Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 3 06:01:29 UTC 2008

Well, to tell it like it T-I-tis, they both seem fairly trivial to me.
I prefer Major. Either I already know the term because everybody knew
it or I think that he's wrong or the term, if it existed, was peculiar
to New York and I have no opinion.

In 1961, I still considered Saint Louis to be home, though I was also
spending a lot of time in Los Angeles and my physical body was in
then-West Germany. I'm speaking only as a random black Saint Louisan
who, for all practical purposes had never been east of the Mississippi
in 1961 and who had heard BE as spoken by visiting New Yorkers and
Philadelphians and had found those two varieties to be phonetically
way out, practically different languages. In a way, it's unfortunate
I've become so metropolitan :-) in my old age, since the peculiarities
of "foreign" dialects no longer leap out at me as they once did.
When I first came to Massachuetts in 1972, I was startled to hear
black Cantabrigians saying, e.g. [wi@] instead of [hwae@] for "where."

Anyhow, FWIW, I've always considered "far" as opposed to "way" out to
be white slang, though that means nothing, here, since, as long as
I've been self-aware, I've known of the existence of very
highly-regarded white jazz musicians and the mini-glossaries represent
jazz slang and not street slang. "Ig" is so old that, like
"okey-doke(y), I heard my mother using it when I was still a little
kid who'd never been outside of East Texas. "Wailing" should be
"whaling," (cf. the recorded-in-New-York-in-the-'Fifties album title,
Cool Whalin'.)
"Vines" v. "threads": as to which is older, I'd ask Jon Lighter,
though my *personal* impression is that "vines" is older. "Raising"
may be a clip of standard-Southern "raising sand." Or it may be
related to the Philadelphia-BE "Raise!" noted by Abrahams, though,
this, too, may go back to "raising sand." "Shucking" is likewise
clearly a clip of 'Fifties "shuckin' an' jivin'," popularized, if not
invented, by Saint Louis's own Jimmy McCracklin ("Jimmy Mack
Cracklin"). "Rollers" is so old that it may well date back to slavery.
"Vein" is probably peculiar to New York. It's new to me. Etc., etc.

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
                                              -Sam'l Clemens

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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