1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

heap big wampum

Discussion in 'English Only' started by susanna76, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. susanna76 Senior Member

    Romanian
    I learned that "wampum" means "beads; money." Does "heap" go together with "big" then, as an intensifier?

    context: ". . . sell any number of 'heap big wampum' style artefacts" in Stephen Fry in America.

    Edit. More context: "The Cherokee are regarded by many as the most prosperous of the Native American peoples, the tribe that seems most successfully to have adapted to the conditions enforced upon them since the arrival of Europeans all those years ago. Its chiefs have been heads of petroleum companies and have chosen a path of greater integration than other Indian nations. Nonetheless the reservation I drive through, including the town of Cherokee itself, is not embarrassed to sell any number of 'heap big wampum' style artefacts."
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    This is guying the pidgin English spoken by some non-native speakers, often from relatively undeveloped countries. I suspect it of being an attempt to tease someone.
     
  3. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Yes, heap goes together with big as an intensifier -- and it's all making fun of Indian speech (at least as white TV viewers have come to know it over the years). Or making fun of perhaps unscrupulous sellers of Indian artefacts -- we don't really know from the abbreviated context.

    Artefacts, by the way, is the BE version of the AE artifacts.

    Edit: Thomas and I were answering at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010
  4. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I don't see it as being concerned with Indian speech, Copyright, but rather of the pidgin of South Sea Islanders. It carries overtones for me of taking beads to the natives; it's potentially very offensive, which is why I'm walking on eggshells.
     
  5. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    Oh, Thomas, Stephen's in America and I grew up listening to this stuff in hundreds of television westerns. You may have to trust me on this. :) Or not. :D
     
  6. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I believe it is specifically North American:
    wampum
    1. Cylindrical beads made from the ends of shells rubbed down, polished, and threaded on strings, which were often combined to form bracelets, belts, collars, etc.... a. Serving as currency for the N. Amer. Indians both among themselves and in dealings with Europeans; also, in early colonial times, between Europeans for the payment of small amounts.
    1643 R. WILLIAMS Key Lang. Amer. xxiv. ... 147 Their white [money] they call Wompam (which signifies white), their black suckauhock (sucki signifying blacke).

    That, and memories of 1950s black and white westerns :)
     
  7. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Oh, but I misundersood you, my dear Copyright. I didn't realize you meant Red Indians. The bells are ringing loudly now. Forget all talk of South Sea Islanders, and think wigwams, medicine men, and tomahawks. Let's sit down and smoke a pipe of peace together.

    I think it remains potentially offensive, but then I don't know how touchy Red Indians are about the way some of them used to speak.
     
  8. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    You would think that living closer to Delhi than Denver I would make some distinction, wouldn't you? Shows what a cultural hold those westerns can have on a young American mind.

    Not to worry, Thomas, there will always be peace between our tribes. ;)

    Lone Ranger: Tonto, we're surrounded by Indians.
    Tonto: What you mean we, white man?

    Edit: (Why don't I address Thomas's comment?) I think you'll find heap big wampum to be fairly offensive unless it's used in an appropriate way -- like a sarcastic remark about some other white person's condescension. That link is Google results -- there are just over 900 of them, so it's not in common use. Perhaps those who tried were scalped.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2010

Share This Page