[Ads-l] da-dah! ta-dah! (was Re: Cap/Kap)

MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY DEVCOM AVMC (USA) 0000099bab68be9a-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Fri May 7 21:36:14 UTC 2021

> . . .  will not be resolved without "recourse to philosophy" (Boswell).

My point exactly.  There is no dated, contemporary evidence that American Blacks were saying "ta-dah", loaned from Kikongo, prior to when we know that American Whites were using "ta-dah" in a way that supports the onomatopoeic origins of the word as we understand it today.  

If you want to believe it has African origins, that's a philosophical decision, and not one supported by evidence.

@Sola Zohna 

> Throughout the history of the United States, the Native Black American population 
>  predominated in the musical sector as performers and creators;

> the source of musical artifacts that are uniquely American
> is overwhelmingly the Native Black American population of the United States. 

It may be that much of post WW1 American music is heavily influenced by Blacks.  You can certainly make that argument by looking at Blues, Jazz, Gospel and other more modern branches of popular music.  But during the period in question, before 1913, I don't think you can generally support what you said with examples.  Mainstream American popular music from the 19th century was White.  If you want to look for "external" sources, look to the Irish, Germans, and Eastern European Jews as being the primary influences.

> I also have no reason to believe it would have been “white musicians” who decided to make the
>  instrument talk,

The business of "talking instruments" is something you brought to the discussion, not me, and I don't find it
particularly relevant.  But there is a strong White tradition of talking instruments:



> the Native Black American historical predominance and
> influence in American musical performance (including stage performance,
> carnivals, vaudeville, medicine shows, and the like),

In the last 15 years, I've spent hundreds of hours poring over the records of just these types of shows in the 19th century, exploring the history of conjuring and stage magic prior to WW1.  It is patently false that Blacks were historically predominant in the fields you mention.  To the very limited extent that Black acts existed at all in these performing arts, they were celebrated for their novelty ("Look at how the Negro sings almost as well as the White singer!") rather than for excellence.  A typical Black act in a 19th century carnival would have been as an exhibition of a Savage African -- hardly a position that demonstrates predominance.  Blacks performing in mainstream theaters were spectacles or buffoons. 

> I'm also perplexed that you actually suggested that *tada* came from "a white magician".

What I suggested, and documented with contemporary evidence, placing the suggestion on firmer ground than anything you've suggested, is that the first known use of "tada" in American English was from a magician in 1913.

If you want to show a Black person using the word prior to that, I'd love to see so.  You've said that there was no record of their culture from the era, but there are numerous writings from Black authors of the 19th century extant; recordings in the early 20th century of former slaves; and many accounts of White people recording the speech of Blacks in newspapers and elsewhere.  Any examples from these sources would be far more persuasive than oral interviews with Blacks from the late 20th century.

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

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