[Ads-l] "Brouhaha" (in English usage; antedating to 1819)

James Eric Lawson jel at NVENTURE.COM
Mon Apr 12 07:08:09 UTC 2021

Although I don't qualify, except in the most minimal sense, as a
"dictionary maker" (I do supply words, and uses of words, as a member of
populations represented in dictionaries), my response to Garson's
question may be (just as minimally) worthwhile.

The use of 'brouhaha' in Smollet's translation of _Gil Blas_ (1781)
remains French, rather than English. 'Brouhaha' is translated as "a note
of applause" in the footnote because the word has not yet been fully
assimilated into the target language, at least in the perception of the

The footnoted gloss of 'brouhaha' in the translation suggests at least
that the social dimension of lexical transference is not yet completely
realized, although the evidence of the gloss could easily be outweighed
by other evidence (which is in this case lacking, so far as I can
discover). The extent of the linguistic dimension of transference, so
far as it differs from the social, remains opaque to me. I have no
evidence that the phonology of 'brouhaha' is English in English speech
in 1781 (1748), rather than French, and the plural form, 'brouhahas',
while evidenced somewhat later (see below), is sometimes the same in
French as English, although Cotgrave's 1611 evidence implies the plural
'brouhoux' was also in use (see below; Miege's derivative 1679
_Dictionary of Barbarous French_ omits 'brouhoux'). Further, I found no
early evidence of derived English forms such as, for example,
'brouhahaness', 'brouhahaing', etc.

While lexicographers are too often the imperfect instruments of
editorial policies (written or unwritten, stated or understood),
policies in turn supported, or not, by a complex stew of methodological
bases (see Durkin's 2014 _Borrowed Words_), my own 'policy'--more a weak
heuristic--is that if a word is not fully assimilated it will be glossed
in the surrounding text, however distantly or indirectly.

Later evidence than Cotgrave's, Miege's, and Smollet's, but earlier than
1810, presented below, does suggest that 'brouhaha' had been
sufficiently assimilated into English by 1800, in the social dimension
if not the linguistic, to be considered part of the English lexicon, for
my own and, I assume, the purposes of at least some contemporary


>From Cotgrave's 1611 Dictionary of the French and English Tongues:

Brouaz : m. *as* Brouhaha.
Brouée : f. *A miſt, or fog; alſo, as* Brouhaha ; *or* Boucade ; *a
bluſtering or violent paſſion, or perturbation.*
Brouhaha : m. *A bluſter; hurry, hurlyburly*.
Brouhoux : m. *Stormes, bluſters; hurlyburlies*.
<fromtitle>A dictionarie of the French and English tongues </fromtitle>
<fromauthor>Randle Cotgrave <borndied>?-1634? </borndied></fromauthor>
<place>London </place>
<publishedby>Adam Islip </publishedby>
<date>1611 </date>
<scanpage>142 </scanpage>
<collection>HathiTrust; Google Books </collection>
<accessdate>11apr2021 </accessdate>

>From Smollet's translation (originally published anonymously in 1748) of
_Gil Blas_, as published in 1781:

The applauſes began with the prologue; every verſe was attended with a
*brouhaha* ꝉ! and at the end of each act there was ſuch a clapping of
hands, that one would have thought the houſe was falling.
† A note of applauſe
<fromtitle>The Novelist's Magazine </fromtitle>
<author>Alain-René LeSage <borndied>1668-1747 </borndied></author>
<translator>Tobias Smollet <borndied>1721-1771 <borndied></translator>
<place>London </place>
<publishedby>Harrison and Co. </publishedby>
<date>1781 </date>
<volume>Volume IV </volume>
<page>319 </page>
<collection>HathiTrust; Google Books </collection>
<scanpage>339 </scanpage>
<accessdate>11apr2021 </accessdate>

>From an 1800 translation of Johann Georg Zimmermann's _Aphorisms and
Reflections_. The anonymous translator's use of 'brouhaha' seems fully
assimilated into English:

You are not at peace with yourſelf, if you cannot ſee the diurnal
routine of luxury, hear the brouhahas of the enraptured throng, or
witneſs the extravagant freaks of joy, without repining.
<title>Aphorisms and Reflections on Men, Morals and Things </title>
<author>Johann Georg Zimmermann <borndied>1728-1795 </borndied></author>
<place>London </place>
<publishedby>Thomas Maiden for Vernor and Hood, J. Cuthell, J. Walker,
Lackington, Allen, and Co. J. Nunn, Ogilvy & Son, Darton & Harvey, W.
Otridge And Son, R. Lea, And J. Scatcherd </publishedby>
<date>1800 </date>
<page>92 </page>
<collection>HathiTrust; Google Books </collection>
<scanpage>104 </scanpage>
<accessdate>11apr2021 </accessdate>

>From Pinkerton's 1806 _Recollections of Paris in the years 1802-3-4-5_:

I obſerved, however, no acclamations at the proceſſion, but rather a
kind of brouhaha of curioſity and wonder.
<title>Recollections of Paris in the Years 1802-3-4-5 </title>
<author>John Pinkerton <borndied>1758-1826 </borndied></author>
<place>London </place>
<publishedby>Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme </publishedby>
<date>1806 </date>
<volume>Volume II </volume>
<page>130 </page>
<collection>HathiTrust </collection>
<scanpage>144 </scanpage>
<accessdate>11apr2021 </accessdate>

On 4/10/21 12:29 PM, Bonnie Taylor-Blake wrote:
> Garson asks a great question below, one that I had also wondered about in
> compiling some of this on "brouhaha." (Thanks for this message, Garson.)
> He has shared something (below) I had seen as well, a translation (into
> English) of the original _L'Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane_.
> As he rightly mentions, "brouhaha" within this English translation remains
> as "brouhaha" (no quotation marks, but italicized) and is footnoted with
> the explanation "Brouhaha!  a note of applause." (In collecting data
> earlier, I had restricted myself to English-language texts written in the
> original English that also happened to include French phrases/words as part
> of the [English] text. All appearances of "brouhaha" in my original message
> were in italics.)
> Would someone be able to help us with this issue? If a foreign word appears
> in an English translation of a text, without the word in question's
> translation into English (and without the word's seeming prior acceptance
> into English), how do lexicographers treat this? (I think Garson explains
> this better than I have.)
> And a belated thank-you to Pete Morris for locating a usage of "brouhaha"
> in an English text published in 1810:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2021-April/159591.html.
> -- Bonnie
> On Wed, Apr 7, 2021 at 3:10 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> Bonnie clearly stated that she 'omitted texts that are clearly (or
>> likely) just translations from French into English, with "brouhaha" as
>> an untranslatable word'. The instance below seems to fit into the
>> group Bonnie has omitted from her excellent collection of citations.
>> Yet, here is a question for dictionary makers. Does the citation below
>> qualify as an instance of "brouhaha" in English or French?
>> Date: 1797
>> Title: The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane: A New Translation, by
>> the Author of Roderick Random
>> Volume 4 of 4
>> Chapter V
>> Quote Page 36
>> https://books.google.com/books?id=oaQtAAAAMAAJ&q=brouhaha#v=snippet&
>> [Begin excerpt]
>> In this part of our conversation, the actors appeared; and we left off
>> speaking immediately, in order to listen with attention. The applauses
>> began with the prologue; every verse was attended with a brouhaha*!
>> and at the end of each act, there was such a clapping of hands, that
>> one would have thought the house was falling.
>> * Brouhaha!  a note of applause.
>> [End excerpt]
>> Garson

James Eric Lawson

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

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