Jazz from Teas

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 17 13:04:36 UTC 2007

What's the explanation of the passage of Irish [t'] and [s] and French
[Z] and [a] to English "j" and [aesc] and [z]? You can't just pull
this kind of crap out of your ass without taking into account
historical phonology. Otherwise, any string of letters from  (even a
transliteration of) any other language with the slightest resemblance
to a string of letters in English can be - and has been - said to be
the source of that string of English letters.

FWIW, IMO, Cassidy has no knowledge of (modern) phonology, rendering
his work useless, except by accident, there being English words that
really are of Irish origin.


On 9/17/07, Baker, John <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Jazz from Teas
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I guess I'm basically prejudiced against Cassidy's suggestion because =
> other suggestions he has made consistently have not made sense.  =
> However, while I haven't read his book, my understanding is that his =
> treatment of jazz at least takes the known history of jazz as a West =
> Coast slang term into account, and even a blind pig occasionally finds =
> an acorn. =20
> =20
> Rigter seems unaware of the West Coast history of the term, instead =
> seeking a New Orleans etymology, and of course he did not have the =
> benefit of HDAS.  At this point I would characterize his work as a =
> "false lead."  My question is whether Cassidy's suggestion likewise =
> should be considered a "false lead," or instead mentioned as a possible =
> though less likely etymology.
> =20
> Any other thoughts?
> =20
> =20
> John Baker
> =20
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Douglas G. Wilson
> Sent: Sun 9/16/2007 8:43 PM
> Subject: Re: Jazz from Teas
> >Could someone provide a summary of the reasons why Daniel Cassidy's
> >proposed derivation of jazz from the Irish word teas should not be
> >credited?  People keep adding this to the Wikipedia article, and I
> >would like to be able to articulate succinctly why linguists do not
> >take his theory seriously.
> Does "credited" here mean "taken as essentially certain" or simply
> "accepted as one of several reasonable possibilities", or something in =
> between?
> I believe the etymon of "jazz" is probably English "jasm", in line
> with the Wiki piece. But AFAIK decisive evidence has not been
> presented; therefore other notions can be (seriously) considered.
> Cassidy derives "jazz" from Irish "teas" (pronounced approx. "chass",
> apparently) =3D "heat".
> Bob Rigter has another derivation ...
> http://www.bobrigter.com/etymologyjazz.htm
> ... from French "chasse" =3D "chase"/"hunt".
> There are other published suggestions including "jasmine", French
> "jaser", Mandingo "jasi", etc., etc.
> All without any convincing evidence.
> At least we know that the candidate etymon "jasm" really was in
> existence in the milieu in question. I don't think we have any
> indication of Irish "teas" being used in English; Cassidy didn't
> present any such evidence AFAIK. But this sort of reasoning does not
> answer the derivation question; it only addresses plausibility ...
> and sometimes the truth is seemingly implausible.
> Cassidy's book about Irish etymologies of English slang has been
> published recently; I haven't read it.
> No reason why Cassidy's notion should not be included in the Wiki
> article ... but I think equal time (i.e., probably, very little)
> should be given to Rigter's speculation ... and several others.
> -- Doug Wilson
> --
> No virus found in this outgoing message.
> Checked by AVG Free Edition.
> Version: 7.5.487 / Virus Database: 269.13.21/1010 - Release Date: =
> 9/15/2007 7:54 PM
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org =
> <http://www.americandialect.org/>=20
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> 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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list