GENETIC JOYCE STUDIES - Issue 14 (Spring 2014)


Oxtail Soup: Dialects of English in the Tailpiece of the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ episode of Ulysses



Sarah Davison

University of Nottingham


Comparatively little attention has been paid to the final paragraphs of the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ chapter of Ulysses. In March 1920 (at an early stage in the episode’s genesis), James Joyce informed Frank Budgen that the high-spirited stampede through the historical styles of English prose would be succeeded by ‘a frightful jumble of pidgin English, nigger English, Cockney, Irish, Bowery slang and broken doggerel’ (Letters I: 140). Joyce was as good as his word in at least one respect. The final text of those last paragraphs (U 14.1440-1591) is frightfully jumbled to the extent that heavy glossing is required to render the underlying action readily intelligible.[1] When the historical pageant of English prose crashes into the present day, the narrative mimics so many regional and racial dialects in such quick succession that the effect is positively vertiginous. But while literary critics have done much to elucidate what happens after the men assembled in the doctors’ mess spill out on to the street and head for Burke’s pub, genetic criticism has yet to examine this part of ‘Oxen’ in granular detail.

            I have been working towards addressing this gap in our knowledge as part of my research for ‘Intertextual Joyce’, a project supported by a Small Research Grant from the British Academy (2011–14).[2] The primary aim of the project is to establish as complete a record as is possible of the sources for ‘Oxen’, as attested by the Ulysses notesheets that Paul Léon sent to Harriet Shaw Weaver and which were ultimately deposited in the British Museum (now the British Library).[3] It is intended that this source-hunting work will deepen our understanding of Joyce’s reading habits and note-taking practices, and provide the basis for a critical reappraisal of the episode’s historical play with the canon of English prose.

            The current article is one of two outputs from ‘Intertextual Joyce’ to be published in this issue of Genetic Joyce Studies. The first is by Chrissie Van Mierlo (Royal Holloway, University of London), who joined the project in the summer of 2013. In ‘“Oxen of the Sun” Notesheet 17: Annotations and Commentary with A New List of Sources, and Transcriptions’, Van Mierlo presents a new, semi-diplomatic transcription of the document known as ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheet 17. This document contains examples of slang words and phrases that were destined for the tailpiece of ‘Oxen’, as well as some notes on birth control methods in Italian.[4] It occupies the right-hand side of a larger sheet that was folded down the middle to produce four sides (notesheet 20 is on the left-hand side and notesheets 18 and 19 are on the reverse). Van Mierlo’s transcription corrects the text of notesheet 17 as it appeared in Phillip F. Herring’s James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ Notesheets in the British Museum (1972).[5] She presents her transcription in two versions: Transcription I indicates which entries Joyce later struck through with coloured pencils; Transcription II is colour-coded according to the primary sources Joyce consulted for individual words and phrases. Her transcriptions are innovative because they are the first to convey the spatial arrangement of individual entries in their complexity, a practice that has enabled the two of us to discover several new sources for ‘Oxen’.

            The present article builds on the sourcing-hunting work documented by Van Mierlo to examine notesheet 17 as a primary extant repository for the regional and racial dialect, slang and doggerel that Joyce collected with a view to writing the final paragraphs of ‘Oxen’.[6] It scrutinises the sources that Joyce canvassed for different dialects of English in order to reconstruct some of the specific linguistic issues thatpreoccupied him as he was writing ‘Oxen’. By approaching the final text of ‘Oxen’ from the vantage point of Joyce’s preliminary notes, the article offers a fresh perspective on the linguistic politics of the ‘frightful jumble’ of regional and racial dialects that echo in the tailpiece and reinterprets the episode’s wider arguments about the progress and future of English by this light.

            While Van Mierlo’s second colour-coded transcription is the primary reference point for the discussion that follows, the notesheet and line numbers allocated by Herring have been provided in parentheses for ease of reference.[7]




The most extensive genetic survey of the fourteenth episode of Ulysses to date is Robert Janusko’s The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s “Oxen” (1983).[8] It uncovers secure literary sources for hundreds of the fragmentary phrases that appear in the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheets and uses this evidence to interpret the episode’s play with individual authors (and its deeper structures) by mapping the historical progress of the English language through time onto the nine months of human gestation. In ‘A Working Outline of “The Oxen”’, Janusko catalogued the successive masters of English prose style whose voices he discerned to be dominant at various stages in the narrative’s historical recapitulation of the development of the language up until the point that the men resolve to head to Burke’s pub, after which the presiding ‘source’ is simply designated as ‘Slang, etc’.[9] In the accompanying commentary, Janusko briefly noted that ‘The chaos of slang which closes the chapter is not all the language of the street and popular song’.[10] He cited a series of echoes that had first been identified by Weldon Thornton in Allusions in ‘Ulysses’ (1968), including ‘Willie Brewed a peck o’Maut’ by Robert Burns (1759–96), ‘The Blessed Damosel’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–82) and Polite Conversation by Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), and added snippets from works by Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–59), John Gibson Lockhart (1794–1854), Oliver Goldsmith (1730–74) and Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881).[11] Janusko was unable to discuss in further detail the literary sources for the chaotic coda to ‘Oxen’ because at that stage notesheet 17—which contains the largest gathering of extant notes that were destined for the final paragraphs—was still completely unsourced. Further allusions to popular ballads and comic or bawdy songs were later identified by Don Gifford in Ulysses Annotated (1974, second revised edition 1988) without reference to the ‘Oxen’ notesheets.[12] More recently, Peter Gilliver suggested that the tub-thumping oratory of the American evangelist Alexander J Christ Dowie is an almost verbatim transcript of a sermon delivered by the once well-known preacher and temperance advocate William Ashley ‘Billy’ Sunday (1862–1935).[13] Beyond these studies, no extended attention has hitherto been given to the provenance of the extraordinary variety of slang and dialect in the tailpiece.

             Notesheet 17 is unique among the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheets in that the first entry (positioned in the upper left-hand corner) pertains to the title of a particular source, but also functions as a thematic heading that offers a tantalising glimpse into the underlying rationale that guided Joyce’s note-taking practice. As this article will proceed to argue, the word ‘Sea’ (N 17.01) provides a conceptual link that unites the most heavily canvassed sources for the entries on notesheet 17. As Harald Beck records in a brief contribution to James Joyce Online Notes, ‘Under the heading “Sea” Joyce listed a number of terms in Oxen notesheet 17 that he found in a curious collection of “Sea Words and Phrases along the Suffolk Coast”, first published by Edward FitzGerald (1809–83) in The East Anglian, or, Notes and Queries on Subjects connected with the Counties of Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex, and Norfolk (1869, vol. 3, p. 347ff)’.[14] Of the seafaring slang Joyce listed, only the terms ‘armstrong halloring’, (as in ‘Arm in arm, “they came hallorin’ down the street Armstrong”’ (FitzGerald 207, U 14.1440, N 17.2)), ‘Horry war’ (which FitzGerald spells ‘Horrywaur’, being ‘Au revoir’ mispronounced (FitzGerald 217, U 14.1522, N 17.8)), and ‘query’ (FitzGerald 219, U 14.1465, N 17.9), are subsumed in some form in the ‘frightful jumble’ at the end of ‘Oxen’.[15] (The entries inspired by FitzGerald’s ‘Sea Words and Phrases’ are presented in purple in Van Mierlo, Transcription II.)

            Beck was also able to find a further source for three of the entries that were positioned beneath the sequence from ‘Sea Words and Phrases’. He spotted that three names, ‘Meredith the bread’ (Francis 102, N 17.15), ‘Lewis bach’ (Francis 121, N 17.16) and ‘Lloyd George’ (Francis xii, N 17.17), all appeared in Change: A Glamorgan Play in Three Acts (New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1914), a play by the Welsh author John Oswald Francis (1882–1956).[16] (These entries are presented in dark green in Van Mierlo, Transcription II.) Beck’s observation that ‘Lloyd George’ comes from the Introduction to Change provokes an interesting question in relation to the particular edition that Joyce consulted. Beck noted that a copy of Change is among the items in Joyce’s Trieste Library. However, the text of that edition (the Educational Publishing Co., Ltd, Cardiff published (c.1914) as the thirteenth volume in their Welsh Drama Series) does not match Beck’s source.[17] In fact, David Lloyd George (18631945)—the Welsh-born politician who would later become the British Prime Minister (191622)—is only mentioned in the Introduction that the American drama critic Montrose J. Moses (18781933) supplied for New York editions of Change, where Francis is quoted as saying, ‘Now we are in the advance guard of democracy, and Lloyd George is our great man’ (Francis xii). Since no reference is made to Lloyd George in any of the other known sources for the special vocabulary on notesheet 17, it would seem likely that Joyce also had access to an American edition of Change as he was writing ‘Oxen’, which might help to explain why he left the Cardiff edition behind him in Trieste, on moving to Paris in 1920.

            Because Beck’s note is bibliographic rather than interpretive, it does not comment on the wider significance of ‘Sea Words and Phrases’ and Change as sources of regional dialect. Both works concern the coastal extremities of the British Isles: Suffolk to the east and Wales to the west. Change dramatises the religious, social and economic problems that confront the inhabitants of a coalmining town, a circumstance that inspired Moses to present Francis as the Welsh successor to Ibsen. The play received wide publicity when it was awarded the Lord Howard de Walden prize (1912); a competition that aimed to establish a Welsh National Theatre.[18] As Moses explained, Change received this award because it constituted a ‘powerful call for a new order of things’ (Francis v) and marked the entrance of Welsh drama on the international stage:


So that it is only now, when Wales seems on the verge of social and industrial upheaval, that drama declares itself a force, without any native tradition, without any evolutionary history to trace. Full grown, it declares itself with modern technique in such a play as Change (Francis vii).


The sense that Change marked the effective inauguration of a Welsh national tradition is implicit in the final text of ‘Oxen’. No Welsh literature makes an appearance in the episode’s re-enactment of the evolutionary history of English prose until the tailpiece, where the line ‘Meredith the bread’ is reworked twice: firstly in the name ‘Meredith’ (U 14.1486) and then in the epithet ‘Bartle the Bread’ (U 14.1550).

            Moses promoted Change as ‘a realization of all that is significant in the modern spirit settling over Wales’ (Francis x). He held that its ‘great literary value […] lies in the very fact that it is not insular in spirit as is so much of the work of the Irish playwrights’ (he was thinking particularly of W.B. Yeats). The presence of a sequence of notes from Change on ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheet 17, albeit brief, suggests that Joyce was actively looking for works that signalled the growing status of the regions and their literatures, which far from being parochial, were now achieving increased global recognition. The decision to canvass works such as Change and ‘Sea Words and Phrases’ was not only motivated by a desire to acquire examples of regional dialect, but also the will to use these linguistic curios towards an articulation of the ‘modern spirit’ of unrest that was then percolating in the literatures of outlying, recently developed regions. In the final text of ‘Oxen’, Joyce recapitulates the history of the English language as it had been institutionalised by turn-of-the-century English anthologists, philologists and literary critics, in order to contextualise present-day developments, and to gesture to its future.[19] By opening up the language to the distinctive dialects of outlying regions of the British Isles, Joyce strikes against the concept of Standard English that is modelled on the highest classes of London society and instead asserts the vitality of the linguistic formations that are generated on the cultural margins. The implication is that regional literatures and oral cultures will rise to displace the ‘pure’ English that has been institutionalised through accepted literary canons and become part of the mainstream.

               Further evidence from notesheet 17 suggests that Joyce canvassed literary sources for dialects of English that arose out of a particular set of geographical conditions that fostered international exchange. Not only does notesheet 17 function as a repository for interesting items of East Anglian Coastal dialect and the Welsh English spoken in Francis’s fictional ‘Aberpandy’,[20] at a cottage on the Twmp, near the south Wales coast, it also contains a cluster of dialect words and phrases from another literary source with a coastal setting: Cap’n Eri: A Story of the Coast (1904) by the American writer Joseph Crosby Lincoln (1870-1944).[21] These entries were inserted on the left-hand margin of notesheet 17 (and are marked in orange in Van Mierlo, Transcription II).

               Lincoln himself was descended from a long line of seafarers and he set his bestselling verse and fiction along the Cape Cod shoreline. Cap’n Eri, his first novel, is a simple, humorous tale about the lives of three former sea captains who ‘had given up long voyages’ (Lincoln 38) and are adjusting to life on land. The captains speak in a bracing Cape Cod dialect (represented through non-standard spelling, dropped consonants and substituted vowels), enriched with maritime slang. It was this non-standard dialect that caught Joyce’s attention as he took notes on the novel.

               Cap’n Eri is not among the volumes in Joyce’s extant libraries. Because the textual evidence does not point to any single edition, for convenience, we have sourced notesheet entries to Joseph Crosby Lincoln, Cap’n Eri: A Story of the Coast (New York: A. L. Burt and Company, 1912), quoting sufficient material to provide a context for unusual expressions. The relevant lines from the Gabler edition of Ulysses have been supplied where entries appear in some form in the final text of ‘Oxen’.


a spell ago                                                                                        (N[otesheet] 17.34)                   

Lincoln 3: ‘“I see it on the top of the clock a spell ago,” said Captain Perez.’

U 14.1501: ‘Seed near free poun o un a spell ago a said war hisn’


where in tunket                                                                                               (N 17.35)


Lincoln 3: ‘“Where in tunket is my terbacker?” he asked, after finishing the round of pockets and preparing to begin all over again.’

U 14.1546: ‘Golly, whatten tunket’s yon guy in the mackintosh?’


clam fritters                                                                                                     (N 17.36)        


Lincoln 6: ‘“What started you talkin’ about the grave, Perez? Was it them clam fritters of Jerry’s?”’


abaft                                                                                                                (N 17.37)


Lincoln 7: ‘“I never heard a woman talk the way she can! She'd be a good one to have on board in a calm. Git her talkin’ abaft the mains’l and we'd have a twenty-knot breeze in a shake.”’

U 14.1451-2: ‘No, no, Mulligan! Abaft there! Shove ahead.’


dime                                                                                                               (N 17.28)                    

Lincoln 12: ‘“There! There she is! The Nup-ti-al Chime. A Journal of Matrimony. I see a piece about it in the Herald the other day, and sent a dime for a sample copy. It’s chock-full of advertisements from women that wants husbands.”’

Cf. U 14.1585-6: ‘The Deity aint no nickel dime bumshow.’


sartin I do                                                                                                        (N 17.38)


Lincoln 13: “Sartin I do.”

U 14.1474: ‘Yup, sartin I do.’


Initially, Joyce only canvassed the dialogue presented in the first few pages of the novel, which was enough to provide him with some salty examples of New England nautical dialect. However, it would seem that he was also aware of the final chapter, or at least its title, ‘Dime-Show Bus’ness’ (Lincoln 7, 376-97). In this chapter, Captain Eri attracts frenzied press attention after he rescues the lifeguards who capsized during a fierce winter storm. He refuses the suggestion of a flashily dressed stranger that he might get into the ‘Dime-Show Bus’ness’, scoffing ‘He wanted me to rig myself up in ileskins [sic] and a sou’wester and show myself in dime museums [travelling carnivals]’ (Lincoln 309). The word ‘dimeshow’ was not entered on to notesheet 17, but an echo nonetheless appears to have made its way into the text of ‘Oxen’, when Alexander J Christ Dowie proclaims ‘The deity aint no nickel dime bumshow. I put it to you that He’s on the square and a corking fine business proposition’ (U 14.1585-6).

            Evidently, Cap’n Eri was such a good source of American English that Joyce was inspired to return to the text and canvass the rest of the novel (including the final chapter). A further three sequences of notes from Cap’n Eri appear on notesheet 20, which faces notesheet 17.[22] The following notes appear on the left-hand lower quadrant of ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheet 20:


catch aholt                                                                                                       (N 20.1)          

Lincoln, p. 354: ‘“Catch a-holt now,” commanded Captain Eri. “Down to the shore with her! Now!”’

U 14.1493: ‘Catch aholt’


durnd                                                                                                               (N 20.2)                      

Lincoln 143: ‘“That made him mad, and he said, liter’ry tone be durned.”’

U 14.1462: ‘Thunderation! Keep the durned millingtary step.’


blob                                                                                                                 (N 20.3)                      

Cf. Lincoln 349: ‘Great blobs of foam shot down the strand like wild birds, and the gurgle and splash and roar were terrific.’


a good one, I think                                                                                          (N 20.55)        

Cf. Lincoln 378: ‘“She must think I’m a good one—can’t do my own courtin’, and have to git somebody to do it for me!”’


Yup                                                                                                                             (N 20.57)        

Lincoln 276, 283.

U 14.1475: ‘“Yup, sartin I do.”’


guy                                                                                                                  (N 20.57)


Cf. Lincoln 244: ‘He wasn’t going to be a “cheap guy fisherman,” he was going into the Navy.’

U 14.1546: ‘Golly, whatten tunket’s yon guy in the mackintosh?’


thunderation                                                                                                    (N 20.58)        

Lincoln 307: ‘“Thunderation! Hold still! HOLD STILL, I tell you!"’

U 14.1462: ‘Thunderation! Keep the durned millingtary step.’


Stand by                                                                                                          (N 20.58)


Lincoln 32, 247, 256, 287, 305, 363: The phrase ‘stand by’ appears six times, for instance, ‘“Now then,” he shouted, “stand by!”’ (363).


mighty hard ticket                                                                                           (N 20.98)        

Lincoln 223: ‘“Old Laban Simpkins that lived ’round here one time,” he said, “was a mighty hard ticket.”’


how come you so                                                                                            (N 20.99)        

Lincoln 223: ‘“Well, one evenin’ Labe was comin’ home pretty how-come-you-so, and he fell into Jonadab Wixon’s well.”’

U 14.1510: ‘How come you so?’


most anything                                                                                                 (N 20.100)


Lincoln 211:“I never knew him to be without it afore; but a feller’s li’ble to forgit ’most anything a night like that was.”


rake over the coals                                                                                         (N 20.101)


Lincoln 239: ‘“You see, I never thought but what you’d both like it, and ’twa’n’t till she raked me over the coals so for doin’ it that I realized how things was.”

            “Raked you over the coals? I’m afraid I don’t understand.”


ship long of me                                                                                               (N 20.102)      

Lincoln 243: ‘“Let him sign reg’lar articles and ship ’long of me for that

time. Maybe I could make a white man of him.”’


by gum                                                                                                            (N 20.103)      

Lincoln 256: ‘“By gum!” exclaimed the enthusiastic “able seaman.”’[23]


The phrase ‘shiver my timbers’ (N 20.59, U 14.1524-5: ‘Shiver my timbers if I had’) is also embedded in the list of expressions inspired by Cap’n Eri. While this famous piratical mock oath does not appear in Cap’n Eri, the saying adds to the notesheet’s store of coastal slang. As before, the captains’ dialogue is of primary interest and the more standard English of Lincoln’s narrator is largely ignored. Joyce is particularly attracted to nautical terminology (‘abaft’, ‘catch aholt’, ‘ship long of me’) and ejaculations (‘Thunderation’, ‘By gum’), but there is precious little that would firmly anchor the expressions he has gathered from Cap’n Eri to their source. Rather than noting down quotations from Cap’n Eri that are sufficiently distinctive or lengthy to have the capacity to function allusively and summon the work in its specificity, Joyce simply treated Lincoln’s work as a lexicon that conveniently gathered examples of American coastal slang from the eastern seaboard.

            The snippets of Cape Cod dialect entered on to notesheets 17 and 20 that do make it into the final text of ‘Oxen’ were stirred into the ‘frightful jumble’ that concludes the episode, where they mingle indiscriminately with other regional dialects of English, as well as loan words from other languages such as Indian American (‘squaws and papooses’ (U 14.1484)) interjections in French, German, Latin, Spanish (‘Caramba!’ (U 14.1470)), mock Yiddish (‘Vyfor you no me tell?’ (U 14.1525)) and faux French too (‘Horryvar, mong vioo’ (U 14.1522)). The dialect from Lincoln’s tale of the sea that appears in the tailpiece functions as a linguistic marker that gestures to America’s late entrance into the linguistic succession and further asserts that by the turn-of-the-century the English language is no longer the preserve of England’s national history and culture, but is instead invigorated from without.

            Cap’n Eri: A Story of the Coast and “Sea Words and Phrases along the Suffolk Coast” are not the only sources of seafaring slang Joyce consulted. Another entry, ‘of they sailors’ (N 17. 61, U 14.1503: ‘You larn that go off of they there Frenchy bilks?’) is from a well-known poem beginning ‘I be of they sailors who think ’tis no lie’ by Charles Dibdin (1745–1814), published in his Sea Songs and Ballads (1863).[24] Didbin will be familiar to readers of ‘Eveline’, which contains an allusion to his popular song ‘The Lass That Loves a Sailor’ (a sailor who is cheerful, loyal and loving).[25] Dibdin’s sentimental, patriotic songs of the sea were officially appropriated for the use of the British navy during the Napoleonic wars, and are freighted with the history of British conquest overseas. ‘I be of they sailors’ was often used as an example in dictionaries that introduced English slang to non-native readers, for instance Heinrich Baumann’s Londinismen (Slang und Cant): Wörterbuch der Londoner Volkssprache (1887, second revised edition 1902).[26] The sequence of notes that Joyce entered at the top of the right-hand column of notesheet 17 has a unique fingerprint that confirms that Londinismen was Joyce’s source for this phrase (in dark blue in Van Mierlo, Transcription II):


Seedy & washed out                                                                                       (N 17.57)


Baumann xxii: ‘Got (= I have got) and awful cold, bin (= I have been) to five balls, can’t (= one cannot) refuse, y’know (= you know). Getting (= I am getting) seedy and washed out.’

U 14.1548-9: ‘Seedy cuss in Richmond.’

U 14.1403-4: ‘Ward of watching in Horne’s house has told its tale in that washedout pallor.’


afeard                                                                                                              (N 17.58)



Baumann xxiii: ‘afeard, ax, ’em’

Cf. U 14.1495: ‘Tell her I was axing at her’


childer                                                                                                             (N 17.59)


Baumann xxiv: ‘[und der plural] childer’


he’ve slep                                                                                                        (N 17.60)


Baumann xxv: ‘he’ve = he has’

            ‘slep = slept’

U 14.1500-1: ‘He’ve got the chink ad lib

U 14.1444: ‘Where you slep las nigh?’


of they sailors                                                                                                 (N 17.61)

Baumann xxvi: ‘I be one of they sailors, who think ’tis no lie.’


These entries from five consecutive pages of Baumann’s lengthy introduction to Londinismen (Slang und Cant) only represent the tip of the iceberg. As Van Mierlo documents, Joyce noted down further choice examples of the Cockney slang and cant Baumann glossed for German readers, both from the discursive introduction to Londinismen (in which many of the notable words and expressions discussed are drawn from popular English ballads and poems through the ages) and the ‘Wörterbuch der Londoner Volkssprache’ (an alphabetised dictionary of popular speech). In addition to the phrases that Joyce entered on to the notesheets, Londinismen is also a potential source for words appearing in the final text of ‘Oxen’, but not the notesheets, including ‘Harman Beck’, meaning ‘Constable’ (Londinismen xliv, from ‘Lanthorn and Candle-light’ (1609) by Thomas Dekker (c. 1572–1632)). Of course, Joyce could have found these terms in primary literary sources, but (as is the case with Cap’n Eri and other works), it is not unusual for memorably distinctive words and expressions that appear in works Joyce consulted to crop up in the final text of ‘Oxen’ without appearing on any of the extant notesheets.

            The importance of the sea as a zone with its own distinctive oral culture is emphasised in the sub-title of Londinismen (Slang und Cant):Wörterbuch der Londoner Volkssprache sowie der üblichsten Gauner-, Matrosen-, Sport- und Zunftausdrücke; mit Einleitung und Musterstücken; ein Supplement zu allen Englisch-Deutschen Wörterbuchern’, or ‘A dictionary of London vernacular and the most common criminal- sailor-, and sports- guild expressions; with introduction and samples; a supplement to all English-German Dictionaries’. In addition to seafaring slang, other lexical fields that particularly caught Joyce’s attention as he canvassed Londonismen include those associated with gambling, drinking, and swearing, all of which are germane to central topics in ‘Oxen’ (and Ulysses), particularly horse-racing, alcohol and obscenity.

            Michael North’s discussion of maritime language in The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth-Century Literature (1994) contains a series of observations that help to explain why Joyce beachcombed works for examples of far-flung regional dialects and sea-slang. As North points out, ‘The early propaganda for the OED spoke confidently of “the race of English words which is to form the dominant speech of the world”’.[27] However, ‘the first linguists (from the Portuguese linguoa) were sailors who had learned to work with languages by living with a polyglot crew and travelling the globe’.[28] Mariners, ‘with their insight into the infinite fungibility of language, are the embodied antithesis of a standard language. They are also, almost by definition, racial outsiders, suspended between the races, languages, and cultures they translate’.[29] Not only does North’s assessment enable a connection to be made between Bloom as a racial outsider and Odysseus as the great mariner who navigates the ports and coastal landmarks of the Mediterranean, but it also tells us something about the special linguistic condition of coastal settlements. When sailors come ashore, they bring their international slang and cant to a community that is already on the periphery of national culture. To approach English from its geographical margins, and to search for seafaring slang, was a primary move in decolonialising the language and resisting the idea that the ‘dominant speech of the world’ was the pure product of the English as a race. The determination to view English from an outsider’s perspective helps to explain why Joyce decided to consult a German authority like Baumann’s Londinismen to access the slang and cant that percolated in England’s imperial metropolis. As a reference work, Londinismen emphasises how many different sub-cultures contribute to the dialect spoken in a single area and foregrounds the linguistic creativity of the communities that live on the geographical or social margins, such as sailors, gamblers and thieves. It reveals that the English spoken in London is not the pure product of any one dominant group or race, but a dialect with many diverse origins.

            Evidence from notesheet 17 indicates that Joyce was interested in England’s capital city (and important port) as another melting pot where linguistic outsiders mingled with the native population. Indeed, a further brief sequence of entries on notesheet 17 (positioned centrally, and presented in brown in Van Mierlo, Transcription II) derive from another volume in Joyce’s Trieste Library: the bestselling short story collection Limehouse Nights: Tales of Chinatown (1917) by Thomas Burke (1886-1945).[30] The particular appeal of this work was the lisping pronunciation and pidgin English of the Chinese characters:


come a home                                                                                                   (N 17.33)


Burke, ‘The Chink and the Child’, Limehouse Nights 25: ‘“come-a-home . . . Lucia”’


lou’ll                                                                                                                (N 17.34)

all same                                                                                                           (N 17.35)


Burke, ‘The Father of Yoto’, Limehouse Nights 50: “Oh, lou’ll have evelything beautiful, all same English lady.”

U 14.1448: ‘Lou heap good man. Allee same dis bunch.’


heap good                                                                                                        (N 17.36)


Burke, ‘The Bird’, Limehouse Nights 184: ‘“Oh, Captain—no burn me today, Captain. Sung Dee be heap good sailor...”

U 14.1448: ‘Lou heap good man. Allee same dis bunch.’


It is noteworthy that Joyce was once more drawn to dialogue and particularly to phrases that concern sailing and the sea. John Gordon has suggested that Joyce covertly names all of his major sources in ‘Oxen of the Sun’ by punning on the authors’ surnames in the text. If this is true, then the decision that the drinkers should repair to Burke’s pub, perhaps nods to the author of Limehouse Nights, rather than Edmund Burke (1729–97), as previously supposed.[31]

            The coastline and the capital are linguistically diverse locations where the dialects that circulate tell of trade, immigration and the rise and fall of empires. The American wild west is another zone where native and non-native English speakers interact. Evidence from notesheet 17 reveals that Joyce consulted Tales of the West (1902) by Bret Harte (1836–1902) to find examples of the Englishes spoken on the American frontier. The tales include a series of short stories set in the wild west that focus on the lives of outsiders, among them Cherokee Indians, rednecks, orphans, drinkers and gamblers, as well as selections from Condensed Novels (1871), Harte’s brilliant collection of parodies of celebrated American and British authors.

            Joyce’s interest in Harte dates from at least 1906, when he asked Stanislaus ‘Do you think I should waste 2 lire on buying a book of Gissing’s—or ought I buy a volume of Bret Harte?’[32] We know that Joyce did eventually obtain at least two volumes of Harte’s work because he left copies of Tales of the West (T. Nelson & Sons, Ltd. n. d.) and Gabriel Conroy (Boston and New York, 1903) behind him in Trieste. A sequence of notes from Tales of the West appear in the centre of notesheet 17:[33]


cuss                                                                                                                 (N 17.21)                    

Harte, ‘The Luck of Roaring Camp’, Tales of the West 49, 50, 52 : ‘“The d—d little cuss!”’

Cf. U 14.1548-9: ‘Seedy cuss in the Richmond’


teached                                                                                                            (N 17.21)        

Harte, ‘Mliss’, Tales of the West 9: ‘“[…] I want to be teached!”’


cock won't fight                                                                                              (N 17.23)


Harte, ‘Mliss’, Tales of the West 40: ‘“Want her yourself, do you ? That cock won’t fight here, young man!”


all serene                                                                                                         (N 17.24)        

Harte, ‘The Luck of Roaring Camp’, Tales of the West 50: ‘“All serene” replied Stumpy.’

U 14.1444: ‘Where’s Punch? All serene.’


handed in his checks                                                                                       (N 17.25)



U 14.1554: ‘Chum o’ yourn passed in his checks?’


madam                                                                                                             (N 17.26)


Madame appears 13 times in Tales of the West.

Cf. U 14.1405-6: ‘Madam, when come the storkbird for thee?’


skunk                                                                                                              (N 17.26)


Cf. Harte, ‘Muck-a-Muck’, Tales of the West 145-6: ‘“Why”, said the Indian, in a low sweet tone, “why does the Pale Face still follow the track of the Red Man? Why does he pursue him, even as O-keechow, the wild-cat, chases Ka-ka, the skunk?”’

Cf. Harte, ‘Miggles’, Tales of the West 80: ‘“Extraordinary d—d skunk!” roared the driver, contemptuously.’

Cf. U 14.1538: Skunked?


help me get tea                                                                                                (N 17.27)        

Harte, ‘Miggles’, Tales of the West 85: ‘But Miggles’s laugh, which was very infectious, broke the silence. “Come”, she said briskly, “you must be hungry. Who’ll bear a hand to help me get tea?”’


I reckon                                                                                                           (N 17.29)


Harte, ‘The Outcasts of Poker Flat’, Tales of the West 61, 70, 90, 138.


tight                                                                                                                 (N 17.29)


Harte, ‘The Idyl of Red Gulch’, Tales of the West 112:‘“Abner,” responded Mrs. Stidger reflectively, “let’s see! Abner hasn’t been tight since last ‘lection.”’

U 14.1507: ‘What say? In the speakeasy. Tight. I shee you, shir.’


bestest                                                                                                             (N 17.31)


Harte, ‘The Idyl of Red Gulch’, Tales of the West 120: “[…] For I come to ask you to take my Tommy,—God bless him for the bestest, sweetest boy that lives,—to —to—take him with you.”


U 14.1541-2: ‘Tarnally dog gone my shins if this beent the bestest puttiest longbreak yet.’


Tales of the West is also the source for two further notes, which appear further down the notesheet (see Van Mierlo, Transcription II), including the longest sentence on notesheet 17, which spans the breath of the loosely organised central and right-hand columns:


our Jenny                                                                                                        (N 17.91)        

Harte, ‘Muck-a-Muck’, Tales of the West 149: ‘“Dern their pesky skins, ef they dare to touch my Jenny”’


Tarnally dog gone my shins if this aint the puttiest chance yet                     (N 17.92)


Harte, ‘Muck-a-Muck’, Tales of the West 149: ‘“Eternally dog-gone my skin ef this aint the puttiest chance yet”’.

U 14.1541-2: ‘Tarnally dog gone my shins if this beent the bestest puttiest longbreak yet.


Joyce treated Tales of the West in the same way as Cap’n Eri, skimming the text for examples of regionally distinctive dialect. This objective explains the spread of the pages that Joyce canvassed, as Harte’s narrators use standard American English and examples of dialogue with non-standard diction are relatively sparse. For instance, Joyce only made two notes on ‘Mliss’, a tale about an orphaned, near-feral gypsy woman, who is taken under the wing of her schoolmaster. The word ‘teached’ is an example of M[e]liss[a]’s untutored speech. ‘“Want her yourself, do you? That cock won’t fight here, young man!” stands out as the one line of vulgar dialect in the entire story. It is spoken by a travelling actor, after he is challenged by the school master (who fears Mliss will elope with the theatricals).

            Joyce seizes on the examples of dialect in Tales of the West that are germane to his own purposes, taking particular note of expressions that concern inebriation or gambling. In some cases, recovering the context of these euphemisms provides a valuable gloss on the final text of ‘Oxen’. For instance, readers of Harte discover that the word ‘tight’ is a euphemism for drunk and are thus best placed to infer that ‘In the speakeasy. Tight.’ signals that Bantam Lyons has fallen off the wagon. ‘Handed in his checks’ is taken from the inscription on the tombstone of the gambler John Oakhurst in ‘The Outcasts of Poker Flat’ and refers to his gambling debts as well as his death, providing a useful gloss on the otherwise enigmatic line: ‘Chum o’yourn passed in his checks?’ (U 14.1554).[34] However, other phrases from Harte that bring local colour to the tailpiece have been adapted by Joyce without regard to their original context. In ‘Roaring Camp’, the expression ‘The d—d little cuss’ is actually a term of affection. It is spoken by Kentuck, one of Roaring Camp’s community of outsiders, gamblers and fugitives, when he is surprised by the tenderness of his feelings towards the recently orphaned child of Cherokee Sal. The phrase ‘help me get tea’ does not make it into the final text of ‘Oxen’. However, the character who utters those words also makes reference to San Francisco using the abbreviation ‘Frisco’ (Harte 90), a term that is repeated in Ulysses by the evangelist Alexander J Christ Dowie, who claims to have ‘yanked to glory most half his planet from Frisco beach to Vladivostok’ (U 14.1584-5).[35] This coincidence further corroborates the notion that Joyce may have taken more from his sources than is recorded on the notesheets. The word ‘Frisco’ hints at the presence of west coast American dialect in ‘Oxen’ and also perhaps points to the use Joyce made of the writings of Harte, San Francisco’s most famous literary resident.

            The only fragment from Harte’s Tales of the West to appear in the final text of ‘Oxen’ in a guise that resembles a deliberate allusion is the exclamation ‘Eternally dog-gone my skin ef this aint the puttiest chance yet’, which is reworked as ‘Tarnally dog gone my shins if this beent the bestest puttiest longbreak yet’. This splendid piece of doggerel comes from the one story from Condensed Novels that caught Joyce’s notice as he was canvassing Tales of the West: ‘Muck-a-Muck: A Modern Indian Novel, after Cooper’, a merciless parody of James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851). ‘Muck-a-Muck’ satirised Cooper’s stilted style and the falsity of his characters and plots by replaying episodes from The Pioneers (1823), a portrait of life on the American frontier. It relays the unlikely meeting, courtship and broken engagement of Genevra, the genteel daughter of a Judge, and Natty Bumpo, the uncouth Pike Ranger of Donner Lake, who saves her from simultaneous assault by a grizzly bear, a Californian lion, a wild cat, a buffalo, and a wild Spanish bull. The farcical skit is named after ‘Muck-a-Muck’, an Indian Chieftain, who is shot in error by Bumpo (who sees Jenny’s hairpiece in his hand and wrongly concludes that his fiancée has been scalped). The fact that Joyce made an extended note on an exaggerated parody of American speech such as ‘Eternally dog-gone my skin ef this aint the puttiest chance yet’, spoken by a character as unbelievable as Bumpo, and distorted it further still before transplanting it into the tailpiece of ‘Oxen’, bespeaks of a determination to exaggerate linguistic markers of national difference for comic effect.

When Joyce answered Georg Goyert’s appeal for help with the task of translating the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ episode into German, he emphasised the deliberate use of comically stereotyped language. Towards the end of the chapter, there is a fragmentary burst of what Joyce would describe as ‘child’s and nigger Enghsn [sic]’:[36]


Ludamassy! Pore piccaninnies. Thou’ll no be telling me thot, Pold veg! Did ums blubble bigsplash crytears cos fren Padney was took off in black bag? Of all de darkies Massa Pat was verra best (U 14.1555-7).


Joyce glossed these lines for Goyert, explaining that ‘The English is quite unconvincing and meant to be so’ (Cohn 199). The same could be said of Harte’s depictions of red-neck and Native Indian American English in ‘Muck-a-Muck’. In the case of the lines from ‘Oxen’ quoted above, the references to ‘piccaninnies’ and the stock negro character ‘Massa Pat’ make it clear that it is a parody of Black American speech. The topic under discussion is, of course, Bloom’s response to Paddy Dignam’s funeral. The brief transformation of a dead Irishman into a black American suggests a principle of racial equation. Each race and nation has its own linguistic identity, but races and nationalities become fundamentally interchangeable towards the end of the episode.

A distinctive feature of Harte’s stories is the sympathetic portrayal of ethnic minorities and the struggles they encounter as a result of racial persecution. The phrase ‘Allee samee’ (U 14.1448) is one of several examples of ‘pidgin English’ or ‘nigger English’ (a phrase that would have carried less offence than it does today) that crop up in the tailpiece of ‘Oxen’. ‘All same’ (N 17.35) does appear in Limehouse Nights (50), but the more overtly racially marked phrase ‘allee samee’ occurs seven times in another Harte story, ‘Three Vagabonds of Trinidad’ (1900), another story that is set on the coast.[37] It draws on the events of the Humboldt Bay massacre (1860), in which many Wiyot Indians (including infants) were brutally murdered. Harte, who was then living in the Californian coast town of Union (now Arcata), a settlement on Humboldt Bay, denounced the outrage in the Northern Californian, the local paper where he was then acting editor. The resentment his editorial caused among the violent minority that supported the attack resulted in death threats which compelled Harte to return to the safety of San Francisco.

            The ‘vagabonds’ of Harte’s tale are forced into hiding for fear of their lives after Mr Skinner, a prominent Trinidad citizen, declares, “The nigger of every description yaller, brown, or black, call him “Chinese,” “Injin”, or “Kanaka”, or what you like hez to clar off of God’s footstool when the Anglo-Saxon gets started! […] It’s our manifest destiny to clar them out that’s what we was put here for and it’s just the work we’ve got to do!” (Harte, Three Vagabonds 92-3). The ‘three vagabonds’ are Jim, a Native American who survived the massacre, his mongrel dog, and a Chinese boy, Li Tee, whose catchphrase is ‘allee samee’ (U 14.1448). Jim reflects that although Li Tee ‘had more claims upon civilization, through those of his own race who were permitted to live among the white men, and were not hunted to “reservations” and confined there like Jim’s people’, he was no less vulnerable to attack, to which Li Tee responds ‘“Me go dead—allee samee Mellikan boy. You go dead too—allee samee” (Harte, Three Vagabonds 202). The three vagabonds are hunted by Mr. Skinner’s twelve year old son, who turns vigilante and invades the island where the miserable refugees live. He shoots Li Tee dead, but is prevented from killing Jim by the mongrel, who sinks his teeth into the boy’s throat. Harte’s tale condemns the oppression and persecution of ethnic minorities, while nonetheless indicating racial difference through dialect that asserts its identity by exaggerating departures from standard forms to the point of parody, qualities that make it suggestive for ‘Oxen’.

            Of the near 100 entries on notesheet 17 that Joyce in some form incorporated in the final text of ‘Oxen’, the large majority appear in the tailpiece. However, the special diction on notesheet 17 only accounts for a small part of the non-standard English in the concluding paragraphs. Here is a representative excerpt, with words and phrases from firmly sourced entries on notesheets 17 and 20 colour-coded according to Van Mierlo, Transcription II:


All off for a buster, armstrong, hollering down the street. Bonafides. Where you slep las nigh? Timothy of the battered naggin. Like ole Billyo. Any brollies or gumboots in the fambly? Where the Henry Nevil’s sawbones and ole clo? Sorra one o’me knows. Hurrah there, Dix! Forward to the ribbon counter. Where’s Punch? All serene. Jay, look at the drunken minister coming out of the maternity hospal! Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater et Filius. A make, mister. The Denzille lane boys. Hell, blast ye! Scoot. Righto, Isaacs, shove em out of the bleeding limelight. Yous join uz, dear sir? No hentrusion in life. Lou heap good man. Allee samee dis bunch. En avant, mes enfants! Fire away number one on the gun. Burke’s! Burke’s! Thence they advanced five parasangs. Slattery’s mounted foot. Where’s that bleeding awfur? Parson Steve, apostates’ creed! No, no, Mulligan! Abaft there! Shove ahead. Keep a watch on the clock. Chunkingout time. Mullee! What’s on you? Ma mère m’a mariée. British Beatitudes! Retamplatan digidi boumboum. Ayes have it. To be printed and bound at the Druiddrum press by two designing females. Calf covers of pissedon green. Last word in art shades. Most beautiful book come out of Ireland my time. Silentium! Get a spurt on. Tention. Proceed to nearest canteen and there annex liquor stores. March! Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are (atitudes!) parching. Beer, beer, business, bibles, bulldogs, battleships, buggery and bishops. Whether on the scaffold high. Beer, beef, trample the bibles. When for Irelandear. Trample the trampellers. Thunderation! Keep the durned millingtary step. We fall. Bishops boosebox. Halt! Heave to. Rugger. Scrum in. No touch kicking. Wow, my tootsies! You hurt? Most amazingly sorry! (U 14.1440-1464).


Key: Heinrich Baumann, Edward FitzGerald, Thomas Burke, Joseph Crosby Lincoln, Bret Harte.


As is typical of Joyce’s practice throughout ‘Oxen’, no especial effort has been made to keep vocabulary from the same source together. Indeed, elsewhere in the tailpiece, entries from different sources are combined to produce new collocations such as ‘Golly, whatten tunket’s yon guy in the mackintosh?’ (U 14.1546) and ‘Seedy cuss’ (U 14.1548). In the paragraph that describes the men’s urgent march to the pub before time is called, Americanisms from Lincoln and Harte jostle with slang and cant from Londonismen, a ‘sea word’ glossed by FitzGerald, and a Chinese-English phrase from Burke. These regionally and racially inflected words and phrases reverberate alongside other fragments, including: popular marching songs from around the world (the comic ditty ‘Slattery’s mounted foot’ by Percy French, a line from a bawdy French rhyme, and the American Civil War-era ‘Tramp, Tramp, Tramp’ by George F. Root); a memorable line from the Greek historian Xenophon’s description of Greek troops marching (‘Thence they advanced five parasangs’); rhythmical nonsense words to convey the insistent pounding of feet or drums, as in French marching songs (‘Retamplatan digidi boum boum’); sporting terms (‘Rugger. Scrum in. No touch kicking’) (Gifford 442); slurred speech; nicknames; and personal references (such as ‘ribbon counter’, which though it has the appearance of slang most likely refers to Oliver St John Gogarty’s father’s work at a haberdashers (Gifford 106)). The result is chaotic. The underlying action (vigorous walking, arm-in-arm, propelled by playful banter) is conveyed by encircling the same subject, but continually switching codes and styles. The idiom is modern precisely because it rapidly ingests (and jests with) expressions from other dialects, languages, cultures and times.

            While the items of special diction that entered the tailpiece via notesheet 17 are frightfully jumbled in the final text, source-hunting detective work reveals this notesheet to be a coherent, focused working document. The selection of source texts was motivated by a clear objective: to find examples of the non-standard Englishes spoken at the geographical and cultural margins. The heading ‘Sea’ at the top of notesheet 17 bears the imprint of this intention. To extend the episode’s central gestational metaphor, the sea functions as the amniotic fluid that sustains vital contact between the mainland and the peripheries and brings native dialects and foreign tongues into productive dialogue, swelling the influx of new words and phrases that will rebirth English as a truly global language at the century’s turn. While the source texts for the tailpiece of ‘Oxen’ were chosen with deliberate care, the individual notes that Joyce entered on to notesheet 17 were the product of serendipitous skimming, and were taken as and when he happened to alight on a word or phrase that appeared promisingly distinctive or thematically appropriate. As an early working document, then, notesheet 17 provides a much firmer indication of Joyce’s intentions for ‘Oxen’ than the more general statements in the letter to Budgen, and affords an unguarded source of clues and cues by which to interpret the episode. It reveals the diction of the tailpiece to be at once more wide-ranging and yet more niche than Joyce’s correspondence suggests, in that far from focusing on different dialects of English in their singularity, he was actively searching for texts where international and regional Englishes converge.

            The form of ‘Oxen’ asserts that the future of English is not to be found in the literatures produced by the prose stylists that Joyce parades as he recapitulates the history of the language. It is to be found in the non-standard Englishes of the outlying regions that were awakening to a restive modern spirit and asserting distinctive local identities; in metropolitan melting pots like London, where the language is invigorated by interactions between communities of locals and outsiders; in the realms beyond England’s borders, the sea, coastal settlements; and, crucially, in America. In the same way that Joyce constellated the outlying linguistic cultures of the British Isles as he prepared notesheet 17 (the Scottish poet Burns in the north, Francis in the west, FitzGerald in the east, and Londinismen and Burke in the south), Joyce reaches across the American continent, selecting examples of regional and racial dialect from two authors who wrote about opposite sides of the countryLincoln on the eastern seaboard and Harte on the west coast. Joyce canvassed these American sources with a view to gesturing to the fringe Englishes that were developing at the extremities of a rising nation, a former colony that would soon eclipse England on the world’s stage, as suggested by the culminating soap-box sermon delivered by Alexander J Christ Dowie at the episode’s end, which has already ‘yanked to glory most half this planet from Frisco beach to Vladivostok’.

            By connecting the Englishes spoken in different regions and by different races to the future of the language, Joyce decentres and decolonialises English and remakes the language as a mode of liberation of race itself that traverses and so transcends the national. The tailpiece of ‘Oxen’ asserts that the ‘race of English words’ no longer forms ‘the dominant speech of the world’. Instead, English as a lingua franca encompasses sea-slang, pidgin and cant from communities who live on the margins of national culture and whose dialects traverse national boundaries, such as the English spoken by Chinese immigrants, Welsh nationals and Native Indians. The ‘oxtail soup’ Joyce serves to readers at the end of the ‘Oxen’ is enriched with many ingredients sourced from around the globe and seasoned with maritime and coastal slang. It asserts that the future of the language lies beyond England’s shores and establishes the agenda for Joyce’s future ‘conquest’ of English, pointing forward to the supra-national, polyglot language of Finnegans Wake.



[1] All references to Ulysses are to James Joyce, Ulysses: The Corrected Text, eds Hans Walter Gabler, with Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior (New York: Garland, 1986), by episode and line number. A detailed account of the action described in the final paragraphs can be found in John Noel Turner, ‘A Commentary on the Closing of “Oxen of the Sun”’, James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Fall, 1997), pp. 83-111. Turner convincingly paraphrases the substance of lines U 14.1440-1581, but nonetheless concedes that there are many moments where the identity of speakers or the sense in which a particular phrase is used is unclear.

[2] For more information about ‘Intertextual Joyce’ see

[3] The ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheets are among the manuscripts catalogued as ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, by James Joyce; circa 1912-1921’, British Library Add MS 49975; British Library microfilm 2934. For a facsimile of the ‘Oxen of the Sun’ notesheets in British Library (Add. MS. 49975) see James Joyce, Ulysses: Notes & “Telemachus”—“Scylla and Charybdis,” A Facsimile of Notes for the Book & Manuscripts & Typescripts for Episodes 1-9, James Joyce Archive IX, prefaced and arranged by Michael Groden (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1978), pp. 22-41.

[4] Chrissie Van Mierlo, ‘“Oxen of the Sun” Notesheet 17: Annotations and Commentary with A New List of Sources, and Transcriptions, or Oxtail Soup: the ingredients’, Genetic Joyce Studies 14 (2014),

[5] Phillip F. Herring, James Joyce’s “Ulysses’” Notesheets in the British Museum (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1972), pp. 246-39.

[6] As Van Mierlo’s transcription indicates, notesheet 17 also contains an as yet unsourced cluster of entries in Italian that pertain to methods of contraception and birth control.

[7] Herring, James Joyce’s “Ulysses’” Notesheets in the British Museum (1972), pp. 162-264.

[8] Robert Janusko, The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s “Oxen” (Epping: Bowker, 1983).

[9] Janusko, The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s “Oxen” (1983), p. 81. (In a previous contribution to Genetic Joyce Studies, I salute Janusko for his heroic contribution to sourcing the ‘Oxen’ notesheets, but argue that the ‘Working Outline’ he extracted from this data is misleading because it turns a blind eye to the way that Joyce freely combines fragmentary echoes from many different sources to construct his ‘parodies’, a circumstance which interferes with the idea that any one voice is dominant. See Sarah Davison, ‘Joyce’s incorporation of literary sources in “Oxen of the Sun”’, Genetic Joyce Studies 9 (2009),

[10] Janusko, The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s “Oxen”, p. 76.

[11] Janusko, The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s “Oxen”, pp. 76-7. See also Weldon Thorton, Allusions in ‘Ulysses’: An Annotated List (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1961).

[12] Don Gifford, with Robert J. Seidman, ‘Ulysses’ Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, 2nd rev. ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008), pp. 441-9.

[13] Peter Gilliver, ‘Billy Sunday: a new source for “Oxen of the Sun”’, James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Fall, 2006), pp. 133-5.

[14] Harald Beck, ‘Edward FitzGerald at Sea: Oxen notesheet 17’, James Joyce Online Notes (2013), All further references to ‘Sea Words and Phrases’ are to the Variorum and Definitive Edition of the Poetical and Prose Works of Edward FitzGerald (New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1902), vol. 6, pp. 201-83 (the edition cited by Beck), and are incorporated in the text.

[15] No other ‘Sea Words and Phrases’ appear in the text of Ulysses in the senses defined by FitzGerald. Evidently, Joyce did not draw on this source, which is after all specific to the East Anglian dialect, when depicting the sailor D. B. Murphy in ‘Eumaeus’. However, it may be that ‘Spring a Luff’ (meaning ‘As when the wind freshens on you’ (FitzGerald 278), which appears in ‘A Capful of Sea-Slang for Christmas’ (an addendum to ‘Sea Words and Phrases’ first published The East Anglian, 1871), makes an appearance in ‘Oxen’ as ‘sprang their luff’ (U 14.643).

[16] J. O. Francis, Change: with an Introduction by Montrose J. Moses, The Drama League Series of Plays Volume VII (New York: Doubleday Page and Co., 1914). All subsequent references are to this edition of Change are incorporated in the text, unless otherwise indicated. For further commentary on ‘bach’, a Welsh term of endearment, see Van Mierlo, ‘“Oxen of the Sun” Notesheet 17: Annotations and Commentary with a New List of Sources, and Transcriptions’, Genetic Joyce Studies (2014).

[17] J. O. Francis, Change: A Glamorgan Play in Four Acts, E.P.C. Welsh Drama Series, no. 13 (Cardiff: The Educational Publishing Co., Ltd, [1914?], c. 1910, Harry Ransom Center, James Joyce Trieste Library, PR 6011 R18 C5 1914 JJT. A copy of this edition of Change is also held at John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, UK, Special Collections, R44190. It contains seven pages of prefatory material in addition to the text of the play:


i. Half-title-page
ii. Details of earlier editions of the play (Old Students’ Association of the University College, Aberystwyth, 1913 and the Drama League of America and Messrs. Doubleday, Page and Co., New York, 1914) plus copyright details and note on the availability of an ‘acting copy’ for Amateur Societies performing the play

iii. Title-page

iv. Blank

v. Characters in the play and list of acts

vi. Cast list for performance by the Incorporated Stage Society at the Haymarket Theatre, December 7, 8 and 9, 1913 (produced by Tom Owen)

vii. Cast list for performance by the Welsh National Drama Company at the New Theatre, Cardiff, on May 11, 1914 (produced by Ted Hopkins)


I would like to thank Julie Ramwell, Special Collections Librarian (Rare Books), John Rylands Library, for her help with this textual note.

[18] For the history of the Howard de Walden prize see Ioan Williams, ‘Towards national identities: Welsh theatres’, The Cambridge History of British Theatre, Volume 3, ed. Baz Kershaw (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 242-72, p. 247. Theatre historians agree that the prize was awarded for 1912. However, Moses suggests that the judges awarded the prize in 1911 (Francis vii).

[19] Anthologies Joyce canvassed for examples of historical diction that was germane to his purposes include: William Peacock, ed., English Prose from Mandeville to Ruskin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1912); Annie Barnett and Lucy Dale, ed., An Anthology of English Prose (1332 to 1740) (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912); A. F. Murison, ed., Selections from the Best English Authors (Edinburgh: Chambers, 1907). Joyce also consulted authorities on the history of the English language, including George Saintsbury, A History of English Prose Rhythm (London: Macmillan, 1912).

[20] ‘Aberpandy’ literally means ‘the confluence of the fulling mill’, from ‘aber’ = river mouth and ‘pandy’ = fulling mill.

[21]All references to Cap’n Eri are to Joseph Crosby Lincoln, Cap’n Eri: A Story of the Coast (New York: A.L. Burt and Company, 1912), incorporated in the text.

[22] James Joyce, Ulysses: Notes & “Telemachus”—“Scylla and Charybdis,” A Facsimile of Notes for the Book & Manuscripts & Typescripts for Episodes 1-9, James Joyce Archive IX, prefaced and arranged by Michael Groden (New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1978), p. 38.

[23] The final cluster of six entries has also been recently noticed by Beck, whose forays into source-hunting have occasionally overlapped with and complimented our own. See, Harald Beck, ‘Lincoln, but not Abraham’, James Joyce Online Notes (2013),

[24] Charles Dibdin, Sea Songs and Ballads (London: Bell & Daldy and Sampson Low, Son, & Co., 1863), p. 44.

[25] James Joyce, ‘Eveline’, Dubliners, ed. Jeri Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 27.

[26] Heinrich Baumann’s Londinismen, Slang und Cant; Wörterbuch der Londoner Volkssprache sowie der üblichsten Gauner-, Matrosen-, Sport- und Zunftausdrücke; mit Einleitung und Musterstücken; ein Supplement zu allen Englisch-Deutschen Wörterbuchern (Berlin-Schoneberg: Langenscheidtsche Verlagsbuchhandlug, n.d. (c.1902)), p. xxvi. All further references are to this edition, incorporated in the text. A further sequence of notes from this edition of Londinismen also appears in Ulysses MS VI.D.7, a late notebook. See Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook: New Evidence on the Genesis of ‘Ulysses’ (Edinburgh: Split Pea Press, 1989), pp. 42-8.

[27] Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth-century Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 49.

[28] Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism, p. 50.

[29] Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism, p. 50.

[30] Joyce’s copy of Thomas Burke, Limehouse Nights: Tales of Chinatown (London: Grant Richards, 1917) is held at the Harry Ransom Center, James Joyce Trieste Library, PR 6003 U55 L5 1917 JJT . All further references to Limehouse Nights are to this edition incorporated in the text.

[31] John Gordon, ‘Spot the Author’, James Joyce Quarterly, 28.1 (1990), pp. 291-2.

[32] James Joyce to Stanislaus Joyce, 25 September 1906, Letters of James Joyce, vol. II, ed. Richard Ellmann (New York: Viking Press, 1957), p. 166.

[33] Joyce’s copy of Bret Harte, Tales of the West (London; New York: T. Nelson & Sons, Ltd. n. d.), is held at the Harry Ransom Center, James Joyce Trieste Library, PS 1822 T3 1900z JJT. All further references to Tales of the West are to this edition incorporated in the text.

[34] John Oakhurst is one of the cast of ruffians who live in ‘Roaring Camp’.

[35] The word ‘Frisco’ also appears in ‘The Idyll of Red Gulch’ (Tales of the West, p. 120), in the speech of a destitute mother.

[36] Joyce’s letter to Goyert is reproduced and transcribed in Alan M. Cohn, ‘Joyce’s Notes on the End of “Oxen of the Sun”, James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3, Translation Issue (Spring, 1967): 194-201, p. 199. All further reference to this letter are to Cohn’s transcription, incorporated in the text.

[37] Bret Harte, ‘Three Vagabonds of Trinidad’, in Under the Red Woods (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1901), pp. 183-204. All further references are to this edition, incorporated in the text.