[Ads-l] Another "Jazz" Origin

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Wed Aug 22 22:21:48 EDT 2018

That article is from Oct. 6, 1917, and meanwhile press agent Walter

Kingley put forth his hoax about "jazz" on Aug. 5, 1917: "Whence comes jass?

 (subtitle): Facts from the great authority on the subject." in: New York

Sun, Aug. 5, 1917, section 3, p. 3/6. This is the first article to ascribe an

African origin to the term "jazz" and was widely quoted uncritically.  Criticism

eventually did come in several scholarly articles.

The Oct. 6, 1917 item was clearly inspired by Kingley's article of a few

months earlier.  Kingley, for example, writes: "In his studies of the creole

patois and the idiom in New Orleans Lafcadio Hearn reported that the word

'jaz', meaning to speed things up, to make excitement, was common among

blacks of the South and had been adapted by creoles as a term to be applied

to music of a rudimentary syncopated type."

The attribution of this etymology to Lafcadio Hearn was hoked up by Kingley.

Gerald Cohen

author of Origin Of The Term "Jazz."

(self published). 2013,  193 pages.

A discussion of the Kingley item appears

on pp. 22-29.

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Baker, John <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2018 11:20 AM
Subject: Another "Jazz" Origin

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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
Subject:      Another "Jazz" Origin

Here's another supposed origin of "jazz," from the (Baltimore) Afro-America=
n, Oct. 6, 1917 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers).  The unsigned article is =
captioned "Now It Is the Jazz," and the first sentence reads "The Jazz musi=
c and the Jazz dance have been with us for nearly a year."  Here's the theo=
ry on the origin:

<<Most recently it has been discovered that the word in Creole patois of Ne=
w Orleans means "speeding up things."  Imported there from Haiti and Cuba, =
it is supposed to have originated in West Africa.  The savage medicine man =
is thot to have goaded his tribe to frenzy by the use of it.  Eventually it=
 reached New Orleans and survived there for several generations in the unde=
rworld resorts.  Gradually it ascended the Mississippi to Chicago, and then=
 branched out in both directions toward the oceans, gaining a national popu=

I believe only the first sentence is about the word origin, the remainder o=
f the paragraph addressing the supposed origin of the music itself, but it'=
s included for context.

John Baker

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

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

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