Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 15:01:47 +0200
From: David Sutcliffe
Subject: Re: Thole story

Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 15:53:18 +0200
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Subject: Re: Thole story
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Thole story so far:> =20

(A lengthy story as set out here, but see far end of the message for
what seems to be the happy ending!)

>David Sutcliffe wrote:
> >>
> >> In the recording of an African American born circa 1855-1860, I
have the
> >> expression "one man a-riding tole mule" (tow mule?). I think he's
> >> actually saying t'ole mule. Can anyone confirm that "thole" (of a
> >> or other draft animal) can mean "lead", "leading"?
> =20
> Mike Salovich responded:
> =20
> >Have you considered that 'tole', or 't'ole' in your retranscription,
> >could mean "the old"?
> ... ...
> >.... I've
> >also heard "t'ole" in field recordings of southern folk music and
> >in contexts where substituting "the old" makes a perfectly reasonable=

> >statement.

DMLance added:> =20
> I didn't respond earlier because I could only speculate. What about a=

> contraction of "that ole" rather than "the ole"? Would the person who=

> "tole mule" also have used the contraction "'tis"? Wouldn't "the ole"=

> contracted as "dole" (but maybe spelled 'tole' so as not to confuse
> reader too much)?
> =20
> But, as far as I know (or don't know), 'tole' may have been a word
with a
> specific meaning in the past.
> =20
David Sutcliffe again:

Joan Hall, assistant editor of DARE, also contacted me directly to say
that there was indeed a specific word _tole_ (found in DARE, southern
states with the meaning "entice" or "enticement" (of an animal)
therefore in a sense "lead".

This point was also made, independently, by Bonnie Briggs, directly to
the List (pronunciation _thole_, in this case).

But going back to Mike Salovich's t'ole mule meaning "the old mule"
suggestion: good idea, but in the recording the /to:/ and /mju:/
take equal stress, which applied to Mike's reading would mean literally
the OLD mule, (not the young one) wouldn't it?

At all events DMLance queried, if _t'ole_ can mean _the old_, why can't
_tis_ mean "this". Well, there's an answer to that, or rather two

One is that in Black English the syllable _duh_ frequently becomes
_tuh_ , and vice versa, hence _tuhrectly_ for "directly" and _duh
morra_ for "tomorrow". The other, more British, explanation would be
that _t'other_ is common in many parts of the UK for "the other" where
the _t'_ is said to derive, as has been pointed out, from an earlier
form _that_ for the article. =20

That was the story which I wrote up for the list yesterday. Signing off,=

I added: I'm not sure where that leaves us, probably up the Brazos
without a paddle. =20

Then a fog seemed to clear. Thanks to Mr/Ms. Flanigan's suggestion
(sorry, don't have first name) about towing flat boats, it suddenly
struck me that the word pronounced /to:/ was in fact _tow_, and the
/bo:ts/ on the wagons were indeed _boats_. =20

The boats must have been transported over land on the wagons and then
used to tow the cannons across the rivers (bridges would have been
destroyed, or ferries owned by Confederates). Eureka! (I strongly
suspected that _bolts_ was wrong - I mean if you're going to talk about
events that happened 75 years earlier, you're likely to talk about
something more exciting than bolts). =20

So the unionist soldiers were riding the "tow" mule, not the "thole"
mule or the "tole" mule.

In fact, 2 sentences later the speaker says, by way of confirmation:
"All day long be crossin=B4".

Jasper TX, I found out from the atlas, isn't actually on a river, but
lies between the Neches and Sabine.

I'm really grateful to the above-mentioned contributors. Thanks to them
I think I/we have finally arrived at the solution. I'll check it out
with the historians, of course.

David Sutcliffe

Thanks for all the information and ideas.