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

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Sun May 28 08:49:45 EDT 2017


I believe York was just north of Toronto, and is now incorporated in it.
Terminus of the Underground Railroad.

On May 28, 2017 12:08 AM, "Peter Reitan" <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> 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"
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Precursor to a "New York Minute"
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------
>
> 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---=
> Page cannot be found<http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-
> gillray/an-excrescence---=>
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>
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>
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> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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