Dohan's book -- a popular etymology of the American language -- traces its roots from proto-Indo-European through Teutonic...

READ REVIEW

OUR OWN WORDS

Dohan's book -- a popular etymology of the American language -- traces its roots from proto-Indo-European through Teutonic and Saxon to Norman, sprinkling the account with multifarious examples from each. Finally, the American colonies began to distinguish themselves linguistically, the first indication of which was Francis Moore's reference to a fiver bank, ""Which they in barbarous English call a bluff."" Dohan demonstrates how the American character -- pragmatic, improvisational -- was manifest in its early parlance: ""rubberneck,"" ""bobcat,"" ""squatting."" Immigrants -- Dutch and German settlers, French voyageurs and Huguenots -- continued to add to the common lexicon, and urbanization produced a stock of commercial, literary, industrial and legal terms. Dohan guides us through the 20th century from the ""shell-shock"" of the ""doughboys,"" ""G.I.'s,"" ""Coke,"" and ""T.V."" to the '60's neologisms such as ""tripping,"" ""think tank,"" ""no-knock,"" ""ecosystem,"" ""gay,"" ""fragging,"" ""FORTRAN,"" ""soul."" An adequate survey of American vocabulary from the perspective of a traditional linguist.

Pub Date: April 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974