Fwd: [CreoleTalk] Question: Irish American Vernacular English

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 19 04:06:27 UTC 2006

FWIW, I also wonder how one would account phonologically for the shift
of Irish _teas_, pronounced approximately "chass," to English "jazz."
On the other hand, deriving "jazz" from "jasm," using ordinary,
well-attested, English phonological rules, is no more difficult than
accounting for the precisely-parallel development of "jizz" from
"jism" in the same manner.

It seems to me that the application of Ockham's Razor is sufficient to
shave away [pun intended; and I'm the first to admit that it's a
pretty weak effort, but what the hey, nothing beats a try but a
failure] the need to provide a derivation from a foreign tongue.


On 2/18/06, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at umr.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at UMR.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Fwd: [CreoleTalk] Question: Irish American Vernacular English
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>   The first 1913 attestation of "jazz" (March 3; San Francisco Bulletin) has negative connotations, rougly "hot air, baloney": 'McCarl has been heralded 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 witnessing 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.
> > >>
>         <snip>
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