Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 8 01:41:53 UTC 2007

>It's too bad that that isn't true. Otherwise, the first time that
>someone told me to bite his ass would have been the last time.
>Fangs for the memory, Jon!

John W. Blassingame (the transmitter of that not yet extinct
superstition) appears here from the dead himself, so to speak.  A
voluble member of the Department of History and the Program in
African American Studies, he was quite a presence (and a character)
here at faculty meetings (and faculty mailings) until his death in
2000.  For some reason, I remember him best for going farther than
anyone I have ever known scrupulously to avoid splitting infinitives,
as it were.


>On 3/7/07, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>Subject:      Re: "blue-gum"
>>We discussed this some months ago, but the following exx. have
>>appeared from the dead, so to speak, so here they are.
>>   1892, in John W. Blassingame _Slave Testimony_ (Baton Rouge: LSU
>>Press, 1977) 507: She is what is known as a "blue-gum
>>nigger."...There was a superstition, not yet extinct, that the bite
>>of a "blue-gum nigger" is more deadly than that of a rattlesnake.
>>   1896 M. E. M. Davis_An Elephant's Track_ (N.Y.: Harper's) 192 :
>>Der ain' no whiskey in de jug dat kin heal up de bite of a blue-gum
>>   a1898 in C. W. Brann _Complete Works of Brann the Iconoclast_  IX
>>164 :But seriously, a man who will make such a suggestion doesn't
>>deserve to die a respectable death. He ought to be bit by a
>>blue-gum nigger, clawed by a buzzard, kicked by a blind jackass and
>>buried face down in a pile of compost.
>>   1899 in Seymour Stark _Men in Blackface_ (N.p.: Xlibris, 2001)
>>70: I'se a blue-gum nigger, / You don't want to fool wid me, / I'se
>>as bad a nigger as a nigger man can be.
>>   1900-02 Joel Chandler Harris _The Making of a Statesman and Other
>>Stories_ (N.Y.: McClure Phillips, 1902) 155: "I'm a blue-gum
>>nigger," remarked the hack-driver, with a frown.
>>   1928-29 William Faulkner _The Sound and the Fury_ (rpt. N.Y.:
>>Random House, 1956) 84: They making a bluegum out of you....And
>>when family woman look him in the eye in the full of the moon,
>>chile born bluegum.
>>   1931 John E. Uhler _Cane Juice: A Story of Southern Louisiana_
>>294 (N.Y.: Century, 1931): Dey's a conjur' hyah!...Dey's a blue-gum
>>nigger hyah.
>>   1952 Eugene Brown _Trespass_ (rpt. N.Y.: Popular Library, 1964)
>>116: Just who in hell you think you is, you blue-gum jigaboo?
>>   1965 _New Yorker_ (Apr. 10)
>>[http://www.newyorker.com/archive/content/?060123fr_archive01] : A
>>relatively friendly sheriff in Sunflower County, Mississippi,
>>warned me, confidentially, that my client was a "blue-gum nigger."
>>"Their mouths are filled with poison," he said. "Don't let him bite
>>you."...I said I'd try to be careful.
>>   With luck, I'll never think of this again. The date to beat, from
>>last time, is 1891.
>>   JL
>>Food fight? Enjoy some healthy debate
>>in the Yahoo! Answers Food & Drink Q&A.
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>                                                      -Sam'l Clemens
>Dope wil get you through times of no money better than money will get
>you through times of no dope.
>                                         -Free-Wheeling Franklin
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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