[Ads-l] =?UTF-8?Q?=E2=80=9Cdown_to_the_brass=E2=80=9D=3B_?=Billy Birch, Burch; tacks

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 4 09:12:52 EST 2021


Be careful, Stephen! You don't want to get "minstrel" and "brass tacks" uh,
well, uh, African-Americanlisted.

Speaking of which, on The Simpsons, there was a bit of dialog between Mr.
Burns and Smithers that went something like this.

How are we going to get them all in it, sir?
We'll give them IQ tests and take those with the highest scores.
All right, sir.
And then we'll _grandfather in_ the rest.

The racism was palpable! That micro-aggression is a bitch!


On Sun, Jan 3, 2021 at 9:00 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> My initial post on the subject came back to me with extraneous numbers and
> = marks, but it reads clearly in the archive:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2020-December/158734.html
>
> To add a little, Billy Birch was white, a "blackface minstrel." So likely
> not reflecting authentic black dialect.
> Whether because of political legislative shenanigans or minstrel
> association, some who used "brass tacks" (or similar) called it a "homely"
> collocation, "if we may be allowed that expression" (1863), etc.
>
> Stephen
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> Sent: Friday, January 1, 2021 9:03 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Re: “down to the brass”; Billy Birch, Burch; tacks
>
> Thanks Peter and Dan, both helpful.
>
> As I wrote on April 16, 2015, and has since been confirmed, “Other early
> uses are legislative, too.”
>
>
>
> OED tack, n.1
> III. That which is tacked on or appended.
>  8.  a. Something tacked on or attached as an addition or rider; an
> addendum, supplement, appendix; spec. in parliamentary usage, a clause
> relating to some extraneous matter, appended, in order to secure its
> passing, to a bill, esp. a bill of supply.
>
> (DARE has tack, in later use, as a nickel.)
> SG
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Dan
> Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2020 11:50 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Re: “down to the brass”; Billy Birch, Burch; tacks
>
> I remember the earlier conversation about "brass" and its maritime context.
> It makes me wonder if a reference to "brass tacks" is a way of talking
> about spending more than necessary for a government project, with the
> presumption that a politician or his cronies get the benefit.
> DanG
>
>
> On Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 9:27 AM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Brass as money is consistent with some "brass tacks" usage in New Orleans
> > from the period.
> >
> > There are a number of late 1860s-early 1870s uses in New Orleans.  I had
> > noticed them before, and could never quite decipher the intended imagery
> or
> > meaning.
> >
> > There are references to "Brass Tacks" politicians, and some "down to
> brass
> > tacks" comments. Some, if I recall, related to contracts for public
> > buildings.
> >
> > Coincidentally, just yesterday, I was looking a "brass tacks" and ran
> > across an example from 1871 that may shed some light on it.  It referred
> to
> > a corupt politician asking whether there were any "brass tacks" contained
> > in some spending bill. The context seemed to suggest that the "brass
> tacks"
> > referred to money or expenditures that would benefit the politician.
> >
> >
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.newspapers.com/clip/66393797/the-ouachita-telegraph/__;!!OToaGQ!-Q3Lup6KyXMfR2KlkD5OJwIsjxe2yO1BfAvqx6qD5R5XJekropY-_nsKDuwL49mk$
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> > Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> > Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2020 5:58:30 AM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Subject: “down to the brass”; Billy Birch, Burch; tacks
> >
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> > Subject:      =?Windows-1252?Q?=93down_to_the_brass=94=3B_?=Billy Birch,
> > Burch;
> >               tacks
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > The three items in the subject may be related, though (a) is rarely
> > conside=
> > red (given searching at some usual suspects, Peter=92s blog, etc.), (b)
> is
> > =
> > obscure, and the (c) lacks consensus. Together, possibly, they may become
> > a=
> >  bit clearer.
> > a) Previously on ads-l [1] I mentioned three uses of a phrase possibly
> > rela=
> > ted to =93down to brass tacks,=94 and here I add an antedating:
> > 1856 =93Suppose we come right down to the brass and admit=85.=94 Weekly
> > Wis=
> > consin Patriot [Madison; AmHistN] Sept. 13, 1856, 1/3.
> > 1858 =93=85we have talked all around the question, and he thought it was
> > ti=
> > me to come right down to the brass.=94
> > 1861 =93If Jo Bows came down to the brass of the matter, he would say,
> > they=
> >  were more so.=94
> > 1867 =93To come right down to the brass of the matter=85.=94
> > Now, all four of these texts in context, it can at least be argued,
> relate
> > =
> > to money. So, maybe, though not yet certainly, brass here meant money.
> In
> > =
> > any case reference to the concrete not theoretical.
> > b) A 1862 book, Billy Birch=92s Ethiopian Melodist (NY) has a silly
> > mocking=
> >  minstrel poem. The book is available in full [2], should anyone care to
> > sa=
> > mple its texts in hope of clarifying the weird poem=92s setting. Billy
> > Birc=
> > h is apparently (?) the stage name of William R. Garrison (1831-1897),
> but
> > =
> > it is often also spelled =93Billy Burch.=94
> > On page 33=97I don=92t even want to type out the so-called =93Plantation
> > So=
> > ng and Dance=94:
> > =93=85and den come down wid de brass tacks.=94
> > 1862 (b) so far is earlier than item (c); and item (a) is so far also
> > earli=
> > er than item (c).
> > But wait, there=92s more. In San Francisco Evening Bulletin of October 1,
> > 1=
> > 859 [AHN] 1/8 =93Billy Birch=92s Minstrels under the management of Billy
> > Bi=
> > rch=94 offer a =93Budget of Comicalities,=94 one of which is =93Brass
> > Tacks=
> > .=94
> > c) 1863, as far as I know, is the earliest cited (reportedly by Fred
> > Shapir=
> > o, though the archive search seems hit or miss) of many uses of =93come
> > dow=
> > n to the brass tacks=92 (and variants).
> > Among the remaining questions: why did some in effect apologize for using
> > w=
> > hat they considered a low register phrase? And did Billy Birch/Burch
> > presen=
> > t his act in Texas?
> > [1]
> >
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2015-April/136667.html__;!!OToaGQ!-Q3Lup6KyXMfR2KlkD5OJwIsjxe2yO1BfAvqx6qD5R5XJekropY-_nsKDrCdkVSb$
> > [2] Since the URL did not copy properly, at
> >
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://catalog.hathitrust.org/__;!!OToaGQ!-Q3Lup6KyXMfR2KlkD5OJwIsjxe2yO1BfAvqx6qD5R5XJekropY-_nsKDlvV9KvP$
> > search title =93Ethiopian Melodist=94
> > Stephen Goranson
> > http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> > Stephen Goranson's Home Page - Duke University<
> > http://people.duke.edu/~gora=
> > nson/ <http://people.duke.edu/~gora=nson/>>
> > Stephen Goranson. goranson "at" duke "dot" edu. Jannaeus.pdf. My paper on
> > t=
> > he history of Alexander Jannaeus as the Qumran- and Essene-view "Wicked
> > Pri=
> > est" and Judah the Essene as the "Teacher of Righteousness" (3 August
> 2005
> > =
> > [revised 12 January 2006]; 34 pages), "Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and
> > J=
> > udah the Essene ". Dura-Europos.pdf "7 vs. 8: The Battle Over the Holy
> Day
> > =
> > at Dura-Europos"
> > people.duke.edu
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
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> >
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-- 
- 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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