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#1
Old 03-11-2002, 03:36 PM
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Why did Confederates call Northerners "Yankees"?

As we all know, during the American Revolution, the closest we had to a national anthem was "Yankee Doodle Dandy", and as a result, Americans have been refered to as "Yankees" or "Yank", even to this day.

The question is, why did Southerners during the Civil War feel that not only did the term not apply to them but that it illustrated the difference between themselves and Northerners?

Also, how did/do post-Civil War Southerners react when, say, Brits call them "Yank"?
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#2
Old 03-11-2002, 03:42 PM
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I don't know if this will help resolve this question, but here is the source of the word Yankee.

Yankee was originally a "racial" slur against the Dutch. I believe it was even used by other northerners. Yon was/is a very popular Dutch name and the kee part comes from the Dutch word for cheese. Appearently they ate alot of cheese. I guess they were calling all Dutch people cheese heads named Yon.

How people in the south started calling all people in the north this, I have no idea.
#3
Old 03-11-2002, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
The question is, why did Southerners during the Civil War feel that not only did the term not apply to them but that it illustrated the difference between themselves and Northerners?
I think you answered your own question. They considered themselves no longer part of the USA. Hence, it did not apply to them and it illustrated the difference between them.
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#4
Old 03-11-2002, 03:53 PM
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In the inner circles, they are called Damnyankees.
#5
Old 03-11-2002, 03:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by scotth
I don't know if this will help resolve this question, but here is the source of the word Yankee.

Yankee was originally a "racial" slur against the Dutch. I believe it was even used by other northerners. Yon was/is a very popular Dutch name and the kee part comes from the Dutch word for cheese. Appearently they ate alot of cheese. I guess they were calling all Dutch people cheese heads named Yon.
I would very much like to know your source for this. Webster's says the etymology of the term is unknown.
#6
Old 03-11-2002, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lamia


I would very much like to know your source for this. Webster's says the etymology of the term is unknown.
I believe I heard this on "All things Considered" on NPR.

This page has something similar but not identical.
#7
Old 03-11-2002, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
I think you answered your own question. They considered themselves no longer part of the USA. Hence, it did not apply to them and it illustrated the difference between them.
Yes, but they were still the same people ethnically, they were the Confederate States of America, they still strongly identified with the American Revolution, their ancestors fought in it and George Washington, Thomas Jefferson et al were Virginians, etc.

Scotth's answer seems more convincing, that the term has a meaning not wholly dependant on the song. If "Yankee" means "Dutchman" then its use by Rebs could be referring to a New England Dutch ethnic influence not present in the South.

I'd still like an answer to my second question, tho.
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#8
Old 03-11-2002, 09:43 PM
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Umm... the Dutch were in Nieuw Amsterdam, right? The Hudson River valley and that area. Not New England. Those names meant something originally. New England was settled by English colonists.

The semantic extensions of Yankee go in several concentric levels:
1) To a foreigner, Yankee is synonymous with American.
2) To a Southron, it means a northerner.
3) To a northerner, it means more specifically a New Englander.
4) Within New England, it tends to mean someone descended from old New England stock (typically rural), associated with cultural ideas of industriousness, ingenuity, and thrift. "Old New England," how's that for an oxymoron?

Eric Partridge, even though he was an Limey, came up with probably the best etymology of it in his book Origins:
Quote:
The most likely explanation of it is that Yankee represents D[utch] Janke, dim[inutive] of D[utch] Jan, John, as applied by the New York (originally New Amsterdam) Dutch to the English settlers in Connecticut. (Webster strongly, Mathews less strongly, DAE lukewarmly, support the Janke origin.)
I would have to agree with Partridge. The colonial Dutch called the colonial English New Englanders that, not the other way around.
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#9
Old 03-11-2002, 10:38 PM
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So when did the British (and others) start calling us all yankees?
The south was closely allied with England, so maybe the term originated there.
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#10
Old 03-11-2002, 10:40 PM
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pre-Civil War Yankees

Mathews has cites for Yankee being used pejoritively by Southerners well before the Civil War.


Quote:
1842. (KY. newspaper). He has no probable support from any other than the Yankee States.
So it didn't originate at the time of the Civil War, but well before.

I'll keep looking to try to find an origin.
#11
Old 03-11-2002, 11:19 PM
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Well, I guess nobody knows;
http://word-detective.com/back-z.html#yankee
I'll do the code thing next time, I promose.
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#12
Old 03-12-2002, 02:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jomo Mojo
Umm... the Dutch were in Nieuw Amsterdam, right? The Hudson River valley and that area. Not New England. Those names meant something originally. New England was settled by English colonists.

The semantic extensions of Yankee go in several concentric levels:
1) To a foreigner, Yankee is synonymous with American.
2) To a Southron, it means a northerner.
3) To a northerner, it means more specifically a New Englander.
4) Within New England, it tends to mean someone descended from old New England stock (typically rural), associated with cultural ideas of industriousness, ingenuity, and thrift. "Old New England," how's that for an oxymoron?
I fall into the 4th category of the above and along with my fellow New Englanders I just have to say here that I feel no end of anger towards the terms appropriation by a certain group of New Yorkers
#13
Old 03-12-2002, 03:37 AM
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What do you mean "did"? Where I'm from anyone from further north than Columbia,TN is a called Yankee. Some people still can't let it go.
#14
Old 03-12-2002, 08:17 AM
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First of all, a quick summary of the origin of Yankee from the OED.[list=1][*]a variation of the Cherokee eankke meaning slave or coward. Applied by Virginians to New Englanders for not helping out against the Cherokee.[*]a variation of English used by Native Americans.[*]a variation of Dutch Janke meaning Johnny.[/list=1]
So there's obviously no clear origin for the word.

And my personal opinion: Yankee means someone from New England, and coming from Ohio, I'd be mildly insulted if someone called me one. Carpetbagger, that's ok; Yankee, no way.
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#15
Old 03-12-2002, 08:59 AM
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Am I inferring that you believe that "yankee," and the song Yankee Doodle were first in common usage during the War Between the States? Not so, they go back at least to the American Revolutionary War.

I read in Joel Achenbach's book Why Things Are Vol II: The Big Picture (it's been a few years, and this is from memory), that the song was made up by British soldiers making fun of the colonists. When the colonists started winning, they took up the song as a big "oh yeah?".

I don't know the etymology of Yankee, but according to Joel, the song came from this:

Yankee Doodle went to London riding on a pony
This means "Look at the hayseed American, coming into London riding a pony instead of a proper horse."

Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni
The fashion rage in London at the time was for city gents to dress in the Italian style of big ostrich feathers in hats, and generally effeminate looking clothes. They called this style macaroni. The Brits were saying that the American who came into London thought he was a macaroni fahion plate just because he stuck a feather in his hat. What a goober!
#16
Old 03-12-2002, 09:18 AM
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Re: Why did Confederates call Northerners "Yankees"?

Quote:
Originally posted by sqweels
As we all know, during the American Revolution, the closest we had to a national anthem was "Yankee Doodle Dandy", and as a result, Americans have been refered to as "Yankees" or "Yank", even to this day..
Quote:
From American Heritage Dictionary
WORD HISTORY: Yankee is an excellent example of a widely known word whose origins cannot be determined. The best hypothesis is that Yankee comes from Dutch Janke, a nickname for Jan, “John.” Evidence can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary that the forms Yankey, Yanky, and Yankee were used as surnames or nicknames in the 17th century. The word Yankee is first found in one of our modern senses in 1758, the sense being “a New Englander.” The 17th-century nickname for Jan was derisive, and the first instances of our word show the term being used derisively by the British for New Englanders. After the Battle of Lexington (1775) New Englanders dignified the name. The British were responsible for application of the term to all Americans (a use first recorded around 1784); and Southerners, for application of the term to Northerners (first recorded in 1817).
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