Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Apr 12 17:57:41 UTC 2006

Came across this cite in Grant's DTWW queue:

Catchword: spinksterinkdum Negro
At Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., where King took
over the pulpit in 1954, his brilliant predecessor Vernon Johns had
often taken his complacent congregation to task for being too
conservative and snobbish. He even coined a term for such folk:
"spinksterinkdum Negroes."
"King's Dream" by Jabari Asim, Washington Post, Apr. 3, 2006

Asim's source is evidently _Parting the Waters: America in the King
Years 1954-63_ by Taylor Branch (1988). From Amazon's Search Inside
the Book:

Having said bluntly that the social attitudes of most white
churchgoers rendered them no more Christian than "sun worshippers," he
[sc. Vernon Johns] said practically the same thing of the
"spinksterinkdum Negroes" who paraded in the "fashion show" at Dexter.
"Spinksterinkdum" was a term of his own invention, which he
steadfastly refused to define, but most of his listeners discerned
that it had to do with a pronounced rigidity among the elite. (p. 12)
[Branch got this information from an interview with Johns' daughter,
Altona Johns Anderson, according to the notes.]

In "spinksterinkdum" I hear echoes of that trio previously discussed
here: "hincty", "dicty", and "saditty". Any other possible sources for
the coinage?

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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