Hitch-hiking in The Glasgow Herald
The second earliest traceable use of the word "hitch-hike" appears in a
1927 issue of The Glasgow Herald. An American reader submitted a
letter to the Herald describing a new word which had appeared in
American English, namely "hitchhiker". Alas the letter was described
by the Herald in a regular column called the Casual Column,
which was just that, casual. It was a column that consisted of odd paragraphs
and snippets of information not related in any particular way, and with
no author confessed anywhere in the paper. It was presumebly put together
by the editorial staff. The American reader is neither identified, nor
quoted, merely alluded to, and we can only harbour the feint hope, that
somewhere in the bowels of the Herald's archives, or personal records
of the editor of the time, said letter may still be found someday. That
is a task however that I've not pursued yet.
Webified by Bernd
Wechner - Please respect his efforts and avoid plagiarism (namely uncredited
copying of this page).
The Glasgow Herald Tuesday September 6th 1927
. . .
AMERICA, which is the melting-pot not only of races
but of colloquial English, has produced not a few startling words and phrases.
While we admire many examples from this characteristic mint for their picturesque
oddity, wit, and general applicability to the purpose, the coinage is obviously
only for national circulation and is not likely to pass for currency even
in the later editions of Murray's dictionary. The bootlegger and his predatory
enemy the hijacker are instances of the purely indigenous American word.
The hobo has been rivalled (so an American correspondent informs us) by
the hitchhiker, which is the latest curiosity born out of the linguistic
genius of the Yankee. The hobo, long familiar to readers of fiction and
social investigators, stole rides from one end of the continent to the
other on freight trains. The hitchhiker, with the same passion for free
travel, indulges it at the expense of the motorist. There are apparently
hitchhikers in the United States, who boast they can travel 500 miles free
of charge without walking more than 10. The importuning of the motorist
is evidently a highly organised and skilful business. So long as it is
possible to travel 25 miles for twopence by tramcar, as in Glasgow, there
seems no danger, however, of the movement developing in this part of Scotland.
. . .