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A Key into the Language of America. First Edition Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0814314906
ISBN-10: 0814314902
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Wayne State Univ Pr; First Edition edition (June 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814314902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814314906
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,359,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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64 of 64 people found the following review helpful By absent_minded_prof on May 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
...This is simply a reprint of a book that was first published in the 1640s by Roger Williams, who was the founder of Rhode Island and a respected friend ("netop") of the Narragansett tribe.
That said -- this book is not simply a vocabulary, or a grammatical treatise. It also includes dozens of insights into the daily life of the Narragansett tribe, at a time when most of them lived as they had from time immemorial. Every chapter includes not only the actual vocabulary appropriate to the topic under discussion, but also several paragraphs talking about the lives of the Narragansett. Sometimes Roger Williams ends a chapter with a little pedantic poem, but hey, cut him some slack -- he was a creature of his times, as are we all.
Here are a couple of things that I wish someone had told ME about, before I discovered this amazing little volume. First and formost -- the table of contents is at the END of the book, not the beginning. It does exist, you didn't get a defective copy. Second -- for a funny, fascinating set of examples of early native american onomatopeia, look in the sections on "Fowles" and "Beastes." Evidently, the Narragansetts told Roger Williams that they called a duck a "quequecum," a wild goose was called a "honck-honck," and a horse (which they learned about from the English) was called a "nay-nay-oumewot." Maybe this is just my own sense of humor, but I enjoyed envisioning a stern, austere, Godly Puritan, wearing heavy black clothes in summertime (and the hat with the little buckle on front), sitting down with a solemn circle of sunburned sachems, and doing bird calls.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Roger Williams saw Native Americans (whom he called “Natives:) as either “rude or clownish”. Williams believes it was the English “desire to civilize them” He found natives as civil and courteous towards Americans. He wrote what he observed and interpreted about Natives in this book.

The following are the recorded observations Williams had of Natives:

The Natives found tobacco refreshing and reviving and also useful in curing toothaches.

Natives offered food to strangers. Williams found Natives often were more generous than were Christians.

Natives believed bad dreams were warnings from God. They responded to a bad dream with prayers.

Natives held a brother accountable for a brother’s debt, including murder, If a man murdered someone and fled, his brother could be executed.

Natives took care of fatherless children.

No Natives were beggars.

Natives kept their doors open day and night.

Natives were intelligent and quickly made correct decisions. Williams observed God “hath not made them inferior to Europeans.”

Natives were capable of wartime treachery. There was a tale of a Native warrior who pretended to desert and then killed the enemy Chief Leader and Captain.

When attacked in war, a messenger would run to nearby settlements and seek assistance.

Williams found Natives as practical.

Natives would pray during droughts and continue praying until it rained.

Natives had a “revered esteem” for squirrels:,

The Natives believed there is a God would rewarded hose “that diligently seek Him.” Natives believed that the British God created the English people and Earth and Heaven in English. They believed their God created them and their world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A primary source for anyone wanting to get the flavor and sound of the language people spoke when the pilgrims landed, this book is a treasure. As I read, I'm struck by the tremendous loss to humanity with the extermination of this and other languages. I wish there was uniformity to spelling and pronunciation among the texts on these Algonquin languages. Alas, there is not.

The book contains rich descriptions of life and customs to accompany the words and phrases.
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