[Ads-l] ten-shun; ten-hut

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Mar 5 21:44:11 UTC 2021

Militia Eloquence—Who's Afeerd?

            We are not informed which of our gallant militia officers made
the following *spirit*-ed address to his warriors at the last general

            "Friends, Countrymen, and Sodgers!  "Tenshun Squad!  This is a
great country, and has got a tareing start among the white nations and
injuus of the airth.  What makes it great?   Whar does the conglomerated
elementum of its greatness cum from?  I answer — jist bring your right foot
into line there, Sargeant Smike — l answer in a voice of hash thunder, the
militia!  ***

            Rockland County Journal (Nyack, N. Y.), July 24, 1852

I was going to post the whole screed here, as a mid-19th century rendering
of a dialect, but then an unaccustomed spriit of kindness broke through.
The piece goes on and on, and is full of eye-dialect and mangled
malapropisms, some so very malaproppy that I can't even guess what the
underlying word might be.

Did I mention the typos?  The "injuus of the airth" are no doubt "injuns".
This is a cleaned-up transcription by a easily-fooled OCR, which is often
baffled by "n"s and "u"s, but not here.

Anyway.  The full text will be provided, upon request.


On Fri, Mar 5, 2021 at 10:20 AM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>

> Not in OED or MW.
> I
> 1872 _Vermont Journal_ (St. Johnsbury, Vt.) (June 8) 1 [ref. to 1830s]:
> He...drew himself up and commanded, "Ten-shun comp'ny!"
> 1883 _Detroit Free Press_  (May 23) 2:  Lieut. Col.
> Roudstep...Quartermaster Salthorse...Private Rankanfile...Surgeon
> Greensash...Adj. Tenshun.
> 1893 _Belvidere [Ill.] Standard_ (July 19) 2: Tim yelled..."Ten-shun fer
> the officer av the day."
> Etc., etc.
> 2
> 1943 _News-Chronicle_ (Shippensburg, Pa.) (Dec. 3) 5: Camp Crowder,
> Mo....The GI pronunciation is something like "Ten-HUT!" Almost every
> command for execution of drill orders is made with the letter "h,"
> regardless of what it may have been originally. "March" becomes "harch" and
> "face" becomes "hace"and so on.  Believe it or not, there really is a
> logical reason for it. The reason is that the "h" sound can be started out
> with a powerful stab of the diaphram [sic]...which gives body and carrying
> quality to the command. Any word used as a command of execution in drill
> and which is not needed for understanding the order becomes simply "Hut" or
> Hoo!" "Hut!" is a very powerful word.
> Etc., etc.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=DwIBaQ&c=slrrB7dE8n7gBJbeO0g-IQ&r=v2Wtu7DQZxSBMSJv-oEMNg&m=XA4avE9BqupL1oYXj1wjrIteyiDZojKposFIBvfOCTA&s=hpKxqKW0vHsbvCcmZ-3yESAj88rabqBRe2Qd3jcvkOU&e=

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
your lowly tomb. . .
L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112

The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool.  (Here's a
picture of his great-grandfather.)

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

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