[Ads-l] a mysterious term, 1792

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Mar 23 15:49:51 UTC 2016

            On Saturday last, unfortunately ran aground on her passage off
the stocks, the sloop Jane, Captain ------; but by the assistance of
*hon-spokers* she got safe off, with no other damage than her bilg-ways
badly chafed with the blue mud.
            Catskill Packet (Catskill, N. Y.), September 17, 1792, p. 3,
col. ?

I don't find another instance of "hon-spokers" (or honspokers) in Readex's
America's Historical Newspapers, series 1-5.  For that matter, I don't find
this instance either, though that's where it came from, turned up while
searching for something else.  There are now 9 series to this source, but I
don't have access to the most recent four.
I also didn't find in in the American Periodical Series database, nor in
Gale's 19th Century American Newspapers.  It's not in the OED, nor DARE,
not Mathews' Dictionary of Americanisms.

This is likely to be Dutch, or the dialect of Dutch spoken in the Hudson
River Valley.  "On-lookers" or "by-standers", perhaps?  Or a type of boat,
or a tool?

Meanwhile, news of the spiritual life in the present-day Hudson River
Valley: The new New Paltz phone book has a heading in its yellow pages for
"Places of Worship -- Non-theistic".  The only listing is a Baptist church
in Newburgh.


George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998..

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

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