And they call the van "Mariah" (1846)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Sep 30 07:00:59 UTC 2003

>This gives some legitimacy, I would think,  to the first cite being from

George Thompson has presented earlier citations from New York, I believe:
see the "Black Maria" entry at Michael Quinion's site.

>It is more important, IMHO, that the term is spelled "Mariah" rather than
>"Maria."  I assume that the writer understood the word to be
>pronounced Ma RYE Ah, rather than Ma REE Ah.   It was a black Ma RYE Ah as
>I grew up in the 1950's.

Yes, it's generally pronounced like that. I don't know whether this odd
spelling had the same weight back in the day, though.

>I wonder now 'how' the name 'Maria' was pronounced in the early 1800's?

I believe it was often or usually "ma RYE ah".

For comparison, MW3 shows such a pronunciation first under "Maria Theresa
dollar": another holdover, I suppose.

-- Doug Wilson

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