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The Story of American

The Story of American. By Alan DeSantis. Fun But True:.

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The Story of American

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  1. The Story of American By Alan DeSantis

  2. Fun But True: • Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. • Fcuknig amzanig huh?

  3. Part One:American Language—A Case Study in Unity and Diversity

  4. Immigration: Wave 1 • During America’s first 200 years, the culture and its language was shaped by many different ethnicities • A) • B) • C) Irish

  5. Immigration: Wave 2 • As America matured, more and more wanted to be part of this great experiment • 1) Total immigration 1607-1840 was no more than one million. • Until 1840, America received only 20,000 immigrants a year (from Africa and Britain) • 2) Then, 1845 to 1900, 30 million poured into the country. • 3) 1901-1905, America absorbed: 1 mill Italians, 1 mill Austrian-Hungarians, 1/2 Mill Russians, and so on . . . • At the turn of the century, NYC had more Germans than anywhere but Berlin; Irish than anywhere but Dublin; Russians than in Kiev; Italians than in Malian or Naples Italians

  6. Immigration: Wave 3 • Today, we still have millions coming . . . Mexican Migrant Workers

  7. The Fear of Contamination • Through it all (from the 1600 to 2000) we have feared the impact of diverse cultures on American society • We are worried about the “purity” of American culture & language

  8. Our Two Great Fears: • 1) Jefferson and Noah Webster both thought American would become separate from English • 2) Franklin thought that America would fragment into a number of speech communities like Europe • Neither of these happened. Why? Good Old Ben

  9. Why American Has Worked • There are at least 6 reasons why we have not splintered into many fragmented cultures • 1)

  10. Why American Has Worked • 2) • 3)

  11. Why American Has Worked • 4)

  12. Why American Has Worked • 5) • 6)

  13. Why American Has Worked • Within one generation, most Americans could not speak their parent’s language • With some exceptions where there was/is geographical isolation, almost all immigrants assimilate

  14. Part Two:Influences that Made American the Largest & Most Interesting Language in the World

  15. Making American out of English • Just as English was shaped by the Celts, Christians, French, Romans, Vikings, and the Anglos & Saxons. . . • American was (and is) also shaped by 1) other cultures and 2) unique experiences • Thus, English and American are both: • Let’s see some of these influences . . .

  16. “American” Influences • Early Americans • Spain • They not only gave us horses, cows, & cowboys (so American) • Barbecue, chocolate, tomato, marijuana, plaza, stampede, tornado  • France • Toboggans, caribous, bayou, crevasse, levee, depot, cents, dimes, cache, jambalaya, gopher, chowder, peak • Dutch(in New York) • Waffle, coleslaw, cookie, landscape, caboose, boss, snooping, spook, Yankee, poppycock, snoop, dope (drugs), Santa Claus • African Slaves • Banjo, voodoo, jazz, gumbo, jitter, cola, yam, zombie

  17. “American” Influences • Place Names: • England: Boston, Greenwich, Cambridge, Oxford, London (all old towns), Charlestown, Jamestown, Maryland & Carolina (after Royals) • Native Americans: 26 of the 50 state names: Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas, Dakotas, Massachusetts, & most rivers and streams • World History:Troy, Utica, Athens, Paris, Corinth, Memphis, Sparta, Cicero, Cairo, Versailles, Rome, Cincinnati • French:Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Detroit, Baton Rouge, St. Louis, Des Moines • Spanish: Florida, Santa Fe, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Appalachians • Famous People: Washington (a state, the nation’s capital, 31 counties, and 120 towns), Lincoln (2nd most popular), & Clay (towns in 18 states).

  18. “American” Influences • Place Names: • The Funniest: Toad Suck, Idiotville, Boring, Chucklehead Diggings, Git up and Git, Dead Mule, One Eye, Puke, Shitbritches Creek, Whiskey Dick Mountain, Dead Bastard Peak, Two Tits, Shit-House Mountain, Fucking Creek, Tickle Cunt Branch, Coldass Creek, Pee Pee, Two Eggs, Ding Dong, Hot Coffee, & Blue Balls, PA (right next to Intercourse) • Names That Sound Indian: Indiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma & Idaho (the latter two were coined by congress because they thought it sounded like good Indian) • The Best of KY: Sugar Tit, Rabbit Hash, Bug, O.K., and 88 (Interestingly, in 1948, 88 people voted for Truman and 88 voted for Dewey)

  19. “American” Influences • Ben Franklin: • Presidential, bamboozle, colonization, advocate, bookstore • Frontier (in a new and rough land): • Bluff, notch, gap, divide, and clearing took new meaning • Hickory, live oak, sweet potato, eggplant, squash, bullfrog, groundhog, garter snake, Backwoodsman, squatter, prairie, clapboard, popcorn, bobsled, sleigh • Lewis & Clark: 178 plants and 122 animal names, including grizzly bear, Yellowstone, great plains, prairie dog • Native Americas: • Wigwam, hickory, pecan, chipmunk, moose, terrapin, totem, papoose, squaw, moccasin, tomahawk, igloo, kayak, Pow-wow • Sayings: smoking a pipe of peace, war paint, fire water, Indian summer, playing possum, bury the hatchet, go on the warpath

  20. “American” Influences • Cowboy (Spanish): • Stampede, desperado, ranch, coral, rodeo, bronco, lasso, chaps, bandit, vamoose, gringo (meaning Greek) • Cowboy (American): • lollapalooza,, discombobulate, hornswagal, bite the dust, hot under the collar, tight ($), cowboy, punch, hand (for helper), pardner, jeans • Expressions: He is a Maverick (a man who did not brand his horses), real McCoy

  21. “American” Influences • 19th & 20th Century Immigration: • Italians—pizza, lasagna, espresso, minestrone, parmesan, pasta, tortellini, macaroni, ravioli, broccoli, zucchini • Germans—Westinghouse, Heinz, Budweiser, don’t be fresh, dumb, cookbook, bum, cylinder, kindergarten, ouch, scram, and how, hold on, deli, ouch, ecology, fresh, hoodlum, nix, phony, scram, will do, let it be • Jewish/Yiddish—chutzpah, smaltsy, hole in the head, who needs it, enough already, schmooze, nosh, schlep, kibitz, mensch, if you’ll excuse the expression, I need it like a hole in the head • Irish—The largest group gave us virtually nothing (like their Celtic ancestors) hooligan, speakeasy, slew • Japanese—kamikaze, karate, judo, ninja, sushi, tycoon, tsunami, karaoke

  22. “American” Influences • Gold Rush (1840s): • Gold mine (for good thing), pay dirt, panning for gold, panning out, strike it rich • America’s Capitalism (1850-1950): • Time is money, self-made man, well-to-do, money bag, tycoon, manufactories, millionaires, slum, sweatshop, tenement, skyscraper, get on the ground floor, sitting pretty, on easy street), dead broke, flat broke, sound as a dollar, & terms for money (beans, dough, c-note, buck, sawbuck) • Harlem (1910-30): • Jazz (again), jam session, jive talk, beat, groovy, too much, hip, send me, solid, chick

  23. Trademarked Names Singer Hoover (England) TV Dinners (for all frozen meals) Xerox Coke (South) Kleenex Jell-O Q-Tips Un-trademarked names Many lost in legal battles *thermos *cellophane *shredded wheat *zipper *bubble gum *aspirin *escalator *yo-yo *At one time, all these were capitalized and worth a fortune Corporate Brand (that have become synonymous with the item)

  24. Yo-Yo . . . What a name!

  25. But what about our expressions?

  26. Golf Par for the course Boxing Throwing in the towel Taking one on the chin Hitting below the belt Horse Racing Home stretch By a nose Playing the Field Dead Heat Neck and Neck Jockeying for Position Basketball Slam Dunk Nothing But Net Football Blindside Cheap shot Game plan Punt Quarterback Superbowl Fumble Drop the ball Hunting In my sights Blow your load Shooting blanks America’s Expressions: Sports (used by men & corp. America)

  27. Whole new meaning to “Shoot Your Load”

  28. America’s Expressions: Baseball (used by men & corp. America) • Strike 3 (blow it) • Homerun (to succeed) • You're out of here (to leave) • Let’s play ball (to start a deal) • Keep you head in the game (stay focused) • Keep you eye on the ball (stay focused) • Throwing a curve ball (an unseen trick) • Out in left field (a bit crazy) • Off the wall (a bit crazy) • Hard Ball (serious business) • Swinging for the fences (attempting something bold) • And of course, the “bases” metaphor in making out • Where you can “strike out”

  29. Behind enemy lines Bombard Break ranks Land minds Booby trap Attack (food, women, etc) Surrender (give up) Dodging a bullet Don’t give up the ship Dog fight Shell shock Blockbuster Type of bomb Ground zero Fall out No-man’s land Going over the top Digging in Dud America’s Expressions: War(used by men & corp. America)

  30. “Grunts”

  31. War Metaphors in Football • “Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium. In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line.” • George Carlin

  32. Crap shoot To follow suit Hit the jackpot Just for openers To stand pat You bet I do Deal me out I’ll pass Bet your bottom $ Fold (quit) High roller Pass the buck The knife, not $ Fair, big, & raw deal Stack the deck Deal from the bottom Poker face Call the bluff Ante-up Up and ante Blue chip Cashing in your chips String along America’s Expressions: Gambling

  33. You bet your life

  34. Getting up a head of steam In the clear Back tracking Side tracked Rite of way Stream lining Gravy train Main lining Drug use Make the grade Reaching the end of the line One track mind America’s Expressions: Railroad

  35. All fired up

  36. Conclusion

  37. The Never-Ending Story • At the turn of the century, words were being added to American dictionaries at a rate of 1,000 per year • Today, according to NYT, the rate has increased from 15,000 to 20,000 per year • The newest Random House Dictionary, second edition (1987), included 50,000 new words that did not exist only 21 years earlier Too many words

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