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'Sugar' and 'Azucar' in songs and folklore

Azizi 05 Feb 09 - 08:02 PM
Azizi 05 Feb 09 - 08:37 PM
Azizi 05 Feb 09 - 09:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Feb 09 - 11:32 PM
Azizi 06 Feb 09 - 08:22 AM
Azizi 06 Feb 09 - 08:50 AM
Azizi 06 Feb 09 - 09:58 AM
Azizi 06 Feb 09 - 10:27 AM
Azizi 06 Feb 09 - 10:39 AM
Azizi 13 May 13 - 08:28 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 May 13 - 11:11 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 May 13 - 12:22 PM
Azizi 13 May 13 - 01:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 May 13 - 04:43 PM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 08:02 PM

"Suca-suca" almost certainly has its source in the Spanish word "azucar" [sugar].

There's no doubt {in my mind} that the African American vernacular phrase "ah sookie sookie" can be traced to the Spanish word "azucar".

"Ah sookie sookie" was popularized by King Floyd in his 1971 hit R&B song "Groove Me."

Here's a YouTube sound recording of that song:
Groove Me-King Floyd

And here is a portion of the lyrics to that song:

Uhh! Awww, sookie sookie now!
Hey! Oww, uhh! Come on, baby!
Hey there, Sugar Dumplin',
Let me tell you something
Girl, I've been trying to say, now.
You look so sweet,
And you're so doggone fine.
I just can't get you out of my mind.
You've become a sweet taste in my mouth, now.
And I want you to be my spouse,
So that we can live happily, nah-nah,
In a great big ol' roomy house.
And I know you're gonna groove me, baby.
Ahh, yeah, now...

-snip-


Did the phrase "ah sookie sookie" exists as a term of admiration for a sexy lady {or man} before King Floyd included it in his song? I believe so, but I don't have any proof of that. Perhaps someone else can post that proof. But I can say that "ah sookie sookie" has been used since that song, perhaps in other recordings, but definitely in Black conversations, when the situation or the person {usually female} warrants it.

I should mention that the complete lyrics to "Groove Me" are found here
along with responses to the question "What does 'Ah sookie' mean?"

Both responses to that Yahoo question gave the "azucar/sugar" answer. One of the responses provided a link to utban dictionary - "sookie sookie now"

Here's that response:

"sookie sookie now
an expression of admiration, or satisfaction, especially in regards to the shape and beauty of a female
A beautiful girl with a tight body walks by and you look at her and say "Ahhhhhhhhhh sookie sookie, now!!"
by jojo Oct 24, 2003

-snip-

I was surprised to find out that the same respondent on that Yahoo answers site gave a link to a comment that I wrote on a Mudcat thread about the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian song Iko Iko .

In that post, I shared two transcriptions that I found online for Zap Mama's version of the song "Iko Iko". One of those versions contains the repeated phrase "with a souca souca mama/Oh, hey , come away/Souca souca na na". In another transcription, "souca souca" is given as "azucar azucar".

It's very possible that the phrase in the Zap Mama version of "Iko Iko" and the similar phrase in King Floyd's "Groove Me" have their origins in the Cuban "Suca-Suca" song and dance. But I'm not sure if we'll ever know that for certain.

**

I'll share more about the use of the azucar/suca/sugar terms in my next post to this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 08:37 PM

Here are a few additional thoughts on the phrase "suca suca" and its connection to the word "azucar" and other "sugar words/names":

No "contemporary" discussion of the use of the word "azucar" can be complete without mention of that wonderful vocalist, the "Queen of Salsa", Celia Cruz.

The exclamation "Azucar!" became Celia Cruz's trademark. Not only did she say it, but her fans said it with and for her.

Here's a portion of Celia Cruz's Wikipedia page:

"In 1950, [Celia Cruz] made her first major breakthrough, after the lead singer of the Sonora Matancera, a renowned Cuban orchestra, left the group and Cruz was called to fill in. Hired permanently by the orchestra, she wasn't well accepted by the public at first. However, the orchestra stood by their decision, and soon Cruz became famous throughout Cuba. During the 15 years she was a member, the band traveled all over Latin America, becoming known as "Café Con Leche" (coffee with milk). Cruz became known for her trademark shout "¡Azúcar!", ("Sugar!" in Spanish). The catch phrase started as the punch line for a joke Cruz used to tell frequently at her concerts. Once, she ordered cafe cubano (Cuban coffee) in a restaurant in Miami. The waiter asked her if she'd like sugar, and she replied that, since he was Cuban, he should know that you can't drink Cuban coffee without it! After having told the joke so many times, Cruz eventually dropped the joke and greeted her audience at the start of her appearances with the punch line alone. In her later years, she would use the punch line a few times, to later say: "No les digo más 'Azúcar', pa' que no les dé diabetes!" which means "I won't say 'Sugar' anymore so that you won't get diabetes".

-snip-

**

I've no doubt that the African American nicknames "Shug" and "Suge" have their source in the Spanish word "azucar" {sugar}.*

See these excerpts from the Wikipedia page for Suge Knight:

"Marion Hugh Knight, Jr. (born April 19, 1965), better known as Suge Knight (pronounced [ʃʊg]), is an entrepreneur in the hip hop music industry and co-founder and CEO of Death Row Records...

Marion Knight was born in Compton, California. His name, Suge (pronounced /ʃʊɡ/), derives from "Sugar Bear", a childhood nickname."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suge_Knight

* Because most Americans aren't interested in the etymology of names & nicknames, I wouldn't be surprised if few people who have the give or who have the nicknames "Shug" and "Suge" know those names' connection to the Spanish word "azucar".

**

As a Northern African American, I confess that I've never met anyone who had the nickname "Shug" or "Suge". I believe those are given more often to Black people who live in the South {though I may be wrong about that.

The nickname "Shug" can be given to males or female. A case in point is Alice Walker's character "Shug" in her best selling book "The Color Purple". Here's an excerpt of an online article about that book:

"The symbol of self-determination and self-love in Alice Walker's The Color Purple (1982) is Lillie, better known as Shug Avery or the Queen Honeybee. Shug is a beautiful, vivacious, and flamboyant blues singer who is considered a "loose woman" by some of the novel's characters. These opinions are of little concern to Shug, however. Unlike the novel's protagonist, Celie, Shug does not accept imposed definitions of herself, nor does she allow anyone to control her. Instead, she is compassionate toward others and allows herself the freedom to enjoy love wherever she finds it—even in the arms of another woman. Her spirit of determination is the catalyst for Celie's transformation and the vehicle to freedom for Mary Agnes (a younger woman who wants to leave rural Georgia to become a blues singer).

Even though Shug is a positive influence on others, she is also a character in pain. True to her name, this Queen Honeybee moves from one garden of love to another as if trying to escape something she does not want to face. Her parents reject her because of her adulterous relationship with Albert, a man whose father forbids him to marry her. Although Shug does not want to marry Albert, she believes in their love. Knowing that he will always choose her over his wife, Shug remains his lover, gliding in and out of his life as she pleases. When she discovers Albert's true nature—his cowardliness—she rejects him and develops a relationship with his wife, Celie."

http://www.answers.com/topic/shug-avery


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 09:23 PM

Let me clarify that I didn't mean that the nicknames "Shug" and "Suge" came from the Spanish word "azucar". It seems clear that those nicknames come from the word "sugar".

What I meant in my last post was that these sugar nicknames are related to the Spanish word "azucar" simply because that word means "sugar".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Feb 09 - 11:32 PM

Sucu sucu may be related th the American Spanish words "suco"- juice, sap, orange-colored; and "sucoso," juicy, succulent- or it may not. If so, azucar, sugar is the probable origin.

Another suggestion is that the word is related to "sucubo," a Spanish word for "a pretended demon, which, in intercourse with men, took the form of a woman."
Could this idea have been in the minds of the dancers in the Isle of Pines 150 or more year ago?

Definitions from- Velázquez, Spanish and English Dictionary.

It is impossible to attach with certainty meaning to an old word which is local in origin, unless a great deal is known about the local dialect spoken there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 08:22 AM

Here are some more thoughts about the phrase "sucu sucu":

Let me call attention to this passage in the article about "sucu sucu in Cuban music" that Joe quoted in his 05 Feb 09 - 07:41 PM post to this thread:

"WHAT WAS THE SUCU SUCU IN CUBAN MUSIC?
by Maria del Carmen Mestas
...How is it danced? Many people describe sucu sucu's choreography like that of the son, with the only difference that there is not a long and a short step, but two short shuffle steps with each foot. Older people tell us that in the past, the dancers used to light a candle to Saint Nicholas, and they would dance while it remained lit"...

-snip-

First of all, I think that it would be helpful to post some information about the word son that is used in that article. Here's an excerpt from this online article about Cuban music
http://www.sbgmusic.com/html/teacher/reference/cultures/cuba.html

"Afro-Cuban religious music has provided a way for Africans to retain traces of life in their ancestral home. Santería, the largest Afro-Cuban religion, mixes Yoruban spirituality with Catholicism. Music and dance are very important to the ceremonies of Santería, since followers believe they are the only means of contacting ancestors. Sacred drums of Santería are called batá...

There are many different kinds of salsa music and dance in Cuba. Most of these styles are derived from son. Son developed in eastern rural areas of Cuba around the turn of the twentieth century, but traces of it date back to the 1700s. Son is a distinctly Afro-Cuban musical style because it uses an African rhythm (also called son), Spanish poetic styles in the lyrics, and the use of plucked instruments (including guitars). Son is a part of much Cuban music."
-snip-

Returning to the article that began this post, I'm wondering if while doing the "sucu sucu" dance the custom in Cuba was to light a candle to Saint Nicholas and not any other Saint. If so, it would be interesting to know what Saint Nicholas symbolized to Cubans in the context of Christmas {giving sweet treats and other longed for things] and also in the context of the Santeria religion.

With regard to Santeria and Cuban culture, see these excerpts from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santeria :

"Santería is one of the syncretic religions. It is a system of beliefs that merge Yoruba religion (brought to the New World by slaves imported to the Caribbean to work the sugar plantations), Roman Catholic and Native American traditions.[2] These slaves carried with them their own religious traditions, including a tradition of trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice and the practice of sacred drumming and dance. Those slaves who landed in the Caribbean, Central and South America were nominally converted to Christianity. However, they were able to preserve some of their traditions by fusing together various traditional believes of the tribes that made up the old Oyo Empire ( Egba, Ijesha, Dahome, Asanti, Bini,) and Lukumi beliefs and rituals and by syncretizing these with elements from the surrounding Christian culture. In Cuba this religious tradition has evolved into what we now recognize as Santería...

As mentioned, in order to preserve their authentic ancestral and traditional beliefs, the Lukumi people had no choice but to disguise their orishas as Catholic saints. When the Roman Catholic slave owners observed Africans celebrating a Saint's Day, they were generally unaware that the slaves were actually worshiping their sacred orishas.[1]...

The traditional Lukumi religion and its Santería counterpart can be found in many parts of the world today, including but not limited to: the United States, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama, Nicaragua, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Canada, Venezuela, and other areas with large Latin American populations. A very similar religion called Candomblé is practiced in Brazil, which is home to a rich array of other Afro-American religions."

-snip-

With regard to the Santeria in the United States, I have a number of friends and acquaintances who practice the Yoruba {Nigeria} and Fon {Benin} religion from which much of Santeria is derived. Also, at least one Santeria song became part of American culture through the very popular "I Love Lucy" television show- "The most popular song by Cuban-born Desi Arnaz, as "Ricky Ricardo" in the popular 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, was "Babalu". It was an homage to the orisha Babalu-Aye".
[source: previously quoted Wikipedia page on Santeria]

{By the way, "orisa" is pronounced "oh-REE-shah". In the USA, this word is usually spelled "orisha". But my understanding is that "orisa" is the correct way to spell it in the Yoruba language}

**

In contemporary life in the USA, most people have easy access to sugar and sweetened desserts & snacks. But in many places throughout the world, in the past and even today, diets were/are often very inadequate and sweetened desserts & snacks were/are longed for luxuries. In my opinion, failure to remember this basic fact means that much of the context is lost for many folk songs or other songs that mention sugar, sweets, honey etc. This includes Christian religious songs that refer to heaven as "the land of milk & honey". This also includes the large number of 19th century and earlier African American secular songs that mention sugar, candy, and sweetened pies {as well as chicken pies}.

All of this to say, that I'm wondering if a candle was lit to Saint Nicholas {and not any other saint} because Saint Nicholas was associated with giving treats and other long for things. I also wonder which, if any, orisa Saint Nicholas was associated with. {For instance the important orisa Sango {Shango} was/is associated with Santa Barbara}.

**

In my next post to this thread, I'll share my theories on several familiar American nicknames and words that I believe are related to the phrase "sucu sucu".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 08:50 AM

In his 05 Feb 09 - 11:32 PM post to this thread, Q provided some possible Spanish sources for the phrase "sucu sucu" other than the word "azucar". I want to thank Q for that post. Besides providing information that I was not previously aware of, Q's post reminded me of four things which might be considered basic, but which I {as a student of etymology} sometimes fail to remember:

1. The original source for many words and phrases are likely never to be known.

2. Some words have multiple meanings, and the particular meaning of that word may not be correctly understood unless you know & understand the specific context of its use.

3. Some words and phrases can mean more than one thing at the same time {allusions, double entendres, coded meanings}

4. The meaning/s of some words of phrases change over time.

Given these points, my response to Q is that even if the word "sucu sucu" came from "the American Spanish words 'suco'- juice, sap, orange-colored; and 'sucoso,' juicy, succulent" or some other Spanish word, I believe it took on the meaning of the word "sugar", or some sweetened treat, and, at the same time took on the "sexualized" meaning which is probably reflected in its dance movements.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 09:58 AM

In my 05 Feb 09 - 08:02 PM post to this thread, I shared my opinion that the African American vernacular phrase "ah sookie sookie" has its source in the Spanish word "azucar" {meaning "sugar"} and/or the Spanish song/dance name "suca suca".

And in my 05 Feb 09 - 08:37 PM post to this thread, I shared my opinion that the nicknames "Shug" and "Suge" come from the word "sugar" and are therefore related at least in meaning to the Spanish word "azucar" and the Spanish phrase "suca suca".

In this post, I focus on the nickname "Snooky".

A number of African American Blues or Jazz musicians were called by the nickname "Snooky". Among them were American blues harp player Snooky Pyor {Edward James Pyror} and American hazz trumpeter Eugene "Snooky" Young. In addition, see this excerpt from "Jazz Anecdotes" by Bill Crow:

"Eugene Cole was called "Snooky" ever since he was given that name by childhood playmates".

The nickname "Snooky" is also given to females. One famous example is the Filipina film and television actress Snooky Serna {born Milagros Ocampo Serna on April 4, 1966}.

That the nickname "Snooky" is still used can be easily determined by searching Internet search engines and online Myspace pages.
I happen to know one 30ish African American male who still goes by the childhood name "Snooky" that was given to him by his mother.

It's very difficult for me to believe that the nickname "Snooky" has anything what so ever to do with the meanings that I have found online for the words "snook", "snooker", and "Snooky".
See this definition for "snooker":

"a variety of pool played with 15 red balls and 6 balls of colors other than red, in which a player must shoot one of the red balls, each with a point value of 1, into a pocket before shooting at one of the other balls, with point values of from 2 to 7.

—v.t.
Slang.to deceive, cheat, or dupe: to be snookered by a mail order company"
http://dictionary.infoplease.com/snooker

-snip-

The definitions given in http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Snooky and http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=snooks for "Snooky" and "Snook" are:

"Snooky-someone who displays jackass tendencies. derived from the verb (UK) snooks; a fool or jackass.", "snooky-A booger. Otherwise known as a piece of snot clogged in the hair of a persons' nasal canal" and "snooks-the act of sucker-punching someone", "(to snook) to victimize (UK); (to be snooked) to be victimized (UK)".


-snip-

Instead of those definitions, in my opinion, "Snooky" is a term of affection. I believe that this nickname, and the closely related nickname "Snookums" are derived from the word "sooky"/"sookie" . And, as I've previously indicated, I believe that the word "sookie" comes from the Spanish word for sugar "azucar" and/or the Spanish phrase "sucu sucu".

In other words, "Snooky", and "Snookums" should be acknowledged as legitimate members of the large family of sugar nicknames for people {both males and females}. Among those sugar nicknames are "Sugar", "Sugarbee", "Honeybee", "Sugarlump", "Sweetie", "Honey",and "Honeyman".

The phrase sugar daddy takes the use of the sugar reference to a whole 'nuther level.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 10:27 AM

"Nookie" is another American slang word that I believe comes from the affectionate nickame "Snooky".

The word "nookie" takes us into the realm of the sexualized meanings of the word "sugar". A mild form of the sexual meaning of sugar is a grandmother's request to her young grandchild to "Give me some sugar". "Sugar" here means a kiss. In other contexts, "sugar" can mean much more than a kiss.

In my opinion, the phrase "Give me some sugar/I am your neighbor" from the Hip Hop group Outkast's hit song Hey Yah works so well partly because it has the clean meaning of giving a neighbor a bowl of sugar and at the same time, it has the "dirty" meaning of giving that neighbor much more than a kiss.
In other words, saying "give me some sugar" was a way for Outkast to say over the airways "Give me some nookie".

Here's a definition of the word "nookie" from urban dictionary.com

"Nookie
Something you get from someone that is sexual or loving in nature.
This word is slang for an ACTION not a body part.
Sugar, action, hooking up, kissing, hugging, sexual activity, etc..
"I'm going home to get some nookie from my girl/boyfriend tonight."
-by Tree Sep 11, 2003

-snip-

Notice the inclusion of the word "sugar" in that definition.

Also check out this use of the word "nookie" by the musical group Limp Bizkit:

"Nookie" is the first single released [in 1999] from the album Significant Other by Limp Bizkit. It is one of their biggest hits….The song is about Fred Durst's relationship with a past girlfriend, in which she used him for his money, and cheated on him with his friends, and yet he continued to stay with her despite the emotional distress this caused. The hook reveals his reason for staying in the relationship, which was because of the sex. "Hey, what the hell, what you want me to say?/ I won't lie, that I can't deny/ I did it all for the nookie".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nookie_(song)

-snip-

So how did we get here from posts about the Cuban song & dance
"sucu sucu"?

In my opinion, it's all about the sugar.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sucu Sucu
From: Azizi
Date: 06 Feb 09 - 10:39 AM

Here's that hyperlink for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nookie_(song)


**

Fwiw, I had no intentions of posting this much to this thread. Actually, I'm on a short self-imposed break from Mudcat posting because I felt my spirit needed it. But I couldn't resist this thread since it fits my interests in Caribbean music, African religions in the Caribbean, etymology, and specifically the origins and meanings of name & nicknames.

That said, this is my last post to this thread. However, I'm very interested in any feedback on my posts.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: 'Sugar' and 'Azucar' in songs and folklore
From: Azizi
Date: 13 May 13 - 08:28 AM

Between 2006 & 2009 I wrote comments on this Mudcat thread and at least one other Mudcat discussion thread* asserting my belief that the 1970s African American vernacular phrase "ah sookie sookie now" derived from either the nickname "Sukey" or the Spanish word "azucar" (in English "sugar"), or the Akan [West Africa] female day name "Akosua" (girl born on Sunday).

*http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=91272 "Say what?-song lyrics defined."

With the exception of the indirect connection of the term "sukey jumps" to the nickname/name "Sukey", I retract those other assertions.

I now believe that "sukey jumps" was likely the source of "ah sookie sookie now". When I wrote those comments I wasn't familiar with the term "sukey jumps". Also, I mistakenly thought that the word "sukey" in "sukey jumps" was pronounced "SUE key".

That said, I still believe that the Spanish phrase "suca suca"* derives from the Spanish word "azucar" and I believe that the phrase "suca suca" that is found in Zap Mama's rendition of "Iko Iko" at least derives from that Spanish phrase, although it may also have the same meaning or a similar meaning as "ah sookie sookie" (an informal expression that indicates approval of the way a person's body looks).   

*The beginning syllable in the word "suca" in "suca suca" also rhymes with the word "look".

I added these comments to this post on my pancocojams cultural blog:
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/05/what-sukey-jumps-means-information-song.html What Sukey Jumps Mean (Information and Song Examples).


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Subject: RE: 'Sugar' and 'Azucar' in songs and folklore
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 13 - 11:11 AM

No evidence, other than speculation, that "Iko Iko" derives from azucar.


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Subject: RE: 'Sugar' and 'Azucar' in songs and folklore
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 13 - 12:22 PM

See note by PoppaGator, 04 Apr 07, thread 23200, "Jacomo finane?...
No more than this is known. Nothing is known about the use of the words before the 1950s. They may have no meaning other than as emphasis syllables used by singers.


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Subject: RE: 'Sugar' and 'Azucar' in songs and folklore
From: Azizi
Date: 13 May 13 - 01:19 PM

Just for the record, I don't recall writing that the phrase Iko Iko came from the Spanish word "azucar". And I don't believe that that's the source of that phrase.

Here's what I wrote about in my last post abou that "Iko Iko" song:

"I still believe that the Spanish phrase "suca suca"* derives from the Spanish word "azucar" and I believe that the phrase "suca suca" that is found in Zap Mama's rendition of "Iko Iko" at least derives from that Spanish phrase, although it may also have the same meaning or a similar meaning as "ah sookie sookie" (an informal expression that indicates approval of the way a person's body looks).   
-snip-
Italics added to highlight this paragraph.

**
I stand by what I wrote in my 06 Feb 09 - 08:50 AM post on this thread:

. The original source for many words and phrases are likely never to be known.

2. Some words have multiple meanings, and the particular meaning of that word may not be correctly understood unless you know & understand the specific context of its use.

3. Some words and phrases can mean more than one thing at the same time {allusions, double entendres, coded meanings}

4. The meaning/s of some words of phrases change over time

**
I notice that in Feb 2009 I wrote that I was on a self-imposed break from posting on this forum. Since then I've only posted here sporadically.

I decided to add this comment on this Mudcat thread about this subject
1.because I felt like doing so as an update to what I had previously posted on this forum (which I've found cited on a yahoo answer page about that "ah sookie sookie" phrase) and

2. to share information about my pancocojams post on this subject.

Best wishes,

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: 'Sugar' and 'Azucar' in songs and folklore
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 May 13 - 04:43 PM

Sorry, it was suca suca (and similar) that you thought might be related to Spanish azucar.
The English word sugar is usually derived from M Fr. sucre. This seems more likely, in New Orleans, than taking it from the Spanish word, because the Spanish business influence probably left little trace in speech there.
Cuban song is anothr matter.

The words, however, could have another derivation, if one wishes to speculate:
Sookie is a southern nickname for Susannah, also sometimes a baby word for sister.


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