Chaps (meaning men) in the USA
Posted: 07 April 2013 12:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Alan Shepard, in interview in 1998, said, “I suspect my thoughts generally reflected those of the other chaps.”

I was not aware that this colloquialism was in use in the USA: to me it has always been a very British term. Is it a regional thing?

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Posted: 07 April 2013 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OP Tipping - 07 April 2013 12:45 AM

Alan Shepard, in interview in 1998, said, “I suspect my thoughts generally reflected those of the other chaps.”

I was not aware that this colloquialism was in use in the USA: to me it has always been a very British term. Is it a regional thing?

Insofar as it is American slang versus British, I would say it is regional/Old West/Texas. One Western Slang site lists it as such (no accounting for scholarship there). I don’t have HDAS at hand.

I can also hear New England Brahmans saying it into the 30s, but there it is clearly an inheritance. It’s hard to hear this colloquialism without hearing a British or New England accent.

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Posted: 07 April 2013 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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HDAS lists citations running from 1704–1918 and says, “Now usu. regarded as Brit. usage.”

DARE doesn’t list the “man, fellow” sense, but has a sense of “young child, baby” found in the South and Southern Midlands (also chappie or chappy.)

The OED entry is from 1889, and therefore not of much use.

I would say that Shepard’s use of chap was unusual, but as an isolated usage not surprising. (The interview wasn’t, perchance, with a British journalist?)

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Posted: 07 April 2013 04:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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(The interview wasn’t, perchance, with a British journalist?)

Nay. I’ve found a link to a transcript:

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/147555main_oral_hist.pdf

ORAL HISTORY TRANSCRIPT
ALAN B. SHEPARD, JR.
INTERVIEWED BY ROY NEAL
PEBBLE BEACH, FLORIDA – 20 FEBRUARY 1998

Roy Neal is from North Carolina. Shepard himself was born and raised in New Hampshire.

Shepard actually uses the term three times in the interview.

Might just be one of those weird individual or family traits.

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Posted: 07 April 2013 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Might just be one of those weird individual or family traits.

That would be my guess.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard an American who wasn’t consciously Briticizing use the word.

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Posted: 07 April 2013 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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OTOH, we hear “guys” rather than “chaps” which sounds a bit 1940s, in the UK.

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Posted: 07 April 2013 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I note from Shepherd’s wikipedia article that he was born in Derry, New Hampshire, he attended the Private Pinkerton Academy for high school and traces his heritage to a Mayflower passenger. I renew my New England Brahman theory. He may have grown up using “chap” to mean “man.” I can just hear FDR saying this.

[ Edited: 07 April 2013 10:27 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 07 April 2013 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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ElizaD - 07 April 2013 06:45 AM

OTOH, we hear “guys” rather than “chaps” which sounds a bit 1940s, in the UK.

Interesting. since English doesn’t have a plural “you” as distinguished from the singular, young folks in Leftpondia use “guys” to mean everyone of their cohort regardless of gender. That might not be true of teens in the south, I don’t know.

We’ve experimented throughout my lifetime with “you all”, “Y’all”, “youse guys”, “you’ns” [the worst] and other variations. “You guys” seems to have gained the greatest currency to date.

[ Edited: 07 April 2013 10:34 AM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 08 April 2013 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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"Chaps” wasn’t old-fashioned when I was a boy, more than half a century ago, but its use was largely restricted to the higher social strata - the middle and upper classes. You might find the boys at Greyfriars (a fictional public school) using it (“I say, chaps! Let’s go and rag Billy Bunter!”) but you would rarely, if ever, have heard it used at a building site, or on a factory floor.

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