Date: Sat, 23 Aug 1997 21:36:45 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: Hendrickson's MOUNTAIN RANGE book review
A DICTIONARY OF EXPRESSIONS FROM APPALACHIA TO THE OZARKS
by Robert Hendrickson
147 pages, $14.95
1997, Facts on File
Robert Hendrickson is the author of THE FACTS ON FILE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF
WORD AND PHRASE ORIGINS (which I quoted the other day). Other books in this
WHISTLIN' DIXIE: A DICTIONARY OF SOUTHERN EXPRESSIONS
HAPPY TRAILS: A DICTIONARY OF WESTERN EXPRESSIONS
YANKEE TALK: A DICTIONARY OF NEW ENGLAND EXPRESSIONS
and New York expressions (forthcoming).
I have all of these books. (The phrase "whistlin' dixie" was discussed
last year.) That does not necessarily mean that they're bad or good.
MOUNTAIN RANGE is the same formula and quality as the previous books. It's
an interesting collection of words; there are plenty of errors and omissions,
and the work is not intended to be scholarly. It should be accepted only at
its own "general interest" level.
Like the previous books I've reviewed recently, MOUNTAIN RANGE has no
bibliography. Ah, who needs it! It appears that Hendrickson surveyed a very
limited number of books of this type.
Also like BUZZWORDS: L.A. FRESHSPEAK, this book has no map, and the
words are not identified (noun used in South Carolina, verb used in eastern
Kentucky). The lack of a map hurt BUZZWORDS, but this hurts MOUNTAIN RANGE
even more. Say, what mountains are we talking about? The Ozarks in
Missouri? The Smokey Mountains in Tennessee? Arkansas? Kentucky?
Pennsylvania? What mountains are these words coming from?
Some lists would have been nice, such as a list of animal words, food
words, et al. by topic. Instead, it's a straight dictionary of words from
wherever. The cover shows a nice drawing of "hog wild," but there are no
A short list of sources is given in the introduction, where Hendrickson
states that DARE "promises when completed to be one of the greatest
dictionaries ever compiled." Check out the state words Hendrickson gives:
there's Arkansas (Arkansas chicken, Arkansas toothpick, Arkansas travels,
but no Arkansas traveler), Kentucky (Kentucky rifle, Kentucky yell, but no
Kentucky fried chicken), and Missouri, but no Tennessee at all (Tennessee
tea, Tennessee tuxedo, Tennessee waltz, the pronunciation of Tennessee).
Then you realize that DARE HAS ONLY REACHED "O."
"You-all" is given as "often pronounced _y'all_," so why isn't there a
brief entry there as well? The recent scholarship on this word is completely
"Melungeon" (a frequent topic on this list) is here, but there's no
explanation of the origin of the term, and other similar terms that were
discussed here are left out.
"Puke" (an old name for a Missourian) is "Perhaps a corruption of the
earlier name _Pike_ for Missouri natives, a name given to them in California
because so many Missourians who came there during the gold rush were from
Pike County, Missouri." Actually, a simple check would should that "puke"
predates this gold rush by at least a decade. "Puke" originated in Illinois.
Under "Appalachia," Hendrickson adds "It is interesting to note that
Washington Irving once suggested (in the _Knickerbocker Magazine_, August
1839) that the phrase _United States of Appalachia_ be substituted for the
_United States of America_." I have tons of stuff about this in my "America
Papers." It was "Allegania" (I may has misspelled that; I'm too lazy to
check) that Irving advocated, not "Appalachia."
Words are missing. There's no "sticks." No "hicks." No
"appleknockers." And let's REALLY check. No "fuck." No "shit." Not even a
"she-it." Obviously, mountain folk have the cleanest vocabulary around! Who
woulda thunk it!
Again, I have many Hendrickson books, and they're all moderately
informative. But the guy makes tons of mistakes, and his books shouldn't
enter any scholarly discussions.
New York is next. I'll buy that, too. Probably none of my stuff will
be in it, and I'll probably gag...