Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search



Share page  



Previous Contents Next


4i4                        SUSSEX WORDS IN AMERICA                     chap.
and many words which we are accustomed to think peculiarly American. One cause may be the two hundred Sussex colo­nists taken over by William Penn, who, as we have seen, was at one time Squire of Warminghurst. " In recent years we have gathered from the works of American comic writers and others many words which at first have been termed ' vulgar Americanisms,' but which, on closer examination, have proved to be good old Anglo-Saxon and other terms which had dropped out of notice amongst us, but were retained in the New World ! Take, for instance, two ' Southern words,' (pro­bably Sussex) quoted by Ray (1674). Squirm ;—Artemus Ward describes ' Brother Uriah,' of ' the Shakers,' as ' squirm­ing liked a speared eel,' and, curiously enough, Ray gives ' To squirm, to move nimbly about after the manner of an eel. It is spoken of eel.' Another word is ' sass " (for sauce), also quoted by Artemus Ward. . . . Mrs. Phcebe Earl Gibbons (an American lady), in a clever and instructive article in Harpers Magazine on ' English Farmers' (but, in fact, describing the agriculture, &c, of Sussex in a very interesting way), con­siders that the peculiarities of the present Sussex dialect resemble those of New England more than of Pennsylvania. She mentions as Sussex phrases used in New England— ' You hadn't ought to do it,' and ' Ycu shouldn't ought'; 1 Be you' ? for ' Are you' ? * I see him,' for ' I saw.' ' You have a crock on your nose,' for a smut; nuther for neither; passel for parcel, and a pucker for a fuss. In addition she observes that Sussex people speak of * the fa//* for autumn and ' guess' and ' reckon ' like genuine Yankees." So far Mr. Sawyer. Sussex people also, I might add, " disremember," as Huck Finn used to do.
I should like to close the list of examples of Sussex speech by quoting a few verses from the Sussex version of the " Song of Solomon," which Mr. Lower prepared for Prince Lucien Buonaparte some forty years ago. The experiment was ex­tended to other southern and western dialects, the collection
Previous Contents Next