Country talk, 1840

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 12 20:02:01 UTC 2010

FWIW, back in Saint Louis, "squat-doodly" was a viable alternative to

Although I've heard "cop a squat" used only with the meaning, "have a
seat," IMO, it's easy to see "cop a squat" coming to mean, "take a
dump," depending upon where it was that one had copped the squat. And
it's downhill (in the positive sense) from there.


On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 11:21 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Country talk, 1840
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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...
> LH
>>  > 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 -

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.
–Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list