"Eerian": Detroit Polish/Italian contact vernacular

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Nov 30 20:35:25 UTC 2001

>          Sure thing.  This was spoken in the poor Italian/Polish
>neighborhood of Detroit during the early 1960s.  I heard it spoken a couple
>of times, and it sounded oddly poetic -- rather like Romansch, although the
>meanings were totally different.  There may still be some Eerian speakers
>in that part of Detroit, if you can find them. ....

>          It was East Detroit, as far as I can remember -- near an old
>(pre-Mall) shopping center called "Eastland".  'Twas a Polish/Italian
>neighborhood at the time ('60s), which is all I know.

Eastland was our local shopping center during the 1960's. Eastland is in a
suburb named Harper Woods, which is contiguous with Detroit (the city
proper) and also with the suburb named East Detroit (renamed Eastpointe in
about 1990, presumably because the inhabitants would prefer to be
associated with Grosse Pointe [a nearby historically prosperous suburb]
rather than with Detroit). East Detroit was a 'blue-collar' suburb as I
recall, but I don't know that one would have considered it to have a 'poor
Italian/Polish neighborhood', and I'm not sure that any part of East
Detroit would have seemed very poor or very 'ethnic' from my vantage point
in the east side of Detroit city, so I suppose that 'East Detroit' here
might refer to Detroit's east side ... where I grew up, and where there
were plenty of 'Poles' and 'Italians' (actually mostly Americans, of
course) and also other types. I never heard of 'Eerian' or anything
comparable, but it could have been restricted to some small neighborhood
somewhere ....

Given the "northern-cities vowel shift", I wonder whether it might have
been "Aryan" ... although I never heard of anything like that either.

-- Doug Wilson

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