[Ads-l] Query about "hobo"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 15 16:51:25 UTC 2016


The primary date of "ca1885" in HDAS might  more cautiously be dated
"ca1875-ca1895."

The cite comes from a variant text of a popular song, "The Regular Army O!"
by Ed Harrigan & Dave Braham (1874).

The cited words do not appear in the original sheet music printing, which
may be viewed just a link away from here:

http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/catalog?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=regular+army+o

JL


On Tue, Mar 15, 2016 at 10:40 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Query about "hobo"
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> 19th Century U.S. Newspapers:
>
> 1888 _Morning Oregonian_ (Portland) (Sept. 14) 8:
>
> ORIGIN OF THE TERM "HOBO"
>
> A Password Formerly Used by the Tramp --  Its Generalization
>
> '"What is new to-day?"
>
> This question was asked Police Captain Cardwell yesterday by a reporter.
>
> "A couple of 'hobos' have just been brought in. I see by your puzzled look
> you do not know what a 'hobo' is. I will tell you what we mean by the term.
> It is a word used to classify all tramps and vags. The word first
> originated with the Independent Order of tramps, and was used by them as a
> sort of password. One tramp walking along the street seeing another, whom
> by his general appearance he thinks belongs to the order, says 'hobo.'  If
> the party thus addressed recognizes the word he stops and an acquaintance
> is struck up.  Again, this tramp walking alongside a lot of freight cars
> stops at one in which he thinks there is a brother and repeats the magic
> word. It is a sesame and if this surmise is correct, the car door is drawn
> back and the man outside is received within.
>
> "From his specific use of the word has come the general term 'hobo,' which
> is applied to the vag and beggar as well as the tramp."
>
> Earlier exx. may exist, but there are far too many false positives for me
> to deal with.
>
> Stripped of its questionable, possibly romanticized details, Cardwell's
> belief was that "hobo" arose among hoboes, its etymology unknown, and was
> entirely unfamiliar to other people.
>
> Neither this database nor American Historical Newspapers seems to include a
> real example of "hawbaw."
>
> JL
>
>
>
> On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 7:27 PM, David Barnhart <dbarnhart at highlands.com>
> wrote:
>
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       David Barnhart <dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM>
> > Subject:      Re: Query about "hobo"
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Here is the gist of the entry in The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology (c.
> > 1988):
> >
> > *hobo*, *n*. person who wanders about, living by doing odd jobs.  1889
> > American English, of uncertain origin; (the earliest quotations
> capitalize
> > the word and refer to it as the tramp's name for himself), Compare
> > dialectal English _*hawbuck*_ clumsy fellow, lout, country bumpkin (1805)
> > and _*hawbaw*_ clumsy or coarse fellow, lout (1857), which may be
> > forerunners of _*hobo*_.
> >
> > David
> >
> > On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 4:32 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> > 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: Query about "hobo"
> > >
> > >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >
> > > I wonder if Norm Cohen is familiar with Jon's interesting if
> admittedly =
> > > non-definitive etymological note at "hobo" in HDAS II; that *is* more =
> > > recent than 1981, in any case. =20
> > >
> > > LH
> > >
> > >
> > > > On Mar 14, 2016, at 2:54 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at MST.EDU>
> =
> > > wrote:
> > > >=20
> > > > I've received a request from researcher Norm Cohen (no relation)=20
> > > > about the origin of "hobo," and I offered to share his request with
> > > > ads-l.  If anyone can help, please contact Norm directly and also
> > > > please share the information with the entire listserv.
> > > >=20
> > > > His request appears beneath my signoff.
> > > >=20
> > > > Gerald Cohen
> > > >=20
> > > > [from N. Cohen]:
> > > > "In 1981, in my book on American railroad songs, "Long Steel Rail," I
> > > > reported what was then known about the origins of the word "hobo."
> Is
> > > > anyone aware of any information that has since come to  light on the
> > > > subject?  Norm Cohen, ncohen at teleport.com."
> > > >=20
> > > > Thanks,
> > > > Norm
> > > > ------------------------------------------------------------
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