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English Acquisition by Immigrants (1880-1940): The Confrontation as Reflected in Early Sound Recordings

Eric Byron


[1] These entries divide into two categories. The first category consists of those recordings by and for immigrants that in someway suggest being in America. Either the recording uses language that most likely would have only been used in this country or the recording mentions something specific about the United States. The other kind of entry deals with recordings about ethnic and racial groups.

[2] Richard Spottswood, Ethnic Music on Records: A Discography of Ethnic Recordings Produced in the United States, 1893 to 1942 (Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1990) All the recording dates of records produced by immigrants for immigrants come from his seven volume work.

[3] Bold is used in order to make the English words stand out in the skits and songs that primarily utilize a non- English immigrant language.

[4] Transcribed and translated by Eric Byron.

[5] Please keep in mind that transcriptions and translations are interpretations. Translations, spelling and punctuation may vary, especially given the fact that may of these recordings were acoustically recorded and are extremely scratched and worn.

[6] Transcribed and translated by Joachim Baur.

[7] Transcribed and translated by Irving Silberg.

[8] Transcribed and translated by Eric Byron.

[9] Transcribed and translated by Leon Mindlin.

[10] Summarized by Anthony Lentini.

[11] Norwegian translated by Rigmore Swensen.

[12] Transcribed and translated by Gert Gershowitz.

[13] Transcribed by Eric Byron.

[14] Transcribed and translated by Veronica Quinto. Ms. Quinto wrote that she had a lot of trouble with this work since it contained many "idioms and jokes in Neapolitan, which cannot be translated even in Italian."

[15] Transcribed and translated by Arkadiusz Bentkowski.

[16] Transcribed by Eric Byron.

[17] Transcribed and translated by Veronica Quinto.

[18] Transcribed by Eric Byron.


Ralph Fasold, The Sociolinguistics of Society (Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell, 1984)

Victor Greene, A Passion For Polka: Old-Time Ethnic Music In America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992)

Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=pep&searchmode=phrase

William Howland Kenny, Recorded Music In American Life: The Phonograph and Popular Memory, 1890-1945 (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Carol Myers-Scotton, "Code-Switching" in The Handbook of Sociolinguistics, ed. Florian Coulmas (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers 1997)

Eleonora and Ethel Olson, Yust For Fun: Norwegian-American Dialect Monologues (1925; Minneapolis: Lund Press; reprinted with preface by Paul F. Anderson, Minneapolis: Eggs Press, 1979)

Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (London: Melburne and Henley, 1984)

Tyrone Settlemier, The Online Discographical Project, http://settlet.fateback.com.

Bernard Spolsky, Sociolinguistics (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1998)

Christian Zwarg, The Truesound Online Discography Project, http://www.truesoundtransfers.de/disco.htm

Eric Byron is the Coordinator of the Ellis Island Discography Project at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum of the National Park Service.

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