Fwd: [CreoleTalk] Question: Irish American Vernacular English

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Feb 19 00:56:32 UTC 2006

  The first 1913 attestation of "jazz" (March 3; San Francisco Bulletin) has negative connotations, rougly "hot air, baloney": 'McCarl has been healded all along the line as a "busher", but now it develops that this dope is very much to the "jazz."' Only three days later does the term appear with its positive connotations ("pep, vim, vigor, fighting spirit").  But if the term derives from Irish, one would need to explain how the Irish meaning jibes with the negative connotations of "jazz" on March 3, 1913.
    The 1913 sportswriter who popularized the term "jazz" (in a baseball context), Scoop Gleeson, later wrote that he acquired the term from S.F. Call sports editor William "Spike" Slattery, who had told of witnessessing a crap game. Slattery said: 'Whenever one of the players rolled the dice he would shout "Come on, the old jazz."'  ----- How would the Irish word fit in with that usage of "jazz"?
     Meanwhile, "jazz" heard by Slattery probably derives from the well attested (19th century) "jasm" = energy, force.  So the crapshooting incantation to lady luck ("Come on, the old jazz") probably meant roughly "May the force be with me (as I roll the dice)."
     Gleeson, in his March 3, 1913 use of "jazz" (= hot air, balone) was probably looking with skepticism on the ineffectiveness of incantations to lady luck.  By March 6, however, he had his epiphany, and the favorable use of the term began.
     The latest  compiled treatment on the origin of "jazz" is my item (with due credit given throughout) "_Jazz_ Revisited: On The Origin Of The Term--Draft #3" in _Comments on Etymology_, vol. 35, no. 1-2 (double issue), 140 pages.  I only have about 5  copies left, but I can leave a few in my campus' library in case someone wants to order one via interlibrary loan.

Gerald Cohen
University of Missouri-Rolla
Rolla, MO 65409

Original message from Beverly Flanigan, Feb.18, 2006, 3:31 p.m.:
> Thanks, Grant.  I've forwarded your corrected response to Karen Ellis.  Now I await the firestorm!
> At 02:23 PM 2/18/2006, you wrote:
> >That should say, "...the supposed Irish origin of English words..."
> >
> >Begin forwarded message:
> >>That web page is about the same fellow who posted to this list for a short time with the same unproven theories, until he was asked to provide evidence and then vanished. For the most part, his ideas about the supposed origin of Irish words were not substantiated by printed, connectable sources and relied upon little more than the vaguest phonological similarities.
> >>
> >>In short, his connecting of the term "teas" to "jazz" is an example of crying Wolof and is accepted by no authority that I know.
> >>

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