[Ads-l] OT: Re: slave

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Fri Sep 2 07:29:42 EDT 2016

On 9/1/16 12:00 AM, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Wed, 31 Aug 2016 19:15:51 +0000
> From:    Joel Berson<berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Re: "slave"
> My reading is yes, Francis Scott Key was referring to enslaved blacks who had been recruited by the British -- along with the "hirelings", Hessian soldiers who made up a large proportion of the British forces in America, to reclaim the United States as a British colony.
> Joel

Yup, I think this literal interpretation is just as valid as the 
metaphorical or the rhetorical (JL's argument that the terms are common 
rhetorical terms of the period).

Actually I think the only shift in reference necessary between the two 
readings is this: Is "slave" referring to the subject's past condition 
(the black British soldiers were *formerly* slaves) or is it referring 
to the subject's current condition? If it's referring to the subject's 
current condition, then impressed sailors is a logical referrent. Those 
arguing that "slave" is referring to the black British soldiers have to 
argue that Key still thinks of them that way, denying them status as 
"free," which is possible. It's not certain, but possible.

---Amy West

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

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