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September 26, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

DICTIONARY OF THE AMERICAN WEST by Winfred Blevins (Facts on File: $17.95; 400 pp., illustrated, paperback original). Blevins explains the origin and meaning of 5,000 familiar and arcane terms, from a-going and a-coming to Zuni. The definitions stress the cross-pollination that occurred among the diverse cultures that converged in the West: Spanish, French, English, Amerindian. Blevins notes that "Great Spirit" and many other idioms that are widely believed to be "Indian" are actually derived from American Indian Pidgin English, a patois created to facilitate inter-ethnic communication over long distances.

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