September 11, 2003

65 year linguistic drift

I'm reading a book called They Broke the Prairie by Earnest Elmo Calkins, a history of Knox and Galesburg first published in 1937 (the town and college's centenary) and republished in '87. It's interesting to see what's changed and amazing to see what's stayed the same. I'm only a little ways in and already I recommend it (if you can find it---it seems to be out of print again).

But the linguistic usages are fascinating! On page 13, Calkins refers to the "clayey shale" of the area; showing that the -y construction is not new, nor is the difficulty people have in spelling it in some situations. He uses the word "darkey"---though more usually "colored" or "Negro"---in a totally unselfconscious fashion. He puts the cedille on the c in "façade" and the accent on the e in "Santa Fé", because that's how they're spelled.

Amazing how much things stay the same, though. Just in the first twenty pages he's already lamented how the farmers' land is further out of town than it used to be, increasing the difficulty with which they can participate in town life, and how the chains have been moving in to crowd out the local independents (of which there nevertheless remain many).


Posted by blahedo at 5:06pm on 11 Sep 2003
Wow. You've got me. I've been here a year and have yet to remember anything but "cornfields" :P Posted by Chelsea at 5:22pm on 11 Sep 2003
Which is not to say that I still have it solid. Just that I did, then. Although, hm, I can remember snippets. Something something "road to alma mater" something "our lakes and our lanes" something prairie something cornfields something country something home. Chris will undoubtedly correct me if I'm wrong. :) Posted by blahedo at 10:15pm on 11 Sep 2003
Sue says you should look at your program; it should be printed there. ;-) I'm impressed that you've already gotten around to reading Knox history. I've been wanting to read Herman Meulder's history for a long time, but I haven't managed to make time. Posted by Chris at 1:38pm on 12 Sep 2003
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