Minstrel's Dialect

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Tue Nov 11 15:18:39 UTC 2003

This is a collection of 19th C minstrel texts, &c that has just been published:
Jump Jim Crow: lost plays, lyrics, and street prose of the first Atlantic popular culture, by W.T. Lhamon, Jr.  Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003.  459 pp.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

----- Original Message -----
From: Duane Campbell <dcamp911 at JUNO.COM>
Date: Monday, November 10, 2003 9:59 pm
Subject: Re: Minstrel's Dialect

> On Mon, 10 Nov 2003 18:44:35 EST Dale Coye <Dalecoye at AOL.COM> writes:
> > You write: For example: How did they pronounce the word "de" as in
> > "De
> > Camptown Ladies
> > sing dis song, doo-dah! doo-dah!" Was it with a long or a short
> > "e"?
> >
> > If you mean by long e, the sound of bee, and by short e the
> sound of
> > bet, it
> > was most likely neither--it's the same "e" as in "the"-- a schwa.
> I live in the small town where Stephen Foster went to school, and
> Camptown, of racing fame, is a village just down the road. More
> important, though, this rural, white community had an annual blackface
> minstral at the local theater well into the 1950s. It was the biggest
> entertainment event of the year. At least the biggest public
> entertainment. And I distinctly remember that de Camptown Races was
> always pronounced with a long "e". Whether that's the way it was
> in other
> places and earlier times I can't say.
> D

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