.

Marden, Orison Swett, 301, 302.

Mark Twain, 16, 26, 139, 263n, 303, 305.

Marlowe, Christopher, 219.

Marryat, Capt., 111n.

Marsh, Geo. P., 8, 11, 144.

Marshall, John, 21, 26, 38, 49, 169.

/Massachusetts Spy/, 53.

Mather, Increase, 46.

Matthews, Brander, 6, 162, 178, 179, 255, 259n, 265, 304, 306, 311.

Mearns, Hugh, 172n, 239n.

Meloney, W. B., 47n.

Menner, Robert J., 11, 60, 96n, 168n, 171.

Metoula Sprachführer, 18.

/Metropolitan Magazine/, 165.

Meyer, H. H. B., 102n.

Miller, Edith, 188n.

Milton, John, 48, 198, 224, 307.

/Modern Language Notes/, 8.

/Modern Philology/, 290n.

Molee, Elias, 19.

Montague, Harry, 85n.

Montaigne, 26.

/Monthly Review/, 38, 39n.

More, Thomas, 226.

Morfil, W. R., 73.

Morris, Gouverneur, 47, 49.

Morse, John T., 55n.

Mulhall, M. G., 313.

Murison, W., 28, 59n.

Murray, James A. H., 256, 257.

Musical terms, 113.

Myers, Gustavus, 84n.

Nashe, Thos., 48.

/Nation/, 59n, 174n.

National Council of Teachers of English, 11.

National Education Association, 262, 263.

Neal, John, 68.

Negative, double, 146, 231-34.

Negro loan-words, 44.

New English Dictionary, 57, 89, 256.

New International Encyclopaedia, 21, 110n, 122.

New Orleans street-names, 300.

/New Republic/, 164.

/New Witness/, 15.

/New York Evening Mail/, 164n.

/New York Evening Post/, 28n, 127, 148.

/New York Organ/, 126n.

/New York Sun/, 57n, 71n, 124n, 133n, 163.

/New York Times/, 130.

/New York Tribune/, 165, 254.

/New York World/, 20.

/New York World Almanac/, 122, 271n, 315n.

Nicholas I, 72n.

/Niles' Register/, 84.

Norris, Chas. G., 263n.

/North American Review/, 20n, 39, 40n, 50.

Norton, C. L., 83.

/Notes and Queries/, 88n.

Noun, /see/ Substantive.

Noyes, Alfred, 175n.

Oberndorf, C. P., 279n.

O'Brien, Seumas, 263n.

Oliphant, S. G., 273n, 276.

Overman, Lee S., 142.

Oxford Dictionary, 27, 28n, 43, 44, 53n, 89n, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136,
  149, 256, 258, 267n.

Pattee, F. L., 22n.

Patterson, M. R., 312n.

Paulding, J. K., 68, 74.

/Pedagogical Seminary/, 304n.

Penn, William, 41.

Pennsylvania Dutch, 155.

Pep, 128n.

/Phila. Public Ledger/, 128.

Philippines, American language in, 157.

Phillips, Wendell, 140.

Philological Society of England, 261.

Pickering, John, 8, 29, 39, 40, 48, 67, 79, 132n, 298.

Piers Plowman, 56.

Pigeon English, 41, 317.

Pinkney, Wm., 50.

Poe, Edgar Allan, 26, 72, 125n, 184.

Political terms, 83, 107.

Pope, Alexander, 91n.

Pory, John, 45.

Pound, Louise, 151n, 154n, 166n, 176n, 230n, 235.

Prince, J. D., 155n.

Printers' terms, 114.

Prior, Matthew, 219.

Pronoun, American, 212-225.

Pronunciation, 34, 58-62, 91, 94-6, 235-41.

/Psychoanalytic Review/, 279n.

/Public Health Reports/, 122n.

Purvey, John, 198, 213.

/Quarterly Review/, 36, 68.

Quiller-Couch, Arthur, 24, 162n.

Railroad terms, 82.

Ramos y Duarte, Felix, 87n.

Ramsay, David, 67.

Read, Richard P., 245n.

Read, Wm. A., 172n, 234.

Reed, A. Z., 71n.

Richardson, Samuel, 144, 225.

Robertson, D. M., 5n.

Robinson, Andrew, 47.

Roosevelt, Theo., 47n, 165, 262, 306.

Ruppenthal, J. C., 90n, 151.

Ruskin, John, 225.

Saintsbury, Geo., 301, 308.

/Saturday Evening Post/, 147, 191n.

/Saturday Review/, 137, 149n, 255.

Sayce, A. H., 12, 23, 29, 82, 166, 167n, 175, 198, 234, 261n, 320.

Schele de Vere, M., 6n, 32, 34, 43, 94, 136, 255, 256, 274, 291.

Schoenrich, Otto, 158n.

/School Review/, 176n.

Schuette, O. F., 307.

/Scribner's Magazine/, 15n.

Searle, Wm. G., 269n.

Sechrist, F. K., 304n.

Seeley, J. R., 54n.

Sewall, A., 53n.

Shakespeare, William, 55, 56, 57, 143, 198, 206, 215, 226, 233, 250,

Shaw, G. B., 130, 246n.

Sheridan, Thomas, 59.

Sherman, L. Y., 142, 146n.

Sherman, W. T., 285, 303.

Sherwin, Louis, 140.

Sherwood, General, 142, 143n.

Shonts, Theo. P., 137.

Sidney, Philip, 224.

Simplified Spelling Board, 262.

Skeat, W. W., 21n.

Slaughter, Gertrude, 308n.

Smith, E. D., 142n.

Smith, George J., 123n, 181.

Smith, John, 40.

Smith, L. P., 88n, 90, 143n, 147.

Smith, Sydney, 67, 68.

Snyder, Homer P., 116n, 142n.

Southey, Robert, 48, 68.

Spanish loan-words, 43, 44, 86.

/Spectator/, 136, 137, 201n, 226.

Spelling Reform Association, 261.

/Springfield Republican/, 128n.

Standard Dictionary, 53n, 88, 89n, 151, 170, 260.

Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 312.

Stephens, Leslie, 233.

Stephenson, J. C., 124n.

Sterling, John, 68.

Stevenson, R. L., 144, 233, 286.

Stone, Gumshoe Bill, 119n.

Substantive, American, 10, 14, 18, 23, 30, 33, 40-44, 45-48, 52-54,
  56, 73, 80, 81-94, 97-114, 124-130, 131-143, 229.

Sumner, W. G., 65n.

Sunday, Billy, 119n.

Sweet, Henry, 26n, 58, 144, 167, 186, 201, 213n, 217, 219, 220, 221,
  222, 223, 232.

Swift, Jonathan, 224.

Symonds, S., 46.

Synge, J. M., 320.

Taft, W. H., 20.

Tallichet, H., 148n.

Tammany Hall, 42n, 84.

Taylor, Bayard, 27, 71, 312.

Taylor, E. B., 304n.

Temple, William, 95.

Thackeray, W. M., 84.

Thoreau, H. D., 26.

Thornton, Richard H., 6n, 14n, 33, 34, 44, 46n, 49, 51, 55, 62, 74,
  78, 79, 81n, 82, 84, 85, 87, 88, 89, 94, 129, 148, 161, 177, 195n,

Ticknor, Geo., 71.

Tooke, J. H., 227.

Toro y Gisbert, M. de, 6n.

/Town Topics/, 89.

Trollope, Mrs., 126.

Trumbull, J. H., 132n.

Tucker, Gilbert M., 20, 40, 137.

Tupper, M. F., 301.

Verb, American, 24, 27, 30, 33, 44, 48, 49, 51, 56, 57, 76-80, 83, 93,
  94, 192-211.

Vizetelly, F. H., 91n, 95, 96, 170.

Walker, John, 59n, 96, 249.

Walsh, Robert, 68.

Ward, Artemus, 190.

Wardlaw, Patterson, 181n.

Ware, J. R., 77n, 82, 131, 136.

Warnock, Elise L., 82n.

Washington, George, 49, 63, 84.

Webster, Daniel, 74.

Webster, John, 219.

Webster, Noah, 1, 2, 6, 7, 11, 36, 39, 54, 59, 60, 62, 64, 70, 71, 76,
  94, 145, 236, 247-55, 256.

Webster, W. F., 182n.

Webster's Dictionary, 113n, 249, 260.

Weeks, John W., 142n.

Wells, H. G., 13.

Wendell, Barrett, 67n.

Wesley, John, 251.

/Westminster Gazette/, 13.

/Westminster Review/, 20n.

Whewell, Wm., 28.

White, Richard Grant, 4n, 6, 9, 27, 29, 33, 49, 51, 90, 96, 113n, 123,
  126n, 137, 144n, 167, 168, 181, 261n, 297.

Whitman, Walt, 73, 320.

Whitney, Wm. D., 304, 308.

Wicliff, John, 57, 213.

Wilcox, W. H., 180, 183.

Wilde, Oscar, 144.

Williams, Alexander, 163n.

Williams, R. O., 70, 71, 149, 249n.

Wilson, A. J., 106n.

Wilson, Woodrow, 25, 26, 141, 161.

Winthrop, John, 46, 247.

Witherspoon, John, 8, 37, 79, 160.

Witman, Elizabeth, 161n.

/World's Work/, 315n.

Worcester, Joseph E., 8, 95, 253, 254.

Worcester's Dictionary, 113, 254, 261.

Wordsworth, Wm., 68.

Wright, Almroth, 119, 135.

/Yale Review/, 148n, 178n.

Yeats, W. B., 144.

Yiddish, 155.

Yiddish loan-words, 94, 151.

Yule, Henry, 41.


Page 18: "Prof. F. Lanenscheidt" probably refers to "Prof. F.
Langenscheidt", but the original spelling has been retained because it
is repeated in an Index entry. Also, in "/Sprachen und Literaturen/ by
Prof. Felix Flügel,[21]", changed the footnote anchor to 31.

Page 20: quotation mark added to the end of "we have no dialects.".

Page 42, footnote 9: "/Beaver and Hunting/" changed to /Beaver/ and

Page 66, footnote 6, "Lewis and Clarke" changed to "Lewis and Clark"
(but recall that footnotes have been moved to the ends of chapters--so
this particular footnote now appears between pages 96 and 97.).

Page 92: "a-n-aice" on page 92 appears as "a-ñ-aice" in the index on
page 340.

Page 103, footnote 4: this footnote was printed on two lines, which
originally were printed incorrectly in reverse order. They have been

Page 108, footnote 9: the original phrase "/Cf./ Don't Shy at
/Journalist, the Editor and Publisher and Journalist/, June 27, 1914."
seemed to have the italics placed incorrectly. This phrase was changed
to "/Cf./ Don't Shy at Journalist, /The Editor and Publisher and
Journalist/, June 27, 1914".

Page 112, footnote 14: opening quotation mark added to "has so
ingrained itself".

Page 124, footnote 29: "universites" is misspelled, but it is not
entirely clear that this is a mistake.

Page 125, footnote 32: changed "Enlishman" to "Englishman".

Page 157, closing quotation mark added to "und gehn in /street/ für a

Page 163: "/shoot-the-chutes and grape-juice-diplomacy/" changed to
"/shoot-the-chutes/ and /grape-juice-diplomacy/".

Page 172: "/vois avez/" probably should be "/vous avez/", but has been
retained as the incorrect form appears also in the index.

Page 173, footnote 90: "Essai Raissoné dur la Grammaire" changed to
"Essai Raisonné sur la Grammaire".

Page 214: "they and thine" to "thy and thine".

Page 226: "(=wide)" to "(=/wide/)".

Page 251: "macheen" to "masheen". This change agrees with an entry in
the index, and fits the context better.

Page 278: "Karzeniowski" to "Korzeniowski", both here and in the
corresponding index entry on page 353.

Page 279, footnote 24: "flaggelation" to "flagellation".

Page 282: "/Drewry/, /Droit/," to "/Drewry/, /Droit/;".

Page 296: "discreet" would probably be considered incorrect now, but
this word is present in Webster's Unabridged Dictionaries published in
1913 and in 1828.

Page 297, footnote 44: "decisons" to "decisions".

Page 310: "you mean /cant/. No, I don't." changed to "you mean
/cant/."¶"No, I don't." (Two quotation marks, and a paragraph break

Page 315, footnote 22: "spokne" to "spoken".

Page 331: "Prounciation" to "Pronunciation".

Page 340: "anemia, 242, 262" to "anemia, 242, 263". Also, in
"anti-fogmatic, IR", "IR" to "84". Note that the "I" and "R" keys are
close to the "8" and "4" keys on a qwertyop keyboard.

Page 341: "Beaver Moon, 4wn" changed to "Beaver Moon, 42n". This is an
educated guess--but "Beaver and Hunting" is mentioned on page 42,
footnote 9, as one of the Indian months (moons?). Also note that the
"2" key is near the "w" key on a qwertyop keyboard, and there are six
instances of this or similar (probable) mistake in the index--see
below and just above.

Page 347: "discipine, 251" to "discipline, 251".

Page 348: "encylopaedia, 243" to "encyclopaedia, 243". Also "eychre"
to "euchre".

Page 353: "Johanssen" to "Johannsen", to agree with the corresponding
reference on page 275. Also "keylesswatch" to "keyless-watch" to agree
with its page references.

Page 354: in "lot, 31, 51, 52, 5wn", "5wn" to "52n", referencing
footnote 28 anchored on page 52, which discusses "lott".

Page 355: "mass, OR" to "mass, 94", consistent with the logic of the
qwertyop keyboard, see above.

Page 360: "ruby-nonpariel" to "ruby-nonpareil". Also, "saloon-loafer"
to "saloon loafer".

Page 365: "twelvemonth, 114.¶23, 161." to "twelvemonth, 114.¶{word
missing?} 23, 161.", to indicate a possible missing reference word.
Also, the entry "Traveler's Moon, 4wn" is changed to "Traveler's Moon,
42n", referring to footnote 9 on page 42.

Page 366: "Wilkewicz" to "Wilkiewicz".

Page 369: "Buckler, H. G., 314n" to "Buehler, H. G., 314n". This
refers to footnote 20 of Chapter IX. Also, "Gessellschaft" to

Page 371: "Longfellow, H. W., RI" to "Longfellow, H. W., 48",
consistent with the logic of the qwertyop keyboard, see above.

Page 374: for entry Wilson, Woodrow, "1161" to "161". Also, for
entry Taylor, Bayard, "372" to "312".

A few spelling mistakes have been fixed without remark here.

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