"effeminate speech", 1801
Cohen, Gerald Leonard
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri Jun 6 20:24:50 UTC 2003
George Thompson's item below is interesting. Barry Popik and I have done considerable research on the term "dude," which burst into popularity in 1883. The dudes of that era were young, brainless men of the upper class who affected British mannerisms in speech and dress. Or more specifically, they affected what they considered to be highly refined British mannerisms.
The cartoonists and other humrorists had a field day with the dudes. Typical speech mannerisms included "Strike me with a feather" and "Don't be wude" (spelling with w-: sic). I don't have my notes handy, but the list could be easily extended.
The speech of the dudes was often noticeably effeminate (this was part of what they considered high British style), although this mannerism should not be interpreted as indicating they were homosexual.
The dudes were also very thin. Judging by all the 1883ff. accounts, a fat person simply could not be a dude.
Goerge Thompson's item below shows that the dudes of the 1880s had at least one predecessor in the early 1800s--slothful/indolent--yes, spare build -- yes, effeminate speech -- yes; young -- yes (apprentice -- no; the dudes never worked, but then again, this fellow didn't seem to either; also, there's no mention of the fellow's clothing--the 1880s dudes all wore very tight-fitting trousers, pointed shoes, a high collar, etc.).
From: George Thompson [mailto:george.thompson at NYU.EDU]
Sent: Tue 6/3/2003 2:03 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: "effeminate speech", 1801
This is a titbit that may interest one or another of you folks:
ONE CENT REWARD. [for John M'Comb, "a slothful, indolent and ungrateful boy", apprentice to Joseph White, "Herald, Sign and Ornamental Painting", 258 William street near Pearl' he's "in his twentieth year, spare built, . . . very effeminate in speech. . . ."]
New-York Evening Post, January 4, 1811, p. 3, col. 4
George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.
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