[Ads-l] 'gig' = (non-show-business) engagement, 1952

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 25 22:21:09 UTC 2015


Consider 1908 in DAS, 2a.  Vaudeville context.

Second cite, "ca1953."

JL

On Sun, Oct 25, 2015 at 4:03 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: 'gig' = (non-show-business) engagement, 1952
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> From my "gig" files, another 1952 example of extended use:
>
> ---
> Baltimore Afro-American, Apr. 19, 1952, (Afro Magazine Section) p. 9, col.
> 2
> "Mainstream" by Ralph Matthews, Jr.
> I have jotted down some other phrases currently in use among
> Baltimore's "hip" set (you aren't "hip" if you say hep) for students
> of the American language. ...
> A girl is no longer a "broad" but "Bone." You don't wear clothes, you
> wear "fronts." A steady job is a "gig" or "hame," when you buy
> something you "cop" and if you don't have money you're "lootless" or
> "on the shorts."
> ---
>
> And here's a playful extension from Lionel Hampton:
>
> ---
> Pittsburgh Courier, Mar. 6, 1954, p. 19, col. 1
> "Show Biz Buzzes" by Lionel Hampton
> Just one year ago this column made its first "gig," and it sure did
> knock me out to see it in actual print.
> ---
>
>
> On Sun, Oct 25, 2015 at 2:09 PM, Geoffrey Nunberg wrote:
> >
> > The OED gives a 1964 cite from J.H. Clarke's Harlem as the
> > earliest instance of the "also transf. and attrib." use of 'gig'
> > ("An engagement for a musician or musicians playing jazz,
> > dance-music, etc.; spec. a 'one-night stand'). "Pa-knockin'
> > hisself out on a mail-handler gig at the Post Office where
> > the pay is so lousy he's gotta work a part-time gig." That
> > cite should really be 1963, but there's a much earlier
> > instance in Kerouac's piece  "The Railroad Earth," written
> > in 1952-53 but published in the collection The Lonesome
> > Traveler, 1960. Kerouac describes working as a railroad
> > brakeman in San Jose:
> >
> > It's the chief dispatcher calling from 4th and Townsend in
> > the Sad Frisco, "Keroowayyy? It's deadhead on 112 to
> > San Jose for a drag east with Conductor Degnan got that?"
> > ..."All you do is get ups and you already done made how
> > many dollars? Anyways in your sleep and put on your gig
> > clothes and cut out and take a little bus and go down to
> > the San Jose yard office down by the aiprort and the
> > engines are being lined up and numbered out there...
> > You go down and find your conductor who'll just be some
> > old baggy-pants circus comedian with a turned-up hat brim...
> >
> > This is the sense that figures now in "the gig economy" etc.,
> > which Ben discussed in his WSJ piece. It corroborates my
> > sense that this was one of the musicians' terms brought
> > into the mainstream by the hipsters and beats, along with
> > 'riff', 'cool', and my favorite, the late, lamented "Solid!"
> >
> > Geoff
> >
> > PS. "The Sad Frisco" seems to be Kerouac's own - it
> > appears in The Subterraneans, too.
>
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