Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yankee OED

My friends got married. I approved. Congrats to them. The wedding was in the bride's hometown of Hereford, which is in the panhandle of Texas. It's known as the beef capital of the world. It's a dry dry land that survives on a buried aquifer and gov't subsidies. The people of Hereford were very friendly, but they had a half sarcastic, half joshing, half pure hidden hatred of Yanks. Before this trip, I'd hardly thought of my designation as a yankee. Dictionary.com claims that the term carries less emotion [nowadays] except when referring to the baseball team. I must politely disagree. To west Texans, it is a term that is full of secret knowledge, and most of that knowledge doesn't seem complimentary.

Then there was the question of who geographically is a Yank. Outside of the US, we all are; see: Yankee, Go Home. At the wedding, a couple of characters from Milwaukee were surprised to find it ascribed to them, assuming that a yankee was exclusively a New England to South Jersey thing. I've always assumed I fully fall into the Yankee category, as Ohio was a mostly full participant in the Civil War. I didn't feel any less yankified when I was in Minneapolis, though. It's still a midwestern town, protestant, and slaveless in history. How far west does Yankee go? The determination of your yankee bonafides seems to lie entirely on a geographic point of view. From where we sit, that's how things are seen.

Yankee
1. a. a nickname for a native or inhabitant of New England, or, more widely, of the northern States generally; during the War of Secession* applied by the Confederates to the soldiers of the Federal army.
b. an American**
3. Whiskey sweetened with molasses. colloq.
5. b. adj. That is a Yankee; pertaining to or characteristic of Yankees (often with connotation of cleverness, cunning, or cold calculation); loosely, belonging to the United States.

*War of Secession? Is this the Southern name for it? Why would the Brits use this term? (ahem, we won)
**American? Paraguayans and Chileans and the like might not agree.

The etymology is entirely unclear. Possible sources - mangling of the Cherokee word for coward or slave, eankee; perhaps from the diminutive for John, Janke; maybe an indian mispronunciation of the French word anglais (english).

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Pat said...

I believe it's anyone from above the Mason Dixie line. Of course, that really doesn't cover a whole lot of territory these days.

One thing's for sure. They don't like us there. Well, they don't NOT like us, but they don't like us like us.

Anyway, sorry we couldn't get any guns for you to shoot off while you were down there.

April 30, 2008 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandma always called me a god damn yankee because I liked my cornbread made with sugar.

MP

April 30, 2008 at 11:36 PM  
Blogger Lord of the Barnyard said...

i've got access to enough guns up here, thanks. i have a personal mobile arsenal code-named simon zayne.

god saved non yankees like their cornbread made with...syrup?

May 1, 2008 at 3:11 AM  
Blogger Lord of the Barnyard said...

and *ahem* it's mason DIXON. but, you knew that. oh i wish i was in the land o cotton... dee dah dee dah

May 1, 2008 at 3:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, I guess you aren't supposed to like sweet cornbread. I don't know. grandma was crazy

May 1, 2008 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger simonzayne said...

That just made my day LOTB.

May 1, 2008 at 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Pat said...

Did I say Mason Dixie line?

Yep, yes I did.

sigh.

May 2, 2008 at 12:14 PM  

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