Monday, July 12, 2010

Sa'riondan, Andre', Pompey

I've been wondering, not for the first time, about how apostrophes ended up in so many African-American names. But teaching in my neighborhood this summer in Portland, I have a majority of African-American students for the first time ever, really; in New York I had just as many West Indian kids, and this Minnesota-raised white teacher was fascinated by how different the two groups are, in so many ways. Anyway, Google found me this explanation, which makes a lot of sense, actually, though I'm not sure it covers all the bases.

I also found this at Salon, which is generally fascinating and thoughtful and takes on some of the real issues that are raised, usually indirectly, when the subject of African-American names comes up. (Remember the righteous, relatively conservative, and firmly upper-class Bill Cosby going off a few years ago?)

I've also been wondering why so many classic Roman names have been used historically, which dates more to slave times. This is a thoughtful examination of many common names in a specific part of the country, Central Pennsylvania, but calls itself "central pennsylvania african american history for everyone" and seems to fulfill that nicely.

If you know of other material on this subject, I'd love to hear about it.

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