[Ads-l] cotton-picking

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jun 24 19:44:40 EDT 2018


This saying was once _very_ popular, but it never struck me as having a
racist component, beyond being, in my experience, _far_ more popular among
whites than among blacks, but no more so than "your father's moustache!" or
 "I should have stood in bed!" or "neat!" or "real george!" or surfer and
hot-rod slang. Those were the days of stomp-down segregation. In fact, I'm
not sure that I see a connection between the expression and real
cotton-picking, which is sufficiently hard work that I can't imagine anyone
"not necessarily poor" doing it.

"The [cotton-picker's] sack was approximately twelve feet long for an adult
male. A good picker could pick 350 pounds a day: four to five sacks full!
... Pickers would wear long-sleeved shirts, and a wide-brimmed straw hat or
a bonnet for protection from the hot, summer sun. Sometimes, special gloves
were worn to protect the hands. Sometimes, knee-pads were worn, as the
pickers would crawl down the rows to give their backs a rest from this
grueling task. Picking cotton was a very hot, tiring, and laborious task."

- cottonginmuseum.org

On Sun, Jun 24, 2018 at 3:05 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu>
wrote:

> No it's not racial, although I must admit that at one time I thought
>
> it was. Btw,  I compiled the following article a while back:
>
>    'Slang "Cotton Picking": Its Dual Origin  As A Euphemism And A
>
> Reference To The Rough Hands Of Both Whites And
>
> Blacks (Not Necessarily Poor) Who Picked Cotton.'
>
> in: Comments on Etymology,  vol. 39, no. 2-3, Nov.-Dec. 2009,
>
> pp. 18-22.
>
>
> Gerald Cohen
>
> ________________________________
> Original  ads-l message from James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM>
> Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2018 1:03 PM
> Subject: cotton-picking
>
> My daughter has two language questions:
>
> 1) what is the origin of "cotton-picking"?  Is it or was it a racial
> slur?  Does it have anything to do with slaves picking cotton?
>
> 2) what is the difference between "creek" and "crick" when referring to a
> small stream?  Is it a regional variation?
>
> - Jim Landau
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
-Wilson
-----
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

------------------------------------------------------------
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