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What do you know about the words you use. Do you really know the American language and the words that make it up. Today we present the fourth program in a new series on the American language by Mitford Matthews. Mr. Matthews is editor in chief of the Dictionary of American isms published by the University of Chicago Press and is a lecturer in linguistics at the University of Chicago. Today's program is on a word from the Dutch to Matthews. The Indians were by no means the only source from which the English speaking colonists and those who came after them borrowed words. There are many other Europeans in this country who did not speak English and from whose languages those who used English have been quick to appropriate time. The Dutch were in New York before the Puritans landed it and they managed to control things in that general area for 55 years. For a century at least after the English dispossessed them and 60 and 64 their
influence on the cultural life of New York was considerable. One result of their former dominance is that to this day we have many words of all kinds that are derived from Dutch. Among the most interesting of these words are placed Knight which the English took over from the Dutch when they became the assessor's of regions formally under that roof. Such names are most numerous of course in the New York area. Among these there are many which the Dutch appropriated from India. It's the village of seeing so many more noted perhaps for the state prison which is located there than for anything else has a Dutch name which is of Indian ancestry in 16:45 the Dutch had occasion to spell the word sense C which they used to represent an Indian word meaning something like at the Standing Stone bar place of
small stone. At this place on the east bank of the Hudson in Westchester County there sprang up a residential suburb of New York City called Ossining which is the same word so far as its origin is concerned as Hsing-Hsing brother up the Hudson is the city of the keep city best known perhaps for being the location of Vassar College. Here again is an Indian name which became Dutch and later passed into the speech of an Englishman. It is disappointing to find that such a beautiful and impressive nameless but keeps it has such a commonplace significance. In earlier times there was a creek in the neighborhood on which there was a waterfall not far from the Hudson River. The basin of water borne out of the rock at the foot of the Falls was given my name by the Indians which resulted in the present sit in line for
those who would like to know what the name of the city means the little rotter who rule of water is about the best that can be done. Still further up the Hudson there is another. And in that English place name Saratoga Prague which is likewise necessary to accept a Serb remaining where one with a little sparkle and romance in it would be most acceptable. One of the scholars who investigated this name many years ago thought he was justified in regarding the mineral springs in the vicinity as having been the inspiration for the night in which he thought should be translated. The place of the sparkling waters considering the prominent role the fashionable resort at Saratoga Springs has played in the social life of our country. This interpretation was the least that could be expected. But other scholars came in the wake of earlier ones and the rate of learning is clearly on their side when they say that it was
not the mineral springs that interested the Indians are sufficient to evoke from their own name for the place. But the fact that beaver were abundant in the vicinity. We have to bear with now is the explanation of Saratoga as meaning in the language of the Iroquois Indians at the place of the beaver dam. Passing out of the west of the hoods to its chief tributary we come upon lame mohawk that has more sparkle to it. But here we are unfortunately having to wink at the very serious possibility that this is hardly a place name that comes to us by way of the Dutch. But the name is so interesting that we would imagine it anyhow. According to the best information so far available about the Mohawk India has their own name for themselves. Unpronounceable meaning people of the place of the flan has been discarded altogether
in favor of one they receive from their neighbors who did not hesitate to call them by name but told an unpleasant truth. The most charitable interpretation about more Hall is that it comes from an Indian term that meant they eat animate things. Plants are man eaters. Throwing politeness aside we must state plainly about the Indians in question had the reprehensible habit of eating their enemies they feasted on those they killed in war and those whom they captured were roasted and enjoyed in festivals ranking as the social events of the season. They worship the God who expected this conduct around them and to them they apologize if they fail to exercise all diligence in devouring as many of their animals as possible. The Society of the is in the end Ross to some extent a class one. The common people ate the least desirable
bits of the results of their battles and the aristocrats. That is the Chiefs partake of the choicer tidbits. It is too bad that such a fine name as Mohawk should have such a somber background. At the junction of the Mohawk River with the Hudson there is a place name which brings us back into the proper scope of our present discourse. The holders of the name of a city at the followers of the most Mohawk Johns the herds has occasioned much speculation on the part of investigators and over the years students have come up with all kinds of explanations of its basic meaning. Run right I thought it was the Indian word meaning a boat or ship. And that the name somehow commemorated Hudson's sailing up the river in the Half Moon in sixteen or not. Another suggestion was that the name meant ship wrecked canoe or falling canoe this line of
thinking proved so stimulating that in due time a minimal number witted explainer I magine that in former times they committed a load of Indians had gone over this particular fault. And that this episode gave rise to the name of the place. This explanation is a very appealing one and is sometimes met with in high places. In earlier times the fall off at the hose was much more impressive than at present. A stream of water 900 feet wide and eight feet deep plunged over a rock a declivity seventy eight feet high with a roar that could be heard nine miles away. There is no doubt but the canoe loaded with Indians would have had no chance while they were in a place of this kind. But as it often happens later students have changed the picture in pilot and say of not all of the Indians in question but that can move that way. And even though the results are more
prosaic we can all read your ass that human life and property have been preserved. The better explanation is that the good in that area made the acquaintance of an Algonquin word meaning pantry and in trying to write it in their language. They came upon their word Eva's meaning place of small pantries. And this word in the course of time led on to the present name of the city. When the plans that had occasioned the end in the a.m. had disappeared. Scholars were left with very little to go upon in their efforts to arrive at a sensible conclusion as to the significance of the word. Not all the place names found in the regions are very influenced ultimately of Indian origin. Some of those that look like Indian names turned out to be
not so at all. Nine miles or so above the holes is the city of Schenectady. The name of which certainly looks like it might be India but serious objections have been made to this explanation of some of the earliest students to look into the matter of the meaning of the word. I thought it was an Indian name for for our in the present parliament and that it should be interpreted as meaning something like the place we arrive at by passing through the pantry far beyond the path so far beyond the opening or beyond or the other side of the door. There are different versions of this explanation. Ron is that there is a Mohawk crying foul this guy. Thus their name meaning on that side of the panorama and alluding to the large number of his family growing between Albany and Schenectady. The name of these Indians the scam up to the US became in the course of
Schenectady another investigator however has maintained that there never was in a mall Mohawk village at all than that and consequently there was never in a more Miami for such a man existed than the more he denies there was a more hot clam Norma's their skin not that us. He prods out convincing lever that in 16 61 when the Dutch brought from the Mohawk Indians the area known in later times as the Schenectady flats they built a palace a good plan at the present city of Schenectady and they name this place in period the skinhead stayed there all night which breaks nicely into three parts the first element is in it is the Dutch word meaning beautiful which is the same word as the German word meaning beautiful.
The second element in the birch name is head meaning a regular palisade and the last part of their own name is stead meaning place heart pound. These three elements when combined map beautiful palace aided Pam the author of this explanation says that all through the bewildering confusion of spellings of Schenectady these three elements are desirable even in the present form of the night. They may still be clearly observed by those who have been part by this explanation. Look father. Catskills a name that inevitably cost a man Rip Van Winkle and his remarkable 20 year sleep. Here's another pill a Dutch contribution that is passed in the NG to Hughes. The fact is pretty Rylan known now that the Dutch word kill means a creep. Our small stream the name of the school kill river helps to keep this meaning of kill
alive. Cats in the name Cat scale look so much like the English word cat that many people assume that the two words are the same and the Catskill Mountains got their name from the fact that there used to be many cats that is wildcat in their shady retreat. So it turns out that the name of the mountains is to be explained as derived from the name of a kill our dream in the region. The Dutch called it the harder rock scale an allusion to some beautiful flowers forming part of the full name was felt to be too long for comfort for comfort. And it gave way to Catskill which still later came to base failed as at present and the original significance completely obliterated. You have heard referred Matthews in a talk on a word from the Dutch. This is the fourth program in the series the American language. Mr Matthews
is editor of the Dictionary of American isms and lecturer in linguistics at the University of Chicago. This program was produced in the University of Chicago radio August by Thomas the courage. This is the end of the tape network.
American language
A word from the Dutch
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The fourth program in this series discusses the influence of Dutch upon American English.
Series Description
A series of talks by Mitford Mathews, editor of the Dictionary of Americanisms and lecturer in linguistics at the University of Chicago.
Broadcast Date
Dutch language--Influence on English.
Media type
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Producer: Parrish, Thomas (Thomas D.)
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Mathews, Mitford M. (Mitford McLeod), 1891-1985
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-8-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:11:59
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Chicago: “American language; A word from the Dutch,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “American language; A word from the Dutch.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: American language; A word from the Dutch. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from