Country talk, 1840

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 9 03:21:23 UTC 2010

At 12:35 PM -0400 4/8/10, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>I believe that Squatawa was the proposed sister city to Ottawa.
>Actually I don't.
>Never heard of it.
>On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 10:13 PM, George Thompson
><george.thompson at>wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
>>  Subject:      Country talk, 1840
>>         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

Or as we'd say now, "I don't care squat if you call me a liar."  I
always wondered where "squat" came from...


>  > 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.
>>  GAT
>>  George A. Thompson
>>  Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
>>  Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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