The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #122362   Message #2684915
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
21-Jul-09 - 07:30 PM
Thread Name: Ship Margaret Evans, songs
Subject: RE: Ship Margaret Evans, songs
Hi Q,

Quoting from blackface minstrel-'Ethiopian' routines or descriptions of them does not help your case that 'bulgine' comes from Black speech.

No no no....It's not that "bulgine" must come from Black speech. I am arguing that it helped to evoke Black dialect (percieved or otherwise) in how it was used in these references from the 1840s. You may disagree with that, but please understand the point: "bulgine" was a cliche of the minstrel genre. And the relevance of that is that it helps to identify "Clear the Track" as something (partially) minstrel-derived. --that is, in a tangible way, not just that it "sounds like" a minstrel song.

but minstrel speech must not be equated with Black dialects of the time.

That may be besides the point. I am talking about evocation of Blackness in minstrel song. The "minstrel dialect" was not authentic Black speech, but it used features and phrases stereotypically associated with it. Some was based in reality, some wasn't.

The term is derived from the patents of Edward Bull, the Bull engine, shortened to bulgine; so derived in the OED.
This etymology is irrelevant from my perspective. It is the use and sociological context of the term that is relevant. Lovell must have thought it was a "Negroism" for a reason. Why do you think he did? Why do you think the author quoted by Charley thought the word was "good Ethiopian for Steam Engine"?

Sailors coming ashore in the major ports sought entertainment in the minstrel and music halls, and picked up the songs that appealed to them.

Yes, in many cases. So, will you please confirm (I still am not able to see it plainly) if your contention is that the chantey "Clear the Track" is such a minstrel or music hall song picked up by sailors directly? Sorry to repeat myself, but my contention is that it is based in influences of the genre, not any particular song. I think we are both in the same area of thought, that it has some basis in minstrel music but the percentage differs. Obviously, finding a matching published song would settle that.

I think to prematurely assume a chantey with minstrel-like qualities must derive from a previous song removes the creative agency of sailors.

Bulgine as a word in the chanteys, as you say, is not important, but you claim Black origin without evidence...

No, again. It is not origin of the word that is important to me, it is use that I am claiming. The evidence is all the references we have collectively posted. And the analysis of that evidence, my own, is what I have said. you also seem to suggest that a chantey preserved in the Caribbean or Demarara area is necessarily of Black origin.

Now this is just baiting (and beside the point), as was your original statement, "there is no evidence that it is Caribbean or black in origin." Why even say that? Why not say there is no evidence of Mongolian origin? Yours was the first post, and nobody had ever made that claim here. I have done no such thing as suggesting "a chantey preserved in the Caribbean or Demarara area is necessarily of Black origin." Are you referring to the thread I started about the broken-link chanteys? If so, that would be a better place to raise that issue.