[Ads-l] Fw: RAGGED time (message from Barry Popik)

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 7 14:32:10 EST 2018


"Ragged time" strikes me as a backronym.  The speculation that ragtime might be a contraction of "ragged time" first appeared in print in April 1897, a year after "rag time" first appeared, several years after "rag music" appeared and decades after "rag dance".

The speculation was written by a man named W. O. Eschwege.  Eschwege was not a renowned linguist or musicologist.  He was a sportsman, avid cyclist, officer of the American Athletic Union and Good Roads Committee, and a member of the New York Press Club.  Most notably (in my eyes), he ran the "bulletin board" (which announced scores, names of players scoring touchdowns, and substitutions) at the annual Princeton-Yale football game in 1894.   He was on the music committee for the New York Press Club fair in 1892, so he did have an interest in music, but other than his reference to "ragged time," the few writings I've seen with his name on them are about photography, cycling and business - not music or linguistics.

In making the comment, he did not make it as a definitive statement, but only as a speculation.  He may have known something about music, however, as he traced "rag time" music to a New Orleans, Creole composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk's Pasquinade, which was written in 1869, a connection that is still made today. See, https://www.nmaam.org/about-gottschalk-the-birth-of-the-new-world-sound/


Salt Lake Tribune, April 2, 1899, page 19.

"The measures [of Pasquinade] fairly dance with the wild, constant changes of rhythm which constitute the foundation of what we are pleased to call "rag time," probably a contraction of "ragged time.""


________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Sent: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 4:37 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Fw: RAGGED time (message from Barry Popik)

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
Subject:      Re: Fw: RAGGED time (message from Barry Popik)
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On 11/7/18 00:00, ADS-L automatic digest system wrote:
> Date:    Tue, 6 Nov 2018 15:14:12 -0500
> From:    Mark Mandel<mark.a.mandel at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: Fw: RAGGED time (message from Barry Popik)
>
> Here's wishing him a quick and complete recovery!
>
> Mark

Hear! Hear!

And it's just like him to send an insight as he lies in his hospital bed
. . . .

---Amy West


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


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