Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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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
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