Country talk, 1840

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Apr 8 02:13:27 UTC 2010

        THE FORCIBLE ARGUMENT. -- "Gentlemen of the jury," said a hoosier lawyer, addressing a real shell-bark jury, "I say that ere magnanimous sun shines in the heavens, though you can't see it, kase it's behind a cloud; but you know it, though I can't prove it; so my client, who rises airly and hunts coons like an honest man, has a good case, though he can't prove it.  Now if you believe what I tell you a bout the sun, you are bound on your bible oaths to believe what I tell you about my client's case, and if you don't then you call me a liar, and that I'll be squatawa'd if I'll stand it anyhow; so if you don't want to swear false and have no trouble, you'd better give us our case."
        N-Y Daily Express, August 11, 1837, p. 2, col. 5

I don't have the vol. of DARE that would cover "shell bark" and "squatawa'd".  I see that "shell bark" is a type of tree, and I dare say that it is wide-spread in Illinois.  As for "squatawa'd", I dare say that the spelling will vary greatly, if it's otherwise recorded.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

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