On "sauntering" blacks

RonButters ronbutters at AOL.COM
Sat May 29 20:03:57 UTC 2010

It seems t me that "sauntering" is a term used n general parlance with the same degree of imprecision as "nasal" and "slang," Trying to figure out how long white bigots have thought blacks "saunter" is like trying to figure out how long old people have thought adolescents are unmannerly and slovenly.
------Original Message------
From: Joel S. Berson
Sender: ADS-L
ReplyTo: ADS-L
Subject: [ADS-L] On "sauntering" blacks
Sent: May 29, 2010 1:08 PM

I believe there was brief discussion here a while ago of whether the
sauntering walk of some 20th century African-Americans has a
precedent.  See Gary B. Nash's _Forging Freedom: The Formation of
Philadelphia's Black Community, 1720--1840_ (1988), p. 219:  In
contrasting the respectable, white-emulating upper class with the
"mass of black city dwellers", he writes: "Some of them spoke in a
southern dialect, drank and gambled, dressed flamboyantly, sometimes
ran afoul of the law, and affected a body language---the sauntering
gait, unrestrained singing and laughing, and exuberant dancing---that
set them apart from 'respectable' black society."

Nash does not give a specific date for this description, but context
puts it between 1790 and 1830.  And lest one ascribe this
characterization to a white, 20th century intellectual,
African-Americans of the period wrote similarly about lower-class
blacks.  (See writers of the "elevation" movement.)


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

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

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