[Ads-l] Early "Jazz" Citation

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 16 20:16:52 EST 2022


PROTEST MEETING AT BURGLARS' REST
means what it says
PEEVED YEGGS SCORE LADY COPS
means "upset safecrackers end up with female police officers"

I think.

On Sun, Jan 16, 2022, 7:53 PM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:

> Talk about crash blossoms. Well, actually, is there a term for a headline
> that isn't liable to *mis*interpretation but  rather to no interpretation
> at all?  I suppose a century ago the intended readership might have been
> better prepared than we are today to parse a headline reading
>
> PROTEST MEETING AT BURGLARS'
> REST PEEVED YEGGS SCORE LADY COPS
>
> Maybe you had to be there...
>
> LH
>
> On Sun, Jan 16, 2022 at 7:41 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Terrific find, Fred. Here's the page image:
> >
> > https://archive.org/details/scoop155239pres/page/429/mode/1up
> >
> > In context, "slab the old jazz" may be akin to "shoot the breeze," "chew
> > the fat," etc. Or since the preceding paragraph (written a comically
> ornate
> > style contrasting with the slang of the quoted passage) is about setting
> > aside an expletive-filled argument, perhaps "slab" is like "slab off"
> (OED
> > quoting Bartlett 1859: "throw aside as useless") and it means "put aside
> > the old nonsense" or something like that.
> >
> > As we've previously discussed, in June 1913 there were two widely
> > syndicated articles that presented "the old jazz" as slang from San
> > Francisco. See e.g. my ADS-L post from June 2007 or Dave Wilton's
> writeup:
> >
> > http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2007-June/071855.html
> > https://www.wordorigins.org/big-list-entries/jazz
> >
> > While the example from The Scoop doesn't mention San Francisco, I think
> the
> > likeliest explanation is that "the old jazz" was inspired by the
> newspaper
> > articles about slang that were circulating around the country at the
> time.
> > And I don't think "teach the Chinaman his music lesson" is a literal
> > reference to music but yet another slang idiom (not sure about the
> > meaning).
> >
> > FWIW, the item is signed "Phinney the Eel," which is also the name of a
> > Chicago underworld character in an Aug. 1913 syndicated piece by Gene
> > Morgan.
> >
> > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/92762265/phinney-the-eel/
> >
> > I see there was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News named Gene Morgan,
> so
> > this piece may have first appeared there. And I'd guess Morgan is also
> the
> > author of the item in The Scoop, as his byline appears elsewhere in that
> > issue, e.g.:
> >
> > https://archive.org/details/scoop155239pres/page/113/mode/1up
> > https://archive.org/details/scoop155239pres/page/163/mode/1up
> > https://archive.org/details/scoop155239pres/page/192/mode/1up
> >
> > --bgz
> >
> > On Sun, Jan 16, 2022 at 6:50 PM Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Actually, I think this is the only known citation of "the old jazz" in
> > > that time-period that is not relating to the San Francisco area.  I
> > should
> > > also note the obvious point that this citation is from Chicago, which
> > > appears to be the incubator of "jazz" referring to music.
> > >
> > > Fred Shapiro
> > >
> > >
> > > ________________________________
> > > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> > > Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> > > Sent: Sunday, January 16, 2022 6:27 PM
> > > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > > Subject: Early "Jazz" Citation
> > >
> > > I often criticize other people for far-fetched etymological theories
> > based
> > > on coincidence, and often espouse the theory that if a citation is "too
> > > good to be true," it's doubtless not true.  But I have found an
> > interesting
> > > citation and seek help in interpreting it.
> > >
> > > 1913 The Scoop (Press Club of Chicago) 13 Sept. 429 (Internet Archive)
> > > And say, Glommer, old peg, let's slab the old jazz.  Some night we'll
> > meet
> > > at the clubhouse beaker bazaar.  And then we'll both teach the Chinaman
> > his
> > > music lesson -- eh, kid?
> > >
> > > The earliest known use of "jazz" meaning a type of music was discovered
> > by
> > > me in a 1915 issue of the Chicago Tribune, a full year or so earlier
> than
> > > any other such usage.  I realize that the citation above is probably a
> > > usage of the slang term "the old jazz" that was current in 1913 in San
> > > Francisco and elsewhere, and probably is not referrring specifically
> to a
> > > type of music.  But does anyone have any idea as to what a slangy use
> of
> > > "slab" as a verb might mean?  And does anyone think this could be a
> > > reference to music?  The context seems musical, unless "music lesson"
> is
> > > some kind of metaphor.  The citation is an item that immediately
> follows
> > an
> > > item about "negro" music.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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