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fr is not affectation or mere pedantry to speak of the American language, for it is becoming more and more distinct, not only in matters of pronunciation and in colloquial phrases, but in the novel meanings attached to many old words, and in the fertile invention of new words. Our American cousins not infrequently express themselves as employing our common language in a way superior to the English, and doubtless the insular pronunciation, with its rising inflections, sound as peculiar to them as the more or less nasal twang -if the gentle criticism may be ventured-and the falling inflection sound to us.

Not that uniformity prevails throughout the wide area of the United States. There are marked provincialisms, as is the case with different districts in Great Britain, so that a "down-Easter" from Maine, or the typical "Yankee," or the resident in the Great West differ from each other in this respect, while all of them are unlike the drawl common in the South. In the older communities there are, of course, to be found many refined and truly cultured persons, to whose conversation it is a pleasure to listen, and who reveal in phraseology and intonation nothing of what are usually understood as Americanisms. It must also be cheerfully admitted that average people in the United States speak with much greater ease and appropriateness than persons of a corresponding position and education in England. This is to be accounted for partly by the system of recitations pursued in the schools, and partly by the social freedom which permits ready talk on almost every subject. Without drawing undue refinements by way of distinction, and without insisting upon local and accidental peculiarities, and especially without indulging in hypercriticism or ridicule, it may be interesting to indicate some of the meanings in which familiar words. are used across the water, and to explain some of the modern phrases which are continually being devised as additions to the received vocabulary.

An ordinary dictionary does not define the peculiar terms and idioms commonly used by Americans. They can be understood, although they prefer to place the accent on the penultimate syllable of "observatory" or 'conservatory," or when they make "vase" "or rhyme with "case, or when they contract "cannot" into "can't," a sound exactly like that of Kant, the German metaphysician. They prefer to say "Italian" and "na'tional," and to pronounce "schedule" as if it were "skedule," and to call the last letter of the alphabet "zee," and to spell certain words in a way peculiar to

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themselves, as "meager," 'scepter," ""center," "traveler," "unequaled," "plow," "develop, skepticism," "defense," "offense," wagon, check" (a draft on a banker), and many others that might be cited. Public speakers often place undue emphasis upon the articles a and the, particularly on the former, which is made to sound like "ay," thus giving it undue prominence and an odd effect before the noun.

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Young ladies are much addicted to the use of the word "verra,' as they pronounce "very," and they describe themselves as "mad". when they are slightly vexed; and while they would on no account mention "legs"-which are always "limbs"--they describe all insects under the generic name of "bug;" but the leg of a fowl is the "second wing. Young ladydom also uses the word "awful" for "very" in the Eastern and Middle States, where "awful hungry, "awful handsome," and so on, are continually heard. When she is about to adorn herself, or to trim a bonnet or some article of dress, she says that she will "fix herself" or "fix it up;" but the same word is used in connection with meals, as "tea and fixings;" or if a guest is in doubt over the bill of fare, the waiter will probably say, I'll fix you," and he then brings a varied and numerous assortment of dishes.

Other words are employed in a novel or an exaggerated sense. A jug or mug, however small, is a "pitcher;" wood, sawn into planks, is "lumber;" when a man states, "I feel bad," he refers, not to moral depravity, but to the state of his health, just as "I feel good" means that he is well and happy. "Big" is used not only for size, but as descriptive of quality, and, in a vulgar sense, of persons of supposed consequence, as "big bugs." Biscuit" is synonymous with hot rolls, in which most Americans indulge twice a day, and then wonder that they suffer from indigestion; whereas "crackers" are what English people usually understand as biscuits. "Real," or "clear," or "true grit," refers to a person of superior worth or genuineness, as distinguished from one inferior, who is only "chaff." These words evidently come from the miller, as "doughface" may be traced to the baker; meaning, a man easily moved to change his opinion, and who can be moulded, like dough, to any shape. "Back" is often used instead of "ago;" as "That was a long time back." "Beautiful," and "elegant" are much misused terms, being often applied indiscriminately to anything good, pleasing, or even tasty. "Convenient" has assumed a new meaning, and refers to what is near at hand or within easy reach; thus, a farm is advertised as "having wood and water convenient to the house." "Cute," instead of "acute," has become almost a distinct word, being stronger in its peculiar meaning than the original, and is one of the most expressive Americanisms of the day. "Dirt" is

generally used for earth, or soil, and "rag" for any piece of linen or cotton cloth. "Dress" has almost superseded the word "gown," as part of a lady's costume, and the upper portion, or "body," as it is termed in England, is the "waist" in America. Instead of "leading article" in a newspaper, "editorial" is always used. "Hoarding" is never applied to a wooden inclosure-which is always "fence"-but only to accumulating money. "Housekeep," as a verb, has firmly established itself in American speech. A letter or newspaper is not posted, but "mailed." Such a term as "nasty weather' is never heard; and the adjective itself always denotes something disgusting in point of smell, taste, or even moral character, and is never heard in the presence of ladies; but "nice" is used with great freedom, and with wide and varied meanings. The pavement of a street is always called the "sidewalk." The American substitute for "braces" is "suspenders," a delicate improvement upon the older word "gallowses," "common in New England.

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Surpassing others in ability is often expressed by the word "whip;" and the phrase, "That whips all creation," is well known. "Few" is used in the sense of "little, as, "I was astonished a few;" and in like manner a man will say that he has "heard considerable" of a person. Prepositions are employed in what at first seem odd meanings, and yet in many cases they are strictly appropriate, such as "on the street;" or a letter written "over his signature." In the South, members are elected to sit "in the legislature." A common phrase is that "he arrived on time." But it sounds strange to hear of a field "planted to corn;" or the phrase "at the north;" or "to be sold at auction." "In" is used for "into" very generally. "Nor" is frequently substituted for "than;" and "outside" for "beside," or "except," as "Outside the Secretary of War, no one knew of the transaction."

As might be expected, certain words which originated as vulgarisms, and which are even now never heard in good society, yet find places in colloquial speech, because of their expressiveness, arising, perhaps, more from the sound than the precise signification. Among these are "absquatulate" and "skedaddle," in the sense of running away; and "all to smash," for an utter wreck. "Highfalutin" is applied to exaggerated or bombastic speech or writing. A "loafer" is an idler or dawdler. To "cave in" means a collapse.

Public meetings are often held in the open air in newly-cleared districts, and the stump of a tree is a convenient platform. Hence the expressive phrase "to go on the stump" during some political agitation, or "campaign," which is now the stock phrase. In connection with this, the word "platform" has come to signify a statement of principles or objects, each of which is described as a “plank;" and a man who is supposed to attach undue importance



to some particular scheme or notion is styled a "crank." ticians are said to be engaged in "log-rolling," or to have "their own axes to grind," when they are thought to be seeking personal objects under color of party zeal. Another opprobrious epithet applied to such is "machine politicians." A "caucus" is a preliminary gathering of a political party to decide upon united action; and lobbying" means waiting outside the chambers of legislature so as to use influence for the passing of certain measures. Political nomenclature is constantly changing, as new words are invented by speakers or newspaper writers, some of which have but transient currency and are soon forgotten, such as "free-soiler," "carpetbagger, ""copper-heads," hardshells," "softshells," locofocos," "know-nothings," and many more. Óne such word, "bolter," was applied during the Presidential election in 1884 to indicate a section of the Republican party who for that time voted with the Democrats. "To be around" is used in the sense of being near or close by: To "back down "is to yield; to "take the back track" is to retreat; and if a man utters a mistaken charge or wrongfully applies an epithet, he will probably say, by way of apology, I take that back." A coverlet or counterpane is called a "bed-spread." Where an Englishman would say "as the crow flies," an American speaks of "a bee line," and a railroad free from tunnels is an "air-line." To be "under the weather" is to suffer from a cold. A speaker is said to "voice the sentiment" of a meeting; and instead of the common English phrase that "it is well to wash dirty linen at home," the Western people have one of pungent meaning, when the offensive odor of the animal is remembered, that "every man should skin his own skunk." To "play 'possum" is equivalent to the old London trick among the thieves of "shamming Abraham," or pretending to be dead, as the opossum does when escape seems impossible. "It's nuts to him" denotes some difficulty in comprehending, or a task that cannot well be performed; just as nuts are hard to crack. The "given name" is the Christian name, and in the West it is sometimes styled the front name." A "live man," in the sense of quick, active, or a "live preacher," or "live prayer-meeting," are sufficiently expressed, though somewhat inappropriate terms.

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Traveling has given rise to many peculiar phrases. The line is always called "the railroad," or "the roadbed," or "the track;" the carriages are "cars," or "steam-cars;" the locomotive, when not so named, is the "engine," with the ""long; a siding is a "switch ;" the wooden sleepers are known as "ties;" the station is a "depôt ; luggage is "baggage;" the guard is a "conductor;" and when he gives the signal to start, he shouts, "all aboard;" a passenger riding with a free pass is a "deadhead;' deadhead;" a commercial traveler is a "drummer;" a street carriage on hire is a "hack;" and the street

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tramway-cars are horse-cars." If inquiry be made for a certain street, the reply will be "go so many blocks, and then turn to the right or left for so many blocks more. When trains meet at junctions without causing delay to the traveler, he is said to "make close connections;" a quick transit is grandiloquently described as lightning express. The name of a well-known ribbed stuff, corduroy," has been given in new clearings to a rough kind of road, consisting of loose logs laid across the swamp. A plankroad" is formed of sawn deals, or boards of considerable thickness, laid even and close, crosswise. Overshoes are invariably "rubbers," being an abbreviation of the name of the material.

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A rush of panic-stricken people is a "stampede," as in the case of cattle. In naming the State of Connecticut, the second "c" is never heard; and by many the State of Arkansas is pronounced as if the last syllable were saw;" while in New England, pumpkins are invariably called "punkins;" and a person of note and wealth is said to be some punkins." A New Englander will commence most of his sentences with wal," for " well," and will pronounce "can" as if it were written "kin." He will talk of a "potato-patch," or a "wood-lot," or a "section of kintry," or will make inquiries about absent friends by asking "How's the folks?" He is also fond of saying, "I guess," just as the people in the Northern States say, "I calc'late," and those of the South," I reckon." A man who can do no more is described as "played out;" the odd jobs around the house are known as "chores;" any one out of health is said to be "sick," but if he suffers from actual vomiting he is" sick in the stomach;" a plot of land chosen for a dwelling is a "location;" any. thing specially approved of is"real good," or "real nice;" an attack of ague is" chills and fever;" and an attempt to force up or down prices of commodities is" a corner" in pork, or in corn, or in oil. The issue of fictitious railroad stock for speculative or gambling purposes is known as "watering the stock," a term derived from the practice of a famous drover who sold cattle by weight, and gave them salt to eat to induce thirst, and then let them drink copiously just before they were sold by live weight.


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Trade has its own phraseology, as in England. A shop is a" store," and the different kinds of commodities are expressed by "clothing store," "dry-goods store" (i.e., drapery, etc.), drug store," " grocery store,"book store," and so forth; but a butcher keeps a "meat market," vegetables and fruits are obtained at a vegetable store. To make a pile" is to amass large profits. To" foot a bill" means to pay it; while to "fill that bill," signifies that the person fully comes up to the description, or is able to accomplish what is undertaken. The uniform name for treacle is " molasses," and sweatineats

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