[Ads-l] Precursor to a "New York Minute"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun May 28 00:08:06 EDT 2017


Interesting.

And I just learned that Toronto was called York until 1834.

I also went back and looked at the 1831 citation, and the tavern they were visiting was in St. Catharine's, Ontario.

Might "York" have been Toronto in this particular case?



________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
Sent: Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:11 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Precursor to a "New York Minute"

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Subject:      Re: Precursor to a "New York Minute"
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In the early 19th Century -- maybe before, too -- New York City was
sometimes referred to as "York".  This isn't easy to document, but here's a
couple of passages from a minute booklet of humorous sketches and songs:

            New-York, Jan. 1, 1824.
            Got in York safe as a bee in a bucket, put old Brindle in Uncle
Josh's stable -- found all the folks well, except Aunt Polly most dead with
the small pox; hardly knew her, she looked so plaguey odd -- her face put
me in mind of an old fashioned cullender



"Hewlett at Home.=E2=80=9D
            Heard a great deal of talk since I've been in York 'bout the
African Theatre -- I and Harry went tother night -- good many white folks
there; Harry told me it was Hewlett's Benefit -- seen "Hewlett at Home" on
the bills; I guess he did'nt like to let folks know he was "at Home" before=
.

[The writer is a rube from Goshen, N. Y., visiting the big city and writing
letters home.]

Simon Snipe, *The Sports of New York, by Simon Snipe, Esq.; Containing A
Peep at the Grand Military Ball, =E2=80=9CHewlett at Home=E2=80=9D *[etc.,]=
  1824.  (The
only known copy of this is at the Houghton Library, Harvard University.)

GAT

On Sat, May 27, 2017 at 4:45 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Years ago Barry Popik traced the modern emergence of "New York Minute" to
> Texas in the early 1950s.
>
>
> A couple years ago, I found an early example from 1870, in a story about
> shooting a wildcat (a catamount) in the oil regions of Pennsylvania.
>
>
> It seemed as though the coincidence of the early example in an oil region
> and the emergence of the expression in the oil region of Texas 80 years
> later suggested a possible way the expression made it to Texas.
>
>
> However, there were isolated examples of the expression in 1872 Kansas an=
d
> 1908 Vermont, and a few other possible (yet ambiguous) examples.
>
>
> I wrote a blog post about it at the time.
>
> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2014/11/wildcats-and-wildcatters-very-long.htm=
l
>
>
> I just ran across a possible precursor idiom - possibly with a slightly
> different meaning.
>
>
> The expression a "York minute" shows up as early as 1831, with several
> examples throughout the 1840s, '50s, ' 60s and '70s.
>
>
> An example from Buffalo, New York in 1860 suggests that a "York minute" i=
s
> a short period of time, but longer than an actual minute:
>
>
> [excerpt]
>
> "There is one portion of the day," as your correspondent very justly
> remarks, "which may, with propriety, be called the ladies' hour.  Just so=
.
> That "hour," however, is to the day, what the "York minute" is to the
> ordinary hour; viz: two hours and a half.
>
>
> Buffalo Commercial, November 24, 1860, page 3 (Newspapers.com).
>
>
> My initial inclination was to think that "York" refers to York, England,
> perhaps a sleepier town than London, where time isn't so precious or
> precise.
>
>
> But I am not so sure.  It might be American.  The earliest example of the
> expression I have found so far - 1831 - is from an English writer
> describing the scene at an American tavern.  He sets several apparently
> local Americanisms apart in quotations - including "York minute."  I am
> also not so sure that the "York minute" is always something more than a
> minute, as described in Buffalo in 1860.  Many of the early examples,
> including the earliest example, a "York minute" appears to be some brief
> moment of time - not as long as a minute:
>
>
> 1831 [excerpt]
>
> By the time they have all taken a "drink" or two a-piece, and swallowed a
> mouthful of water after it, you will hear "guessing" and "calculating"
> enough, undoubtedly, and something better, "I don't think!"  Be careful
> they do not tread on your toes at this time, and if you wish to retain a
> seat, do not get up from it even for a "York minute."
>
>
> Joseph Pickering, Inquiries of an Emigrant; Being the Narrative of an
> English Farmer from the year 1824 to 1830, London, E. Wilson, 1831, page =
93
> (HathiTrust).
>
>
> In 1873, a story about a Northwoods trapper shooting a panther appears to
> be a rewritten version of the 1870 Pennsylvania story with "New York
> Minute," but using "York minute"  instead:
>
>
> [excerpt]
>
> But no, he raised the old rifle and fired.  In one-fourth of a York
> minute, Bill Stewart's exact time for skinning a Montezuma bullhead, all
> the clothes upon him would not have made a bib for a china doll.
>
>
> Chicago Daily Tribune, January 5, 1873, page 2 (Newspapers.com).
>
>
> 1871
>
> [excerpt]
>
> Mrs. Matt Peel's Minstrels give their last concert in this city, for the
> present, at Touro Hall tonight.  If you have the blues, these darkies wil=
l
> shake them off in three York minutes.
>
>
> Hartford Courant, February 12 1861, page 2.
>
>
> For me, the big question is why was it a "York minute" and was it
> originally English.  The change from York to New York seems natural in th=
e
> US, but if it is American, why would it have been "York minute" in the
> first place, unless it was an old English expression that survived in the
> US.
>
>
>
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



--=20
George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
your lowly tomb. . .
L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112

The Trump of Doom -- affectionately (of course) also known as The Dunghill
Toadstool.  (Here's a picture of one.)
http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---=
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www.parliament.uk
The page you are trying to access is not available.Please return to the homepage to navigate through to our main content sections.  ...


a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851

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