[Ads-l] Copasetic notes

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Mar 10 06:18:26 EST 2017


John Baker wrote:


While I'm not convinced by Stephen's argument that Irving Bacheller invented the word "copasetic," it is nicely argued.  However, one problem is that the word has a universally accepted meaning of fine, all right, or excellent.  In the purported original, it "signified an unusual depth of meaning," so it did not yet have the modern meaning.  In the song "At the New Jump Steady Ball," the presumed vector to the term's use in the African-American community, the meaning was unspecified.  How did the word come to have its current meaning, and how did this come to be universal?


John Baker

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John,

If I may, I suggest reading more context than the six words quoted. Further, that a word has, according to the narrator, "depth" need not exclude "fine, all right, [or] excellent." Also, the book presents "copasetic" in a similar way as it does Mrs. Lukins' other special word, "coralapus" (a neologism, yes?).


For example, without retyping all the context (HathiTrust has the full text), before we get to the page 69 use of "copasetic," on page 68 Mrs. Lukins and other women are discussing men. In particular, "han'some" men. "good lookin'" men. There, fine, alright, excellent is not far to seek.


For another example, on page 401, a "wedding feast" is described as "copasetic" by "famous" cook, Mrs. Lukins. Is a wedding feast fine? Page 400 [my elipses]:


A table stood in the middle of the room set for two. On its cover of spotless white linen were plates and cups and saucers and a big platter of roasted prairie chickens and a great frosted cake and preserves and jellies and potato salad and a pie and a bottle of currant wine...."This is wonderful!" he exclaimed...."Paradise..." he said as he kissed her.......

***

Ok, fine?


Stephen

http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/

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