A Unique Scalawag Origin Story

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Mar 11 02:48:38 UTC 2013

On 3/10/2013 10:34 PM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
> -....
> On 3/10/2013 9:08 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: A Unique Scalawag Origin Story
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> My latest Boston Globe column tells of Nathaniel's "scalawag" discoveries: ....

Sorry, I hit the "send" button while reaching for something else.

What I meant to ask was:

Is "scalawag" then still thought most likely to be a Scotticism based on
"scurryvaig" or "scallag" (or maybe something else, say "Scalloway")? I
guess these were the candidates 10 years ago when I looked into it last.

Isn't New York state considered a place of concentration of Scottish
(and Ulster) immigrants way back when?

I have an alternative casual hypothesis which has been futilely(?)
awaiting support or refutation for 10 years, for which there is (AFAIK)
about as much evidence as there is for (say) "scurryvaig" etymology
(viz., about none). I thought maybe I had put it forth on this list but
I don't see it in the archive, and it's a little inchoate so probably I
was ashamed to show it, but I'm older now and more shameless, so I'll
see what I've got.

-- Doug Wilson

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

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