Kaskaskia book published (fwd)

Rudolph C Troike rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Mon Sep 9 04:32:51 UTC 2002

This should be of interest to some of our listees.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 22:34:18 -0500
From: Carl Masthay <cmasthay at juno.com>
To: swann at cooper.edu
Subject: Kaskaskia book published

Brian and others: This will be announced in the October issue of SSILA

Short description:

Kaskaskia Illinois–to–French Dictionary: Carl Masthay (838 Larkin Ave.,
St. Louis, MO 63141-7758 USA) is the editor and publisher. It sells to
libraries or institutions for $60 + $5 shipping (+ Missouri tax) or to
individuals for $30 + $5 (+ Mo. tax). It is a 767-page major reworking of
a 300-year-old manuscript in the Kaskaskia Illinois Algonquian Indian
language with matching French equivalents. Pp. 47 to 325 is the basic
work; pp. 327 to 757 is the "index" with French and English. All obscure
or difficult French words are translated into English. The first 46 pages
comprise a Miami-Illinois language history, a historical background, an
analysis of its possible compilers, abbreviation lists, and various
abstracted features such as numerals, ethnonyms and toponyms, biblical
allusions, a list of superstitions, and maledicta. Alleged recent Tamaroa
is also exposed. The book is enfolded by an attractive colorful
case-bound cover showing an artistic Missouri scene and two insects
("Kaskaskia" = ‘katydid’); this work complements Le Boullenger’s circa
1720 French-to-Kaskaskia manuscript. This book can be used as a resource
for reference by Algonquianists, French-dialect students, historians,
scholars, and librarians, especially those of the Midwestern United
ISBN 0-9719113-0-4; cmasthay at juno.com
Long description:
Kaskaskia Illinois–to–French Dictionary, edited by Carl Masthay, 838
Larkin Ave., St. Louis, MO 63141-7758 USA. 8½ × 11, x + 757 pp., 2002;
individual $30 + $5 shipping (+ $1.98 Missouri tax); libraries $60 + $5
shipping (+ $3.96 Mo. tax); more than three $7 unless shipping varies,
especially foreign (Canada: US$16.75 at 10 days; US$15.25 up to 8 weeks).
ISBN 0-9719113-0-4; cmasthay at juno.com
Carl Masthay, PhD (Linguistics), of Polish ancestry from Southington,
Connecticut, a Chinese translator in the U.S. Air Force in the early
1960s, and a retired medical manuscript editor at Mosby, Inc., for 33
years, began early study of Algonquian languages stimulated by place-name
study culminating in a 47-page monograph on Mahican-language hymns (1980)
and 11 years of work on his 200-page Schmick’s Mahican Dictionary,
published by the American Philosophical Society in 1991.
For about 300 years a major overwhelmingly dense document in an
Algonquian language now identified as "Kaskaskia Illinois" remained
unworked on and thus unpublished so as to be usable. It was first found
in the early 1800s by Monsignor Rosati of St. Louis and was acquired
later in that century by James Hammond Trumbull, who attempted to
transcribe it. It is a monster in size at 580 pages as well as in
legibility, with many cramped words and interlinear additions and
overwritten deletions. The language of translation is French with a heavy
sprinkling of obscure words. The manuscript is preserved now in the
Watkinson Library of Trinity College in Hartford as if it were Father
Jacques Gravier who had compiled it. Perhaps he did, but handwriting
evidence points to three other more likely compilers—Marest, Tartarin, or
Masthay has now edited the entire work for easy readability and provided
translations for all the obscure words or phrases with the necessary
assumption that a user or peruser has already studied at least a year of
French. The large index to the work provides access to all the words to
the original dictionary.
Use of a dictionary for an extinct Central Algonquian language in itself
would be restricted to Amerindian scholars and linguists, but it
represents a view, almost like that of a traveler back 300 years in time,
of cultural patterns some quite surprising for an Indian group that was
brought over to Christian values by Jesuits. Dogs were made to wear deer
hoofs (498); jokesters pulled seats away (280); slaves carried feathered
sticks (572-573); a "horse" can’t go through the eye of a needle (67,
485); and many others. About 80 superstitions are specified, about 32
biblical allusions are incorporated, and there are words for natural
items—plants, birds, beasts, insects. The "maledicta" may interest some
but repel others.
A context of the times is elucidated with an initial article by David
Costa overviewing the Illinois language and continues with a reprinting
of J.F. Bannon’s biography of Gabriel Marest S.J. Carl Masthay has also
provided all other Kaskaskia words from external sources (except, of
course, for Le Boullenger’s later major work in about 1720), provided a
view of a manuscript page, described and portrayed letter-ductus problems
to identify the compiler or compilers, and abstracted all abbreviations
(Latin and French), ethnonyms, numerals, unidentified lemmas (headwords),
non-Illinois words, obscure words, and problem words.
Was there really a modern Tamaroa remnant? Four pages of discussion
presents the complex evidence of a recent fabrication and four more
provide the alleged Tamaroa data as supplied.
With 278 pages of Kaskaskia Illinois and 431 pages of index enfolded by
an attractive colorful case-bound cover showing an artistic Missouri
scene and two insects ("Kaskaskia" = ‘katydid’), this book complements Le
Boullenger’s circa 1720 French-to-Kaskaskia compilation work (still only
in manuscript form). This book can be used by Algonquianists,
French-dialect students, historians, scholars, and librarians, especially
those of the Midwestern area of the United States as a resource for

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