Posted: 15 October 2019 03:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  4205
Joined  2007-02-27

What can you tell me about the use of “soul” in reference to African American trends and traditions, e.g. soul music, soul food? How did this term arise?

Posted: 15 October 2019 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  6902
Joined  2007-01-03

It’s from jazz, originally expressing the emotional quality of the music, gradually extended into other genres of music and aspects of Black life. First cite in the OED:

1946 Ebony Sept. 34/2 He uses a bewildering, unorthodox technique and his playing is full of what jazzmen refer to as ‘soul’.

First cite for soul food:

1960 Los Angeles Sentinel 29 Dec. a15 Claims he can’t eat the ‘soul’ food like Ham and Grits.

Green’s also has this sense from the West Indies, a form of address/term of endearment. It is a separate development but may have had an influence on the the above:

1916 [WI] J.G. Cruickshank Black Talk 74: Soley/soulie – a term of endearment [...] ‘Soley! I gone.’.
1959 [US] P. Marshall Brown Girl, Brownstones (1960) 32: Soul, I don know.
1970 [WI] F. Collymore Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 106: Soul, soulie. [...] a nominative of address, and implying sympathy and/or familiarity, as What happen to you, soul? Also soulie gal.

Posted: 15 October 2019 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  4765
Joined  2007-01-29

Green’s also has this sense from the West Indies, a form of address/term of endearment.

Richard Allsopp’s Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage is more specific:

soul n 1. (CarA) [IF] (friendly form of address or reference to) an elderly woman. [...] [Cp. OED soul III. 13. c. dial. Used in the pl as a form of address: ‘friends, fellows’ + cit (1874) ‘Come in, souls, and have something to eat and drink’] □ Used only by an adult speaker, esp by a woman to or of another. 2. (USVI) [AF] A girl-friend.