[Antedating] Seditty (1948)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake taylor-blake at NC.RR.COM
Sun Jun 15 22:23:34 UTC 2008

A couple years ago Ben found appearances of "siditty," "saditty, " and
"siddity" (1963-1965) predating those in OED2 (see link far below).  (By the
way, the list archive contains several threads on these and other variants.)

Here's a sighting of "seditty" from 1948.

"Several of the members have aspirations toward middle class status as
indicated by residence in the nearby housing estate and ambitions to
complete high school.  The desire for the group was voiced by its president
in her attempts to get the girls to be 'ladies and cultivated' -- or, as
frequently stated by them, to be more 'seditty' (sedate), a colloquialism
referring to the respectable and controlled behavior associated with
middle-class standards."

Grace Longwell Coyle, a professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences
at Western Reserve University, was describing members of the Jokerettes, a
group of 16 African-American girls aged 15 to 17 in "one of the worst
districts of the community" in some unnamed city in the United States.  For
what it's worth, Coyle had noted that "[a]ll the parents are southern born
but most of them moved north about fifteen years ago."

This doesn't exactly evoke "uppity" or "pretentious" or, as the OED2 offers,
"stuck up," but I suppose Coyle may have simply missed this nuance when
listening to members of the youth groups she studied.  On the other hand,
perhaps these teenagers were using "seditty" as she described it.

(From Coyle's _Group Work with American Youth_ [New York:  Harper &
Brothers, 1948], pp. 38-39.)

-- Bonnie




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