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Correspondence from Charles E. Banks to Fannie Hardy Eckstorm ca. 1915-1930, Part 2 (ms158_b1f005_002.01.pdf)

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Boston, October 6, 1930

Dear Mrs. Eckstorm I am vastly intrigued by your forcible confession of faith in Pemaquid. I have never been there, but I look upon it as an old friend from much reading about it. There too, I have always been an amateur student of the Indian tongue as a part of my flair for philology. I may have exposed my kindergarten views on some of your Maine words to you in the past. I have always been in somewhat extended correspondence with so-called experts-the late William Wallace Tooker particularly of Sag Harbor N.Y. (deceased) also Prof. Ganong. It is a dangerous plaything for an amateur. But of one thing I am convinced that it is futile for any 'expert' to fasten a scientific[underlined] definition to a place name without personal knowledge of the terrain. I hate to criticise Algonkinologists (?) who have made study of the construction of the Indian tongue a specialty, but I am often amazed at their definitions. If the Indian could do no better than they report his descriptive power as customary place names, I wonder the Indians ever knew where they were at.

For example Machigonne the name of Portland. This translation was given me-"the great ridge place," -that is like an animals back. It is admitted that in the various dialects, the syllables following Mach-mean variously, ridge and camp. But how would an Indian know when he had arrived at the great ridge place? Portland has two hills at each end of

Description: Letters pertaining to Indian place names in Maine, Indian languages, and other matters relating to Wabanaki cultures and history.

Link to document in Digital Maine


Date: ca. 1915-1930

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