H.L. Mencken (18801956). The American Language. 1921.
spieler48 (that is, barker) before a cheap show, or, by metaphor, any noisy speech. It is from Ballyhooly, the name of a village in Cork, once notorious for its brawls. Finally, there is shebang. Schele de Vere derives it from the French cabane, but it seems rather more likely that it is from the Irish shebeen.
The propagation of Irishisms in the United States was helped, during many years, by the enormous popularity of various dramas of Irish peasant life, particularly those of Dion Boucicault. So recently as 1910 an investigation made by the Dramatic Mirror showed that some of his pieces, notably Mavourneen, The Colleen Bawn and The Shaugraun, were still among the favorites of popular audiences. Irish plays of that sort, at one time, were presented by dozens of companies, and a number of actors, among them Andrew Mack, Joe Murphy, Chauncey Olcott and Boucicault himself, made fortunes appearing in them. An influence also to be taken into account is that of Irish songs, once in great vogue. But such influences, like the larger matter of American borrowings from Anglo-Irish, remain to be investigated. So far as I have been able to discover, there is not a single article in print upon the subject. Here, as elsewhere, our philologists have wholly neglected a very interesting field of inquiry.
From other languages the borrowings during the period of growth were naturally less. Down to the last decades of the nineteenth century, the overwhelming majority of immigrants were either Germans or Irish; the Jews, Italians, Scandinavians, and Slavs were yet to come. But the first Chinese appeared in 1848, and soon their speech began to contribute its inevitable loan-words. These words, of course, were first adopted by the miners of the Pacific Coast, and a great many of them have remained California localisms, among them such verbs as to yen (to desire strongly, as a Chinaman desires opium) and to flop-flop (to lie down), and such nouns as fun, a measure of weight. But a number of others have got into the common speech of the whole country, e. g., fan-tan, kow-tow, chop-suey, ginseng, joss, yok-a-mi and tong. Contrary to the popular opinion, dope and hop are not from the Chinese. Neither, in fact, is an Americanism,