by Hugh Rawson
As the baseball season opens, I am reminded that the last time I visited Paris, I left my Boston Red Sox cap at home, not wanting to look too much like a tourist. Imagine my surprise, then, at seeing more baseball caps than berets along the Seine, most of them New York Yankee caps, and many of them on French heads. The damned Yankees seemed to be winning everywhere!
As it happens, the word Yankee is connected intimately with American history. Popularized initially as a term of disparagement for New Englanders, it was applied by Southerners to all Northerners during the Civil War, and finally became attached to Americans generally, as in “The Yanks are coming” and, less happily, “Yankee go home.”
The origin of Yankee has been much debated. Some have claimed that it comes from the Cherokee eankke, meaning “slave” or “coward”; others that it derives from Yengees or Yenkees, supposed mispronunciations by Native Americans of English or Anglais. And these are just a few of the guesses that have been made. Read the rest of this entry ?