"Even if you think you're hip, you'd better look up kitchen, got her nose open, jump salty, and hundreds of other sayings, former or current, that testify to the linguistic originality of Black speakers," said Frederic G. Cassidy, chief editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. With more than three hundred new words and phrases, and many other revisions and updatings throughout, this new edition of Black Talk reflects the ever-changing meanings and uses of this vital and rich part of our language. The author's approach is always informative, and always entertaining: "Geneva Smitherman is an internationally recognized scholar who, thank you Jesus, remains at heart a homegirl. She has expanded the knowledge and appreciation of the African American experience." To quote Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: "Embedded here is the hidden history of a people and their resonant culture."
Part dictionary, part historical guide, this somewhat amusing but informative work is a compilation of words and phrases from the African American experience. In her introduction, Smitherman (English, Michigan State Univ.) gives a thorough analysis and colorful history of what's commonly known as black talk. The expressions cited are used by blacks from all walks of life-blue-collar workers, preachers, political activists, musicians, and senior citizens. Some terms (down south, pay dues, and gold digger, for instance) are obvious and not necessarily limited to the black community. Others (e.g., big foe, which refers to hard-core, tough, usually big, urban police detectives; hammer, a good-looking woman; and jackleg, an unprofessional or phony preacher) are not as familiar and need to be defined. This book is for the unhip; it's not a necessary purchase for most libraries, but those with a steady flow of black patrons may want to consider. For another perspective on African American Slang, readers may want to check out Juba to Jive (LJ 1/94).-Ann Burns, "Library Journal"