|Origin of red neck|
||I want to know the origin of the word red knoeck for a college paper.|
Lewis Joplin II
Here's something I wrote a while back:|
"Redneck" is one of several terms referring to country folk that should be used with caution.
My children were touring Chinatown in New York City with a school group. An elderly (and possibly inebriated) Asian-American man heard the students' Kentucky accents and called out, "Redneck! Redneck!" The young people were amused. Others might not be amused. Calling someone a "redneck" could earn the offender a punch in the nose. Or worse.
The "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997) has this to say about the term: "REDNECK. A poor, white, often rowdy southerner, usually one from a rural area. The word, which is sometimes derogatory, has its origins in the sunburned necks of farmers and outdoor laborers, and originally meant a poor farmer. 'A redneck is by no means to be confused with 'po' whites,' wrote Jonathan Daniels in 'A Southerner Discusses the South' (1938): 'Poor white men in the South are by no means all po' white even in the hills. Lincoln and Jackson came from a southern folk the back of whose necks were ridged and red from labor in the sun.'"
In "Whistlin' Dixie: A Dictionary of Southern Expressions, " (Pocket Book, 1993) Robert Hendrickson explains that "poor white" and "poor white trash" are not neutral terms used to refer to people who are white and poor. These terms are slurs used to denigrate people who are viewed as poor, white and of low character:
POOR WHITE TRASH - Lower-class white people. 'There were white people who were poor and there were poor white trash. The difference was absolute.' (Jonathan Daniels, 'Tar Heels, 1941) The offensive term goes back at least to the early 19th century. 'The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash.' ' (Frances Kimble, 'Journal,' 1833) Terms like poor white, poor white trash, redneck and peckerwood are often slur names in about the same class as nigger."
Grady McWhiney, in "Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South," (The University of Alabama Press, 1988) makes a distinction concerning the term CRACKER and tries to reclaim the term that is now used as a slur. He says that "cracker," in Scotch-Irish dialect meant "a person who talked boastingly." Later the term Crackers came to mean a Scotch-Irishmen, a particular group of people. McWhiney says Cracker eventually became a disparaging term and Crackers were equated with "poor whites." He quotes historian Lewis C. Gray, in "History of Agriculture in the Southern United States to 1860," as associating the term Cracker with other slurs: "The distinctive characteristics of poor whites were recognized in the various special appellations by which they were contemptuously known in different parts of the South, such as, 'piney-woods people,' 'dirt-eaters,' 'clay-eaters,' 'tallow-faced gentry,' 'sand-hillers,' and 'crackers.'"
McWhiney asserts that Crackers are a distinctive ethnic group - the Scotch-Irish - and is appalled that, "...in a nation in which slurs based upon race, ethnicity, or religion have become strictly taboo, it is still acceptable to lampoon Crackers as a group..."
HONKY OR HONKIE - This derogatory term for white people probably evolved from "hunkies," according to two references. "Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner" by Geneva Smitherman (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1994): "Honky - a negative term for a white person. Probably derived and borrowed from the name-calling and expression of resentment by settled European Americans against central and Eastern Europeans immigrants, who were negatively referred to as 'hunkies' (from Hungarians). Blacks, in competition with these immigrants in the first half of the twentieth century, generalized the term to all whites. Also hunky."
A personal note: in West Virginia "hunkie" means Italian-American.
HICK -"Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O" "n. 1. (formerly a hypocoristic form of Richard) an unsophisticated country person; bumpkin; yokel..."
HILLBILLY -- "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976): "...Mountaineer, 1834, first applied to one who hunted, wandered, or lived in the Appalachians; hillbilly (1900), as Hill-Billy)."
By the way, the West Virginia motto is "Mountaineers are always free."
"Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988): "hillbilly is exactly what the word implies - a rustic from the hills...The earliest example of its use comes from the turn of this century and from the vicinity of Arkansas. Then its use spread throughout the south and it became especially common in Kentucky and West Virginia."
But NOT where we can hear it. Hillbilly is one of them fightin' words.
"Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. "1900...In short, a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammelled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he please, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him."
Lord, that makes me homesick.
GRINGO - The "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" says that the "...legend that the Spanish American term 'gringo' - a pejorative label for an American - came from 'Green Grow the Lilacs' is a good story..." American soldiers was supposed to have "...sang this song repeatedly" during the Mexican war and the "natives" heard it as "green-grow," thus "gringo."
"...But the truth is the word 'gringo' was standard in Spain before 1787, half a century or more before the Mexican war...appearing in a Madrid publication in 1787 and meaning 'any person with a peculiar accent that prevents him from achieving the true Castilian accent.' In fact, the label 'gringo' was first pinned upon the Irish..."
I like the "Green Grow the Lilacs" story better.