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Posted by Michael Dolan on May 22, 2012 in Uncategorized |

The Only Democracy

          “Language, be it remember’d, is not an abstract construction of the learn’d, or of dictionary-makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground,” according to America’s poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892).  “Its final decisions are made by the masses, people nearest the concrete, having most to do with actual land and sea.”

He continued in his essay “Slang in America,” to say the close-to-the-ground language of the common people captured the essence of Americans and may have boosted some of them to the presidency: “Those from Maine were call’d Foxes; New Hampshire, Granite Boys; Massachusetts, Bay Staters; Vermont, Green Mountain Boys; Rhode Island, Gun Flints; Connecticut, Wooden Nutmegs; New York, Knickerbockers; New Jersey, Clam Catchers; Pennsylvania, Logher Heads; Delaware, Muskrats; Maryland, Claw Thumpers; Virginia, Beagles; North Carolina, Tar Boilers; South Carolina, Weasels; Georgia, Buzzards; Louisiana, Creoles; Alabama, Lizards; Kentucky, Corn Crackers; Ohio, Buckeyes; Michigan, Wolverines; Indiana, Hoosiers; Illinois, Suckers; Missouri, Pukes; Mississippi, Tad Poles; Florida, Fly up the Creeks; Wisconsin, Badgers; Iowa, Hawkeyes; Oregon, Hard Cases. Indeed I am not sure but slang names have more than once made Presidents. “Old Hickory,” (Gen. Jackson) is one case in point. ‘Tippecanoe, and Tyler too,’ another”

Posted  at 5/22/2012

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