Parts of the Body in the Later Germanic Dialects

While book shopping this weekend I found a copy of Parts of the Body in the Later Germanic Dialects by William Denny Baskett and published by the University of Chicago Press in 1920. The book is in strikingly good condition and could almost pass for new. It’s not nearly as well thumbed as one might expect such an indispensable reference book to be.

The preface reads:

This investigation deals with the words for the body and its parts in the later Germanic dialects. Its object is to show how these words came to have their present meaning rather than to show the original meaning.

The book is merely a list — 139 pages and one per line — of words for body parts in later Germanic dialects. By my estimate, I now have a list of ~150 words for "penis" in dialects of German (circa 1920 of course), several dozen ways to describe double chins, and many choices of ways to describe body parts in later Germanic dialics that I cannot describe in English.

I paid one dollar for the book. A much more worn softcover copy seems to be on sale by an antiquarian book dealer for closer to twenty-five dollars so it appears that I got a good deal. To me however, such a book is priceless.

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