THE LANGUAGE ATTIC: shazzing

The Word Museum by Jeffrey Kacirk, Barnes & Noble, New York, 2000 is a marvelous tool for writers of historical fiction. Not only does it help find the right word for the occasion, it is good for a laugh or three.

For this week’s exploration into the amazing complexities of our language I have chosen SHAZZING.

Quite simply it means dancing. The reference given for the word is Wilkinson, John. A Leeds Dialect Glossary and Lore. London 1924.

For me this word is the epitome of onomatopoeia, words that sound like what they mean.

As a dancer, I find this word suggestive of shuffling jazz. Since the reference is from 1924, I presume the word was in common usage before that.

I picture street dancers trying to out-perform each other, much like modern street dancers with their hip hop or break dancing or locking or krumping. Imaginative steps to the newest music, jazz from New Orleans, clarinets and saxophones, funeral processions, and smoky nightclubs.

A brief Google search shows the term is still in use in Scotland for flamboyant performers in bright clothing.

From shuffling jazz dancing to exuberant show stopping performance art. Both street dancing. I can live with that.

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About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: www.ireneradford.net Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.
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