Terms of Engagement: A - M

In progress:

In the United States, a plantation is a very different thing from what it is in England.  Noah Webster, "Preface," American Dictionary of the English Language, New Haven, 1828.

Historical studies of words - their origins, grammatical catagorization, or pronunciation - recognize the semantic horsepower of industrialization. A vast number of new words coined in the 19th and 20th centuries are attributable to increasing mechanization. Advances in the technologies of weaponry, for instance, accounted for new entries in Webster's. "Iron Clads" - warships like the Monitor and the Merrimack - appeared in the Civil War era.  Wars in general - their common clash of cultures - have this effect. (See Raymond Gozzi, New Words and a Changing American Culture, Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1990.) The Civil War era added "skedaddle," "telegram" and "employee" to the American language. Among the performance technologies of 19th century blackface minstrelsy were many negroisms - terms and dialect adopted by minstrels to portray  a nation in rapid and violent transition. This new language was as important as a costume, burnt cork, a tamborine, or a stage, in the machineries of performance.