Page:The American Language.djvu/57

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ened or otherwise modified on being taken into colonial English. Thus chinkapin was originally checkinqumin, and squash appears in early documents as isquontersquash, askutasquash, isquonkersquash and squantersquash. But William Penn, in a letter dated August 16, 1683, used the latter in its present form. Its variations show a familiar effort to bring a new and strange word into harmony with the language—an effort arising from what philologists call the law of Hobson–Jobson. This name was given to it by Col. Henry Yule and A. C. Burnell, compilers of a standard dictionary of Anglo–Indian terms. They found that the British soldiers in India, hearing strange words from the lips of the natives, often converted them into English words of similar sound, though of widely different meaning. Thus the words Hassan and Hosein, frequently used by the Mohammedans of the country in their devotions, were turned into Hobson–Jobson. The same process is constantly in operation elsewhere. By it the French route de roi has become Rotten Row in English, écrevisse has become crayfish, and the English bowsprit has become beau pré (=beautiful meadow) in French. The word pigeon, in Pigeon English, offers another example; it has no connection with the bird, but merely represents a Chinaman's attempt to pronounce the word business. No doubt squash originated in the same way. That woodchuck did so is practically certain. Its origin is to be sought, not in wood and chuck, but in the Cree word otchock, used by the Indians to designate the animal.

In addition to the names of natural objects, the early colonists, of course, took over a great many Indian place–names, and a number of words to designate Indian relations and artificial objects in Indian use. To the last division belong hominy, pone, toboggan, canoe, tapioca, moccasin, pow-wow, papoose, tomahawk, wigwam, succotash and squaw, all of which were in common circulation by the beginning of the eighteenth century. Finally, new words were made during the period by translating Indian terms, for example, war–path, war–paint, pale–face, medicine–man, pipe–of–peace and fire–water. The total number of such borrowings, direct and indirect, was a good deal larger