Indian summer

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Indian summer

Post by Archived Topic » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:10 am

Where did the term originate from?
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Indian summer

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:25 am

God

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Indian summer

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:39 am

Daniel J. Boorstin in his book The Americans, The Colonial Experience postulates an origin for the term Indian Summer, meaning a period of warm weather following the first frost of autumn. He states that European colonists endured raids by Indian war parties throughout the summer months. As the weather started to change, the raids would cease, so autumn was looked upon as a season of relative safety. If, however, warm weather continued into the autumn months, then this condition would mean another Indian Summer. A neat story, unfortunately as an explanation for the term's origin, it's quite wrong--proving that even a noted historian like Boorstin can be hoodwinked by popular etymology. (To give Boorstin some credit, his explanation is not totally without merit, having been first promulgated by Philip Doddridge in his 1824 Notes on the Indian Wars.)
Both Mencken and the OED2 fix the earliest recorded usage as 1778, rather late for fears of Indian raids. Even then, it was not a common term until well into the nineteenth century. It does not appear in Webster's 1828 dictionary, nor in Pickering's 1816 Vocabulary.

Several differing theories have been promulgated. The OED2 plumps for the idea that the phenomenon was more prevalent in the west, or Indian territory than on the Eastern seaboard. Mencken spends the most text describing the theory that it is called Indian Summer because it is a false summer. Indian is used in several contexts to denote something that is cheap or false, witness Indian-giver and Indian-corn.

Also supporting this idea is the British phrase St. Martin's Summer referring to the same meteorological phenomenon. St. Martin suggests something cheap or false, primarily because dealers in cheap jewelry gathered at the location of London's Church of St. Martin-de-Grand after it was torn down in the 16th century. St. Martin's day is 11 November, which often corresponds to the spell of warm weather.

The first edition of Brewer's lists a nautical term, Indian Summer Line. This term, which does not appear in the more recent editions, is probably unrelated. Under the entry for "Ship Letters," this book lists the following:

Ship Letters. These are to indicate when a ship is fully laden, and this depends on its destination.
F.W. (Fresh Water line), i.e., it may be laden till this mark touches the water when loading in a fresh-water dock or river.
I.S. (Indian Summer line). It was to be loaded to this point in the Indian seas in summer time.
S. The summer draught in the Mediterranean.
W. The winter draught in the Mediterranean.
W.N.A. (Winter North Atlantic line).

.. now of course I would love to say that I had researched and written this but sad to say that I only copied it from Wordorigins .. but it does have a certain savoir-Ken about it doesn't it .. *smile* ..
Wizard of Oz, Australia. 12/11/03
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Indian summer

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:53 am

Wiz, I was getting more impressed as I read each line and was beginning to believe that you had done some decent research, were actually capable of logical reasoning, and weren’t hopeless after all, only to have my expectations dashed. An excellent article, nevertheless. (<:)

Ken – November 11, 2003

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Indian summer

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:08 am

.. Ken if I had the resources at my disposal you would be blinded by the depth, width and creativity of my research .. *smile* .. however I am limited by time, by finances and by access .. *sigh* .. but I try to bring a viewpoint that, if nothing else, causes others to rise to the occasion .. have you ever seen them use a teaser to bring a stallion on ??? .. I see myself as the teaser which of course makes .... well who DOES it make the stallion .. *laughing* .. you out there Erik ??
WoZ of Aus, 12/11/03.
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Indian summer

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:22 am

The Indian Summer seems then to arrive on the scene well after the Fall of the Roman Empire?
EA
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Indian summer

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Oct 12, 2004 9:37 am

I thought the Indian Summer referred to summertime in Calcutta or New Dehli.

Bruce
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