The Sanas Jazz, Jazz and Teas
DanCas1 at AOL.COM
Thu Jan 27 20:42:17 UTC 2005
The Pizzazz of Jazz: the Sanas (etymology) of Jazz (rough notes to a
The recent research of Gerald Cohen and others has uncovered that the word
"Jazz" suddenly starts to appear in the San Francisco Bulletin in March 1913
in a series of articles about baseball by Irish American reporter Edward “
Early examples of jazz have nothing to do with music but refer to an
intangible quality possessed by baseball players, what another writer in the S.F.
Bulletin, Ernest Hopkins, described in April that year as “life, vigor, energy,
effervescence of spirit, joy, pep, magnetism, verve, virility, ebulliency,
courage, happiness — oh, what’s the use? — Jazz. Nothing else can express it”
. (Online Etymological Notes)
Teas, m, (pron. jass or chass)
Heat, High spirits, Excitement, Ardor, Passion, Vigor, Fervor, Zeal,
Highest Temperature.(Dineen, pp. 1194-95; O'Donaill, pp. 1221-22, Dwelly, p. 994)
Teasaí, adj. (pron. jassy, chassy).
Hot, high spirited, exciting, ardent, passionate, vehement, fiery. (see
Jazz or Jass is the American English phonetic spelling and pronunciation of
the Irish and Gaelic word Teas, pronounced jass or chass. Its first published
sources in San Francisco are all Irish Americans, which should have given
someone a clue. But then modern Anglo-American linguists treat Irish Americans
and their culture and dialect as balbh (mute), despite the fact that through
the 1920s, more than half of Irish emigrants to the US were Irish-Speakers,
like my own Brooklyn Irish family. If it had been any other ethnic group,
someone might have at least cracked an Irish dictionary. But the rule of
scientific English etymology is that "there are no Irish words in the American or
English languages, not even in slang." This is the Iron Linguistic Law of faux
scientific English etymology.
But back to the teasai (pron. jassy) tale...
The San Francisco Irish American sports reporter Scoop Gleeson claimed he
heard the word jazz from fellow Irish American newspaperman, Spike Slattery,
while they were at the training camp of the local baseball team, the San
Francisco Seals. Slattery said he had heard it in a crap game. Art Hickman, an
unemployed local Irish American musician, was at the camp to make contacts among
the newsmen, but took on the job of organizing some entertainment. Among
these was a Rag (Raig, rush, on impulse, rapid, frivolous) Time band he created
from other out-of-work musicians, including a couple of banjo players. It
was this band that developed a new sound that was allegedly described for the
first time in the baseball training camp as "jazz." This name went with
Hickman to engagements in San Francisco and later to New York. (Online Etymological
Notes, ADS-L notes)
Raig, (also spelled Riodhg, dh = h) a sudden rush, a sudden impulse, a
strong and sudden impulse to do something reckless; rapid time; frivolity; fig. “
drifting, enjoying life.” (Dineen, pp. 873-74, O'Donaill, Dwelly)
Which is how you play Raig Time.
New Orleans Irish American "Papa Jack" Laine, the founder of the early
integrated Reliance Band in New Orleans, called his early version of ragtime music
Ragged music. It was the music that the brass bands broke into when they
left the cemetery after a funeral , letting loose with up-tempo, syncopated
songs as they strolled through the streets with the Second Line, acting the fool,
and cutting loose with the ragged hot syncopations of upbeat tunes.
Raigíocht (ch = h)
Strolling about, acting the tramp, straying. Like the march of the Second
But let's wander back like a bunch of happy tramps to the heat of teas
(pron. jass, chass.)
The words Jazz then seems to stroll and stray to Chicago, through the effort
of Irish American bandleader, Bert Kelly. In 1916 Jazz appeared there in a
different spelling in the name of the New Orleans Jass Band. Despite this band
’s name, according to this new research, the word still wasn’t known in New
Orleans until 1917, as early jazz musicians attested. It is said to have
arrived through the medium of a letter from Freddie Keppard in Chicago to the
cornet player Joe Oliver. Oliver showed the letter to protege Louis Armstrong
and the name soon became applied to the hot, passionate, high-spirited Teas
(pron. jass or chass) that was the New Orleans style that became dominant, and
which was later called hot jazz (teas, pron. jass, also means "heat,
hottest, highest temperature") to distinguish it from the Art Hickman sort of cool
The big question remains: where did those San Francisco Irish American
crapshooters of 1913 get their word from? Of course, given the Iron Rule of
Scientific English Etymology it can never ever be Irish or even Scots-Gaelic. The
Scientific Iron Rule decrees that even the millions of Irish American children
of Irish speakers do not retain even one word of Irish in their American
slang and speech.
Edward Gleason, the Irish American reporter, said that when they rolled the
dice the crap shooters would call out “Come on, the old jazz”. (Teas, pron.
Jass, high spirits, excitement) It looks as though they were using the word
as an incantation, a call to the gambling "gods of the odds" to smile on
Teas is jazz. The Iron Rule of Scientific English Etymology melts into a
puddle of malarkey (moll labharchta) in the teas (heat, high spirits, fervor,
excitement, high spirits, highest temperature) of the non-scientific, hot,
hybrid-Irish slang and speech of Irish America.
Jazz is made of Pizzazz
January 27, 2005, a NY Times headline reads “Publishing Sees Pizazz
Potential in New Awards.”
Pizzazz or pizazz means “ a piece of heat, ardor, passion, excitement."
Little sparkles and bits of jazz (teas, heat, excitement) It’s a small but
very jazzy word. Píosa theas (pron. peesa has)is the hot Irish source of
pizzazz and means “a piece of heat or excitement or passion.” It also melts the
scientific etymological English Iron Rule: No Irish In English.
When the Irish word Teas (pron. jass, or chass) is aspirated it shape shifts
in the mouth to theas (pron. has or hass.)
Píosa Theas, (pronounced Pees-hass, the "Th" is aspirated to "H" in speech.
A piece of heat, excitement, ardor, passion, vigor, high spirits, fervor,
zeal, and highest temperature. Its plural is piosai theas.
I was not going to include pizzazz in these very rough notes, because
English speakers are baffled by Irish aspiration. But pizzazz is such a jazzy
(teasai, pron. Jassy or chassy, “high spirited”) word I went with my aspirations,
instead. The Irish language after all adds Jazz, Pizzazz, and aspiration to
the American Language. Many thanks to the mighty research of Gerald Cohen
on ADS-L and other scholars. I look forward to any comments. I am using this
material for my non Iron-Rule non-scientific book project on the tongue of
the Irish poor of the English and American saol luim, the Gangs of NY, and
the Jazz Age. .
Peace and thanks to the members of ADS-L.
Professor of Irish Studies
The Irish Studies Program,
New College of California,
Jan. 27, 2005
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