Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 10 19:32:01 UTC 2006

On 4/10/06, Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OHIO.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Peasant?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Sagehen is right: Ohio has many villages, and it's not just a political
> designation but a common usage, at least in southern Ohio.
> On peasants:  My international grad students often talk about the
> "peasants" back home pejoratively, with the assumption that American
> farmers are of the same low status.  I always correct this (as a farmer's
> daughter from Minnesota) and point out that farming is an honorable
> occupation here.  "Farm workers" or "farm laborers," on the other hand, may
> have a less favorable connotation; but we still allow for the possibility
> of moving out of that status (or at least I hope we still do...).  And I
> agree that no Americans I know of would refer to "Arkansas peasants"; was
> the writer originally cited from Europe?
> Beverly Flanigan

When I was in the Army during the early '60's, I was stationed in
Germany. The indigenous personnel, or "indigenous human resources," as
we say nowadays, often attempted  to insult us Americans (or should I
say, "... insult _we_ Americans" ...?) by reviling us as "Bauer,"
sometimes translating that term into English as "farmer." Of course,
no American ever took serious offense. GI's understood that being
called a "Bauer" / "farmer" was not meant as a compliment, but beyond
that, no one cared, there being, as Beverly notes, nothing
dishonorable about being a farmer in the United States.

Occasionally, black GI's would freak over being referred to as
"Neger," since that word, as normally pronounced by German indigenous
human resources, bears, to the naive Black-American ear, an unsettling
resemblance to English "nigger." "Tense" WRT German long /e/ is almost
an understatement. Locals who made their living off black GI's -
though the Army and Germany itself were integrated, the troops weren't
and they socialized separately - went with English "colored."


> At 12:36 PM 4/10/2006, you wrote:
> > >>
> > >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
> >  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> >But we *do* have villages in the US.  Up here in northern NY, and  --for
> >all I know -- elsewhere in NY,  "village" is the official designation of
> >the smallest  jurisdictional unit, as opposed to "towns" which are what are
> >called "townships" in many other parts of the country.  This was also true
> >in Ohio.  Some, at least, of the north shore suburbs of Chicago were called
> >"villages" when I lived there just after WWII, but that may have been an
> >affectation.
> >Except for the occasional self-designation as being of "peasant stock,"
> >I've never known rural Americans to refer to themselves as "peasants."
> >A. Murie
> >~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^
> >~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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