Fortune, Reo, 1903-1979

Title: Arapesh

Author: Fortune, Reo, 1903-1979

Publication Info: New York, NY, J. J. Augustin [1942]

Description: 237 pages

Series: Publications of the American Ethnological Society

Reo F. Fortune's masterful grammar of Arapesh could more accurately be labeled a collection of folklore texts—150 pages worth—contextualized by an insightful 90-page grammatical sketch. It documents the Rohwim dialect of Mountain Arapesh, which Fortune studied during a field trip he made from December 1931 to August 1932 with his first wife, anthropologist Margaret Mead. Upon returning from the field Fortune taught himself phonetics so that he could better describe the Arapesh sound system, and he completed the manuscript by late 1934. Unfortunately, it was still then handwritten, and between a series of complications arising from that, the ill health of Franz Boas (who edited the Publications of the American Ethnological Society series in which the work appeared), Fortune's frequent inaccessibility over the next few years, and the dearth of money for academic publishing in the wake of the Depression, the manuscript did not make it into typescript until the summer of 1939. Fortune proofed the galleys in 1941, and the grammar was finally published in 1942. We are grateful to Ann McLean, Fortune's neice and literary executor, for supporting this effort to make Fortune's work more accessible.