Sunday, September 18, 2016

Quick Hit: The History Behind the Word “Yankee”

File:Boston1775.jpg



Have you ever wondered where the word “Yankee” actually came from? I have so I did the research and here is what I came up with just in case you were wondering.

The word Yankee is generally considered to be a word that refers to people from the United States if you aren’t living in the US and specifically refers to people from the North if you are currently living in the South. This obviously came from the American Civil War, specifically those who lived and fought in the New England area. The speech dialect in New England is actually called “Yankee” or “Yankee dialect” believe it or not.


The earliest recorded use of the word Yankee was from British General James Wolfe in 1758 when he referred to the people who lived in what was is now the United States. The word caught fire and began being used all across Britain as a derogatory word for the New Englanders and Yankee Soldiers. The word has evolved ever since as Mark Twain wrote a book “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” which was more aimed at New England residents and less towards a United States Citizen. More or less these days the term Yankee, when not being referred to in baseball terms, is used from Americans living in the southern part of the United States referring to the people living in or originally from the northern part of the United States.


The word also has some ties to the Dutch as they inhabited what is now known as New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The Dutch given names of Jan (John) and Kees (Cornelius) were the most common Dutch names and sometimes combined to make a single name, for example Jan Kees de Jager. The pronunciation from the Dutch sounds much like the word Yankee and some believe that Dutch Americans were given the name from the native Dutch. There is also the theory that the Dutch word for pet, Janke, was where the term came from as when you pronounce the “J” in English it comes out with a “Y” sound. The final Dutch theory for the word was the slur “John Cheese” as the Dutch were heavy into dairy cultivation and even introduced the black and white dairy cow from Friesland and North Holland to America in the mid-1600s. When the Dutch would say John Cheese it would sound roughly like “Yankees” and the term stuck over time.

In New York though Yankees just means winning. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

No comments:

Post a Comment