"Indian scrawl"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Aug 1 18:18:24 UTC 2012

I assume "Indian scrawl" is simply a pejorative characterization of
something illegible or illiterate, and when said about some woman's
handwriting by Sheridan  is meant to be derogatory of that woman or
perhaps of all women.  (I don't have the citation, and also don't
know if it's Sheridan's words or those of some character of his invention.)

But can anyone find a dictionary definition (it does not appear to be
in the OED), or a source that might be the original?   GBooks gives
me an 1807 instance, in "Censura literaria" by Sir Egerton Brydges --
where it is interestingly conjoined with "Otaheitan
breast-plate".  The OED tells me "Otaheitan" = Tahitian, and totemic
art by New Zealand aborigines was/is/can be very ornate and complex,
its meaning unknown to outsiders.  (See Google Images for "Maori ...")


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

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