Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Use of the word ague by pioneers in the Midwest

Use of the word ague by pioneers in the Midwest

Inger Sundell-Ranby

Malaria was brought to the Americas by European immigrants. The disease spread along the frontier and quickly became common throughout North America. Pioneers arriving to Michigan came mainly from Ireland, England, Canada, Scotland, and Germany. English speaking pioneers dominated Michigan, and English was the most common language in the area. The word ‘ague’ was used in England at the time of the major emigration era. The aim of this study is to show how the immigrants are connected between the use of the word ague in their native country to the use of the word ague in Michigan. It is known that pioneers brought diseases like malaria from Europe to the New World. Historical records, newspapers, and scientific papers were used to follow how the word ague was used in England and in the Americas. It is known that pioneers sensed danger near stagnant water or marshes, and when mosquitoes were plentiful it caused climate disease and malaria. They did not know the mechanism nor did they have an effective cure. In historic Michigan newspapers, many local pharmacies advertised medications to cure ague. Folkstories also used the word ague. However names for malaria in American death records includes ague, bilious fever, cold plague, congestive chills, congestive fever, or shaking. Linguistic diversity prevents an accurate estimate of an exact number of deaths from malaria in a year in one particular Michigan county. The death records would allow for relative comparisons between years and between Michigan counties.

April 6, 2015 - Posted by | abstract

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