America in So Many Words: Words That Have Shaped America by David K. Barnhart

By David K. Barnhart

The United States in such a lot of phrases offers a different and engaging old view of this country's language. It chronicles, 12 months via yr, the contributions we now have made to the vocabulary of English and the phrases now we have embraced because the state has advanced. From canoe (1555), and corn (1608), to beginner (1993), and Ebonics (1997), a popular be aware for almost each year within the historical past of our kingdom is analyzed and mentioned in its historic context. the result's a fascinating survey of yankee linguistic tradition in the course of the centuries. The authors - either lifelong scholars of yank English - deliver an outstanding intensity of figuring out to the phrases that experience made the country and the language what they're at the present time.

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Example text

Eventually there were bluffs throughout English­speaking North America, sometimes even when there was no river.  For that matter, the word poker first entered the English language in the United States, borrowed from the French as long ago as 1834.  Unlike the other two, there was nothing romantic about the scow, a large flatbottom riverboat, but in the days before good roads it did America's heavy hauling.  On Christmas Eve 1776, when George Washington captured 918 surprised Hessians at Trenton, New Jersey, without a struggle, his troops were ferried across the river by a fleet of scows.

So it is not surprising that tota and tuta, meaning "to pick up" or "to carry" in Bantu languages of west central Africa, have been proposed as precursors of this word whose origin is undetermined.  But today tote is known throughout the English­speaking world thanks to the tote bag, an invention of about 1900.  So in the colonies, transactions dealing with land became much more of a business than they had been in the MOTHER COUNTRY (1617), where land titles were already established. " Land offices in the old sense are gone, but land­office business continues doing a land­office business in our language today.

In much of the country, mush is still made of cornmeal today, but in the states along the Pacific coast, mush can be any hot cereal.  They also had a method of confirming and commemorating kills in battle that particularly impressed the Europeans. " Fortunately, that kind of scalping exists only in history, but present­day scalpers (1869) still actively scalp tickets to shows and sporting events, making a killing by buying the tickets at list or cut­rate prices and then turning around and selling them to the highest bidder.

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