Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Frederic Gomes Cassidy - Famous Jamaican Linguist

Linguist, lexicographer; born in Kingston, Jamaica, October 10, 1907. After immigrating to the U.S.A. with his family in 1919, he attended Oberlin College and the University of Michigan (Ph.D. 1938) and began a long teaching career at the University of Wisconsin (1939). An authority on Jamaican English and pidgin and creole languages, he also served as a fieldworker for the Linguistic Atlas of the U.S. survey. In 1962 he was appointed editor of the American Dialect Society's dictionary project, which has resulted in the monumental and ongoing Dictionary of American Regional English (Vol. 1, A--C, 1985; Vol. 2, D--H, 1991). He is also the editor (with R. B. LePage) of Dictionary of Jamaican English (revised 1980). Fred passed on June 14, 2000.

Back Home, By Frederic G. Cassidy, 1994

I've been places, places, traveled
most parts of the world. Seen the great
wonders of nature, of mankind
that fill the eyes, shake the brain;
troubled my body with heat and cold. I
have felt shrunken beside great
things, aroused to trembling, shivering,
all my inner flesh and blood aroused
by the need to recognize, to admit to some
overwhelming force of being
of which I am an infinitesimal
atom, a nearly-nothing, spectral,
that has not forgotten the birthing-cord,
the mother-tie, the separation
that never is complete, fully complete
until we die.

For each of us there is
a corner of earth, a refuge of green trees,
a cover of clean snow, rocks firmly
heaving above the sea, unreachable
horizons, small cress-grown creeks,
hard clayey fields, that we call "home."

An infant grasps the hand of the old man.
The other grasps the earth and the waters
under the earth. If true love exists
this is a part of it.

See you in Jamaica.


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