[Ads-l] mouth organ, harmonicon, harmonica

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 19 06:26:15 EST 2021


'Harmonica' meaning "Jew's-harp" is not in OED.

The more I look at the various denotations "harmonica" in the 19th C., the
more confusing it becomes.

For ex., I found no unmistakable newspaper refs. to the playing of the
modern harmonica during the Civil War.

And cf. this discussion: https://tinyurl.com/y6schsgp


JL


On Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 8:20 PM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com> wrote:

> In reply to Horatius and to Jonathan Lighter, respectively:
>
> ETYMOLOGY:
>
> From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew's_harp#Etymology
> >>>>>
> There are many theories for the origin of the name Jew's harp. According to
> the Oxford English Dictionary, this name appears earliest in Walter
> Raleigh's Discouerie Guiana in 1596, spelled "Iewes Harp". The "jaw"
> variant is attested at least as early as 1774[8] and 1809,[9] the "juice"
> variant appeared only in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
>
> It has also been suggested that the name derives from the French
> "Jeu-trompe" meaning "toy-trumpet".[10] (Though in the French idiom, if two
> substantives are joined together, the qualifying noun is invariably the
> last.)[11]
>
> Both theories—that the name is a corruption of "jaws" or "jeu"—are
> described by the OED as "baseless and inept". The OED says that, "More or
> less satisfactory reasons may be conjectured: e.g. that the instrument was
> actually made, sold, or imported to England by Jews, or purported to be so;
> or that it was attributed to Jewish people, suggesting the trumps and harps
> mentioned in the Bible, and hence considered a good commercial name."[12]
> <<<<<
>
> "Not in OED" (though with the multiple levels of quotation I may be
> misinterpreting or misattributing this comment. If it is intended as "OED
> does not list 'Jew's-harp' as a sense of "harmonica", I apologize).
>
> It is indeed. In the Compact OED, New Edition, p. 894 (p. 232 in its
> original volume of the not-so-compact edition; I can't tell which volume,
> but it evidently begins at "interval"):
> >>>>>
> Jews' harp. (Also sometimes with small j.) A variant of Jews' trump, q.v.]
> <<<<<
> The first citation is from 1595, "R. Duddely in Hakluyt's Voy, III.576".
>
> Mark A. Mandel
>
>
> On Mon, Jan 18, 2021, 3:18 AM Horatius <
> 00000e76b69c74bf-dmarc-request at listserv.uga.edu> wrote:
>
> > And the "Jew's harp" name comes from the fact that the inventor is a Jew?
> >
> > Verzonden met ProtonMail Mobile
> >
> > -------- Oorspronkelijk bericht --------
> > Aan 18 jan. 2021 05:11, Jonathan Lighter schreef:
> >
> > > 'Harmonica'
> > >
> > > 1866: OED
> > >
> > > 1863 _New-York Herald_ (Dec. 15) 1: The common harmonicon, known to
> > > schoolboys as the "mouth organ."
> > >
> > > ("Harmonicon"; 1876, OED.)
> > >
> > > There are earlier exx., but they're at least as likely to refer to
> > panpipes
> > > or even Jew's-harps.
> > >
> > > II
> > >
> > > Harmonica
> > >
> > > 'Jew's-harp'
> > >
> > > Not in OED.
> > >
> > > 1825 _Caledonian Mercury_ [Edinburgh) (June 16) 2: The Jews [sic] Harp
> > ...
> > > A.M. Eulenstein, from Heilbron, has invented a new instrument, or
> rather
> > > improved the little instrument already spoken of, which he calls the
> > Mouth
> > > Harmonica, on which he has been performing various pieces of music,
> much
> > to
> > > the astonishment and delight of numerous private circles.
> > >
> > > JL
> >
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>


-- 
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