Immagini della pagina


tif,” French métif, or métis, a half-breed “ Santa Claus " is a Dutchman of unimIndian; "octarvon," French octaron, peachable nationality, and his name one who has one eighth African blood; “should be properly spelled ” Santa and “ quadroon,” French quarteron, one Klaas, the Dutch abbreviation of Saint who is one fourth negro.

Nicholas. The Dutch element in our language One of the most commonly-used was generated in New York and its words in America is “hunkey,” and it vicinity ; but as the great metropolis also can claim a lineal descent from the exerts such a vast influence on the Batavi. It may be traced to the Dutch whole nation, it is not strange that word honk, meaning place, post, or many terms, once only Gothamite by- home. The incipient manhood of New words, now occupy prominent places in Amsterdam used this word in its plays, the colloquial system of the whole coun- saying of one who had reached “base," try. Such has been the case with a that he was honk. Their American suclarge number of words of this class, cessors adopted it, as they did a numand many others, now comparatively ber of other words of similar characunknown outside of New York, will, in ter. But the particular pueris now all probability, soon be disseminated as under consideration was destined to thoroughly as those just mentioned. rise higher in the world of words. It

In comparing these American off- found its way into the slang dialect, shoots with their Dutch parent-stock, and through the medium of the daily the resemblance is particularly striking papers was widely disseminated. With when we remember that, in Dutch, aa the anomalous affix dory (probably is pronounced very much like au in coined by some euphoniously-inspired English ; oo like the o in bone ; oe like member of the genus “Miose ''), it dow 00 in food ; j like y; y like the y in holds a high position in the public cry; and sch like sk.

favor; so much so, that the unfortunate Conspicuous among these relics of little “Jap," whose acrobatic martyrNieur Nederlandts is “ boss,” the popu- doms were lately inflicted upon us, selar name for an overseer, master-work- lected it (if he bimself had any thing man, or superior of any kind. Taking to do with the matter) in conjunction its origin from the Dutch baas, it has with the lucid expression “olrite,” to become a favorite word among a large display his general knowledge of the class in all parts of the country. The American language. From the same verb “to boss” is equally common. Dutch root comes the word “hunker," “Stoup,” so much used in the Middle meaning, in political parlance, one who States in referring to the step or steps clings to the homestead, or to old prinin front of a house, is taken from the ciples. This word first came into genold Dutch word stoep, which had the eral use by being applied to those idensame meaning. The expression “to tified with the more conservative wing muss,” used in relation to clothes, &c., of the Democratic party, in opposicomes from the Dutch morsen, to soil or tion to the “Young Democracy," or disorder. “Overslaugh,” which is be- “ Barnburners." It is now applied to coming a popular phrase, particularly those members of any political organiamong politicians, is derived from over- zation who are opposed to innovation slaan, to skip over or omit. The geo- upon the established principles of the graphical term “kill" is the original party. Dutch name for a small stream or creek, Many names of favorite articles of as in Schuylkill, hidden creek; Vischkill food in the United States have a Dutch (modernized Fishkill), fish-creek; and origin. Among these are "cule-slaw," “ hook," as used in Sandy Hook, &c., from the Dutch kool-slaa, a contraction that veracious historian Diedrich Knick- of kool-ealade, cabbage-salad ; " smear

"should be properly case," from smeer-kaas, literally, “smearspelled hoek, (i. e., a point of land).” cheese,” in allusion to the practice of


erbocker says,

[ocr errors]

spreading out the curd of which it is us as Mr. Coleridge would seem to have made on a flat surface; "cookey," imagined, is very extensive in the West, Dutch koekje, a little cake; and “crul- and not uncommon in the South. Lexler," Dutch kruller, a curler; it being icographers have attributed this Amerithe New Amsterdam fashion, in making canism also to the Teutonic portion of them, to curl or twist them up at the the population, deriving it from plūnends.

dern, to carry off. The expressions The German words that have come "right” and “left bower," borrowed into use in this country are already very from the game of euchre, and used in a numerous, and, from the influence of great variety of senses, retain the sound the Germans now șesident here, and the of the German bauer, or bauerman, a stream of emigration constantly going peasant; and it is characteristic of modon, will certainly become much more ern Germany, that, in this game of to80. Indeed, it would be strange if such day, they bave given the peasant a place a vast and wide-spread foreign element, higher than that of the king. The mingling continually with the rest of 'word “bummer,” now applied to one the population, did not leave plain who may be described as a loafer on traces on the language.

the make,” has long been very popular The original nationality of most of in the large cities ; and if any thing these naturalized words (such, for in- was necessary to familiarize the rest of stance, as luger) is universally known. the country with its use, the notoriety There are some, however, with whose ex- it acquired during Sherman's campaign traction we are not so familiar. Among in Georgia would have been sufficient these is" Kriss-Kingle,” among chil- to do so. It was originally restricted dren only subordinate to Santa Claus in meaning to the description of peras a designation for that obese old per- sons who go about without any particsonage who, in their philosophy, stands ular aim, and make a practice of far beyond king or kaiser. This term "blowing," the acquisitive sense having is derived from Christ-kindlein (con- been obtained gradually. This primatracted, Christ-kindel) the child-Christ, ry signification is synonymous with that upon whom the Gernian children firmly of the common German term bummler, rely to adorn their Christmas-trees. which only differs from laufer by being The very expressive and extremely pop- generally bestowed in a more goodular epithet “ loafer” is derived from natured and less contemptuous way; laufer, meaning literally “a runner,” and it is extremely probable that “ bumand applied by the steady and phleg- mer" is the American form of this Teumatic Germans to people who are irreg- tunic word. ular and unsettled in their mode of life. About the words of Indian origin “Noodle," as a name for the dumplings less is generally known than of any in added to soup in districts where Ger- the language, almost all the real knowl. man cookery is popular, comes from the edge on the subject being confined to a German name nudel, properly “vermi- comparatively few. So much is this the celli." “Buck-beer," now a successful case, that dictionaries and encyclopærival of the traditional lager, takes its dias of good standing, in referring to name from the German bock-vier ; bock words of evident Indian extraction, being German for “goat," the identical either do not give their derivation at rampant animal whose effigy we see in all or assign them to some foreign beer-saloon windows. Shenk-beer' tongue. In view of the persevering (German schenk-bier, from schenken, to labors in the field of aboriginal philolpour out) was so called because this ogy of Gallatin, Duponceau, Rafinesque, mild beverage is put on draught soon Shea, and, above all, Schoolcraft, as after it is made. The use of the word well as the opportunities for research “plunder" in the sense of baggage, afforded by the publications of the Inthough by no meuns so general among dian missionaries, it seems strange that

information on this subject should be sum, like the raccoon, still preserves its so slightly diffused

ancient appellation, but with even less Of course, words of this class are change of form, the colonial authors principally names of things the Indians generally giving apassom as its Indian were accustomed to see; but in many name. “Hominy" is a contraction of cases the original word has acquired a the Powhatanic name for that article, variety of meanings by being applied which the early writers spell ustatahomto other objects.

iny. “Pone," the term invariably apA majority of these Indian words plied to maize-bread in the South, is a have been taken from the Algonquin contraction of the Powhatanic word for language, spoken (in dialects more or the same thing, which was apohn'. less similar) by the Indians of New “ Persimmon” is a corruption of the England, the Middle States, Maryland, aboriginal name in Virginia, which was Virginia, and eastern North Carolina; puchamin. The word "chinquapin ” is and by the Ojibway family, and other also passed over by the dictionaries Western tribes.

without any attempt to account for its No derivation of the word “hicko- origin. It is clearly a variation upon ry" is given in the dictionaries most the old Powhatanic name che-chincuaused in this country. This word, or its min, given in Strachey's “Vocabulary.” original form, was the name among the The last syllable of this word was a Indians of Virginia for a white liquor generic termination, cognate in meanmade by them from the kernels of hick- ing to the general sense of fruit, and ory-nuts and water; and when they saw applied to berries, grains, nuts, and the English of Jamestown use milk, fruit proper. The same terminal partithey gave it the same title. So says cle appears in the for Strachey, in his "Historie of Travaile maize, mondamin, “spirit-grain," with into Virginia," written in early colonial which all readers of “Hiawatha" are times, and published recently by the acquainted. - In the case of the word Hakluyt Society, from the manuscript "chinquapin,” the first letter of this in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. termination, m, has been changed into

As none of the Algonquin tribes (ex- the kindred labial p. “Suppaun,” the cept, it is suid, the Abenakis) used the term applied in the Middle States to letter r, and as the colonists, in adopt- hasty-pudding, or mush, is one of those ing Algonquin words, often substituted Indian words that have been ascribed that letter for n or 1, it is probable that to foreign languages. Joel Barlow, in hicconi would be a more correct spell- his “Ode to Hasty-Pudding," says, with ing. "Raccoon," the origin of which righteous indignation, , is also omitted in the dictionaries, is another Virginia-Algonquin word. The

On Hudson's banks, while men of Belgic spawn

Insult and eat thee by the name Suppaun. earliest writers on Virginia, including Captain Smith and Strachey, call the He evidently supposed the (to him) animal aroughcun, giving that as its In- objectionable word to have originated dian name; and from this its present among the Dutch colonists of New title is evidently derived. The names York; and such seems to be the imfor the raccoon in most of the Algon- pression of many who use it. It is, in quin dialects differ very slightly from reality, only a slight variation upon the the one which prevails among the Ojib- Lenapi (or Delaware) name asupahn'. ways—aisebun, “a shell it was ; " an The common name for the same article allusion to the old tradition that the in New England—“ samp"—is also a raccoon was transformed from a pecu- remnant of the Indian word used in liarly marked shell into an animal. The that section; and both words are clearPowhatanic name, the true pronuncia- ly traceable to the Algonquin adjective tion of which was probably anocoon', is sahpac, softened or thinned. “ Succoan exceptional dialectic one. The opos

tash was taken from the Nanahegan

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

set name měsiccuotash, meaning, literal- ruption of powau', the Masachuset name ly, “corn boiled whole," but applied to for a prophet, conjärer, or medicinea favorite dish composed of corn, beans, man,” called by the Ojibways wabeno and venison. The word “squash " (as and jossakeed. Wigwam " is a variaa name for that indigenous species of tion upon the Natic phrase weecuahm, cucurbita so well known in the United his house. Wampum is derived States) presents one of those anomalous from an imperfect pronunciation by the resemblances to synonymes in languages whites of the Masachuset adjective radically dissimilar with which the phi- wompe, white. Although now used to lologer occasionally meets. It is used describe the Indian shell-money genby Shakespeare in the sense of some- erally, the true generic name of which thing soft, unripe, or immature; as in was sewan in the Algonquin language, “Twelfth Night,” where Malvolio says it was really the name of the white, or of Viola, “not yet old enough for a inferior kind, said by the colonial chronman, nor young enough for a boy; as a iclers to be equivalent to silver; while squash is before 'tis a peascod.” In the the peac, or dark kind, was compared Natic or Masachuset dialect, asquash to gold. “Sachem” and “Sagamore,” (from which our word comes) meant, instead of having different meanings, as literally, just what Shakespeare express- has been alleged, are both variations es by squash-what is green, unripe, or upon sakemo, which was the name for a undeveloped and was applied to all chief in all the New England dialects. vegetables that were used while unripe, “ Tomahawk,” at present restricted in or without cooking. Another word of meaning to an Indian hatchet, is taken Algonquin origin which displays con- from tahmahagan, compounded from siderable resemblance to a purely Eng- otāmahā, to beat, and the terminal parlish synonyme, is the common term ticle egan, always used in the construcfor an Indian woman, generally spelt tion of verbal nouns; the name was "squaw.” In the New England dia- originally given by the Algonquin tribes lects the word was squah, or esquah; to their heavy war-clubs, as its literal while in the Ojibway and other branch meaning, “beating-thing," evidently imes of the languge it is quah, or equah; plies. “Porgy," "scup,” and “ scupand the Anglo-Saxon word cuéne (from paug," names for the Pagrus argyrops which have descended the widely sepa- in different sections of the Northern rated terms queen and quean) had pre- States, are all derived from mishescupcisely the same meaning. “Pappoose," paug, the plural of mishescuppe, largenow almost invariably used in speaking scaled, which was its name in the Naof Indian children, also exhibits à naheganset dialect. “ Tomcod,” a comstrong likeness to its English equiva- mon term for the frost-fish, is the modlent, “baby,” and the Welsh baban, ern form of the old Mobegan word from which our word comes. The New tahcaud, plenty-fish.

" Alewife" is a Engtand Algonquin word, which, ac- corruption of the Masachuset name for cording to Schoolcraft, was papois, the Clupea serrata, which Winthrop seems to have some radical affinity with says was aloof; but as neither l norf the verb “to laugh ;” and as the In- occur in the New England dialects, it dian children are the only portion of is probable that the original word was the race with whom laughing is not a ainoop. “ Skunk” is a contraction of very exceptional thing, it is a very ap- secāncu, by which name the animal was propriate title.

known among the Abenakis of Maine ; 6 Moccason was adopted from the Chicago"

” is merely the French Masachuset dialect, and seems to have orthography of the same word in the undergone no change in the process, kindred dialect of the Patawūtomes, although in the Kenisteno, and some the common pronunciation, Shecau'go, other offshoots of the Algonquin tongue, expressing the actual sound of the Init is mockisin. Pow-wow" is a cor- dian title exactly.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

" Moose

and “

is an

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Abenaki word adopted without any which they supply their pipes. This variation in form. Wapiti" is sup- preparation is made of the leaves of the posed by Mr. Bartlett to be an Iroquois sumac plant and red-willow bark, finely word. That well-informed writer seenis chopped or grated, and mixed with a to be mistaken in this instance, how certain proportion of tobacco. “Esquiever, as the Iroquois language is entire- maux ” has been frequently called a ly wanting in the labial letters; it being French word, and one theory makes it a proverbial saying among the Iroquois a contraction of “ Ceux qui miaules," tribes, that the whites and the Algon- "those who mero" (!). This derivation, quins "commence talking by shutting however, is evidently a manufactured their mouths,” In the Shosbonee dia

one; and the French spelling is, in relect, allied to those of the Utabs and ality, only due to the fact that we have Comanches, wāpit means yellow; as the received it through the medium of the yellowish or reddish hue of the wapiti Canadian voyageurs. It is the Galliis noticeable enough to gain for it cized form of the Kenisteno name for among hunters the nanies of “red the Innuits, as they call themselves ; deer” and “gray moose,” in contradis- this is, Ashkimai, an eater of raw meat; tinction to the black or common moose; and it is quite natural that the Indians and as the Shoshonee country is one of should apply to their northern neighits favorite habitats, it is not improba- bors a title referring to this practice, ble that wapiti has been taken from which to them seems a very strange one. that dialect. The peculiar Ainerican It is, of course, impossible to take, rodent called by naturalists Ondatra in a mere essay, any thing but a very zibethicus, has acquired also the names cursory view of this subject, and that of " muskrat” and · muscwash.” The is all that has been Lerein attempted. latter is its title in the Algonquin dia- The topic, however, is one in conneclects generally; and ondatra, the name tion with which there is much room for of the zoological genus of which it research, and no time could be more forms the only species, was its appella- appropriate for that purpose than the tion in the Huron dialect of the Iro- present. The sources from which all quois tongue. “Pemmican,” that con- substantial information on this subject centration of nutriment which is such must be obtained will become less acan absolute, necessity to travellers in cessible every year; and opportunities Arctic regions, takes its name from the for adding to the knowledge of this Kenisteno dialect. It is a combination kind we now possess may soon be irreof pemis, fat, and ecan, or egan, the sub- trievably lost. It seems very desirable, stantive inflection, and may be literally therefore, that philologers and scholars translated “fat-substance." “Kinni- generally in the United States should kinnic," or " killikinic,” now applied take advantage of the present time to to a peculiar kind of smoking-tobacco, give this branch of philological invesis the term among the Nacotas (or tigation the attention and study it deSioux) for the smoking-mixture with

[ocr errors]


• serves.

« IndietroContinua »