Minced English

January 28, 2010

posted by Caroline Picard

I started reading this book by Amira Hanafi; it’s kind of an interesting story in the way of independent/alternative publishing. It’s available through LULU–what makes me pretty excited already, because using Lulu provides yet another means of distributing work. Something once again counter to the traditional agent/publishing house model. From what I can tell, Minced English is an interesting list (provided in paragraph/sentence form) of examples used in the OED when describing the mixture of races. Words like amerasian, biracial, chee-chee, half-blood, metif, metis, miscegenation, mixed breed, mongrel, half-caste, mutt, paulista, sambo, tereceroon, possess their own respective categories with sentences that implement the word to demonstrate, presumably, their usage and meaning. While Hanafi’s presentation of these words is cold and detached (she is after all nothing more than a list maker, a collage artist, an organizer), the momentum of each page speaks for itself, depicting both the color, imagination and violence that categorical words are capable of. The sentences speaks from a variety of different time periods; some of them are old-timey, sounding like they come from newspapers of old America, or the notes of conquistadors, still others seem lifted from rap videos or contemporary speech. Hanafi’s detachment presents all of these with seeming remote aestheticism, as to create an arc of political realization: that a dominant culture created these categories and that the application of those categories is its own subjugation.

An Excerpt from

Minced English

by Amira Hanafi


I was going to bet $100 on Long Bridget at 20 to 1 and take a chance on being crunched to a pulp if the mutt lost the race. He’s not trick mutt, anyhow. Naturally, d’mutt who owns d’store is out an ‘eager to do business. Watch that mut curl up out there. A fellow can’t leave nothin’ on his bed without that mutt chawin’ it up! The mutt ran along the inside of the fence and handed me a bunch of barks that joggled my spine. They commenced picking out the worst mutts they could. Engaged to that Ver Plank fellow that hanging around. I think he’s a mutt. Dougal, the elder brother, was a quiet, inoffensive kind of mutt. Be careful the mutt doesn’t get into a race with a caterpillar some day, and die of heart collapse. There are people who especially desire mutt dog. Got to look up a mutt named Chavenay. We’ll run that jug-headed utt of yours off its legs tomorrow. Two barefooted hippies were sharing a bag of potato chips with a happy-looking mutt. Examples of Rhyming Slang usually used in abbreviation form: Deaf. Mutt. You gone mutt ‘ave you Stobey/ The consultant made such comments as ‘Is she a mutt?’ The laguhter in this case coming because some other poor mutt has been conned and victimised. Mutt, disliked or ugly girl. The leg might have been a tossed bone that any flop-eared mutt could gnaw on. Mutt, slang for a sorry horse. If this Suvorov mutt really was a former KGB officer, then he’d been expertly trained to disappear.

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