OT: More broadcast journalism

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat May 1 18:07:24 UTC 2010

At 5/1/2010 11:02 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

>How commonly, BTW, is/was the devil really referred to as the "Black Man"?
>I get the feeling that it was rather rare and is more familiar today to
>academics than to anyone else.

I admit to being (or aspiring to be, or mistaken to be)
academic.  But I think it was pretty common.  My encounter was in
Hawthorne, "Feathertop: A Moralized Legend", and more notably in "The
Scarlet Letter" (chapter 4).  Commentary on Hawthorne's use says it
was common among the Puritans.  Wikipedia (s.v. "Men in Black") says
"Even so, the term "the black man" was used for centuries in
reference to the Devil,[citation needed]."  And Google Books for
"black man" + devil + -Hawthorne -- In the first 10 hits, "The
popular image of the black man in English drama, 1550-1688",
"Painting the dark side: art and the Gothic imagination in ... ", and
Howell's "Complete collection of state trials" all discuss the equation.

The OED (1989) has eight citations, from [1591] and 1658, then 1851
through 1886, and 1969.

BTW, if I'd seen the name "Clarence Dupnik", I would have known it
was not he I was trying to recall. :-)


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

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