Paul A Johnston, Jr. paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Mon Apr 10 17:43:27 UTC 2006

----- Original Message -----
From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Date: Monday, April 10, 2006 10:37 am
Subject: Re: Peasant?

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header ------------
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Peasant?
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> -----------
> 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 nonexiste
nt 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...
> Larry
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
> In New York State (and New England?), you do have villages, even legally.  My parents lived in the Village of Monroe, NY, the central town surrounded by the Town of Monroe (roughly equivalent
 to township elsewhere, except that both these entities are incorporated).  If I am not mistaken, in New England, the TOWNS are incorporated, the villages are not, though they are referred to as villages (unless they're cities).  As to being a peasant, well, I didn't live in a wattle-and-daub hut...

Paul Johnston

The American Dialect Society -

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