Classic American Graffiti: Lexical Evidence from Folk Epigraphy in Western North America, A Glossarial Study of the Low Element in the English Vocabulary (review)
- Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America
- Dictionary Society of North America
- Number 1, 1979
- pp. 148-150
- View Citation
- Additional Information
148RICHARD E. WOOD The main body of the dictionary is an alphabetical hst of Surinamese Dutch words and expressions, with gloss in Standard Dutch, a citation or citations , an etymology where appropriate and where known, and helpful "see" and "see also" references which attest to van Donselaar's background in library science or a related field. Though the author is a biologist, he has clearly read extensively in linguistics, creóle languages, Dutch lexicography, and other areas. Latin names are given for the majority of flora and fauna entries-exceptions appear to be instances where the folk name is broad and covers several species or geni. In appropriate cases, entries are identified as regional, obsolescent, recent coinages, or associated with a particular ethnic group. Besides the ethnic languages mentioned above, non-Dutch influences come from English (for some time the official language of Surinam, and the metropolitan language with which the main local creóle, Sranan Tongo, is chiefly affihated), French, Portuguese (rarely Spanish), Amerindian languages, German (through the influence of the Moravian Brethren or Herrnhutters, active for centuries in theterritory), Hebrew (from the Sephardim, whose ancient synagogue at Jodensavanna is now a major tourist attraction), etc. Important also are regional Dutch influences from the southern Netherlands, and terms which have been archaisms in form or meaning in The Netherlands. What began for van Donselaar as a hobby has grown into a sophisticated piece of lexicography characterized by careful attention to method and sources, genuine fieldwork (so often lacking in lexicography for better-known languages), and a non-judgemental attitude of scientific inquiry. Van Donselaar even gave the dictionary a post-test, reported in a supplement. After the completion of the MS, he read carefuUy through Edgar Cairo's new novel, Kollektieve schuld, which is rich in SD vocabulary. He checked his listings and found some lacunae. These he Usts with a gloss though, for lack of time, without an etymology or citations on usage. Work in Surinamese Dutch lexicography, then, is not complete . But an important beginning has been made. Van Donselaar's dictionary deserves to serve as a model for future lexicography in the French of Canada, francophone Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, the German of Namibia, the EngUsh of anglophone Africa and elsewhere, U.S. Black English, and other language varieties in what is undoubtedly a growing linguistic category throughout the world. Richard E. Wood Southeast Missouri State University AUen Walker Read, Classic American Graffiti: Lexical Evidence from Folk Epigraphy in Western North America, A Glossarial Study of the Low Element in the English Vocabulary, Wawkesha, Wisconsin: Maledicta Press, 1977, 89 pages, no price. REVIEWS149 Though in England the 181 1 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue had long been an underground classic, it was not untU AUen Walker Read's privately printed study, this present work, was published at his own expense in Paris in 1935 that lexicographers and other researchers could examine a published document of American folk epigraphy. In 1950 Hyman E. Goldin, Frank O'Leary and Morris Lipsius pubUshed the Dictionary of American Underworld Lingo. Though it is a valuable work, it is as guüty as the then current standard dictionaries of omitting the controversial folk words (such as fuck) that Read, fifteen years earUer, had carefuUy documented. Even then Read believed that he was making not only a valuable contribution to linguistics but was at the same time providing source material for other disciplines such as abnormal psychology. Another important work that also sidesteps most of the so-caUed dirty words documented by Read is A Dictionary of the Underworld compiled by Eric Patridge and published in 1949. Though Read's preface and introduction are overly defensive and somewhat apologetic he nevertheless makes soUd, useful comments on the nature of obscenity and folk epigraphy. After reminding us that "The determinant of obscenity lies not in words or things, but in the attitudes that people have towards these words and things" (p. 9), he goes on to another important point: "The stigma on the obscene words was caused in the first place by unhealthy attitudes towards the bodUy functions" (p. 16). After a plea for a sane sense of the body and...