Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 10 14:37:02 UTC 2006

At 8:09 AM -0400 4/10/06, Landau, James wrote:
>...During this time the
>>waltz was virtually unknown to the peasant dancers. The Arkansas
>Traveler is also known
>>as The Essence of Old Virginia.
>It is strange to see US rural people referred to as "peasants".
>The term "peasant" generally refers to a hereditary caste of rural small
>farmers in Europe.  There is no such caste in the US, the closest thing
>being "sharecroppers", who were a post-Civil War development, being rare
>to nonexistent around 1860 (MWCD10 gives the surprisingly late date of
>1923 for "sharecropper").
Interesting.  The oddity of "peasants in the Connecticut River
valley" or "Arkansas peasants" is reminiscent of Bolinger's
observation that there's something peculiar about "a village in
Kansas" as opposed to "a village in
Burgundy/Saxony/Silesia/Lancaster/...".  Not totally impossible, but
a bit odd.  (Of course we have "Greenwich Village" or "Stonington
Village", or "(go into) the village" (for '(into) town'), but how
often do we have "a village" as such in North America?  Maybe we
don't have peasants because we don't have villages...


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