Draft Pieces for Whagta Kriowday! Creoles and Creolized Language in the Writing of Finnegans Wake

Draft Pieces for Whagta Kriowday! Creoles and Creolized Language in the Writing of Finnegans Wake

“That James Joyce is indeed a black Irishman,
wreaking a vengeance, even wilder than the I.R.A.’s, on
the English language from within, invading the territory
of its sanitary ego-presumptions with a flood of impure,
dark languages flowing from the damned up sources of
collective speech, savagely drowning the ego of the
traditional speaker and depositing the property of words
in everybody, in the total human community of those who
speak and have spoken and shall speak.”
Carlos Fuentes ( American Review , 1975)

‘And perhaps it is madness to grind up words in order to extract their substance,
or to graft them one onto another,
to create crossbreeds and unknown variants,
to open up unsuspected possibilities for these words,
to marry sounds which were not usually joined together before,
although they were meant for one another,
to allow water to speak like water, birds to chirp in the words of birds,
to liberate all sounds of rustling, breaking, arguing, shouting, cracking, whistling, creaking, gurgling – from their servile, contemptible role and to attach them to the feelers of expressions which grope for definitions of the undefined.
I took literally Gautier’s dictum, ‘The inexpressible does not exist.’
With this hash of sounds I am building the great myth of everyday life.’
James Joyce (to Jan Parandowski)

 In late 1978 I wrote a paper (unpub) called “Whagta Kriowday”: Creole Languages in Finnegans Wake. In 1980, while a Fellow at Timothy Dwight College, Robert Faris Thompson and John Szwed became enthused about extending this idea to say that the language of Finnegans Wake was itself a Creole.To do this raises fundamental questions as to what is a Creole. Is it just a mixture? Or does the term refer to languages which play with the elements of words and meanings in particular ways.Or are they languages which share a history of developing from simplified Pidgin languages used for restricted purposes? Or are they members of a group of languages which share structural features of a particular kind, usually related to features found in African languages grafted with various European languages? Or is there some other way we can identify a language as Creole? And there are questions also of what motivates the existence of Creole languages. The quote from Carlos Fuentes at the head of this essay raises further questions of this latter kind. By claiming that Joyce is using Creoles and other languages to subvert the fundamental bases of European culture and language dominance, it leads us to ask if Creole languages themselves contain elements of such a subversive motive. Whatever our asnswers Joyce not only uses Creole languages and treats them in a way completely distinct from his treatment of such other ‘mixed’ languages as Pacific Pidgin, but he shows complete awareness of the history of the term Creole itself.1.  
Joyce is explicit: Finnegans Wake talks about some kind of Creole or Creoles: For he could ciappacioppachew upon a skarp snakk of pure undefallen engelsk, melanmoon or tartatortoise, tsukisaki or soppisuppon, as raskly and as baskly as your cheesechalk cow cudd spanich. Makoto! Whagta kriowday! (FW233.32-) 
“Whagta kriowday!”   ‘What a creole day!’  
Creole is a word with a complex history. The Oxford English Dictionary attributes it to Spanish criollo:‘native to the locality, country; believed to be a colonial corruption of  *criadillo  and takes it back to Latin  ‘to create‘.
So even in its first uses creole has three elements —
colonial“, corrupt” (i.e. ‘mixed’), and “created” or new.  
All of these senses came together in the actual uses of the word. 
Its first specific Latin American use seems to have been:  ‘person born in the New World of parents from elsewhere’.
So to the Spanish conquistadores and those who followed them in the Spanish colonies it meant the children of Spanish parents, but born in the New World.
In other words someone not native to the New World, though born there.  
And thus not of mixed parentage.
Nevertheless Spanish law discriminated against Creoles, so much so that pregnant women would rush onto Spanish boats so their children could be born at sea, and thus be Spanish, not Creoles. 
The term extended itself, perhaps as a consequence of this discrimination, so that by a not unusual irony of history the word came to mean precisely its opposite, namely, ‘of mixed parentage’. The OED cites J.M. Ludlow’s 1862 History of the United States (p. 316 note) as commenting that “creole whites are, of all persons, the most anxious to be deemed of pure white blood.” So the word came imply someone tainted with a suspicion of mixed origins. From this it was later extended to free mulatto populations in slave societies, as in New Orleans and elsewhere. 
“Creole” was also applied to slaves born in the New World, to distinguish them from those born in Africa, who were considered less habituated to slave conditions and thus more difficult to manage. 
Eventually positive value was given the term in Latin America, where it was applied to the whole gamut of Latin American culture and expression – as something ‘new’, ‘national’, and gloriously mixed up, for example the popular comidas criollas,

 ‘Creole foods’. But also for more serious cultural and spiritual matters in more serious discussion. 
In the British and French language areas Creole came to refer to the specifically West Indian cultural products of the mixture of African and European elements – emphasizing, as in the case of the languages of the islands, their uniqueness, special character, and common characteristics. In one of its important contemporary linguistic senses Creole refers to African-European languages that were products of the slave trade both in Africa and in the areas of African slavery. 
In the form Krio, the term applies to the English-based Creole language of Sierra Leone in Africa, which was influenced by or created by returning Jamaicans. It is this form Joyce uses in “kriowday“, a specific reference to Sierra Leone creole, the only such language whose name is spelt with a K , although it also has a much broader reference to creole and creoles, and contains within it further creole voices and meanings.
The Passage
 Let us look further at the the context Joyce provides: 
For he could ciappacioppachew upon a skarp snakk of pure undefallen     engelsk, melanmoon or tartatortoise, tsukisaki or soppisuppon, as raskly and as baskly as your cheesechalk cow cudd spanich. Makoto! Whagta kriowday! 
All the meanings, colonial”, “corrupt” (i.e. ‘mixed’), and “created” or new, are relevant to an understanding of this passage. Joyce clearly describes the ‘chopping up’ or ‘chewing up’ (“ciappacioppachew upon”), of both language and food. What is chopped and chewed up is “pure undefallen” English (in Danish, “engelsk”) and the “spanich” (with ‘spinach’) of the “cheesechalk cow”. The “cheesechalk cow” may well be a “Creole”, in the word’s original sense. This white lady is insulted or undercut in a variety of ways. She is not only a cow chewing her cud, but like her cud her Spanish is green, ‘spinach’. And the quality of her “pure” language is indicated by the French expression suggested: Il parle fran‡ais comme une vache espagnole” (McHugh: Annotations) (‘She speaks Frenchlike a Spanish cow’). 
The Italian ciappacioppa, meaning ‘take breast’  (McHugh),  suggests baby-talk if viewed in a language context – as well as introducing the food theme that runs counterpoint to the creole theme throughout the passage. Eating and language are mediated by the Danish and English meanings of “a skarp snakk”,Danish:
snakke ‘talk, chat’ and English ‘snack’. The sk/sh alternation between Danish and English in ‘skarp/sharp’ is common, and shows up here also in Engelsk/English). So the ‘snack’ which indicates the baby‘s taking the breast and biting it (sharply) is also the word for speech’.  The chopping and chewing point to the manner in which creoles often enter the text of Finnegans Wake – by  “subjunction“:
        often hate on first hearing
comes of love by second sight. Have your
little sintalks in the dunk of subjunctions
(FW269.03; “sintalks” representing, among other things, a special West Indian pronunciation of ‘syntax’)
“undefallen” The baby is an unfallen ‘angel’ (German: engel, McHugh) but the “pure undefallen engelsk” he speaks is not only ‘undefiled’ or ‘undershot’ (as McHugh indicates), but is also ‘wave fallen’ (Latin  unda),
fallen by passage ‘over the waves‘ into some form of ‘overseas English’ — identified at the end of the paragraph as Creole.
Other Latin readings, unde ‘from where’ and fallo ‘deceive’, also suggest deception or doubt as to ancestry. English, among its other impurities, also lurks as a term for sadistic sexual behavior, suggested in a reading ‘undie fallen’.
“as raskly and as baskly Other languages and foods are suggested. ‘Melon moon’ is respelled to “melanmoon”, ‘black moon’, suggesting ‘Melanesia’ where a variety of Pacific pidgin (used by Joyce in FW) established strong roots and became ‘creolized’, became the mother tongue of a significant town population (now a national language). The blackness of  melan  is echoed in the tar  of “tartartortoise”, while ‘moon’ echoes as Japanese tsuki  (‘moon’  McHugh), which is also a reworking of Japanese Sukiyaki, a mixed food merged with Saki wine .
Food occurs again in Melanesian Pidgin  pisupo ‘tinned food’ (McHugh) accompanied by a typically Danish ‘pea soup’. 
Danish rask  means ‘healthy‘ or ‘vigorous’. But Rasmus Rask was the great Danish linguist who first discovered the correspondences now called ‘Grimm’s Law’ (see FW378.27: “And smotthermock Gramm’s laws!”). So a reading of “as raskly and as baskly” is ‘as healthily or as learnedly (as Rask)’. Basking as the cow chewing his cud, speaking is it Spanish or is it Basque? There is quite probably an echo here of Jamaican Creole ras, a crude word for ‘ass’ (see 348.05 “rassociations” and 348.27 “Raise ras tryracy!”)

So ‘What a Creole day it truly is. Both in the sense of ‘mixed’, a soup of languages, but also with clear references to Creoles (wave-fallen English, kriowday) and Pidgin.

the novo takin place of what stale words
 The passage is also a mirror of a whole variety of language and sociolinguistic processes very much like the real situation of Creoles and creolized languages themselves. Their identity has often been confused in a maze of language reflections, both the confusion of Creoles and European languages, and the inability of scholars, particularly recently, to see a clear line between creolizing processes and general processes of language history. Joyce himself sees the relation of Creole and Pidgin processes to general processes of language development: 
                                                       what a jetsam 
   litterage of convolvuli of times lost or strayed, of lands 
   derelict and of tongues laggin too, longa yamsayore, not only that 
   but, search lighting, beached, bashed and beaushelled a la Mer  
   pharahead into faturity, your own convolvulis pickninnig capman 
   would real to jazztfancy the novo takin place of what stale words 
   whilom were woven with and fitted fairly featly for, so; and 
   equally so, the crame of the whole faustian fustian, whether your  
   launer’s lightsome or your soulard’s schwearmood, it is that, 
   whenas the swiftshut scareyss of our pupilteachertaut duplex will hark
   back to lark to you symibellically that, though a day be as 
  dense as a decade, no mouth has the might to set a mearbound to 
  the march of a landsmaul (FW292.15) 
                                   Nor that the mappamund 
   has been changing pattern as youth plays moves from street to 
   street since time and races were (FW253.05) 
   I will not explicate these passages here, except to point out that the first one involves Melanesian pidgin (Beach-la-Mar), as well as the African related speech involved in “pickninnig” and “jazztfancy“.  A landsmål  is Danish/Norwegian for a ‘national language’, but refers more specifically to the “New Norwegian” created as a unified Norwegian (Landsmål) in the 19th century by Ivar Aasen.  Landsmål 
 was the subject of much politics and language conflict in relation to
Rigsmål,  the state language inherited from Danish rule. The mauling 
 of national languages by fundamental historical processes is very much at issue.
     Joyce seems to have known more about the nature of language than all the linguists and other experts, more than almost anyone. Not that he didn’t read and understand the linguists.The central concept the linguists of his time focused on – after having created the edifice of Indo-European historical linguistics – was what Roman Jakobson used to call, with emphasis, the relation between
signans and signatum, the physical sign or sound, and the thing referred to, or more broadly Sound and Meaning.   Jaques Derrida has pointed out the limitations of such a perspective in his  On Grammatology 
.  And Noam Chomsky also has tried to move beyond such a stable structure to a generative approach which in the end has raised profound questions about what we really ‘know’ about how language works in human beings. 
    For Joyce language is like river flowing, responding to the shape of the banks.  
   The “kriowday” passage ends by reminding us of these forces that Joyce thinks shape these mixtures of our languages — in Japanese, “Makoto!” (‘reality’).
West Indian Tunes
     Joyce is also explicit that he is interested in West Indian speech: 
   tendulcis tunes like water parted fluted up from the westinders while from 
   gorges in the east came the strife of ourangoontangues. (FW541.32-)
    The ‘ten sweet tunes’ of the West Indians are contrasted with the
strife of ‘our own goon tongues’ (also ‘orangutans’) that come from ‘throats’ (“gorges” in French). So the noises of orangutans in the East Indies are contrasted with the sweet melodiousness of the voices (‘speech’) of the “westinders
as well as paired with the ‘goon’ tongues of Europe. 
   The ‘goon tongues’ in this passage seem to echo from the opposite page,
where the ‘redone Negro’, seen with ‘new eyes’, is threatened
by German “horneymen” along the ‘Unter den Linden’:
    New highs for  all! Redu Negru may be black in tawn but under them lintels 
    are staying my horneymen meet each his mansiemagd (FW540.22) 
The word “mansiemagd” contains a reference to emancipation (’emancipated maids’) and “Redu Negru” is not only the founder of the principality of Walachia, Radu Negru or ‘Rudolf the Black’ (1290 A.D.), but is also the “New (‘redone’) Negro” of the Harlem Renaissance . Many of its leaders were “black in tawn” or light in color. The Harlem Renaissance had echoes in Paris; Joyce certainly knew Nancy Cunard, who was very involved in African American and Pan-African cultural movements.Yet “black in tawn” in a contrary violent image also refers to the ‘Black and Tans’.
   The two facing passages are further tied by “tawn”. The East Indies – “gorges in the east” – home of Rangoon Burma in those times, and of the ‘orangutans’ the most orange, or tawny, of the apes. “Tawn” appears also in “A lurk of orangetawneymen!” (FW361.24), another version of “ourangoontangues” (also read in another context ‘Oran, gay tawney men’).
    Explicating these passages may have seemed distracting, but they do go to show both Joyce’s explicit involvement with Creoles, and his understanding of the history and historical processes involved
    The reason the presence of Creole languages in Finnegans Wake is important is because they are tied to Joyce’s view of “coglionial expancian” (488.31-32) and slavery as fundamental aspects of modern history and human life.
[loose draft notes]: 
Unlike most Europeans in the 19th and early 20th centuries dealing with non-European cultures who treated the people and their arts as exotic images. some more factually than others, or as materials to be used to question and rebuild European cultural principles: James Joyce never forgot that all the people of the world were first humans.
    Here, I want to look at Joyce’s relations to some of the peoples and languages and cultures of the wider African world, as he followed in the wake of Fionn, the white man, in his journeys of colonization and the slave trade.
James Joyce’s use of the languages, speech patterns, cultures, mindsets, people, and histories of the African World, both Africa and the African forced diaspora in the New World and elsewhere, has serious implications for the reading and understanding of Finnegans Wake and its way of understanding the world and of understanding language.
Colonial Expansion 
The reason the presence of Creole languages in Finnegans Wake is important is because they are tied to Joyce’s view of “coglionial expancian” (488.31-32) and slavery as fundamental aspects of modern history and human life. 
Joyce’s almost Braudel like vision of the history of slavery and colonialism is one of the starting points of that understanding. The identification of Ireland with other island colonies and colonized peoples is part of its map. 
   The African restructured languages of the New World and other slave plantation colonies (such as Mauritius and some of the islands off the African coast, and of parts of coastal mainland West Africa),  have, in their processes, a fundamental relation to much language in Finnegans Wake and perhaps to some of the very principles of its structure. These languages are often called Creoles and Joyce knew some of them and used them.
   Part of their way of treating language is to break words down into parts – and to play with these parts in a way familiar to readers of Finnegans Wake. Joyce at one point calls this process “subjunction” and I have adopted this word as a general term for this language process as Joyce and many African cultures use it. 
   Sidney Mintz describes Caribbean Creole languages in this way:
“What is so remarkable about these languages is that they could develop under repressive social conditions until they became the first or native languages of millions oi‘ people, even becoming literary languages in some instances. lt is not their particular historical roots alone, but also the ways in which they grew, that makes them especially interesting to the Afro-Americanist. And in this perspective, it is not the precise historical origins of a word, a meaning, a phrase, an instrument, or a rhythm that matters, so much as the creative genius of the users, molding older cultural substances into new and unfamiliar pattems. without regard for “purity” or “pedigree.”  (Caribbean Transormations p17 Introduction 1974) 
The often Joyce-like deep language games that Creole speakers play is startling – and there are references in Joyce that make one think he was aware of this. Here are a couple of  minor creole language games that seem Joycean – and of the type that might have struck him
  Wisemore Joseph left Antigua and went to work at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston — and changed his name to Seymour. The Mighty Sparrow changes Paradise to “pairodice”.   
Double consciousness and Creole langs
[[[ All this is to do scant justice to the reach of Joyce’s ambitions. The language of Finnegans Wake is not only made up of all languages, but of all kinds of languages –pidgins, creoles, lingua francas, universal languages, and all the other kinds Joyce could find. 
198.18 {Emme for your reussischer Honddu jarkon! Tell us in franca langua. And call a spate a spate. Did they never sharee you ebro at skol, you antiabecedarian? ]]]
TEMPORARY NOTES  (Necessary presentation of the details of 198-199 still to be done — although xerox pages with handwritten notes is available)
FW 198 and 199 – echoes of the Middle Passage and the presence of Jamaican Creole and Haitian Vodun
FW 198 and 199 – echoes of the Middle Passage and the presence of Jamaican Creole and Haitian Vodun

198.01   your pipes and fall ahumming, you born ijypt, and you’re no- 
[ijypt — ‘Egypt,  jipped,  Gypsy    + Ptolemy (line 02) 
005.22 a wink to the wabsanti. Otherways wesways like that provost scoffing
005.23 bedoueen the jebel and the jpysian sea.
‘Gypsy Ann’ Anna
Between (‘Bedouin’) the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (song 1920’s) 
wabsanti see “absantee” Ashanti 198.16] 
198.02 thing short of one! Well, ptellomey soon and curb your escumo.
198.03 When they saw him shoot swift up her sheba sheath, like any
198.04 gay lord salomon, her bulls they were ruhring, surfed with the
Salomon (exact spelling) was the name of Sir John Hawkins’ boat which was the first English boat to carry slaves to the New World. So this whole page will be, among other things, about the Middle Passage
Middle Passage of slaves to the new world is invoked directly on page 316
316.24 The foe things your niggerhead needs
316.25 to be fitten for the Big Water. He made the sign of the ham-
316.26 mer. God’s drought, he sayd, after a few daze, thinking of all
316.27 those bliakings, how leif pauses! Here you are back on your haw-
316.28 kins, from Blasil the Brast to our povotogesus portocall, the furt
316.29 on the turn of the hurdies, slave to trade, vassal of spices and a
316.30 dragon-the-market, and be turbot, lurch a stripe, as were you
316.31 soused methought out of the mackerel. 
bliakings ‘blacks’ 
leif ‘life’ Leif Ericson’ – another voyage 
Sir John Hawkins see the Wikipedia and NNDB links below and the header quote from Burrage/Hakluyt 
on Sir John Hawkins – Wikipedia (not including SalomonSir John Hawkins bio at NNDB (not including Salomon)
Early English and French voyages: chiefly from Hakluyt , 1534-1608 – Page 114
 Henry Sweetser Burrage, Richard Hakluyt – 1906 – 451 pages – Free Google eBook – Read MASTER JOHN HAWKINS with the Jesus of Lubek, a shippe of 700. and the
Salomon a shippe of 140. the Tiger a barke of 50. and the Swallow of 30. tunnes, being all well furnished with men to the number of one hundreth threescore and tenne,


198.05 spree. Boyarka buah! Boyana bueh~He erned his lille Bunbath 
Boyarka is in the Ukraine Boyana is in Bulgaria and
(Fweet also) (Buah is also a Malay/Indonesian fruit)

 Boyarka can be smushed into Arabic Swahili Barca ‘praise’ 
while Boyana can be smushed into Swahili Bwana ‘Boss’
which gives a sort of Swahili reading – ‘praise the Boss’
(The only reason to do this is an impressionistic reaction to go along with the other 
 Swahili items on 198-199  entered on the galleys 
on these – see Dalton–and Wolff who discovered all this (without JJ’s notes) — in
 A Wake Digest“Kiswahili Words in Finnegans Wake”  
I give the two relevant pages from Dalton:
198.11 nyumba noo, chamba choo.
Nyumba = house;
noo = a large whetstone;
chamba = a hiding place, also, towash one’s private  parts (said of a woman);
choo = privy:
Joyce found “choo”  particularly appropriate for what it names, since it contains the German symbol “oo.” (“Because of the alliteration and parallel  construction, and the nonsense nature of the sequence, I think it is reasonable (among reasonable men) to say that in this case Joyce used the words with little or no consideration for their sense, though the meanings are significant, if not particularly so in the case of  “nyumba.”
The words “noo” and “chamba” are the only ones which do not appear at all in his notes” (Buffalo MS VI.B.46, “Kissahueli”).(Cf. the sequence at -.5, based on rivers.) 198.16 sina feza = I have no money  198.16 The words “me” and “him” substituting the objective case for the subjective, are familiar native-sounding talk. I think, however, that Joyce consciously based them on K. pronouns, which combine the cases into one form. “Mimi” (or, as frequentlabbreviated, “mi”) = I, me; “yeye” = he, him/she, her.198.16 absantee. This appears in the notes as “absanthe (thanks),” and it is a mistake: the “b” should be an “h.” The error in reverse was made in another entry but caught: in setting down the wordsfor silver and gold  he wrote “zalahu,” then followed it with the correct “zahabu” (gold).199.12 Wendawanda, a fingerthick. Wanda = a finger’s breadth or thickness. It is the Swahili inch. In his notes Joyce wrote “1 fingerthick.” Hewas working from a German source (see below), and it must have said “fingerdick,” as in Velten’s definition:“Breite oder Dicke eines Fingers, fingerdick.” 
 page 198 with my notes (very difficult to read)
198 cr rot
 and page 199
 199 cr rot
[[ I am having trouble having WordPress One page shows, the other doesn’t = although both load – all of which sort of defeats the point of the illustration ]]
So one more pause before we actually get to the West Indies, or rather as we pass beyond to Argentina and Uruguay and Columbia – and the whole Amazon basin – while Joyce again marks his theme as “El Negro”  —
who turns out to be an African who made a different voyage.
198.12   to go in till him, her erring cheef, and tickle the pontiff aisy-oisy?
198.13   She was? Gota pot! Yssel that the limmat? As El Negro winced
198.14   when he wonced in La Plate. O, tell me all I want to hear, how

El Rio Negro, La Plata, Huila, Colombia
At its Columbia source   the Black River is at La Plata
vs. El Rio de la Plata, ‘Silver River’,
‘the River Plate’  that separates Uruguay from Argentina
La Plata (“La Plate”) is the capital city of the Province of Buenos Aires
[note – Rio Negro (Portuguese&Spanish),:English,: the Black River, is the largest left tributary of the Amazon and the largest blackwater river in the world.]

So we have 2 rivers,   both identified with La Plata

Wikipedia on ‘the Rio Negro’ – contains the map below
Here is a larger version of the river map of the Amazon Basin with the Rio Negro

Nasa photo of the Rio de la Plata from west looking east – Buenas Aires on the right,
with La Plata just beyond it, and Montevideo on the left at the end of the pink part.

Map of mouth of Rio de la Plata w Buenas Aires, La Plata, and Montevideo all marked

So we can see that Joyce has linked together two major river basins in South America in one line.
But Joyce does not say Rio Negro. He says, “El Negro”
– I have found several  people  with this title,
but so far they are all from recent times.
However I did find the following on a ‘stuffed African’ on display in Banyoles (North of Spain, region of Girona).
“Two French taxidermists stole the body later known as El Negro from a grave beyond the Cape Colony frontier in 1830-31. It was stuffed and displayed as ‘Le Betjouana’ (i.e. the Bechuana or Motswana) in France and as ‘1/ Betjouana’ in Spain.
From 1916 until 1998 it was the prime exhibit in a museum at Banyoles, north of Barcelona, where it became known as El Negro. (Controversy over its display began in 1991, and was complicated by the assertion that a ‘Betjouana’ was a type of ‘Bosquimano’ (Bushman)).”
Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies vol.16 (2002) nO.1

Neil Parsons University of Botswana, History I tried to link El Negro or Banyoles to the River Plate or the River Negro –
but have not found anything so far.
If there was a 1920’s or 1930’s boxer or other sports figure known as El Negro
that you know about, please let me know  Someone who had reason to  “wince”


And so we arrive at the isles of the west.

198.15   loft she was lift a laddery dextro! A coneywink after the bunting
198.16   fell. Letting on she didn’t care, sina feza, me absantee, him man
198.17   in passession, the proxenete! Proxenete and phwhat is phthat?

The passage on page 198.16
“sina feza, me absantee, him man in passession”
was annotated as Swahili by Dalton (AWD, 43):
“sina feza” glossed as ‘I have no money’,
“absantee” as Swahili ahsanthe  ‘thanks’.

In Joyce’s “Kissuaheli” notes (Buffalo MS VI. B. 48) Dalton found the latter as  absanthe thanks)”.  Dalton comments that “this is a mistake: the ‘b’ should be an ‘h’.” But Joyce may very well have intended the “mistake” – just as “barnaboy” is not, as Dalton claims, a reading error for Swahili ‘barua’, but includes the Danish word for child,  ‘barn’  (AWD 45).  Joyce’s ‘error’  prefigures the placement of Swahili and Jamaican in the word “absantee”
(Has Joyce no limits – notebooks, letters from 1905 and much else all still in mind as he places one word in Finnegans Wake?)

In any case our attention is directed to a very productive  bh alternation.
Joyce was certainly aware of the h, for one important reading of “absantee” is ‘Ashanti’ – which inverts the Swahili (German spelling) hs  to sh.   (other early versions of the name Ashanti remove the h, or emphasize the pronunciation  – ‘Asante’  ‘Ashantee’).
As we saw with Chamba, a reading of ‘Ashanti’ would be the second time on page 198 that the name of a West African people occurs blended with a passage Joyce notes in Swahili

On page 198.16,  the b of “absantee”
(and of Joyce’s distortion of Swahili ‘thankyou’ as “absanthe”) enters Finnegans Wake first as part of a Jamaican-Ashanti slave’s complaint about his ABSENCE from his homeland. For “absantee” represents right on its surface a British West Indian and typically Jamaican pronunciation of ‘absentee’.
See also Joyce letter to Stanislaus (28 Feb., 1905) where he notes that “He (Renan) calls John the Baptist the absinthe of the divine feast”.  French pronunciation of ‘absinthe’ with an unreleased

b and its reading ‘absent’ in “absintheminded” (464.17) also suggests b/h and the b inserted in the “ahsante” that Dalton wishes to find in Joyce’s notes.The Ashanti slave has been carried to Jamaica and complains he is an absentee – but he makes a twist. For the owners of Jamaican plantations were notoriously ‘

absentee’ landlords. The slave plays on this by asserting ‘me absantee; him, man in
passession’.  ‘I am the absentee, while absentee is
is the man in possession’
While the Jamaican slave’s complaint and longing for his homeland is genuine, the language we give him here is a caricature.
Dalton refers to “me” and “him” as “native sounding talk”   – a fair description, for as we have read it so far this could be not only imitation African based English but also pidgin, pseudo-Indian,
or what have you. Tonto (in The Lone Ranger), for example. used this construction regularly.

If this reading were in a form of Jamaican Creole, one would not simply delete the copula (‘me (to be) absentee’). Instead we might  hear ‘him a di man in passession’ (where ‘a’ can translate as ‘is’ or ‘it is’).
The tone of the slave in “him man in passession” is that presented in 18th and 19th century caricature representations of slave speech.

But Joyce does not leave his slave in this sorry state, deprived not only of his homeland and property, including his ownership of himself, but of his language and culture as well.
He gives us also a reading in genuine Jamaican Creole. In this reading the Jamaican slave stresses his calm and clarity (self-possession) as against the loss of control of the master who is in a state of alien ‘possession’ (by spirits, the devil or whatever):
‘me ab san+tee;   him,    man, in passession’ –
‘I have sanity (or French ‘santé’ ‘health’);
he, man, is possessed.’

198.18 Emme for your reussischer Honddu jarkon! Tell us in franca
198.19 langua. And call a spate a spate. Did they never sharee you ebro
198.20 at skol, you antiabecedarian? It’s just the same as if I was to go
198.21 par examplum now in conservancy’s cause out of telekinesis and
198.22 proxenete you. For coxyt sake and is that what she is?

The case for Jamaican Creole in line 16 is made immeasurably stronger by the list of  lingua francas, jargons – and the indirect reference to
‘unwritten’  languages in “antiabecedarian”.

There is an apparent reference to Creole speakers speech styles in  “And call a spate a spate” which can also be read as ‘and call a spade a spade’ (as in Fweet) – thus a “Black” reference.
Evidence for this reading of “spate” with a t can also be found at
318.04                         I’ll think uplon, lilady.  .  .  .
318.06   .  .  .   Obsit nemon!
318.12   Ethna Prettyplume, Hooghly Spaight. . .  .  .
318.15 where the lowcasts have aten of amilikan
318.16 honey and datish fruits
where the “uplon” and the “nemon” and the ‘plum’ and the specifically Jamaican hoghly ‘ugly’ fruit (a wrinkled variety of grapefruit, that originated in Jamaica)  figure in this list of (“honey and datish”) fruits
But of course “Hooghly Spaight” is also the racial insult ‘ugly Spade’.

And this list is followed immediately by a reference to Haitian Vodun.
at 198.22-23    “Botlettle I thought she’d act that loa.”

I know this is also a reference to a Spanish loa or Prologue to an Auto
“Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz—poet, prose writer and dramatist—was not the first colonial Spanish American author to write loas, but her efforts are
superior to those of other Hispanic American writers.1 Most of Sor Juana’s loas are refined examples of the genre and have a sophistication which permits them play status. This assessment of her loas can be substantiated by comparing them to those of her predecessors in Spanish America such as Fernán González de Eslava and to the loas of Agustín de Rojas Villandrando, and others, written in Spain prior to Calderón. Calderón, who began producing loas in 1650, and later Sor Juana, writing in a similar fashion, changed the loa from a short, simple monologue or dialogue to a longer form having all the trappings of drama. Although scholars believe that hundreds of loas were written in Spanish America during the seventeenth century, only eighteen from that period are extant (AMP, p.6). Since all of the eighteen
remaining seventeenth-century loas are by Sor Juana, she is now considered the most prolific loa writer of Spanish America.2”
from  The loa: One Aspect of the Sorjuanian Mask by A. Daniel Lee

But the loa (as the order of Google search results knows) is also the term – originally from the Fon of Dahomey – for the Gods that the the worshipper
possessed by one of them in a Haitian Vodun ceremony proceeds to “act”.  The dancing involved is described across the page on 199.22
along with an essential element of the Vodun ceremony

Haiti and Jamaica form a pair in Finnegans Wake. Where one finds one one can expect to find the other nearby. Thus on page 23 one finds the Jamaican ancestral spirit, the duppy,
performing  a typical duppy action
023.05          And the duppy shot the shutter clup
with a typical West Indian sound adverb – clup,
And below one finds
023.31                                       the louthly one
023.32  whose loab we are devorers of,
expressing in  “loab”   both ‘loa’ and ‘love’
and in “devorers” both the devotion of the worshiper, and the devouring nature of love.
We find loa again on 102.15 in a religious context
also invoking US Jazz and perhaps some other meanings of the term
102.14                  when Tinktink in the churchclose clinked
102.15 Steploajazzyma Sunday, Sola, with pawns, prelates and pookas

Across the page, as I mentioned, we find
199.21                                            while her
199.22 togglejoints shuck with goyt and as rash as she’d russ with her
199.23 peakload of vivers up on her sieve
which not only describes the dancing style but mentions the drawings made with flour on the ground to invoke the Gods, the vevers.


What is a Vever? A symbolic design, formed on the ground (in the peristyle) by sprinkling wheatmeal, cornmeal, or some other appropriate powder from the hand, at or before the beginning of a ceremony. Such a design represents a Loa to be       invoked, and serves both as a focal point for invocation and a kind of altar for offerings. Several vevers of different     Loa may be drawn for one ceremony. The designs incorporate well-recognized traditional elements, but reflect also the individual intentions and creative skill of the Houngan or Mambo.

What is a Vever, at Voodoo Authentica   LINK   vevers illustrated on left of page.

Of course all this information would have been more commonplace in Paris in the 1920’s than in the United States.

So the connection of Loa with Haiti and Haitian Vodun and of Haiti and Jamaica are confirmed. But Joyce gives us the Haiti Jamaica pairing yet again,  just above the appearance of Anna Livia in her “lapsummer” skirt of leaves.
199.09      You’d think all was dodo belonging to him how he durmed
199.10  adranse in durance vaal.

“dodo” is both French child language and French Caribbean for ‘sleep’.  –
‘how he dreamed a dance’.  Adranse is not only a dance – but also the Ashanti and Jamaican spider trickster Anansi/Ananse, hero of the folktales.
(It may not be irrelevant that Joyce’s well known dance that he liked to perform was likened to a spider dance.)

But “vaal” is also an allusion to the Irish music hall singer, Val Vousden.whom Joyce remembers in a letter “making a patriarchal entry into the
Black Maria outside Stores St.” (Letters I, 394.F) where one could backread ‘Black Maria’ as not only a police van but a Vodun allusion.
Val Vousden also shows up in Finnegans Wake with the last syllable of his name converted to a Jamaican plural marker (to mark the plurality of
the French ‘vous’ in “Venerable Val Vousdem” (439.17-.18).

Joyce also connects “dodo” to the hymnal of Sankey and Moody used in many churches thoughout the British empire, notably in the West
Indies where it is called “The Sankey”, and which Joyce uses as a verb (French ‘without key’) in “or so they sankeyed. Dodo!” (533.20)
perhaps to capture the singing style.

Perhaps the east-west route of the slave from Ashanti to Jamaica, of the middle passage, may be heard –  along with a distant echo of Ashanti in “will shantey soloweys sang” (330.08) where the ‘Way of the Sun’ – ‘Sol – O – ways’ is found also in the song,  the ‘Solveig‘ of Solveig’s Song (Edvard Grieg)

So a main point that I mentioned and think I have demonstrated is that Joyce has connected all these passages, and altered their relationships
fundamentally, just by these few Swahili entries he added to the galleys.To do this shows how long term his thinking was in writing FW, and the amazing mental capacity required to do this.

Didn’t you spot her in her windaug,
198.24   wubbling up on an osiery chair, with a meusic before her all
198.25   cunniform letters, pretending to ribble a reedy derg on a fiddle
198.26   she bogans without a band on? Sure she can’t fiddan a dee, with
198.27   bow or abandon! Sure, she can’t! Tista suck. Well, I never now
198.28   heard the like of that! Tell me moher. Tell me moatst. Well, old
198.29   Humber was as glommen as grampus, with the tares at his thor
198.30   and the buboes for ages and neither bowman nor shot abroad and
198.31   bales allbrant on the crests of rockies and nera lamp in kitchen or
198.32   church and giant’s holes in Grafton’s causeway and deathcap
198.33   mushrooms round Funglus grave and the great tribune’s barrow
198.34   all darnels occumule, sittang sambre on his sett, drammen and
198.35   drommen, usking queasy quizzers of his ruful continence, his
198.36   childlinen scarf to encourage his obsequies where he’d check their


199. 1   debths in that mormon’s thames, be questing and handsetl, hop,
‘polygamy themes’ see 628.05
628.05                                    Two more. Onetwo
628.06   moremens more.

199. 2   step and a deepend, with his berths in their toiling moil, his swal-
199. 3   lower open from swolf to fore and the snipes of the gutter pecking
199. 4   his crocs, hungerstriking all alone and holding doomsdag over
199. 5   hunselv, dreeing his weird, with his dander up, and his fringe
199. 6   combed over his eygs and droming on loft till the sight of the
199. 7   sternes, after zwarthy kowse and weedy broeks and the tits of
199. 8   buddy and the loits of pest and to peer was Parish worth thette
199. 9   mess.
You’d think all was dodo belonging to him how he durmed
adranse in durance vaal. He had been belching for severn years.
And there she was, Anna Livia, she darent catch a winkle of
sleep, purling around like a chit of a child, Wendawanda, a finger-
thick, in a Lapsummer skirt and damazon cheeks,
for to ishim
199.14   bonzour to her dear dubber Dan. With neuphraties and sault
199.15   from his maggias. And an odd time she’d cook him up blooms
199.16   of fisk and lay to his heartsfoot her meddery eygs, yayis, and
199.17   staynish beacons on toasc and a cupenhave so weeshywashy of
199.18   Greenland’s tay or a dzoupgan of Kaffue mokau an sable or
199.19   Sikiang sukry or his
ale of ferns in trueart pewter and a shin-
kobread (hamjambo, bana?) for to plaise that man hog stay his
stomicker till her pyrraknees shrunk to nutmeg graters while her
togglejoints shuck with goyt and as rash as she’d russ with her
peakload of vivers up on her sieve
(see Dalton above, for the Swahili items in the highlighted passages.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s