The Sanas Jazz, Jazz and Teas

Daniel Cassidy 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
ragged tune)

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 “
Scoop” Gleeson.

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
cites  above)

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.

Daniel Cassidy
Professor of Irish  Studies
The Irish Studies Program,
New College of California,
San  Francisco.
Jan. 27, 2005

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