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Americanisms and Briticisms with other essays on other isms   By: (1852-1929)

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[Illustration: portrait of the author]

[Illustration: signature of the author]

AMERICANISMS AND BRITICISMS WITH OTHER ESSAYS ON OTHER ISMS

BY BRANDER MATTHEWS

[Illustration: colophon]

NEW YORK HARPER AND BROTHERS MDCCCXCII

Copyright, 1892, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

All rights reserved.

TO

THOMAS R. LOUNSBURY

YALE UNIVERSITY

My dear Lounsbury, In reading over the proof sheets of these pages, I have happened on your name more often than I thought I had written it, and yet not so often by once as I wish to write it. So I set it here, in the forefront of this little book, to bear witness that much of what may be good in these essaylets of mine is due to help given by you, either directly by word of mouth or indirectly by the printed page. And that is why I take pleasure now in subscribing myself as

Yours gratefully ,

BRANDER MATTHEWS

Columbia College September, 1892

CONTENTS

Page AMERICANISMS AND BRITICISMS 1

AS TO "AMERICAN SPELLING" 32

THE LITERARY INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES 60

THE CENTENARY OF FENIMORE COOPER 89

IGNORANCE AND INSULARITY 103

THE WHOLE DUTY OF CRITICS 114

THREE AMERICAN ESSAYISTS 135

DISSOLVING VIEWS: I. OF MARK TWAIN'S BEST STORY 151 II. OF A NOVEL OF M. ZOLA'S 161 III. OF WOMEN'S NOVELS 169 IV. OF TWO LATTERDAY HUMORISTS 177

AMERICANISMS AND BRITICISMS

In a novel written in the last decade but one of the nineteenth century by an Australian lady in collaboration with a member of Parliament, one of the characters stops another "to ask for the explanation of this or that Australian phrase," wondering whether "it would be better to give the English meaning of each word after the word itself, and to keep on repeating it all through, or would it do to put a footnote once for all, or how would it do to have a little glossary at the end?" As it happens, oddly enough, the authors of The Ladies' Gallery have not themselves done any one of these things; and therefore, if we chance to read their fiction, we are left to grope for ourselves when in the first two chapters we are told of "the wild howling of the dingoes in the scrub ," and when we learn that the hero had "eaten his evening meal damper and a hard junk of wallabi flesh" while his " billy of tea was warming." Then we are informed that "he had arranged a bed with his blankets, his swag for a pillow," and that he wished for a good mate to share his watch, or even "a black tracker upon whom he could depend as a scout." We are told also that this hero, who "was not intended to grub along," hears a call in the night, and he reflects "that a black fellow would not cou ee in that way." Later he cuts up "a fig of tobacco;" he says "we can yarn now;" he speaks of living on "wild plums and bandicoot ;" and he makes mention of "a certain newchum ." From the context we may fairly infer that this last term is the Australian equivalent of the Western tenderfoot ; but who shall explain the meaning of damper and dingoes , cou ee and bandicoot? And why have scrub and billy , grub and fig , taken on new meanings, as though they had suffered a sea change in the long voyage around the Cape or through the canal?

As yet, so far as I know, no British critic has raised a cry of alarm against the coming degradation of the English language by the invasion of Australianisms. It can hardly be doubted, however, that the necessities of a new civilization will force the Australian to the making of many a new word to define new conditions. As the San Francisco hoodlum is different from the New York loafer , so the Melbourne larrikin has differentiated himself from the London rough , and in due season a term had to be developed to denote this differentiation... Continue reading book >>




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