Talking Book

A. M. Wacky

Wacky’s the name — and names (well, words, anyway) are my game.  Scroll down to the end of the faculty roster of the  University of North Carolina’s Philology Department and you’ll find me officially listed as Abe Mishugana Wacky, professor of the newly created speech-centered branch of philology known as linguistics, but to my colleagues I’m “A. M. Wacky” and to my students I am just “Wacky.”  My three beautiful sisters and I (speaking only the dialect of German known as Yiddish and no English) came over from Austria several decades ago.  Lena, Frances, and Esther settled in (and for) the Lower East Side of New York (a Jewish ghetto in my opinion).  I, however, quickly opted to go south to Raleigh, North Carolina, to learn English with a drawl and to try to earn my living in the professional study of the English language in all its spoken forms.  In order not to perish along the wayside of  the tenure track at the U of NC, I am planning to publish a study of the use of Southern black dialect in the recently published work by Charles W. Chestnutt known as THE CONJURE WOMAN.  I intend to call my magnum opus (and, I’m hoping, job clincher) Y’ALL LISTEN NOW:   THE DIALECT MATERIALISM OF A CARPETBAGGING  CONJURE MAN.