The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1985, Volume 31, Number 2
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

Book Notes

Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor

A Southwestern Vocabulary: The Words They Used. By Cornelius C. Smith, Jr. Glendale: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1984. Index. Bibliography. Illustrations. Maps. 168 pages. $19.50.

The author presents a glossary of diverse information on words whose etymology he has found of interest, as reflecting the influence of Arabian culture on Spain, and the interchange of speech patterns between the Spanish, Mexican, Anglo and Indian peoples. His “southwest” is broadened to include the northern tier of Mexican states. The book’s four sections devote 63 pages to Spanish words, 22 to Anglo, 20 to U.S. military, and 14 to Indian. The approach is chatty and sometimes loosely speculative (as at doughboy, Jackass Mail, tizón). Smith cites no sources or authorities, and he includes many words having no evident connection with the Southwest (e.g., algebra, hurricane, Topic). Thus the work constitutes an entertainment (fair enough), but not a dependable guidebook. It is illustrated with the author’s pen and ink sketches and with maps showing the routes of explorers, the distribution of Indian tribes in northern Mexico and the American southwest, and the location of frontier military posts.