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Native American Placenames of the United States Hardcover – September 13, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0806135762 ISBN-10: 080613576X Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press; First Edition edition (September 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080613576X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806135762
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.5 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,044,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A comprehensive geographic compendium dedicated to librarians, Bright's book supplies linguistic and anthropological data on cities, towns, and geographic landmarks. An impressive list of helpful colleagues from across the U.S and Canada represents a scholarly background in 20 native languages. A meticulous pronunciation key offers detailed explanation of 46 arcane symbols and sounds suited to the needs of specialists.

Following a 13-page explanation of how and why Bright chose each entry, the text contains entries in a two-column spread with clear typefaces. Entries average three to six lines and generally include the name of the state and county in which each place is located, a pronunciation guide, an etymology, abbreviated citations to sources, occurrences of the name in other states, and cross-references to related names. A sprinkling of slightly longer entries includes those for Caribou, Horse, Lehigh, Manito, Oregon, and pecan. Back matter offers 14 pages of references ranging from Frederic Baraga's dictionary of the Ojibwa language, compiled in 1880, and Antonio Penafiel's Nomenclatura geografica de Mexico (1897) to a 1994 Aleut dictionary and Making Dictionaries: Preserving Indigenous Languages of the Americas (Univ. of California, 2002).

This work should find a place in academic libraries supporting Native American studies and American geography programs and in reference collections of large public libraries. Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

William Bright was Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at UCLA and served as the editor of the journals Language, Language in Society, and Written Language and Literacy. He also edited the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics and The World?s Writing Systems


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on October 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
New in paperback is a college-level reference that is perfect for any serious Native American library: a survey that is the most important place names guide in print. American Indian words define North America: this reference blends history and linguistics with insights from Native speakers across the country, creating a scholarly 'bible' of reference detail key to any comprehensive Native American collection - and now very affordable in its new paperback format.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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I can not stop going through it! I started by looking up a few names that I thought might be Native American names. But then I opened Page 1 and am simply running quickly through each page, looking for names that I know but had no idea that they might be from Native American words. I read only a small fraction of the incredible number of names in the book, but am utterly fascinated with the number of names that I see as Native American but that I had no idea were from that source.

In retrospect, it seem normal that so many American names are just words that were used by the locals when we new-comers moved in to a certain location.

And I'm completely amazed at the amount of research that many people must have done, to fill a 585-page book with information about something like 20 place-names on each page!

I wish I could thank the person who contributed that book to your sales list, and William Bright -- the author.

Bob Powers
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Purchased to support a personal project on local geographic names here in New England with a Native American background. Well worth the price; Will Bright's research helped tremendously!! thanks!
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I rated this book at three stars, and feel generous in doing so. It DOES have a lot of listings, so I guess I shouldn't be too harsh in my review, but I found it dissapointing overall. I currently live in Virginia, where it can be argued that the Native American and English languages have overlapped longer than anywhere on the continent and as might be expected there are numerous place names either derived or taken directly from the native inhabitants. Yet most of those names are not listed in this book at all, and when they are they are either misidentified geographically or unclear as to their history. On the other hand, just readig through the book as I'm inclined to do with any 'encyclopedic' work, I found myself questioning the explanations about how several English sounding names are supposedly derived from native words.

The book does seem much more useful with regard to certain geographic areas, perhaps because the 'experts' who contributed were concentrated in certain areas. And I have to admit that I have spent an hour at a time more than once just browsing through the book out of genuine curiosity, not looking up anything but instead just soaking up the information it contains. Having volunteered that experience, overall I still quite honestly feel that I wasted my money on this thick block of dead tree version, when a quick or maybe a not so quick but more in-depth web search can reveal much of, and in some cases more than, the information contained in this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By PATRICK HARMAN on November 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was prompted to acquire this work after travelling along "Bohicket Road" south of Charleston, SC, and wondering about the origin of the name. A Google search turned up a page from this book, which looked as though there were entries for every state, including placenames for Washington, California and Idaho, many of which I'm familiar with. That impression was not misplaced. There are, indeed, entries for nearly every state in this 600-page work.

However, some of the entries are...questionable, particularly with certain etymologies. Some are traced to Spanish placenames without explanation (e.g. "Potosí " to a Bolivian mine). In Washington there are unexplained deviations from Chinook jargon to various "Salishan" dialects (e.g., "Chuckanut"), making them hard to accept without additional attestation.

Despite these gaps, I'm happy with my purchase because it is an entertaining and informative work, with wide application.
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