[Ads-l] an early "high fluting" (1838)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Jul 18 21:38:16 UTC 2015


On 7/18/2015 4:48 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: an early "high fluting" (1838)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
>> On Jul 18, 2015, at 3:19 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>> =20
>> On Sat, Jul 18, 2015 at 8:53 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> =
> wrote:
>> =20
>>> about Polly and me
>> =20
>> =20
>> Shouldn't that be, "about Polly and I"? :-(
>> =20
>> On a serious tip, is there any reason to assume that "fluting" is the
>> original form, as well as the oldest? Or are there still not enough =
> data
>> for anyone to make an assertion?
>> =20
> The OED has an interesting tale to tell (note the 1836 cite).  =
> (<"high-saluting"?  <Yiddish?  talk about speculative!)
>
> LH
> =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
>
> highfalutin, adj.
> Etymology:  Origin uncertain; perhaps (i) < high adv. + a second element =
> perhaps representing a variant pronunciation (with epenthetic vowel) of =
> fluting adj. (perhaps with reference to the sound of affected speech, =
> although see also note below),
> or perhaps (ii) an arbitrary alteration of high-flying adj. (compare =
> high-flying adj. 2) or high-flown adj., perhaps influenced by flight v.
> The first possibility listed above is supported by the following =
> slightly earlier example, in which high feluting apparently occurs as an =
> alteration of high fluting with literal reference to the high sounds =
> produced by a flute player; familiarity with the context in this song =
> may have prompted wider use in the meaning =E2=80=98pretentious, =
> affected=E2=80=99:
> 1836   U.S. Songster 216,   I play upon de cymbal an I makes de handsome =
> sound, I's a high feluting nigger dat dey calls Jim Brown.
> Other suggestions include influence from U.S. English =E2=80=A0high-saluti=
> ng performing the regulation military salute precisely, apparently used =
> (in military slang) in a derogatory manner to refer to men who were =
> perceived to be trying to ingratiate themselves with officers (early =
> 19th cent.; compare Comments on Etymol. (1987) 14 xiii.=E2=80=93xiv. =
> 2-6), but the connection seems tenuous. Suggestions involving words from =
> other languages pose formal and semantic problems; a putative Yiddish =
> etymon has not been traced.
--

My own notion is that the "f[a]lutin[g]" was maybe originally something 
like "fluding" (= "flooding") (or perhaps "fluden", hypothetical 
nonstandard participle of "flude", = "flooded"). "Flude" (n., v.) 
appears in the Scots dictionary.

"High-falutin[g]" has [near-]synonyms such as "high-flown", 
"high-flowing", "turgid".

Note that "flown" is not only a participle of "fly" but also a 
[nonstandard, I guess] participle of "flow" (one can search G-books for 
-- e.g. -- <<river has flown>>).

-- Doug Wilson

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