In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

286Reviews Dalgish, Gerard M. A Dictionary of Africanisms: Contributions of Sub-Saharan Africa to the English Language. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982. pp. xvii + 203. $35.00. A dictionary of the -isms of a nation or region usually contains the vocabulary distinctive of or especially associated with it: in Mathews' formulation, "'Americanism' means a word or expression that originated in the United States" (A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles [1951]); in Avis's definition, Canadianisms are those "words and expressions characteristic of the various spheres of Canadian life during the almost four centuries that English has been used in Canada" (A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles [1967]). Dalgish's idea of an Africanism is rather different from these two: "This dictionary is a lexical index of terms from African languages that have entered the general vocabulary of the English-speaking world. It also includes Africanisms that are not yet so widespread as to be recorded in standard dictionaries of English, but are nevertheless well known or reasonably common among English speakers in Africa, or fairly familiar to Africanists, and thus may someday come to be part of the general vocabulary" (p. xi). Useful as this work is for this sphere of English (or potential English) vocabulary, it does not incorporate the creations, special adaptations, or survivals from earlier English that mark the varieties of distinctively African English: sundowner 'evening drink, cocktail party' (in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa), dry coffee 'coffee without milk or sugar' (in the Bantu-language area of east Africa), and gallops 'potholes' (in Nigeria) are thus excluded from Dalgish's compilation since they have no direct connection with an African language (though dry coffee is a loan translation). There are, however, some exceptions to this principle in the word list. Limbo 'the popular dance in which performers must pass under a wooden stick or bar held horizontally a few inches from the ground without Reviews287 using the hands' (Dalgish's definition; "using the hands for what?," one might ask) entered African English from Jamaican English and may have common ancestry with a word for a kind of veneer wood (and the tree that produces it) in Central Africa. It is therefore included in the Dictionary. Tinapá is also included for a kind of fish canned with tomato sauce; its first element is English tin and its second a reduced form of Akan apataa 'fish.' Certain phrases combining African and English elements are also included: Afar triangle, Jollof rice, and Lomé Convention are examples. Most of the entry words selected by Dalgish refer to various kinds of plants, animals, people, customs, and food, and it is unlikely that many of them have very widespread currency in English beyond the local regions in which they occur. (Dalgish claims that the work contains "approximately 3,000 entries," but that estimate is certainly inflated by at least 1,000.) A principal source for him was the valuable citation collection maintained by C. L. Barnhart, Inc., and the result is that many quotations come from various newspapers (e. g., The New York Times, The Times, Manchester Guardian) and magazines (e. g., The New Yorker, National Geographic, Mclean 's) that circulate mainly outside Africa. Such sources do provide potential evidence that the words have "become a part of the English language," but one may doubt their adaptation when they are enclosed by quotation marks and glossed by these publications. Though valuable in many respects, Dalgish's Dictionary is not as inclusive as it might have been. Many words from African languages treated in Jean Branford's Dictionary of South African English (1980) do not appear, and while English-language newspapers and periodicals from Africa are often quoted, his collection is by no means a comprehensive treatment of borrowings from African languages. African writers (e. g., Chinua Achebe and WoIe Soyinka) known for their use of loan words might easily have yielded additional entry words. American novels (e. g., 288Reviews John Updike's The Coup [1978, s.v. grigri], and Tom Rabbins's Another Roadside Attraction [1971, s.v. chacma]) yield citations that show the international use of Africanisms but one might wish for additional information. (Chacma baboon is attested in...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 286-288
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.