Southerns vs. southerners

hstahlke at ATT.NET hstahlke at ATT.NET
Tue Dec 18 17:18:30 UTC 2001

I first came across "Southerns" in the writing of two of
my undergraduates this semester, both Lower North women
in their early twenties and from Central Indiana.  What
struck me with their usage was that it was in response
to Dennis Preston's essay "They speak really bad English
down South and in New York City" in Bauer and Trudgill's
Language Myths, where he uses the term "Southerners"
several times.  Even after I pointed out their usage to
them, they used it in their revisions.  I'm curious how
widely used "Southerns" is now.

Herb Stahlke
> A few weeks before the passage quoted below, the editor of The Evening
> Star (Mordecai Noah) had reviewed a novel called The Kentuckian in New
> York, or, the Adventures or Three Southerns, published anonymously, as
> by "A Virginian".  The paragraph below was preceeded by several
> paragraphs responding to the review, copied from an unnamed Georgia
> newspaper, but the specific remarks by the Georgia editor that prompted
> the paragraph I quote aren't included.   Evidently since the book was
> published by Harper's, of New York City, the Georgia editor suspected
> that it was really by a Yankee.  The author is in fact a Virginian,
> William Alexander Caruthers.
> Now read on.
>         "As to the affectation which the editor charges in using the
> term Southerns, we would ask him for his authority in using
> Southerners.  There is no authority on the subject except the Scotch,
> and it authorized Southrons.  We had the authority of one of the most
> distinguished transatlantic female writers of the day for our term."
>         Evening Star, July 2, 1834, p. 2, col. 4.
> I see that the earliest citations for Southerners, Southerns and
> Southrons given in the Dict of Americanisms are all from 1827 or 1828.
> DAE gives Southerns as first dated to 1834, and the subtitle of
> Kentuckian in New York is given as the source.
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
> Univ. Pr., 1998.

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